Miami Heat: Time For Dwyane Wade’s All-Star Bid
“LeBron is tired. LeBron is tired.”
That’s all you heard in the fourth quarter when the Miami Heat were putting a 20 point beatdown on the Cleveland Cavaliers inside of the Amercian Airlines Arena. Ironically enough it was the Heat who were full of energy and not the usual James who has some of his best performances inside of the arena. The irony lies in the fact that Dwyane Wade who’s 33-years-old looked like the spry one in the game as he finished with 19 points, five rebounds, four assists, and one steal in 29 minutes of work in a 99-84 home victory. Ironically enough, James was sitting on the court resting, when it was less than three years ago when Wade would routinely rest his body in order to get prepared for the playoffs.
Wade this season hasn’t been on a maintenance plan like he once was in the past, but what he has done like before is dominate against his opponents. Many people might be holding their breath when it comes to praising Wade because they don’t know what to expect from someone who hasn’t played in at least 70 games since 2011, but everyone in Miami has seen how well Wade is playing. Everyone in the city has started taking notice that their All-Star is finally playing at a true All-Star level. More importantly, everyone around the country is finally getting the memo that Wade is finally healthy and he’s ready to dominate again.
If you think you’re going to get any off nights from the Heat then guess again. On Thursday night, we got to see a very familiar scene inside of the American Airlines Arena. There stood two championship contending teams in the Miami Heat playing at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder. As the game dwindled down and the Heat were tied late in the game, there was only one person who needed to have the basketball in his hands and that was Wade.
Maybe the Thunder didn’t get the memo that Wade himself was one of the best closers in NBA history because the defense they played when the basketball was in his hands was borderline egregious. In vintage Wade fashion, his presence with the basketball commanded everyone in the arena to stand up on their feet to see what he was going to do with the balance of the game decided in his hands. Wade caught the basketball off of an inbounds play, took Oklahoma City’s shooting guard Dion Waiters off of the dribble, drove past him and got to the free throw line as he got mauled by Serge Ibaka.
Why Billy Donovan allowed Waiters to draw the assignment on Wade instead of players his caliber such as Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant, no one knows.
All we do know is that two free throws later, and a missed Russell Westbrook three-pointer at the buzzer, and everyone started to realize that this Heat team is ready to make a championship run. Miami got the 97-95 victory over Oklahoma City and people within the city and around the nation noticed that this team was talented enough to make a run at a championship.
To the haters of the Miami Heat, don’t look now but there’s a new No. 1 atop of the Eastern Conference standings. All it took was a 12-6 overall record, an absurd 10-3 home record and the second longest winning streak in the Eastern Conference.
In addition, it also took Wade to actually lower his time producing on the court. Wade this season is averaging his second lowest points per game total, scoring 18.6 a night, but he’s playing better than a lot of his contemporaries at the shooting guard position. Furthermore, Wade is also playing a career-low in minutes (29.7), so it also attributes to his low scoring average. However, if Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra can keep Wade’s minutes down it’s only going to help Miami when they make their playoff push. The most important time Wade will be needed is in the playoffs. In the meantime, it’s intelligent to keep his minutes down and find minutes of players such as Gerald Green, Tyler Johnson, and Justise Winslow who all are important in their own right.
Just like the rings James flashed when the crowd started chanting “LeBron is tired.” It now looks like Wade is on a personal mission to win one more ring before he leaves the game.
D’Joumbarey A. Moreau covers sports in Miami-Dade & Broward County. You can follow him on Twitter@DJoumbarey.