There was a time not that long ago when LeBron James wouldn’t even begin to entertain questions about Dwyane Wade’s ailing knee, or even let his teammate answer any questions about it himself.
Things have apparently changed after Wade’s nonexistent Game 5 performance, where he was clearly limited by the knee as much as he’s been at any time to this point in the postseason.
After the Heat practiced on Friday, both James and Wade spoke openly about the knee issue, and the fact that Wade was clearly not close to 100 percent.
“Very tough, but I can’t sit at home,” Wade said, when asked how difficult it was for him to continue to push through his knee injury. “I have to come in and I have to do what I can every day and every night to help my team win.”
“I understand that he’s not 100% and he’s giving us everything that he has,” James said.
Wade is doing some little things out there, in terms of defending, rebounding, and assisting his teammates. But he’s a liability offensively, given the fact that he has no discernable burst right now, and his jumpshot seems to be lacking in any lift.
Still, Wade and the team feel that his being on the floor for extended minutes brings more positives than it does negatives. Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra praised Wade’s contributions following that crucial Game 5 victory.
“[He’s] a warrior,” Spoelstra said. “I know that I’ll go back and see a lot of the defensive plays that he made. Even if he’s not turning the corner and making plays for necessarily himself, he’s getting things going for us. And we’re able to run our offense through him and get the ball moving. He was good and active on his cuts. I was actually encouraged tonight.”
When Wade was asked if he had to have a conversation with James about his relative health for a particular game, he said it wasn’t necessary, that there’s a bond between the two where it’s understood. But he’s determined to remain out there in any capacity he can in order to help bring his team across the finish line.
“It’s understood,” Wade said. “My other thing is I can tell him I give you everything I got, and that’s all I can do. Me being on the floor, me being out there, obviously everyone looks at scoring ‑‑ and the other two. I would love to score 20 or 30 a night. Everyone looks every game just how many points I put up, and that determines my success. That don’t really determine my success on this team every night. We understand that.
“So I go out there some nights and I do ‑‑ even when I was feeling great, I did what I need to do for my team to win a game. That’s the reason I’m here. Tomorrow is a night if I’m feeling better and I can go for more points, I’ll try to be aggressive. But if it’s a game I have to make plays for other guys to get shots and give up myself, that’s what I do.
“It’s about winning at this time of year,” Wade said. “It’s not about any individual.”