With Chris Bosh sidelined with an abdominal strain, Dwyane Wade has struggled in the NBA playoffs.
Against the Indiana Pacers, Wade had one of the worst playoff games of his career when he went 2-13 from the field and scored a meager five points in Game 3.
Things haven’t gotten better for Wade against the Boston Celtics because they have been quick to send double-teams his way without the threat of Chris Bosh to keep them honest. The result is Wade is averaging 20.8 points while seeing his shooting percentage steadily decline in each game so far this series.
“I’m not coming here crying,” Wade joked with the media on Saturday. “I can score the basketball, I’ve just got to find other ways to do that. It might not be a 41-point effort like it was in Indiana, you never know what each game takes, but I’m just going to go out here and play the game that I played for so many years and I will find a way to be effective.”
While he was struggling with knee pain during the series against Indiana, Wade insisted during a media session this weekend that there is nothing wrong physically now. The only problem were the two defenders collapsing on him whenever he came off of a pick-and-roll or whenever he caught the ball anywhere near the lane.
Both just happen to be his trademark moves on offense.
“As a team, we have to figure out ways to exploit the double team,” LeBron James explained. “As his teammates, we’ve got to make ourselves available to make plays for ourselves, and also when the double team is not there early on offense, we’ve got to get the ball to him early so he can attack without a double team.”
While he claims his knee is now magically fine, Wade didn’t attempt a single free throw for the first time in a playoff game since 2004.
By being unable to attack the paint it has resulted in Wade being passive and settling for perimeter shots. Hence, the lack of free throws.
“Like I said, it’s no secret, guys,” Wade tried to reassure the media. “I’m getting doubled at the top of the key. I’m getting doubled in the paint, so lets not shoot a turnaround jump shot all the time, which is not a good shot for our team. We’re going to have to find other ways for our team to loosen things up. And eventually, I’m a patient person, so eventually things will hopefully loosen up and I can get my opportunities where I can attack and get in a rhythm a little more.”
Wade didn’t get off to a great start in Game 4 as he started an abysmal 0-4 from the field. He was aggressive probing and trying to attack Boston’s defense, but his shots just weren’t falling. Boston was utilizing a zone defense to perfection and they would switch to a double team when Wade caught the ball. This had him completely baffled and frustrated.
His bad night continued as Wade dipped to 1-8 from the field. For the majority of the first half he had as many made field goals (1) as turnovers.
Wade went into the half shooting 2-11 from the field and had a +/- rating of -14.
Instead of fading into the background, Wade scored nine points in in the third quarter including a key three-pointer in the final minute to pull Miami to within five points.
But in the fourth quarter he once again faded into the background with only a dunk and one made free throw. The crushing part for Miami is that they needed him to score for them when James went to the bench with five fouls midway through the fourth quarter.
The worst part of Wade’s off game is the fact he only attempted two field goals in overtime. Even when James fouled out with just under two minutes left he didn’t seem motivated to look for his shot.
He had the chance to earn some redemption at the end of overtime, but his three-point attempt clanged off the rim.
“It was a good look,” Wade told the media after the loss. “It was online but didn’t want to go in. Got the shot off I wanted and that is all you can ask for.”
Still, you can give Wade credit for doing the other things for Miami when his shot wasn’t falling. He stuffed the stat sheet with seven rebounds, six assists, three blocks and three steals. His 20 points and balanced stat sheet look flashy, but for most of the game his shot just wasn’t falling as shown by the fact he went 7-22 from the field.
Even though he didn’t fade completely into the background, it’s clear Miami needs Wade to step up in Game 5 if they want to wrestle back control of this series.
It will be interesting to see if Wade and the Heat are able to regroup on Tuesday after two tough losses his weekend.