It looked, for a night, as if Dwyane Wade might have received an injection from an Ocala horse pharmacy.
Hobbled by back spasms in Game 4, he fought through pain to do things as simple as jump shots. Trainers massaged him during timeouts and treated him in the locker room at the half. At one point, he had to be helped up off the bench to re-enter the game after resting.
He wasn't well, but the Heat needed him.
They'll need him again tonight.
Wade has vowed to play, no matter what shape he's in. "I'll be ready," he said. "If it's 100 percent or 35 percent, I'll be ready."
It's moving stuff, and further cements the tough, dedicated reputation Wade earned after putting off shoulder and knee surgery to contribute in the 2007 playoffs. But hampered by injury, Dwyane Wade's not going to be able to keep the Heat in the playoffs without help.
"Our young guys have to step up and really grow up in this series right now or else it's going to be an early exit," Wade said, presumably referring to the triumvirate of Michael Beasley, Daequan Cook, and Mario Chalmers -- who went 1-for-10 on Monday night.
The Heat are also without Jamario Moon (sports hernia), Luther Head (hand), and Mark Blount (excused for family matters). Coach Erik Spoelstra has said he will not play Dorrell Wright; Chris Quinn isn't much of an option thanks to his defense; and Yakhouba Diawara, Joel Anthony, and Jamaal Magloire are Yakhouba Diawara, Joel Anthony, and Jamaal Magloire.
If Wade's not both above, say, 85%, and completely on fire, some combination of Jermaine O'Neal, James Jones, Udonis Haslam, and the Muppet Babies (Beasley is so Fozzie Bear) will have to lead the way.
One can count on one hand the number of times that's happened successfully.
As such, Wade is doing everything possible to combat the spasms that came on suddenly during Monday's shoot-around. After needing "strong medicine" to rest Monday night, he spent nearly all day Tuesday receiving treatment from the Heat's medical staff. He'll likely do the same today before doctors evaluate him prior to tonight's 8pm start.
But whatever they tell him, he'll be hard to keep off the court: "Whether [the back] is 100 percent or 35 percent," he said, "it will be what it is."