Heat miss their star big time at The Palace
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Dwyane Wade was replaced by Rasual Butler in Miami's starting lineup and the dropoff was as severe as expected.
Wade, the star of the Heat's run to the conference finals, was not in uniform for Game 6 on Saturday night because of a rib muscle injury.
Butler put together a solid performance by scoring 13 points -- tripling his postseason average -- but the Heat missed Wade badly in a 91-66 setback to the Detroit Pistons.
Game 7 is Monday night in Miami.
Wade strained a right ribcage muscle in the third quarter of Game 5. He arrived at The Palace more than two hours before Saturday's game and warmed up, wincing at times. Then, he and the team's medical staff decided he couldn't play. He didn't participate in the team's morning shootaround.
Wade missed five regular-season games due to injuries, and Miami went 3-2. Butler replaced Wade in the starting lineup in two of those games.
Wade has been Miami's leading scorer in the postseason, averaging 28.0 points, 6.8 assists and 6.1 rebounds.
"I think our players have confidence in the fact that they can play effectively with [Shaquille O'Neal] out or with Dwyane out," Miami coach Stan Van Gundy said, before knowing if Wade could play Saturday.
Butler started slowly, scoring just two points in the first quarter. He made 3 of 4 shots in the second quarter, giving him nine at halftime. Butler was scoreless in the third quarter and with the game out of reach, he scored four in the fourth.
The shooting guard made 5 of 11 shots, including two 3-pointers, 1 of 2 free throws and had two rebounds and two assists in 41 minutes. He had averaged just 13 minutes a game in the playoffs.
Wade's status for the game wasn't known until a few minutes before the start.
He was on the Heat's first bus, arriving at the arena about 45 minutes ahead of teammates such as Shaquille O'Neal.
About 90 minutes before the game, he walked onto the court, picked up a basketball near midcourt and began twisting his torso.
Wade went to a corner and shot numerous 18-foot jumpers while grimacing occasionally. He also shot off the dribble near the top of the key and tried to simulate defensive positions during a workout that lasted about 20 minutes.
When he walked off the court, Wade told an Associated Press reporter he didn't know if he would be able to play. In the locker room, the media could not see or talk to him.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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