Last night was a nice reminder that Dwyane Wade still possesses the ability to play basketball at a level higher than Ronnie Brewer. The Heat came roaring back in game four after an embarrassing evisceration in game three. The biggest difference between games three and four, other than the Spurs hitting half the number of 3’s in this contest (although they still managed to shoot at a rate of 50%) was the Big Three of Miami playing up to the potential that the world has come to expect from them.
Lebron began the game aggressively, scoring early and often in this game. Where as he seemed to be hesitant to shoot jumpers in game three. James took full advantage of all the space he was being given tonight. Coming out confidently, Lebron went 5-6 in the first quarter, attacking through the post as well as with his much improved mid-range game.
Chris Bosh also had an impressive bounce back performance. The former Raptor, who had gone into a bad funk/tailspin/funkspin in recent weeks finally played a game to his strengths. While Bosh has demonstrated an ability to stretch his game past the three point line, he has not been shooting well from there in the last two rounds, and last night clearly became more focused on taking his game to the rim. Bosh shot an efficient 8-14 from the field, knocking down all four of his free throws. More impressive than the brief scoring outburst were the 13 rebounds Bosh managed to coral. San Antonio, through three games in this series, had managed to rebound 30% of their own misses. Thanks to an impressive effort from Bosh last night. the Spurs only managed 5 offensive boards on their 39 missed attempts.
But the thing about this game that has everyone talking is Dwyane Wade,who has allegedly been afflicted with a mysterious knee injury, looking like his old self again. While Lebron finished the game with a team and game high 33 points, Wade scored 32 of his own, by far his highest points total in these playoffs.
Wade has simply not looked right in this postseason run. While many have claimed that Flash is struggling through these games with a serious injury, some have begun to speculate that tension in the locker room may have something to do with Wade’s poor play. It’s not just that he hasn’t been scoring well, with his postseason PPG down to 15 after averaging 23.7 for his career, or that Wade has been significantly less aggressive, seeing his FTA average plummet from 7.8 a game to just 3.7 this postseason, but he has been lazy and sloppy on defense. Danny Green, who has arguably been the MVP of the finals for the Spurs (more on this later), has scored the majority of his points on wide open 3’s that have come as a result of Wade snoozing on the defensive end. It’s one thing to say Wade has lost some of the athleticism that made him an impossible cover in his first championship season in 2006. But Wade’s defensive approach these finals have not been indicative of a guy who has lost a step, but rather of a guy who is not bringing his best effort to the floor.
But last night Wade looked like the old Dwyane, shooting 14-25 from the floor, and swiping an impressive 6 steals on the night. While Wade still struggled from outside the paint, he showed a level of aggressiveness and athleticism that have simply been missing in these playoffs.
The question going forward for Miami is “Can Wade keep this up?” I honestly don’t know. If Wade is as injured as the public is being led to believe, it’s hard to explain last night’s 32 point explosion. I seriously doubt Wade we be able to reproduce these kind of numbers in game 5, but if he’s able to suppress the pain (and take 4 horse tranquilizers and snort the powder of a dragon horn in the locker room), the Spurs may find themselves in serious trouble.
Weird Things I Noticed
– The Birdman got a DNP-CD last night. Miami seems to finally realize that they’re not playing against the Pacers anymore, and extreme small ball the probably the key to success.
– Shane Battier saw 9 minutes of floptastik action after being shelved for the second half of the conference finals and the majority of the first three games against San Antonio. While he’s not getting nearly the run he was during the regular season, its nice to see Miami maintain the identity that brought them here.
– Manu Ginobili stinks. He went 1-5 last night, missing all three of his attempts from beyond the arc. He also was sporting an “oh my god cover your eyes hide your children” -22 on the night in just 26 minutes of play. The Bald Spot has been anything but spot on.
– Not a basketball note, but the always great @jakezner made our website look nice. Tell him you like it please.