|Wade grimaces in pain after injuring his ankle against the Nuggets on Friday. (Getty Images)|
MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade is hurting. His team has lost three in a row. And the schedule is not going to provide any breaks any time soon.
The season's first official rough patch has arrived for the Miami Heat.
Some Heat players hit the practice court on Sunday, Wade not among them. He was in the building, getting treatment on the right ankle he sprained in Friday's loss to Denver -- one of three lower body injuries he's dealing with of late, including a sore left foot and strained calf. There was no formal word on whether Wade would play Tuesday against San Antonio, but it's seems the Heat are preparing to be without the 2006 NBA finals MVP.
"He needs to get healthy," forward Chris Bosh said. "That's the most important thing. He's been pushing it. He's been giving us everything he has. And unfortunately in the last game, he turned his ankle. But sometimes things happen. He probably needed to sit down and rest in the first place. Sometimes an injury will do that to you. It's a blessing in disguise. We need to be healthy when it's time to make a run in the playoffs.
"He needs to just chill out right now, get better and we'll hold it down until he can come back," Bosh added.
Wade was not on the practice court for Sunday's media availability. Coach Erik Spoelstra said there is no timetable for Wade's return, neither ruling him out for Tuesday nor suggesting he may be gone for a while.
"He's up walking around. He's working out right now downstairs," Spoelstra said. "But we're not going to put a timetable on when he comes back. Thankfully he's not in a cast or boot. He is walking around. So we'll see. We'll see how he responds each day and we'll go from there."
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Wade was hurt late in the Denver loss, which capped a five-game road swing for Miami. The Heat were an NBA-best 8-1 after starting the trip with wins in Atlanta and New Jersey, then stumbled in overtime losses at Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers, and closed the trip by allowing the Nuggets to shoot 55 percent from the floor -- Miami's worst showing in that department, by far, this season.
"You just have to get through adversity," Bosh said. "We knew we were going to be faced with adverse situations. ... It's going to happen."
Wade, who turns 30 on Tuesday, was able to attend a birthday-weekend brunch with family and close friends on Saturday, just a few hours after the Heat returned from the all-night flight back from Denver. He was scheduled to attend another party in his honor Sunday evening, and plans to be back at the arena for more treatment on Monday morning.
If Wade cannot play, Mike Miller could make his season debut.
The veteran swingman is recovering from hernia surgery that came just a few days before the start of training camp. Miller remained on the court long after the official part of Sunday's practice ended, playing full-court 3-on-3 with Juwan Howard, Norris Cole, Terrel Harris, Mickell Gladness and James Jones -- who, too, may be in line for more minutes if Wade misses time.
"We'll just see each day how [Wade] feels," Spoelstra said.
Wade or no Wade, it's still a huge week for Miami.
San Antonio entered Sunday tied for the second-best record in the Western Conference. On Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers come into town, with Kobe Bryant having passed Miami's LeBron James in scoring after putting up four straight 40-point efforts in the last week. Then on Saturday, Miami hosts Philadelphia, a team the Heat easily ousted from last year's Eastern Conference playoffs -- but is off to a 9-3 start this season.
"Philly is basically just smacking everybody with a point differential of 15 points per game," said James, who also raved about the jobs Gregg Popovich in San Antonio and his former coach Mike Brown with the Lakers are doing this season. "It's going to be a good week for us."
James is second in the NBA in scoring (29.5) and leads the league in combined points, assists and rebounds per game, doing all that on nearly 58 percent shooting. He's still a lightning rod for criticism, the latest topics being his lack of offense down the stretch of a loss to Golden State (no shot attempts in the fourth quarter) and his foul shooting (15 for 28 in losses to the Clippers and Denver).
Should Wade miss some time, James knows he'll be expected to do even more.
"I've got to step it up even more offensively and defensively," James said. "Revert back to some of the ways back in Cleveland, when I knew I for the most part had to be the No. 1 option offensively."