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Dwyane Wade-Udonis Haslem combo returns, but any dividends put in escrow

Mar 19, 2014, 11:51 PM EDT

Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem

BOSTON – Dwyane Wade had barely crossed halfcourt when Udonis Haslem streaked past him and all the way behind the defense. Wade tossed the ball toward the rim, and Haslem grabbed it and dunked, hanging on the rim an extra beat.

The Celtics called timeout, on their way to a 14-point deficit midway through the first half. Haslem would make his first six shots in the first quarter to go with four rebounds, two assists and two blocks in the period. Wade would lead the Heat in scoring.

The once the franchise’s most-dependable duo, Wade and Haslem were back in action, excelling together.

In three of the five seasons between 2005-06 and 2009-10, Wade and Haslem finished 1-2 on the Heat in win shares.* And in the other two years, Haslem came within a tenth of a win share of second place.**

*Shaquille O’Neal was definitely one of the Heat’s two best players in 2005-06, but he missed 23 games to Haslem’s one. As they say, the most important ability is availability.

**James Posey Haslem him 2006-07, and Chris Quinn edged him in 2007-08.

But besides 67 seconds two weeks ago – due only to a teammate’s foul trouble – Wade and Haslem hadn’t played together in Miami’s previous 27 games. Until tonight, Haslem’s first start since the Heat’s sixth game of the season.

“It was just like old times,” Wade said.

A bit too much, actually.

Of course, Haslem’s role has shrunk since Miami signed LeBron James and moved toward dynasty status. With LeBron out due to back spasms tonight, the Heat returned to their unsteady ways in a 101-96 loss to Boston.

This is Miami’s ninth loss to a team that currently has losing record, the most such losses among any of the NBA’s top 10 teams.

“That’s not good,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said with genuine-sounding concern. “That’s not good. We have to do better.”

Maybe tonight’s loss was an anomaly, though.

Not only was LeBron out with what seems like a relatively minor injury, Wade left the game with a nosebleed not caused by contact. He returned with a roll of cotton sticking out of his nostril and a noticeable uncomfortableness on the court.

“I didn’t feel right the whole time I was out there,” Wade said. “…I feel like a boxer. It wouldn’t stop.”

Wade led the Heat with 17 points. But unlike LeBron, who has averaged 37.0 points and scored at least 27 in the nine games Wade has missed since New Year’s, Wade hasn’t found his groove without LeBron.

Then again, does that really matter? If the Heat lose LeBron in the playoffs, they’re in deep trouble, anyway. And anything in between is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

The Heat still trail the Pacers, who lost to the Knicks tonight, by three games with 16 contests left for Miami and 14 for Indiana. It’s getting late to grab the No. 1 seed.

At this point in the season, the Heat should be focused on readying themselves for the playoffs – resting players like LeBron and dusting the cobwebs off players like Haslem.

Haslem played 27 minutes tonight – more than he’d played in Miami’s previous 20 games combined. He lost steam as the game progressed, finishing with 14 points and five rebounds, but this experience could serve him well if he’s called upon in the postseason. In the long run, it probably won’t matter the Heat lost tonight in Boston. It might matter whether Haslem found a rhythm he can carry into May and June.

“He’s been terrific. He’s been giving us incredible bottled-up energy and toughness. That’s what this group needs,” Spoelstra said. “We just didn’t do enough tonight to get the job done.”

That might just depend what the job is.

  1. illegalblues - Mar 20, 2014 at 12:11 AM

    slow news night, eh? cash those word count checks!

  2. kb2408 - Mar 20, 2014 at 12:35 AM

    Who cares about the Heat/Pacers race for best record, I’m more concerned about the Celtics big win tonight. Now, barring a crushing “victory” tonight against the Spurs, the LAKERS will be behind them and one step closer to a top 5 pick!!

  3. realfootballfan - Mar 20, 2014 at 1:38 AM

    It’s going to be tough for Miami, not because of the silly Indiana as a contender talk, but because they’re fried. They’ve been in the Finals 3 straight years. Even that Bulls team was nuked at the end of their run back in ’98. The Lakers similarly couldn’t get back. Right now, I think The Clippers are the team that’s peaking at the right time, has the coach with the pedigree to do it, and added the right pieces at the trade deadline to win it all. Had they gotten Garnett and Pierce last offseason, I’d say they were a virtual lock, but that didn’t happen. The Heat most likely will be their opposite them, but I just can’t see them pulling it out as these game hours continue to pile up.

    • casualcommenter - Mar 20, 2014 at 1:56 AM

      Clippers and Spurs are playing their best basketball now in the West, with the Thunder and Rockets not far behind. Top 4 seeds in the West are all looking good.

      Western Conference playoffs, especially rounds 2 and 3, should be epic.

      Meanwhile, in the East, both the Pacers and Heat look a bit burnt out. The Heat have the excuses of being older and having come off 3 long postseason runs. I don’t know what’s happened to the Pacers.

  4. gameisours - Mar 20, 2014 at 4:28 AM

    And family-combo sat

  5. void96eater - Mar 20, 2014 at 8:20 AM

    I still don’t understand why Spo doesn’t start Haslem over Battier. Battier is too worn out from guarding so many PFs and that’s why is 3pt shooting has gone to crap.

  6. capspats - Mar 20, 2014 at 8:57 AM

    Ya it’s funny, I get those random nose bleeds sometimes

  7. 1heatedtoombrayduh - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    I dont mind if the heat get the second seed as long as the bobcats get the 7th…I live in Sc, i
    WILL def be going to one of those playoff games!

  8. spursareold - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:20 AM

    LOL. Just for giggles, I googles “HGH nosebleeds” and yes, it is one of the most common side effects of injecting HGH.

    • reesesteel23 - Mar 20, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      Wow…….just for gigges my a**. You’re reaching for the stars son.

      • spursareold - Mar 20, 2014 at 12:09 PM

        But keeping my feet on the ground!

      • spursareold - Mar 20, 2014 at 12:11 PM

        Don’t be angry because my hunch was confirmed. It’s not like we didn’t aready know that Wade and Bron are juicing by their bearded attempts to cover up their ginormous HGH induced jawbones.

  9. kanyeeas - Mar 20, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    uncomfortableness? i believe the word you were looking for was “discomfort”

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