MIAMI (AP) -- Dwyane Wade will miss his third consecutive game when the Miami Heat take on the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night in his longest absence of a season where the team has been particularly cautious about overworking his knees.
It's the 12th time Wade has been held out in 42 games overall. The Heat are 24-6 when he plays and entered the matchup against Boston only 5-6 when he is not in the lineup.
''It's just part of the process,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ''He can't predict it. You'll have some good days, some days when you don't feel great, so back at home now we can get back in the routine.''
The Heat just closed a run of six straight games away from home, going 2-4 in those contests. Wade recently played four games in a six-night stretch, but has now played in just two of Miami's six outings since.
Wade has gotten some nights off to rest, some nights off because of soreness, a plan that was put into play for even the second game of Miami's season. In short, when his knees feel good, he plays. When not, he sits, though he has tried on occasions to argue his way into the lineup.
''I can say from a rhythm standpoint, it's kind of hurt us,'' Heat forward LeBron James said. ''We're a team that's built on rhythm, built on chemistry and we've had so many different lineup changes, so many different guys in and out with injuries that it's kind of hurt our performance. ... It's tough. It is tough. Guys think it's easy, but it's tough.''
Wade had an offseason shock wave treatment to relieve ongoing knee trouble, and typically it takes at least six months before recovering fully. The last time he missed three straight games was a stretch late in the 2012-13 regular season.
''What we tried to do was not predetermine, not have expectations about it,'' Spoelstra said of Wade's maintenance program. ''We know that as long as we stick to the routine, he should get better and stronger and quicker and we've seen those type of results. Now that we're home we can get back on the routine of strength training and conditioning and everything with our equipment.''
Wade is averaging 18.9 points on 54 percent shooting this season.
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