Dwyane Wade

Injuries and Dwyane Wade have gone hand in hand for the larger part in the second half of his NBA career. For the Miami Heat to do very well next season by their standards, it’s going to take a special effort from the three-time NBA champion to play more than he’s gotten used to in recent seasons.

Speaking to the Miami Herald, Dwyane Wade said that the plan is for him to play 75 regular season games next season. The Heat can’t afford to coast for parts of the season anymore, and home court advantage or the lack of it has proven to be very important in the last two postseasons the Heat have been a part of. It’s also worth remembering that with all of that rest, Wade looked quite broken down in the final games against the Spurs.

But the math goes against Wade actually playing so many games. He missed 28 last season, with 15 of them chalked up as resting games. It’s also been a while since he has played so much. In the shortened 2011-2012 season he missed 17 games. That seemed to be the tipping point in his career, as he went from a high flying superstar into something a bit different – more reserved and less consistent with his display of excellence.

He has played over 75 games in a season only five times through his 11-year career. At 32, with knee problems working against him, it’s unlikely to see him play that much. However, Wade is losing weight and wants to come into this preseason lighter than ever, or at least a lot lighter than he was at the same time last year. Less pressure on those banged up knees should help, but will it be enough to take care of this nagging problem?

With the Indiana Pacers headed towards what might be a catastrophic season, the Heat’s rise in the hierarchy of the Eastern conference just took another nudge in the right direction. Maybe they don’t look like a championship team, but they’re rather deep and solid all around. The Cavaliers might be very depleted behind their stars if the Kevin Love trade is pulled off. The Chicago Bulls are hard to asses with Derrick Rose so difficult to predict in terms of health. The Washington Wizards and Charlotte Bobcats will be a force to be reckoned with, and so will the Toronto Raptors, but a championship team?

It’s hard to say who will be the star of the Heat in 2014-2015. Chris Bosh will get a chance to carry a team on his back for the first time since 2010 north of the border. Luol Deng has a thing or two to prove. This is going to be a different Miami Heat, obviously, than the one we’ve gotten used to seeing since the Big Three teamed up. Wade is going to be a big part of their success or failure, but probably not as big as he wants to be.

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