As LeBron James stomped, planted, soared and slammed, no person on the Heat section of the sideline — whether in sweatsuit or designer suit — saw any use for a seat.
They were all caught up in the celebration of one of the spare offensive highlights in Monday night’s 88-65 victory over Chicago.
There was one notable exception, one guy who stayed stapled to his spot.
That guy, Dwyane Wade, is caught in a pain loop.
Discomfort is his undeniable, unfortunate reality these days due to the bruised right knee that began bothering him in March, idled him for much of April and continues to trouble him in May.
In Game 2, he spent some second-quarter time in the locker room rather than leading the second unit. In Game 3, he attempted only seven shots, although he did make five, content to get off the ball and get out of the way.
For Game 4, he arrived in unusual attire, pants hiked a few inches off the floor.
High style, apparently.
“What’d I think of them?” Wade said, flashing a rare smile. “I wore them. Y’all know I don’t care, man. Y’all know I wear what I’m comfortable with.”
The pants, as it turned out, did not signal the coming flood of points.
Rather, the flood of pain.
After missing his first three shots, Wade knocked Bulls forward Jimmy Butler’s right knee during a post-up, then winced while recoiling into a missed fadeaway jumper before limping into a timeout, back to the bench.
“I aggravated it,” Wade said. “Just a shooting pain. It hurt, but eventually I was able to come back, re-tape my knee and try to finish.”
Yes, he did return, making three of his final five shots to finish with six points — including a dunk on a pass that was reminiscent of one James gave him in Game 4 in Indiana last year to get him going.
Going forward, it’s clear that his issue isn’t going away without a full offseason of rest and rehab.
Yes, going forward.
There’s no doubt his team will be doing that, now that it has grabbed a 3-1 lead in the series. The Heat are heading home against a tattered team that appears to have little left, shooting such a low percentage (25.7) that it teetered close to the congressional approval rating.
Nate Robinson (0-for-12) is all out of fairy dust, Carlos Boozer can’t scream shots toward success and coach Tom Thibodeau was so desperate that he resorted to waking Rip (Van Winkle) Hamilton. During the series, Thibodeau has already claimed that the officials were conspiring against him. After Monday’s gruesome performance, it wouldn’t have been stunning if he accused the rims of the same.
So, to beat the Bulls, Miami didn’t need much offense from anyone other than James (27 points), Chris Bosh (14 points) and a couple of guys off the bench.
That more than made up for Wade.
But let’s not make pretend.
“We know D-Wade is battling,” James said. “He’s injured right now. He’s nowhere near 100 percent.”
How’s the knee feel?
“Not 100 percent,” Wade said.
Nor will he be. He can merely manage it, like a cell phone low on battery; between games, he scrambles for a socket to juice up the bars, but there’s never time to get back to full power.
So it’s no longer a question of whether the Heat can win a championship without Wade at his best, as I believe they can. It’s a question of whether they will.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra praised Wade for competing defensively and promised that “he’ll get in a better rhythm” on offense after scoring 49 points in the past five games.
But that depends on a knee that won’t consistently cooperate.
“Sometimes it feels good, sometimes it doesn’t,” Wade said. “Just try to go out there and continue to do what I can.”
So would it help to skip Game 5 against Chicago, as he skipped Game 4 against Milwaukee?
“Nah,” Wade said. “Just some days are better than others. In certain games, I might do a move and the shooting pain might come up. This was the first time y’all seen it. Other times I’ve been able to not show y’all.”
It hurt to watch.
But at least, on this night, it didn’t hurt the Heat.