Dwyane Wade Leads Heat Into Game 6 Against Mavs, Hip Contusion and All

Dwyane Wade Leads Heat Into Game 6 Against Mavs, Hip Contusion and All Dwyane Wade is leaving no ambiguity about this: He'll be good to go for Game 6 in Miami on Sunday night. His entire season comes down to this, so he's playing. Forget about his contused left hip.

Not "the hip is feeling better"; not "he's 100 percent." But forget about it. It's a non-issue.

Wade hurt his hip pretty bad on Thursday night, leaping into Brian Cardinal and colliding with him late in the first quarter of the Heat's Game 5 loss to the Mavericks. He left the game for a while, he didn't come out to start the second half, and he finished with just 34 minutes instead of his usual playoff 40.

But with the Heat trailing the Mavs three games to two and their season on the line Sunday, there's no time for caution. The former Finals MVP went through part of practice Saturday, and he intends to take the floor in Game 6.

"He'll be ready to go," his coach, Erik Spoelstra, said at practice Saturday.

"This is just another day of getting treatment and getting rest," added Wade.

They're giving simple, straightforward answers, and don't you dare doubt them.

Wade's too proud to talk about his injuries. This is the same guy who was caught on camera Thursday night coughing and mocking Dirk Nowitzki — he doesn't believe in personal drama. He doesn't want to complain about whatever adversity comes his way. He just wants to fight through it.

Give the guy credit. This league has seen a lot of potentially great players not quite pan out — they had Wade's natural-born talent, but not his toughness. Wade's got the total package. His fierce competitive spirit made him the hero of the 2006 Finals against these Mavs. If he leads the Heat to a comeback with wins Sunday and Tuesday, he'll almost surely be the MVP again.

Wade's showing toughness when it matters most. Not only because of the obvious do-or-die circumstances, but because he's showing a side his two superstar teammates don't have. LeBron James is shying away from the fourth quarter, at least offensively; Chris Bosh is putting up numbers but not competing hard enough against the heroic Nowitzki. Wade's the one guy with the will to compete and earn this thing. If the Heat are to pull off the improbable and steal this series from down 3-2, he's got to lead the way.

Despite all the many, many differences between this series and that original meeting back in '06, the Mavs-Heat Finals matchup has once again been reduced to a battle of wills between its two stars, Nowitzki and Wade. Both guys have been through a lot in this series — Nowitzki with his torn finger tendon and sinus infection, Wade with his hip and his surgically repaired shoulder. But no one's ever 100 percent in the playoffs anyway. The great ones don't care.

Dwyane Wade needs two more wins to make all of this worth it. All of the criticism, all of the booing, all of the scrutiny that's followed them through 102 games since opening night in Boston back in October. It'll all pay off if he wins two more games. With that in mind, a little hip contusion is nothing. Sunday is everything.

Yardbarker

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