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Erik Spoelstra will have none of your Dwyane Wade bashing

May 15, 2013, 11:28 AM EDT

Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade rouses the crowd before Game 2 of their NBA Eastern Conference semi-final basketball playoff against the Chicago Bulls in Miami Reuters

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.

  1. jbeagles23 - May 15, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    King James has this ship on lock anyways. Ind is a very aggressive d. However their offence won’t keep pace. And with bosh coming around its going to cause huge matchup problems when battier enters the game. Hibbert will have to be benched

  2. jimmymarlinsfan - May 15, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    Even if Wade is hurting, the Heat can fall back on more minutes from Allen, Battier, Miller and Jones. All of whom are capable shooters and defenders. Not to mention, the emergence of Norris Cole as playoff dynamite. And this is never mind the fact the Heat will have a few days off after they beat the Bulls and if the Knicks can buy another day or two from the Pacers, it will all be gravy

    • cantonbound13 - May 15, 2013 at 1:27 PM

      Sure, now you like the Knicks.

      • jimmymarlinsfan - May 15, 2013 at 3:04 PM

        I don’t like the Knicks I just root for longer, harder series from potential opponents

      • cantonbound13 - May 15, 2013 at 5:41 PM

        never know with you

    • ulyses20 - May 15, 2013 at 3:07 PM

      I don’t think it matters if the Knicks win 1 or even 2 games or lose tomorrow night because the earliest the Conference Final could start on is Tuesday, May 21 per a previous PBT article listed below. So that will give Wade almost a week of rest if they close out the Bulls tonight.

      http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/05/09/why-are-there-no-games-tonight-blame-the-lakers/

      The only way that date would change is if they make it to game 7 which will push it to probably Wednesday.

  3. livingsacrifice86 - May 15, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    Why not switch wades and lebrons roles then, when it comes to subs? Instead of lebron playing the entire first quarter leave wade in there with bosh and then bring lebron back in when they take their initial rest. Lets face it – any lineup with lebron is good.

  4. simonwelds - May 15, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Who would u rather a hurt wade or a hurt rose?

  5. jjones314 - May 15, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    We need Wade. They can get past Chicago without him but not Indy or potentially a Memphis or Spurs team.

    They don’t necessarily need Wade to score a ton of points but you do need him to attack the basket and get guys in foul trouble. Wade has to get to the rim.

  6. southbeachtalent - May 15, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    “I don’t think it’s about averages either. It’s about the way he looks. And he looks hurt.”

    Well, I don’t think him being hurt is breaking news. Obviously he’s not 100, Spo’s point is that he is still a key factor and spreads the floor. His +/- proves that.

    I hope he gets some rest today.

    • jaerba - May 15, 2013 at 1:58 PM

      Except the +/- doesn’t prove it. Wade does a lot of great things for the team but 1) the +/- don’t look good in his favor and 2) you need an unbelievably large sample size to make meaningful inferences from +/- so it’s not very good for this situation anyways.

      He’s obviously still a key factor, he’s just not playing like the top 5 player he is when he’s healthy.

      • southbeachtalent - May 15, 2013 at 4:18 PM

        The +/- for Wade is +45. Not too shabby. Agree on all your other pts.

  7. miamatt - May 15, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    One of the strengths of the Miami organization is the public support they give each other, from the top down. No matter if Wade is struggling, Spoelstra has his back sure as Riley has James’s.

    At this point I don’t know that there will be enough rest for Wade to improve this injury prior to the championship being decided. I think it becomes about Wade gutting it out and adjusting however he needs to to help Miami win from this point on. His teammates will pick him him up when they can.

  8. allthewaylive1 - May 15, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    I agree with you miamatt, and I think you are correct in your assessment. I have been reading the comments of sportswriters and commenters for a long time, and bloggers for as long as they have been in existence. The one thing I have learned is to not to feed into the drama they create in order to influence people in ways they want to be influenced anyway. In this case: LBJ/Heat haters…

    The Heat know how to win, and if need be, they know how to cover for each other. They did it last year and Wade was hurt worse than he is this year as far as we are privy to Team business. I’m just going to sit back and watch the drama play out. If the Bulls can 3-peat more than once, and the Lakers can 3-peat more than once then the Heat–barring a serious injury to LBJ–can do it too!

  9. gmsalpha - May 15, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    I still remember those Dwyane Wade Converse shoe commercials where he kept getting up after being knocked down. That was the Dwyane Wade everyone loves and expects to see. But his body has taken a beating over the years, and that guy is not out on the court any more. Perhaps for a quarter, a half, or a game here or there, but in general, it’s clear that he’s not the guy he used to be.

    There was always the joke about Miami’s “Big Two and a Half”, with Chris Bosh being the half. I’m sorry to say to all the D-Wade fans out there, but if they are still the Big Two and a Half, Dwyane is the half.

    And for Miami fans, don’t be surprised if LeBron is gone in the Summer of 2014. If Dwyane doesn’t get back to his old self, and/or they don’t replace him with someone else, James may take his talents elsewhere.

    I DO believe Miami will win the championship this year. But I’ll be surprised if they 3-peat.

  10. thenmoveback - May 15, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    All the heat need from Wade is solid 4th quarter play, make a few shots, assist, rebounds, steals, blocks, whatever it is he just needs to make an impact when it counts and help close out games.

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