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Wade Returns. . .To Destroy Washington

In what surely had to be nauseating scene for Wizards fans, Dwyane Wade made an earlier than expected return from his dislocated shoulder injury on Sunday. Early reports out of Miami had Wade targeting a return on Wednesday - for the final regular season game against the Washington - but he decided to get the rust out against the Charlotte Bobcats, so that he would get two games behind him and be best prepared to destroy the Wizards on Wednesday.

The upcoming Heat-Wizards game lost its importance when Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas were lost for the season with injuries, but now it looks like the Heat is preparing to humiliate Washington when you add Wade to the equation. Wade always kills the Wizards, and he has never lost to them. The Heat has proven that it can without him, while the Wizards have yet to prove that they can without Arenas and Butler out. Take two all-stars off any team and you will struggle. Look at the Heat without Shaquille O'Neal and Wade. It looked lottery bound.

Wade's shoulder injury on Feb. 21 was supposed to derail the Heat's season and secure the Southeast Division title for Washington. But the Wizards' season has gone down the drain, while O'Neal, Antoine Walker, Gary Payton and Eddie Jones re-discovered that they had game in his absence and the Heat went 16-7. It will take time for the Heat to reincorporate Wade, who looked sluggish in 27 minutes during a surprising loss against the Bobcats. He had 12 points on 3 of 9 shooting, with eight assists and six turnovers.

Wade, however, was able to take his first hit and play through it without experiencing any pain. And guess who was the first player to put Wade's shoulder to the test? Yes, the Official Gilbert Stopper: Jake Voskuhl. No, he didn't hold up Wade and wait for Gerald Wallace to come crashing into him. Voskuhl bumped Wade as he drove down the lane for a pass in the third quarter.

Wade has five games to prepare for the postseason, but here might be the only good news for Wizards: based on what happened last week - Toronto beating Miami and Chicago, Miami losing to Toronto and Charlotte - the Wizards might avoid the Heat in the first round.

The Heat, currently the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, trails the Raptors by two games. And, the Raptors are just a game behind the Bulls and Cleveland for the second-best record in the East, leaving the Wizards with a chance to get Toronto, Chicago or Cleveland in the first round.

Okay, I know. It probably doesn't matter. The Wizards can't beat anybody right now. But it beats the Heat. Right? Haven't the expectations been lowered to just avoiding a first-round sweep at this point?

By Michael Lee  |  April 9, 2007; 12:11 PM ET
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