Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dwyane Wade's Woes

Since the emergence, the birth if you will, of Miami's big three, there has been controversy. Over the two year span of this NBA experiment, we as spectators have sit back and watched the inevitable peaks and valleys of this team show us both incredible achievement, and embarrassing failure. Wether it is simply watching them fail to play as a team, hearing about arguments post game in the locker room, or watching this team self destruct on the biggest stage imaginable, they Miami Heat have continually failed to learn to do what the Boston Celtics embraced from the start.

Play as a unit.

Dwyane Wade to me, was and still is the face of that franchise. One of two players remaining from the '06 championship team in Miami, he has been the only thing relevant in Miami related to basketball for more than half a decade. For Miami to truly get back into this series and win a game in OKC, Wade is going to have to show up. The Heat don't need Wade of five to six years ago, and they don't need "Flash" as Shaq used to call him, they simply need good ol' Dwyane Wade to show up and be himself.

Wade didn't play well in the first game of these finals. Scoring 19 points, on 19 shots. He did have 8 assists, which are nothing to frown upon, but against a team like OKC the missed shots are more relevant to the games tempo and flow. The Thunder outscored the Heat 24-4 in fast break points. The key contributor to fast breaks are missed shots and turnovers. Miami took care of the ball, only turning it over 11 times. It was the long missed shots that did Miami in. Of Wades 12 missed shots, 9 were long jumpers, that resulted in 17 of the Thunders 24 fast break points.

The most obvious way, the only way, for Wade to get back to scoring in bunches and dominating his matchup as we are used to seeing him do, will be for him to leave that jumper in the bag and drive to the basket. Wade for years has sacrificed his body, and driven to the hole with reckless abandonment. Miami is going to need that Dwyane Wade tomorrow night if they want any, and I mean any, chance at evening this series a one game a piece. Wade has repeatedly acknowledged that shooting the long ball early in the shot clock is where he is at his weakest. There was an 82 game season where Wade attempted less than 50 3-point field goals for the entire year. With that said, he can't let the defensive ability of Russell Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha deter him from forcing the issue and getting to the rim. Clear out and pick and roll are not enough against the quicker, deeper Thunder. There must be more ball movement and more offensive execution. As Wade said after the game 5 win against the Pacers they, "Played less Hero Ball".

On the other end of the ball, the defensive end, Wade also has a responsibility to show up and dominate. I watched Westbrook get around Wade at will. Usually going left, Westbrook was getting all the way to the rim for either contested layups or dump off to the Thunder bigs who usually can't buy a basket. This can't be allowed. If the Heat are going to compete, Wade has to keep Westbrook out of the paint. There really is no other analysis that needs to be given on that topic. Hurt knee or not, if Wade can't guard Westbrook, this thing is over.

The last time we all seriously doubted Dwyane Wade, he exploded with a 30 point, 6 assist, 9 rebound performance. He then followed that up by playing two of the best post season performances we have ever seen from him. Including a 41 point performance to close out the Pacer's on their home floor. We have seen brilliance from Wade, recent brilliance, and Miami needs it now more than ever just to stay alive. Sure the rumors are swirling about his health, but it more his mental state that I am concerned about. He has to be aggressive, attack, demand the ball, and refuse to let the new kids on the block push him aside while he still has something left. As premature as writing the book on the "Big 3" seems to be, the fact of the matter is this team's championship window may already be closing. The notion that Wade can sit back and watch Lebron score at will, guard the other teams best player, make everyone around him better, rebound like a beast, play every minute of the game, and then Wade can make a last second shot if needed is nonsense. Wade has to play 48 minutes too if this team is going to have a chance to compete. That's the fundament backbone of this team, the pressure applied by two great wings at one time.

If Lebron wanted to play by himself with occasional help, he could have stayed in Cleveland, right?

*(Photo by Jonathan Daniel-Getty Images - Edits by Payton Wales)


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