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LeBron James and Dwyane Wade need each other now more than ever

May 21, 2014, 12:42 AM EDT

Dwyane Wade, LeBron James Dwyane Wade, LeBron James

When LeBron James stole the ball, three Pacers were closer to the Indiana basket than Dwyane Wade.

LeBron – arguably the greatest athlete in NBA history – took off in the open court, using his unique blend of speed and power to create space for a layup.

Wade – 32 years old and battling perpetual knee injuries that would make you think he’s 37 – ran just as hard.

It paid off. LeBron missed his shot, and Wade followed with a putback dunk.

“Usually, D Wade don’t even chase me down. He know if it’s a one-on-one matchup with me, most of the time I’m going to score,” LeBron said smiling. “But I was glad that he did.”

That was part of a decisive 10-0 run that propelled the Heat to an 87-83 win over the Pacers in Game 2 Tuesday. LeBron or Wade scored or assisted Miami’s final 33 points, including scoring the final 20 themselves.

“That’s what we want,” Wade said. “We came here, and that’s what we envisioned – having two guys that is able to be dynamic at the same time.”

Neither LeBron nor Wade are playing their best right now, which is precisely why they must lean on each other. The Heat aren’t playing their best either, making them especially reliant on their biggest stars, and there’s only one way LeBron and Wade can meet that dependence – together.

In the final 16 minutes – a full third of the game – LeBron (14 of 22 points) and Wade (10 of 23 points) absolutely dominated. They had to. Here was the production in that span of Miami’s other three starters:

Erik Spoelstra changed his starting lineup from Game 1, inserting Haslem for Shane Battier, but the the switch didn’t really pay dividends. Haslem proved ineffective against Roy Hibbert and didn’t help enough on the glass. Credit the Heat coach for having the guts to bench Haslem and Chalmers, who didn’t provide the spark Norris Cole did.

Meanwhile, Bosh is not producing while battling Indiana’s behemoths. He has just 18 points on 8-of-21 shooting and eight rebounds in the series.

Chris Andersen came off the bench to grab 12 rebounds and produce a stunning +25 plus-minus in a four-point game, but he’s just one of several Miami role players. the Heat can’t rely on a single one of them on a nightly basis.

As the Heat have aged, their talent gap over the rest of the league has shrunk. The Pacers are absolutely good enough to win this series, and there are several Western Conference teams – including both still playing – capable of beating Miami, too.

That leaves a lot on the plates of LeBron and Wade.

The four-year examination of how LeBron and Wade fit together has been overblown. Let’s get that out of the way. LeBron and Wade are both tremendously skilled and versatile players. They fit with everyone.

But LeBron and Wade aren’t a perfect fit together. There’s give and take with two players used to dominating the ball, and a surprisingly low number of Heat plays this far into their current incarnation use both in key spots simultaneously.

That said, they’re better off together than they would be separately with lesser, better-fitting teammates. Their talent outweighs fit concerns.

LeBron once again played passively early and averaged a touch just once every 44 seconds – narrowly topping a season high set yesterday. His defense was also lacking, even though Paul George shot poorly.

Enter Wade.

Wade took the ball and also guarded George late, freeing the burden from LeBron. In Game 3, nobody would be shocked to see LeBron help Wade.

LeBron and Wade pick each other up, and despite some unavoidable fit issues, they’re trying to jell even more.

“Obviously, I always know where No. 6 is on the floor,” Wade said. “And he knows where I am on the floor.”

That includes Wade’s putback slam. Wade admitted “99.9 percent of the time,” he’d hang back as LeBron surged in the open court. But Wade was perceptive to a LeBron flaw.

“I actually noticed he didn’t really get the acceleration that he needed,” Wade said. “He took a step, and he didn’t get up. So, that allowed me to just keep following. Normally, he just explodes, and there aren’t many people that can beat him at the top.”

There aren’t many teams that can beat the Heat when LeBron and Wade are at their top levels, but neither is there right now. As long as they keep boosting each other, though, they can get close – and give Miami a chance to win.

  1. thekingdave - May 21, 2014 at 12:51 AM

    I don’t think the “arguable” is necessary, I consider it accepted fact.

    • savvybynature - May 21, 2014 at 9:55 AM

      Really? What makes James the greatest athlete in NBA history?
      He isn’t the strongest, isn’t the fastest, and doesn’t jump the highest. I’d say his skill is what makes him a great basketball player, though he is of course a tremendous athlete too.
      Honestly, Nate Robinson might be a better athlete. Dude definitely jumps higher and is probably faster too. What are the criteria?

      • borderline1988 - May 21, 2014 at 12:17 PM

        I’d say the criteria are:

        1) Athletiscm is dominant (it’s great that a 5″9 guy can win a dunk competition. Maybe there’s a 5″0 guy in the world who has a 50inch vertical and can dunk. But if that athletiscm doesn’t translate to dominance on the court, who cares?).

        2) Has to be all-around athletiscm. Combination of speed, quickness, power, size, jumping ability, etc. In that regard, nobody approaches Lebron. Maybe Dwight Howard can reach higher than him, maybe Robinson has a higher vertical, maybe Russell Westbrook is more explosive, maybe Derrick Rose can get down the court faster, etc. But nobody in NBA history has the full package like Lebron does,

      • skids003 - May 21, 2014 at 12:37 PM

        He’s great, but I think Wilt was still the greatest, I mean, averaging 50 points a game over a season? That’s pretty Ruthian.

