MIAMI — Dwyane Wade is not planning on missing any more games this season, and that means life on the Miami Heat equipment room staff is going to get considerably more demanding.
They don’t mind. It’s a small price when a team is looking for a third straight title.
Wade keeps the equipment guys busy on game days: He needs at least one pair of new sneakers to start games, a backup pair ready just in case, and usually two full sets of uniforms because his penchant for producing tons of sweat often leads to in-game wardrobe changes. Nobody complains, because everyone around the team knows the Heat are significantly better when Wade is playing.
Such was the case Sunday, when Wade scored 23 points and the Heat won Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series against Charlotte.
“Can’t get no righter,” Heat star LeBron James said, answering a question about whether Wade looked right.
Wade made 10 of 16 shots, added five assists, played 34 minutes and was part of a Heat win for the first time in a month. He downplayed it all afterward, but being on the court, in a win, without setbacks was an extremely positive sign for the Heat guard.
“Just a natural day, didn’t have to think too much,” Wade said. “Just was playing and making reads.”
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night in Miami.
The Heat had no formal practice on Monday, though that hardly means it was a day off. When Wade doesn’t play, he’s often working harder than when he is on the floor, between treatments and conditioning and weightlifting and all the things he needs to keep an edge.
After he strained his hamstring March 26, Wade wanted to play a few days later. The team kept him out longer than he hoped — or wanted — but the end result was that he was fully healthy for the start of the postseason, which was the biggest key to Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.