Because Heat coach Eric Spoelstra has implicit trust in his star player Dwyane Wade, no one was surprised when Spoelstra gave the three time champion the green light to save the season for the Miami Heat by doing Wade things. Whatever friction that sort of behavior might cause with Goran Dragic was temporarily shelved under not important as Wade fell back into the familiar role of savior. Wade floater, Heat down by 5. Wade drive, Heat down by 3. Wade layup, score tied, 12 seconds left. Dwyane Wade single handedly delivered the Heat to overtime.
There had been buzz about a passive friction between Wade and Goran Dragic, the two scoring/passing guards for the Heat. Both of their games are efficient when the ball is in their hands during the tense moments of a close game. So it stands to reason that one has to lead and the other has to follow.
Multiple All-Star nods and future Hall of Famer Wade has designated himself, with Spoelstra’s blessing, as the shot maker, game changer and all around hero when the game is coming down to its final tense moments. Or when the season is in jeopardy, like last night. How many times has he come through in the past? Tons. How many times has Dragic done it in the playoffs? A handful.
Goran Dragic had that wonderful performance against the Spurs when he had 23 points in the 4th quarter in 2010. But, that was six years ago. Wade is ballin’ right now and wasn’t going to allow Monday night to be his last game of the year in Wade County.
It’s not like it was new. Wade did it to Charlotte on the road last series.
Last night, Wade had a little bit of luck because Jonas Valanciunas, the big man for the Raptors, is out for the series (ankle). There was no one blocking his way on his drives, except for the rim that one time the ball got stuck. Other than that, the Raptors allowed Wade to do whatever he wanted, not once double or triple teaming him to take the ball out of his hands.
Wade’s only score in overtime was a dunk with 6 seconds left, off a steal. That pretty much sealed things. In the extra period, Dragic had a three point play on what was a particularly miserable shooting night. Left wide open multiple times, he missed a ton, going 5-16. He attempted 8 less shots than Wade who launched 24 for his 30 points on 54% shooting and 4 rebounds.
Not that any of this should be a surprise to Dragic. He was signing a max deal to partner with a player who was not just a champion three times over, but had an entrenched style of play. It’s like asking your girl to move into your place. She has freedom but it’s still your 10 year crib so she has all the adjusting to do, not you.
The series tied 2-2, Spoelstra has more schemes to come up with. First is to figure out how to make this thing go without Hassan Whiteside in the middle as an inhibitor. The Heat’s team of veterans aren’t queasy about road playoff games but shooting 1-15 from three in Toronto isn’t going to help the cause. Especially not when the wing defenders are giving up nearly 40% from three to the Raptors and turning Terrence Ross into Steph Curry lite.
The Heat are going to be up against it in chaotic and loud Toronto but they did beat the Raptors in game 1. That victory should be a template. It was not because of Wade, solitary man. Rather, he and Dragic made an impressive team.
50 points. 48.7% shooting. 80% from three. 75% from the line. 12 rebounds. 6 assists. 3 steals. 2 blocks.
It can be done.
photo via llananba