The Heat moved into first place in the Eastern Conference after Friday’s win over the Pacers, but the lead is just a half-game with three games remaining on the regular season schedule.
Miami has gone just 2-3 over its last five games, however, and all of those have come with Dwyane Wade (and occasionally others) sidelined due to injury.
Wade has missed his team’s last nine games overall, with a hamstring injury that was more serious than expected. With the playoffs about a week away, he was apparently feeling well enough on Saturday to be reinserted into the lineup.
Wade was cleared by the team’s training staff after completing an extensive workout on the Philips Arena court about two hours before the start of the Heat’s game against Atlanta. Wade, who has been out since March 26 with a strained left hamstring, had also gone through three strenuous workouts throughout the day on Friday before the Heat’s 98-86 home win against Indiana.
“I’m going to give it a go today,” Wade said shortly before Saturday’s game. “That’s the plan. The first thing was to get comfortable with it. You never know how severe it is until you try to strengthen it. Now, it’s just about getting comfortable and pushing it to see where you’re at.”
Wade has missed 28 games for the Heat this season, but most of that was due to knee issues or a strained Achilles. And even so, Miami finds itself on the verge of locking up home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs — a reminder of just how dangerous the Heat remain, especially with a healthy Wade back in the lineup.