MIAMI (AP) — One of Dwyane Wade’s biggest rivals is back, at the worst possible time for the Miami Heat.
Wade did not practice on Sunday because of symptoms of a migraine, a problem that has plagued him for years and kept him out of a game earlier this season. His status for Game 2 of Miami’s Eastern Conference first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday is unclear, prompting at least some mild concern for the Heat.
“He’ll be here,” predicted Heat forward LeBron James.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t go out on that limb, saying that it’s “too soon” to know if the 2006 NBA finals MVP will be available when Miami gathers for practice Monday morning to complete preparations for Game 2.
Wade told the team that he felt a headache coming on Saturday afternoon before Miami’s 97-89 victory, playing 35 minutes without any obvious discomfort. Wade scored 17 points in that game, five of them in the final 1:34 as the Heat held off a huge comeback attempt by the 76ers.
“We’ll have to see how he feels at the end of the day,” Spoelstra said. “We really wanted to be proactive right now and keep him rested and take medicine and we’ll go from there.”
So while there was some worry at Miami’s practice, the 76ers seemed totally loose at the end of their session. A few players shot free throws in flip-flops after the workout, others tried 20-footers with their non-shooting hand.
If the 76ers are nervous about the prospects of getting into a two-game hole — the Philadelphia franchise has lost all 16 series in which it’s faced an 0-2 deficit — it didn’t show.
“The younger guys, they’re not getting frustrated. They don’t even get it. They’re happy to be here, out here playing,” said 76ers forward Elton Brand. “The older guys, we’re saying we need to attack the rim. We need to put the onus on the refs to call it.”
Much as it was Saturday, foul shooting remained key in Philadelphia’s thoughts on Sunday.
Here’s the good news for the 76ers: They’ve held the Heat under 50 percent shooting all four times they’ve played this season. Here’s the bad news: They’ve lost all those games.
It’s not the shots the 76ers are defending that are deciding their games against Miami. It’s the ones they can’t contest — the ones from the foul line — that are making the difference. Miami holds a 127-61 lead in free throws taken in its series with Philadelphia this season, including a 39-15 edge in Game 1.
“You’ve got to put that ball on the deck and drive in there and you’ve got to get some contact,” Philadelphia coach Doug Collins said. “So we’re going to keep trying to do that. That’s obviously an area we’d like to be better. But we scored 42 points in the paint yesterday, so it wasn’t like we were launching jumpers.”
Fouls — for and against — have been a season-long issue for the Sixers. They were 26th in the 30-team NBA in free throws taken this season, while Miami ranked third in that department. And while the
76ers had three players get called for fouls more than 200 times during the regular season, Wade was Miami’s leader with 197.
“They have athletes that attack that goal,” Brand said. “We don’t attack as much as those guys going to dunk the ball at the rim. So there’s going to be a disparity. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, they cause havoc, and (Chris) Bosh underneath, stuff like that. They’re going to get more fouls than us. We just have to be more aggressive.”
If Wade cannot go on Monday, the Sixers obviously catch a huge break. And if Wade does play, he may have to wear goggles again to protect his eyes from bright lights — one major migraine trigger.
Wade wore goggles with an orange tint when Miami faced the New York Knicks on January 27, around the time of his last known fight with migraines. He made 13 straight shots from the field during one stretch of that game, finishing with 34 points in a 93-88 loss.
The Heat have clearance from the NBA if Wade has to wear the goggles Monday.
Even with Wade in the lineup, Philadelphia held all three of Miami’s stars to under 50 percent shooting Saturday, with James going 4 for 14 and Bosh 8 for 17. James and Bosh did combine for 25 rebounds and a 22-for-25 showing at the foul line. James acknowledged that if he has to do more Monday, that’s fine.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” James said.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)