CLEVELAND – Dwyane Wade’s maintenance plan is about to get tested.
Yes, the 34-year-old veteran was able to answer the bell on Wednesday, making the start against Cleveland despite dealing with swelling in his left knee, but credit the adrenaline of facing off against good friend LeBron James for that.
It’s about to get interesting.
Wade was asked how long he’s been dealing with this latest incident, and said with a smile, “It started about 14 years ago.’’
It was back in his Marquette days that Wade tore his meniscus and rather than have it repaired, which was a longer rehabilitation process, he opted to have it removed. The problem with removal is lingering setbacks such as swelling of the knee.
“This ain’t nothing new,’’ Wade said. “This is the first time they’ve publicly made a statement. But I’ve had three knee surgeries so I get swelling in my knee sometimes. It’s not a big deal.
“I’ve been dealing with it for a long time. I’ve learned how to handle it.’’
The schedule is about to test that. Wade missed the Monday win over Charlotte with the knee, and will now have two days off to get ready for the next six games. In that time the Bulls will play two back-to-backs, as well as face the likes of Toronto, Oklahoma City, Washington and the Knicks in the Garden.
Wade has already been held out of several back-to-backs this season to get a breather, and swelling with the knee will further complicate that.
According to coach Fred Hoiberg, there is still no exact plan in place for Wade except daily communication with his guard and getting frequent updates on how he feels.
What Wade continued to stay away from is looking back and questioning his decision in college to have the meniscus removed.
“Yeah, that was a different time,’’ Wade said. “Technology is a little different. But, yeah, that would’ve been ideal. At the time, it was about getting me out of pain. They did it the way they did it. It’s whatever. I’ve still had a good career. So it didn’t hurt me too bad.’’
One of the few teams in the Eastern Conference that the Cavaliers have had regular-season problems with since LeBron James returned has been the Bulls.
Hoiberg’s continual frustration with his team, however, has been bottling up that intensity level that they show against the Cavs and carrying it to other teams.
“It’s something you strive for, and we talk about it all the time, is the consistency,’’ Hoiberg said. “A lot of teams in this league are striving for that. The top teams are the ones that are getting it done on a nightly basis. A lot of us are trying to figure out how to get it on a nightly basis.’’
It was a real problem for last year’s team as they went a combined 7-1 against Cleveland and Toronto last season, and didn’t make the playoffs.
“We watch a lot of film, we talk about it in practice, and now it’s going out and stringing together some consistent games,’’ Hoiberg said of a solution. “We need to see more of that.’’
While Wade is a game-by-game decision these days, it could be quite some time before first-round pick Denzel Valentine (left ankle) returns. The rookie injured the same left ankle that he injured in the preseason, and that cost him almost a month.
Hoiberg wasn’t about to put a timetable on this latest injury.