MIAMI — Heat guard Dwyane Wade has two problems: A sore left foot and a jammed game schedule.
So he decided that taking a game off was his smartest option.
After battling the foot issue for a week with limited success, Wade sat out for the first time this season when Miami played host to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. Wade played both ends of a back-to-back on Sunday and Monday, got extensive treatment on Tuesday, but did not see enough improvement to merit playing against Indiana – especially since Miami starts a five-game road swing at Atlanta on Thursday.
"As much as I want to be out there, my team needs me to be Dwyane Wade and not somebody else on the floor," Wade said after sitting out Miami's shootaround Wednesday morning.
Wednesday's game is the third in a four-night span for Miami, and also starts another run of three-games-in-four-nights. The foot injury originally flared up in the first half of Miami's win at Charlotte on Dec. 28, a night where Wade returned to hit the game-winner with 2.9 seconds left.
But he's been slowed since, and Wednesday's decision was made with the big picture in mind.
"We want to make sure we can treat it and move on from it," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
James Jones started at shooting guard in Wade's place, and the rotation on the perimeter looked much thinner against Indiana because Mike Miller (hernia surgery) is still not ready to return to the lineup.
The Heat said Wade was day to day.
"With D having a foot problem, he has to be cautious about it," Heat forward LeBron James said. "We'd rather get him as close to 100 percent healthy now than let it linger."
Cutting and quickness are two staples of Wade's game – "cat moves," Spoelstra called them – and the concern over the foot has limited him of late in both of those areas. Wade had a season-high 10 assists in Monday's loss to Atlanta, but shot only 4 for 17.
With a condensed 66-game schedule this season, there simply aren't many off days to heal, so already players around the league have been sitting out some games where in past seasons they might have played.
"You saw the same with Paul Pierce," James said, referring to Boston's captain who missed three games with a sore heel to start the year, including one against Miami. "I bet if it was a playoff series Paul could have started the season. But he took his time and now he's back in the lineup."
Wade said one of the toughest issues that this particular injury presents is that he never knows when pain will flare up. Sometimes it happens on cuts, sometimes when he leaps, sometimes when he lands.
"Just got to deal with it," Wade said. "I know my feet are a big part of my game ... and that's one area I never want to hurt. I've got to get it taken care of."
Follow Tim Reynolds on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ByTimReynolds