Wade expects to play in Game 6 despite sore hip

Updated: May 3, 2006, 5:24 PM ET
Associated Press

MIAMI -- The mood was light when the Miami Heat finished practice Wednesday, in sharp contrast to the fearful mood that permeated the franchise 16 hours earlier when Dwyane Wade was writhing in pain.

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Miami Heat

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2006 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
75 27.2 5.7 6.7 .495 .783

Michael Doleac missed a dunk and laughed. Jason Williams distracted teammates shooting free throws. Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning played one-on-one, with Mourning airballing a jumper and O'Neal dribbling off his leg, both grinning the whole time.

Oblivious to it all, Wade worked in a corner with assistant coach Erik Spoelstra, swishing jumper after jumper. Moments later, he said something that made the Heat even happier.

"Unless something happens in my sleep, I plan on playing," Wade said. "And I plan on being effective."

Wade's hip was still bothering him Wednesday, even after another round of painkillers, ultrasound therapy and ice packs. Still, he vowed to be ready when the Heat visit Chicago for Game 6 of an Eastern Conference first-round series on Thursday -- with a chance to end the Bulls' season.

"In a close-out game, you think of it as do-or-die," Wade said. "You don't want to take it to that seventh game or that next game. So in close-out games, you want to come out and give it your all on both ends of the floor."

Wade was injured Tuesday in Miami's 92-78 Game 5 victory.

He tumbled to the court late in the first half after going airborne and colliding with Chicago center Michael Sweetney, and needed assistance just to get into the team's locker room for treatment. Wade returned midway through the third quarter and sparked a game-ending 42-23 run by the Heat, who were outscored by 10 with their best scorer sidelined.

"From what I understand, this is not an injury that's structural," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "He's got a bruise. Everybody in this gym is bruised. He took a hard fall. I don't think it's the kind of injury that's going to keep him out."

That's a change from Game 6 of last season's Eastern Conference finals, when Wade injured a rib muscle in Game 5 -- a game where the Heat beat Detroit to take a 3-2 series lead.

Wade sat out Game 6, a 25-point Miami loss, and wasn't at his best in Game 7 when Detroit won in Miami. He insisted Wednesday that this injury isn't as severe.

"If he's ready to go, he'll go. If he's not ready to go, he won't go," Riley said. "He couldn't play last year in Game 6. That was it ... he was really in great pain. We'll just have to wait until tomorrow. Treatment, ice, all that stuff. We'll see."

Wade will continue the medication and therapy until game time, seeking any way of easing the ache.

But what would truly soothe him is seeing his teammates match their effort from Game 5.

Wade scored 15 of his 28 points after the injury and taking a painkilling shot, but he hardly carried the whole load. James Posey's defense held Bulls guard Ben Gordon to a 2-for-12 shooting effort after halftime. Gary Payton was flawless at point guard. Antoine Walker had 13 points after halftime, playing all 24 minutes.

"We didn't think he was coming back," Walker said. "Shaq just said it was time for everybody else to step up and let's just win this game. We had to just continue to play. Obviously, his coming back was a tremendous boost for us. ... And him coming back and being aggressive with the hip injury was even better."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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