An NBA blog from Newsday's Bobby Bonett
Dwyane Wade had a bad night
Last night, for just the second time in Dwyane Wade's career, the Miami Heat shooting guard was held to less than 10 points in a playoff game.
The first time was in the 2004 postseason. Wade shot 1-for-8 from the field, finishing with two points, as the Heat lost to the Hornets, 77-71. Then a 22-year-old rookie, Wade's Heat were up 2-0 heading into the game, and wound up winning the series in seven games. They eventually lost to the Pacers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, but nobody batted an eye; then, the Heat were a 42-40 team that snuck into the playoffs, and were led by Eddie Jones and Lamar Odom; Wade was their third option.
This year, that's not the case. After a 2010-11 season that was a disappointment despite a trip to the NBA Finals, the Heat were again prohibitive favorites to win the title entering the year. Miami wasn't quite as dominant as everyone expected during the regular season, specifically down the stretch, but a 4-1 romp over the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs reaffirmed the fact that to win the Eastern Conference, a team would have to go through Miami.
Instead, during a Game 1 loss to the Pacers, Chris Bosh was lost to injury. And while Miami managed a win in the opener, they dropped Game 2, meaning Game 3, in Indiana, was paramount.
Still, with two of the league's 10 best players, LeBron James and Wade, in the starting lineup, calling the Heat "underdogs" against the Pacers last night would've been a stretch. But Wade folded, shooting just 2-for-13 from the field, 0-for-2 from downtown, en route to a five-point night.
It's not like Wade looked good, either. As you can see below in a couple of late-game highlights, Wade's shots were way off the mark. He wasn't moving as quickly or as smoothly as we've grown accustomed to seeing Wade move. And the now-veteran 30-year-old added some unnecessary drama late, getting into a minor altercation on the sideline with head coach Erik Spoelstra. Letting the frustration get the best of him, Wade had to be held back from Spoelstra by other coaches and teammates.
Wade's actions late in the game will certainly draw the ire of fans and analysts. And looking forward at Game 4, you have to wonder if Wade and the Heat will be able to bounce back and knot the series at two apiece. Besides, the issues have stemmed further than just Wade; Roy Hibbert has taken advantage of Miami's non-existent post presence, scoring 19 points and pulling down 18 rebounds in Game 3, and George Hill turned in a dominant performance at point guard, scoring 20 points on 6-for-8 from the field in the 94-75 win.
If Miami has any hopes of advancing to the Eastern Conference finals, presumably against the Celtics, they'll need Shane Battier to shoot better than 0-for-7 from the field. And they'll need James Jones to hit at least one three, and Joel Anthony to finish with more than one board.
But most of all, they'll need Wade, who even with the addition of James, has been deemed the leader and face of the franchise, to save his own face. Two-thirds of the Big Three, on most nights, is enough to win a series against just about any team in the East. And nobody would be surprised if Wade bounces back, and the Heat run away with this series. Should Wade fold, though, leaving LeBron with a bunch of scrubs? We've seen how that ends.