When glancing at Dwyane Wade‘s stat line of 14 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block from the Miami Heat‘s recent win over the surging Toronto Raptors, you would never guess this came on the second night of back-to-back games where there was less than a 20-hour turnaround time from one game to the other. It seems that the shockwave therapy Wade received over the summer is finally starting to pay off.
The Heat’s priority this season has been to keep Wade’s knees strong and conditioned. Because Wade has been injured in all three of the Heat’s NBA Finals appearances, a strict maintenance program was put into place this year to preserve and save his knees during the regular season. This has resulted in Wade missing one of two games in these back-to-back sets as he’s sat out a total of eight games on the season. Even with the Heat’s record being around .500 when Wade sits, the extra rest has allowed Wade to shoot a career best 53.5 percent from the field and 41 percent from beyond the three-point arc. This is a direct result of the maintenance program in place for Wade.
The Heat’s close win against the Raptors signified more than just another notch in the win column for the defending champs. It was the first meaningful back-to-back set Wade has had this season in which he was able to contribute at a high level consistently. His prior back-to-back set was an absolute disaster as he only scored four points on the road against the Charlotte Bobcats on November 16 before being pulled in the third quarter because of knee pain. With Wade’s abysmal game, his seven-day absence due to knee injury the week following was just another painful reminder of how far the former Finals MVP had slipped in terms of consistent greatness. With this resurgence in Wade’s health and especially his game, Wade must continue to stay true to the maintenance program set in place by the Heat’s training staff. He told ESPN:
“[Monday] is a big day. We have a game Tuesday, so three games in four nights. [Monday] is a big day to get some rest and get some treatment and hopefully feel good on Tuesday. That’s going to be my biggest test, I think.”
If I were Wade, sitting out Tuesday night’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans would be a very appealing option considering the back-to-back set of games coming up against the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets who are both considered “rivals” against the defending champs in one form or the another. Either way, the Heat’s coaching and training staff have to be thrilled with the progress Wade has made, and the fans should continue to relish in watching one of the greatest shooting guards in the history of the game perform continually at a high level.