### A strained left hamstring sidelined Heat guard Dwyane Wade for a fifth consecutive game on Friday, but Heat players say he’s improving and LeBron James said tonight that Wade “probably” will return “within the next week.”
There doesn’t appear to be concern about Wade’s availability for the start of the playoffs in two weeks.
But there is some uncertainty about a timetable. Udonis Haslem said Friday “it’s hard to tell” when Wade will play in a game again.
“He’s out there a few minutes at practice, not too heavy,” Haslem said. “He’s moving pretty well. He’s getting better. Hopefully, he’ll be back a couple of games before the playoffs. I’m sure that’s what he’s hoping for. It’s nothing we want to push. We need him for the playoffs.”
After losing six of its first 11 games without Wade this season, the Heat has won 11 of its past 12 games when Wade has been sidelined.
But there will be another adjustment when Wade returns, and players are hopeful they can work through that before the playoffs start.
"It may be a little bit of a rhythm thing," LeBron James said earlier this week. "It's something you can't take for granted. Obviously, we've been together for almost four years now, but you can't take those opportunities for granted. We haven't practiced much together. We haven't played as much. So see what happens when we get out on the floor. It's going to be very challenging. But I think it's something we can figure out."
### Spoelstra said Greg Oden is again doubtful for tonight with a back injury, and Ray Allen --- working his way back from a stomach virus --- will be a game-time decision.
### James said he does not want to sit out any of the remaining games, but Spoelstra was non-committal about whether he was on board with that. “I’m taking everything day by day,” Spoelstra said.
If the Heat enters the final two games in play for the No. 1 seed, would that affect how many players Spoelstra rests? Spoelstra wouldn’t bite on that question either, saying: “We’ll get to that point when we get to that point.”
But Chris Bosh said today: “I don’t think we have the luxury this year [to rest in late-season games]. In the past, things were kind of settled in and we knew what was going to happen. At this point last year, we were well ahead for the No. 1 seed and were able to do what we do. Now it’s more of a race. We’ve waited a long time to get to this point, where we… feel some pressure. You’ve got to enjoy it…. I gave hope up about rest a long time ago.”
The Heat and Indiana enter tonight essentially tied for the No. 1 seed, with Miami ahead by percentage points and having played two fewer games than the Pacers. Here's how their remaining schedules compare:
Heat: vs. Minnesota, vs. Knicks, vs. Brooklyn, at Memphis, vs. Indiana, at Atlanta, at Washington, vs. Philadelphia.
Pacers: at Toronto (tonight), Atlanta, at Milwaukee, at Heat, Oklahoma City and at Orlando.
### Spoelstra indicated he doesn’t need clarity about his rotation heading into the playoffs. With Udonis Haslem, Rashard Lewis and James Jones inserted back into the lineup amid injuries and other issues, every player except Justin Hamilton has received at least some meaningful minutes in the past month. Lewis and Jones have been playing ahead of Shane Battier and Michael Beasley during the past week.
“Everybody has a role that can help us,” Spoelstra said. “That’s where you hope you are as a team --- where you put together enough depth where everybody can help you. The depth is absolutely paramount and our guys get that. In the playoffs, nobody remembers how many minutes you played. People just remember moments.”
### Either San Antonio or Oklahoma City very likely would have homecourt advantage against the Heat in a potential NBA Finals matchup. OKC finished 4-0 against the Spurs this season.
“The difference between OKC and Miami is you can look at Miami and say, ‘They’re going to win because they do everything right,’” TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal said. “With OKC you have to say, ‘If their jumper is falling, then they’ll win. If they can score on the inside, then they’ll win. If [Thunder point guard] Russell Westbrook is playing under control, then they can win.’”
### Besides Stephen Morris, two others who received positive reviews at UM’s Pro Day Thursday: guard Brandon Linder and punter Pat O’Donnell.
### All seven of UM's 2015 oral commitments in football are rated three-star prospects by rivals.com. Bowman Archibald, rated 14th among tight ends, is given the highest marks at his position, according to Rivals.
### Entering Friday, no player in the big leagues has driven in more runs in the first few days of the season than Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee (eight). And Giancarlo Stanton is right behind him with seven.
### Some historical significance of the Marlins’ win Thursday, according to Elias:
Before rallying from a 5-3 deficit to win 8-5 against Colorado, the Marlins had lost their previous 113 games when trailing by multiple runs in the seventh inning or later. The Marlins' last victory of this type came on July 4, 2012 against the Brewers. In that game, they were down by four runs in the seventh and won 7-6 in extra innings.
The only other team in the last 25 seasons (since 1990) to lose 113 consecutive games when trailing by two or more runs in the seventh or later was the Tigers, who had a 128-game streak from July 2002 to August 2003.
### One positive to keep in mind on receiver Nate Burleson, who is visiting Dolphins headquarters today after dining with team officials last night: His 5.7 average for yards-after-catch last season (on 39 catches) was outstanding --- 20th in the league and far better than anyone with the Dolphins. Brian Hartline averaged 4.1, Mike Wallace 3.8.
Burleson will fly to Cleveland tonight to meet with the Browns on Saturday, then make a decision on his future in the next few days.
Heading into their visit with Burleson, the Dolphins had made offers to every free agent who has visited.