The Heat Index’s Tom Haberstroh has a great article up today on how Dwyane Wade’s unprecedented shot-blocking (Wade is the only guard to average at least a block per game over the course of his career) impacts Miami’s defense. Because Wade can block just about anybody’s shot, including a 7-footer’s, the Heat are able to defend the rim extremely well despite not having much size of their own up front:
Wade rarely shies away from shot-blocking opportunities, and that’s partly by design. In the Heat’s mechanical defense, which was orchestrated by Pat Riley and sharpened by Spoelstra, Wade must make his presence felt underneath the rim. The Heat’s defensive blueprint requires guards to act like big men underneath and wall off penetration.
It’s something that newcomers in the Heat system have to get used to. Even a player like Shane Battier, who has studied defensive principles his entire career, needed time to adjust to Wade’s shot-blocking talents.
“Earlier in the season,” Spoelstra remembers, “Shane Battier was in a situation where Dwyane Wade was a low man and the big man caught it right at the rim and Shane went to foul. We told Shane, ‘No, that’s not a fouling situation. Let Dwyane go up there and be a playmaker. That’s not a given even against a center.'”
I encourage you to read the full article, which is quite fantastic. Wade’s next chance to get some highlight-reel blocks will come in the Heat’s second-round series against the Pacers, which begins on Sunday.