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Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade exited Thursday night's nationally televised game against former teammate LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers after suffering a bruised left knee in an awkward fall.
The injury occurred at the 6:45 mark of the second quarter, with Cleveland holding a 49-31 advantage over the visiting Heat:
Wade took a pass from backcourt partner Goran Dragic and faced up at the right elbow against the defense of Cavaliers swingman Iman Shumpert. Wade angled to his right and began to back Shumpert down on the right block before taking a separation dribble, seemingly aiming to rise up for a fadeaway jumper along the baseline. But as he planted his right foot, he slipped, his left knee buckling as his right foot slid out from underneath him, leaving him slumped in a painful and uncomfortable position, looking almost like a runner attempting to stretch out his hamstring.
Wade instantly laid back on the hardwood in evident pain as Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson stole the ball from him and started a fast break that ended with an unmarked Shumpert hitting an open 3-pointer. Play continued as Wade stayed down, rolling onto his stomach in the frontcourt; after Miami brought the ball back over the timeline, the Heat called a timeout to enable trainers to tend to Wade. He limped off the court to the Heat bench, then headed back to the locker room for additional attention.
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Wade spent the remainder of the quarter in the locker room, and when the Heat came back out from halftime, they were without their leading scorer:
INJURY UPDATE: Dwyane Wade (left knee bruise) will not return to tonight’s #HEATgame.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) April 3, 2015
The left knee's been a problem for Wade for years, stretching all the way to 2002, when Wade — a rising junior at Marquette — had the meniscus in that knee removed rather than repaired, a decision he'd later come to regret. He's had multiple subsequent surgeries on it over the years — one after the 2006-07 season to address so-called "jumper's knee" and an arthroscopic precedure following the 2011-12 campaign — and missed the final month and a half of the '07-'08 season to undergo OssoTron treatment on the knee. (Wade has also had right knee problems over the years, most notably bone bruises that led him to undergo platelet-rich plasma therapy during the 2012-13 season and get his knee drained before Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers.)
After missing seven games in November with a strained left hamstring, two more in January with a strained right hamstring, and seven more after suffering a right hamstring pull that knocked him out of the All-Star Game, Wade's been huge for the Heat since the All-Star break. He'd played in 20 of Miami's 22 post-break games entering Thursday night, averaging 22.2 points, 4.4 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game, headlined by a brilliant stretch of 25-plus-point games that got the Heat back in the Eastern Conference playoff picture despite the absence of James and the loss of Chris Bosh.
Those familiar old problems began to rear their ugly head last week, though. Wade needed to have fluid drained from the troublesome left knee before a game against the Detroit Pistons (in which he'd go on to hang 40 on ol' buddy Stan Van Gundy). Two nights later, he looked two steps slow as he was being eaten alive by defensive marvel Kawhi Leonard, shooting just 6-for-20 from the field as the Heat got waxed by the San Antonio Spurs. And now, a slip, a stumble, a crumble, an early exit and another bruise.
Here's hoping the bruise isn't as serious as some of the ones that have troubled Wade in the past, and that a couple of days of ice, rest and treatment allow him to return to the floor in proper working order. Miami's about to embark on a road back-to-back against the Pistons and Pacers this weekend, a pair of games that the Heat sorely need to win to keep their hopes of scraping into the postseason alive; those opponents aren't exactly the Warriors and Hawks, but even so, the Heat would figure to have an awful tough time generating enough offense to win them with Wade either sidelined or significantly hampered.
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