The Heat have been hit hard by injuries this season, and on Thursday night, the hits kept coming.
In the second quarter against the Cavaliers, guard Dwyane Wade fell awkwardly and appeared to injure his left knee. Wade immediately left the game, but he did walk back to the locker room under his own power. Miami later announced Wade suffered a left knee bruise, and wouldn't return to the game. Before Wade's fall, Cavaliers forward LeBron James passed Patrick Ewing for 20th on the all-time scoring list with seven minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The Cavaliers won 114-88 behind 23 points each from James and Kyrie Irving. With the win, Cleveland moved to 49-27 on the year, while Miami fell to 34-41.
[daily_cut.NBA] Wade missed last week's game against the Celtics with soreness in the same knee. He had fluid drained from the knee Saturday, one day before scoring 40 points in a win against the Pistons.
If there’s a player the Heat can’t afford to lose for the stretch run, it’s Wade. He’s averaging 21.7 points and 5.0 assists per game, and Miami’s offense falls apart when he leaves the floor. Per NBA.com, the Heat score 104.4 points per 100 possessions with the 11-time All-Star on the floor, but that efficiency drops to 98.7 when he sits, a mark that would be fourth-worst in the NBA.
Wade has been limited to just 55 games this year with various injuries. Chris Boshhas been out since the All-Star break with blood clots on his lung, Josh McRoberts is out for the season with a torn meniscus and now rookie point guard Shabazz Napier is out for the regular season following sports hernia surgery.
With Thursday's loss, the Heat now hold the East's eighth seed, and trail the Nets by a half game for the seventh spot. Miami and the Celtics have identical records, though the Heat hold the head-to-head tiebreaker for the eight seed. Miami has seven games remaining, and the next five—against the Pistons, Pacers, Hornets, Bulls and Raptors—come against teams either in the playoffs, or competing for one of the last two spots in the East.