Before he shot a career-playoff-worst 1 for 12 from the field, before he grimaced while prone on the court after talking a misstep on a Euro-step drive in the second quarter, Dwyane Wade said that, no, he wasn't all right.
Even with the 3-0 series lead the Heat carried out of Thursday's 104-91 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks (also known as the NBA's worst playoff opponent) at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, the undercurrent of concern is undeniable.
Earlier in the day, with teammates completing their game-day preparations at the gym that Wade's legacy helped build at Marquette University, the Heat's All-Star guard already was in the Golden Eagles' training room, tending to his right knee, essentially spending all of Thursday's daylight hours on ice.
"I was just back there in the cold tub," he said. "I was in there for a while. I know how important it is, so that's why I was in there all afternoon."
Last season's emergency summoning of trainer Tom Grover after Game 2 of the NBA Finals didn't end the apprehension.
The knee has changed, from surgical left to tender right. The worry remains.
"I'm not where I want to be. I'm not even close," Wade said, words that, in the big picture, meant far more than Thursday's result. "I'm still able to push through certain things."
Thursday, the push was muted, especially after he went down early in the second quarter when fouled by the always clumsy Samuel Dalembert on the Euro-step that was as awkward as the ensuing fall.
Wade tested the knee before going to the foul line, where he made one of the two free throws that combined with a layup later in the period accounted for the three total points he carried into the fourth quarter, adding one more in the fourth.
Fortunately, Ray Allen was there to pick the Heat up while Wade was down, the support system that has masked just about every Heat flaw since January. Allen led the Heat with a game-high 23 points.
"After the game," Wade said, "I told him, 'Thanks for picking me up.' "
"I didn't even know he was 1 for 12," Allen said, "until I looked at the stat sheet. He played hard."
Through it all, Wade left his mark in the arena where his college number hangs, with 11 assists, nine rebounds and five steals, now so much more than merely a scorer.
"I shot the ball terrible," he said. "But we played a good game.
"I wasn’t feeling great tonight. I'm not worried about it. I'm not going to cry. I've got two days off. So, hopefully, it’ll be better for Game 4."
He basically wound up with a very good bad game.
"Three baskets and one rebound from a triple-double," teammate Mike Miller said. "Not too shabby."
When Wade took seven of nine games off before returning for the regular-season finale to score 21, the thought was tired legs getting a needed rest, especially with the Heat listing him with a sprained right ankle for all but one of those absences.
But then came Tuesday's Game 2 victory, when Wade looked nothing short of explosive and coach Erik Spoelstra entered his postgame media session talking about Wade excelling in spite of his limitations.
Understand, Spoelstra sees Wade every day in practice, every day in the training room. Yes, coaches are prone to worry, and, yes, Wade sure seems to move a lot better when the ball is in his hands, but these playoffs never were about the Bucks.