Dwyane Wade has sat out three games with a sore foot. The Miami Heat have won those three games. LeBron James has looked like the LeBron of the Cleveland era the past couple of games because he has to take on much more of the offense.
So of course, some people looking to stir the pot are saying that since Wade’s and LeBron’s skills overlap, this these wins show it’s time to trade Wade. The team is better without him.
Those people are wrong. Flat out wrong.
If you need more than just common sense to understand that, Zach Lowe did a good breakdown of why you’re wrong over at Sports Illustrated.
The fit issues are real, and they present Erik Spoelstra with one of the more enviable challenges in the league, especially in crunch time, when the game slows down. But it’s a challenge he has generally responded to well, installing half-court sets that feature all three Heat stars moving and this season adopting a super-charged fast-break attack. Miami is playing at the league’s fastest place, is shooting 69 percent in transition chances (per Synergy Sports) and sporting a top-five overall offense to go with its elite defense.
It’s a style they can play so well because they have two insane athletes flying down the court, capable of finishing, passing like geniuses and pushing the ball. Remove one, and attack becomes less threatening; their pace has slowed without Wade over the team’s last three games (one of which James also missed), which rank as three of Miami’s five slowest games of the season. Miami’s opponents have something to do with that slowdown — especially two games against the slow-poke Hawks — but if Miami is really going to play this fast over the long haul and win, they need both Wade and James healthy.
Spoelstra has also moved LeBron into the post more in the half court, and when Mike Miller returns healthy they have another floor-spacing threat in the half court that will open up driving lanes. Their half court offense — which they will have to run more of in the playoffs — is improving.
But with a healthy Wade and LeBron they are going to get enough easy buckets in transition that they will be very difficult to beat because they play good defense. But they need both of them to get all those easy buckets. They need both. Period.