Dwyane Wade has not looked like himself these playoffs. The aggressive guard who we remember weaving through defenders like a shifty running back has become a straight-line driver who will resort to a pull-up jumper if you get in his way.
His right knee is clearly bothering him. A lot.
It hasn’t stopped the Heat the last few games against an injury-riddled Bulls squad, but with the Pacers (most likely) then the NBA finals looming, the Heat are going to need the old Wade (and Chris Bosh and other scoring options) because life is going to get harder for LeBron James (he can call up Carmelo Anthony and ask about that).
But Wade is just fine. Everything is peachy. Don’t take my word for it, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is telling you as much, via the fantastic Shandel Richardson with the Sun-Sentinel.
“He’s helping us win right now,” Spoelstra said Tuesday. “OK. One of these days boxscores will have your plus-minus impact and maybe eventually people will start to look at a boxscore differently and eventually a new generation of fans, the media, staff will see that’s the most important one and he’s having that impact.”
Um, that’s not a great argument for you, Erik.
Wade was +4 against the Bulls in Game 4, a 23-point Heat win. He was the only Heat starter with a single-digit +/- number in that game. What’s more, when you look at the lineups Wade was +14 when paired with the Heat starters but was -10 when he was in with the second unit — where he is supposed to carry the scoring load for that group.
Which is to say, as part of one of (if not THE) best starting five in the NBA he’s fine. But ask him to do the things the Heat have asked of Wade in recent years and he struggles. And like we said, that could matter a lot against the Pacers in the next round, and beyond.
But as a good coach should, Spoelstra is sticking by his man.
“I understand the interest level in it, but what you dislike about team sports is people lose sight of the main thing being the main thing,” Spoelstra said. “Dwyane’s proven himself as a warrior, he’s helping us win and at the end of the day we’re up 3-1 with a chance to close out. We knew going into this series that it wasn’t going to be about averages and that was one thing we had to have a discussion about before the series.”
I don’t think it’s about averages either. It’s about the way he looks. And he looks hurt.