AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Dwyane Wade was replaced by Rasual
Butler in Miami's starting lineup and the dropoff was as severe as
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
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
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
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.