  2. realfootballfan - May 21, 2014 at 12:52 AM

    No, the Pacers aren’t good enough to beat them 4 times, and only the Spurs are capable from the West. Hyperbole doesn’t serve anyone well.

    • kinggw - May 21, 2014 at 1:22 AM

      Indeed

    • john242322 - May 21, 2014 at 11:39 AM

      Disagree. Pacers in 7

  3. nfl4days - May 21, 2014 at 12:57 AM

    Imagine If D-wade and Lebron were in Miami since day 1?. That would really be something special.

    • reesesteel23 - May 21, 2014 at 9:44 AM

      We’d be at not 7 not 8 not 9…

    • savvybynature - May 21, 2014 at 9:59 AM

      Considering they were both high draft picks in the same draft, that’s virtually impossible.
      But since we are playing fantasy here, imagine if Durant were on the Spurs from Day 1. Lebron would be at not 1, not 2, not 3, but 0. And he would never win a title in his entire career.

    • jkirby317 - May 21, 2014 at 7:54 PM

      Imagine if the NBA tested for HGH?

  4. campcouch - May 21, 2014 at 3:11 AM

    I wish they’d quote Chris Bosh. He sounds like he actually paid attention in school.

    Wade said. “We came here, and that’s what we envisioned – having two guys that is able to be dynamic at the same time.”

    “Usually, D Wade don’t even chase me down. He know if it’s a one-on-one matchup with me, most of the time I’m going to score,” LeBron said smiling.

    My dear mother would uppercut me if I spoke like this hahahaha.

    • nfl4days - May 21, 2014 at 3:30 AM

      Who cares. There are people who speak perfect English that are unintelligent or are terrible human beings. LeBron and Dwadw are living their dream, very successful on an off the court, help out in the community, seem to manage their wages and are living life the way they want to live it. If I could do all that my mother wouldn’t give a damn.

      • john242322 - May 21, 2014 at 11:42 AM

        Well i hope they can manage their money. I mean they’ve been making multi-millions every single year they’ve plated. Not hard to keep your money right when u make that much

      • realfootballfan - May 21, 2014 at 2:41 PM

        Makes some people feel better about themselves even though as we all know, most people don’t speak the King’s English, yet dummies like that guy wants to criticize people speaking on national TV right after an intense game they just won.

      • jkirby317 - May 21, 2014 at 8:01 PM

        Your mom goes to college

    • reesesteel23 - May 21, 2014 at 9:45 AM

      Sounds like she has anger management issues.

    • savvybynature - May 21, 2014 at 10:02 AM

      I thought the same thing, but hard to tell if they speak that poorly or are just being misquoted by this writer.
      This blog is so laden with errors I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt here (especially since it’s common practice to put (sic) after speaking errors to differentiate between a writer’s mistake and a speaker’s mistake, and the author didn’t do that here).

      • rawgator06 - May 21, 2014 at 10:34 AM

        It sounds like you had a very abusive mother. You should seek therapy

  5. rodge1 - May 21, 2014 at 6:26 AM

    Having Birdman and Bosh together in the lineup certainly helped.

    • totallyuselessme - May 21, 2014 at 6:38 AM

      Birdman is wildly underrated. This guy delivers and he’s going to be key if they win this series.

      • john242322 - May 21, 2014 at 11:43 AM

        That’s a big IF..Pacers in 7

    • bkbell3 - May 22, 2014 at 12:00 AM

      Miami has marginalized Bosh to the point of being useless. The guy was a 20-10 guy shooting over 50% and there is no way David West can cover him in the post or being faced up by Bosh. They make him stand at the 3 point line and just shoot threes which he has developed pretty well. Other than that he just sets picks. When they are struggling to score they need to run some offense thru him.

  6. cantonbound13 - May 21, 2014 at 7:48 AM

    Did Wade go all 4 years at Marquette? I hope not, doesn’t say much about the school.

  7. scrummymustard - May 21, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    They speak well enough. While some of you are off being snobby and worrying about their grammar, they are making millions on and off the court and living the dream.

    Haters gonna hate.

    • john242322 - May 21, 2014 at 11:43 AM

      Lovers gonna love

    • bucrightoff - May 21, 2014 at 12:10 PM

      Haters of grammar are going to hate because hearing someone with an IQ under 50 talk makes everyone stupider.

      • realfootballfan - May 21, 2014 at 2:48 PM

        Yea, because someone with an IQ of 50 actually can’t speak coherently or do much of anything since that’s severe mental retardation level, but thanks for showing how stupid you really are while trying to insult people you don’t know. IQ has nothing to do with speaking perfect English, which I’m sure you do all the time, and you never speak in any slang or broken sentences. But keep hating while they’re winning in life.

    • realfootballfan - May 21, 2014 at 2:44 PM

      I know, right? I’m sure they’re speaking perfect English at their cubicle when the boss comes in and tells them to push some more papers. I hate jealous people who like to nitpick about senseless stuff like that.

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