If you had any doubts about whose team the Miami Heat was then last night should’ve cleared all of them from your head.
Its Dwyane Wade’s team… always has been and always will be.
In the midst of their 88-86 thrilling victory over Dallas Wade took over the game in the box score and on the bench. He scored seven points in a row to keep The Mavs at bay as Dirk Nowitzki helped lead them back into contention after a sluggish third and beginning of the fourth. However, what was most compelling about D-Wade in this game was how he took control of his team.
He barked orders at Mario Chalmers, Chris Bosh and (ready for it) LeBron James as he tried to keep his teammates heads on straight as the Mavs were charging late. After a bad pass by Chalmers to James lead to two free throws by Nowitzki there was a camera shot of Wade giving James an earful. Who knows what it was about but eventually he grabbed James who wasn’t trying to hear him and let him know what was up.
After a year of wondering and speculation as to who really ran Miami, we got our answer in one moment that was captured on TV.
Sure we’ve talked about how great LeBron has been late in the fourth quarter of the postseason, however these finals are proof that Wade is truly the closer for this team and its best option late in the game (kind of makes you wonder why he only had 2 shots late in game 2). He has the kind of intensity and will that most players don’t have in these situations. You could tell from his demeanor, defensive presence and willingness to stick a dagger in the hearts of Dallas that he wanted it more than any other player in that arena including James.
When double teams came his way he broke through them, when Jason Kidd sized him and got in his grill he rose to the occasion and knocked down his shot. Even on Chris Bosh’s game–winning jumper it was Wade that set the play up for him even though James got the assist.
Wade drew a double team from Kidd and Shawn Marion that left Dirk Nowitzki to guard Bosh and Udonis Haslem on the wing. Wade was able to get the ball to James who then found Bosh for the decisive shot in the corner. Wade’s presence and aggressiveness down the stretch set that play up enabling Bosh to be the hero.
After the game he eluded to the struggles at the end of game 2 saying that there were moments he should’ve touched the ball but didn’t. I think Erik Spoelstra learned that lesson don’t you.
But here’s the main lesson that we all should take away from this game and that late game confrontation between Wade and James. All season long we’ve been watching and wondering that maybe this really is LeBron’s team with Wade playing second fiddle. When watching game 3’s highlights and the aftermath I’ve come to the realization that all season it’s been the other way around.
James hasn’t been deferring to Wade; Wade has been taking over games late because that’s his job, that’s what he does. It was Wade that led a second quarter comeback that tied game 2 at 51 at the half before they were up 15. It was Wade barking at Bosh to stay aggressive and to James to limit his mistakes. It was Wade referring to the Heat as his team and the players as his teammates at the post-game press conference with James directly next to him not saying a peep. James has gotten a lot of the glory, and blame in some cases, but the guy that makes this team is Wade. Without Wade they wouldn’t be sitting in Dallas up 2-1 or in Dallas at all for that matter. He’s willing them to the cusp of another championship and isn’t taking anything lying down.
(Side note: here is a new conundrum for LeBron James.
Let’s say he wins a title this year and the next and the next, sure he’ll have three rings, which is more than any other player can say in the league not named Kobe or Duncan, but he’ll be known as D-Wade’s sidekick in doing it. Right now D-Wade is the Finals MVP without question, in key moments its James has been riding along and watching Wade go to work and playing the background. Do you think that this is going to sit well with him? Do you think he can take another news conference where in his head he feels like the best player on the floor but doesn’t have the number spot on his own team and has to sit the and listen to Wade speak? Can he really take this for 5 more years even if he wins 5 titles?
Truth be told James is in a lose-lose situation. If he wins a title it was because of Wade, if he loses then he didn’t do enough. Call me crazy but this could build into an interesting situation over the next few years or however long that they are together.
Also, please stop having them do conferences together it looks absolutely ridiculous.)
With game 4 on the horizon the Heat have to be feeling pretty good right now. They lead the series, they’re shutting down Dallas offensively and Dwyane Wade is in full attack mode and isn’t letting anyone slow him down, nor is he giving his teammates room for error.
He’s looking like the quintessential leader right now. He has to be; it’s his team, just like it’s always been.