Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade will miss his 28th game of the regular season Friday vs. the Pacers for a crucial game with playoff implications.
Friday is a huge night in the race for the Eastern Conference No. 1 seed. Miami faces the current No. 1, Indiana in Miami. A win secures tiebreaker for the Pacers, and drops their magic number for home court throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs to one. A Miami win moves the Heat back into first place by a half-game and gives them control of their own destiny.
The Pacers rested their starters Wednesday vs. the Bucks, but will be full strength Friday. Wade, however, will not be available the Heat announced Friday morning. Udonis Haslem will play; Greg Oden will not as he continues to recover from back spasms.
This will be Wade's eighth straight game he's missed due to the hamstring injury that has plagued him. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had said Wade was close to returning earlier this week.
This could be a head-fake, there's nothing to keep the Heat from announcing him in the starting lineup before the game. But if he does miss the game, you have to consider this in part a concession to the Pacers for the No. 1 spot. It also does cast doubt if the Pacers win, however, because Miami can point out Wade's absence in the deciding game. Psychological playoff games are fun.