Wade Continues To Struggle Against Boston

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.

Bosh Won’t Play In Game 4

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra told the media this afternoon that Chris Bosh will not play for the Heat in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics.

Spoelstra says that Bosh’s status is “still indefinite.”

While not a shock, it’s not the kind of news the Heat were looking for. With Bosh out of action, Boston has been able to send double-teams at Dwyane Wade which has limited how effective he can be.

Bosh will miss his ninth straight game Sunday with a lower abdominal strain.

Bosh’s Absence Is Being Felt By Miami

The Miami Heat have only played two games without Chris Bosh, but already it’s become painfully clear the team has a Big Three, not a dynamic duo like many have joked the past two seasons.

This year Bosh was a starter on the All-Star team while posting less than impressive numbers with 18.0 points points and 7.9 boards. Both stats were well below the career averages that many journalists and fans feel were inflated due to his time playing for the Toronto Raptors.

Bosh’s critics were vocal in declaring that Miami doesn’t need his inflated salary and they would be better served moving him for some depth on the roster. However, those same critics have gotten silent after Bosh went down in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Miami had a dominant  95-86 win in Game 1 of this series but they have looked beatable since.

The shift in momentum started in Game 2 when Indiana escaped South Beach with a win after bullying Miami around in the paint and on the glass.

The Pacers outrebounded the Heat 50-40 in Game 2 after Miami won the war on the glass 45-38 in Game 1.

Points in the paint were even at 38 in Game 2, but many of Miami’s interior points came from drives by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade which skewed this number a bit. This is a stark contrast to the Miami’s noticeable 52-40 advantage in Game 1.

Plus, the three “bigs” Miami played – Udonis Haslem, Ronny Turiaf and Joel Anthony – combined to score seven points. Yuck.

LeBron James admitted it was “taxing” to play power forward in Game 2 and things didn’t get much better in Game 3.

Things got off to a rough start when Dexter Pittman got the first start in the playoffs during his career.  Pittman was inserted into the game with the intent on muscling Roy Hibbert away from the bucket and the glass. That plan didn’t work out as Erik Spoelstra had planned as Indiana raced out to a 9-2 lead and Miami while Miami started the game shooting an abysmal 1-11 from the field. Pittman played the first three minutes of the game and didn’t see the court again the remainder of the game.

Hibbert started 4-4 from the field and scored eight points, grabbed five boards and swatted two shots in the first quarter alone. He finished with 19 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks. Miami clearly has no answer for Hibbert and that isn’t likely to change looking at how their roster is constructed.

While it may not show up in the stat sheet, David West did a brilliant job of taking James out of the game. James had 16 points in the first half while going 7-13 from the field. The second half, however, was a completely different story. James seemed to fatigue after being constantly bumped and elbowed by David West in the paint and he went 3-9 from the field to finish with 22 points. There were a couple of times West tossed James to the floor in the lane, and Danny Granger got in the James’ face after a foul on a breakaway where he tugged on Superman’s cape.

With James being slowed in the second half by the bruising play of West, Miami needed Wade to step up in a big way. Instead, Wade pulled a disappearing act and started the game 1-11 from the field and was held scoreless at the half. He looked listless and uninspired unless he was seen arguing with his head coach.

Instead of attacking the paint like he is known for, Wade seemed content to settle for perimeter jumpers and finished the game 2-13 from the field with only five points.

Bosh only had 13 points and five rebounds in 16 minutes of burn in Game 1 before leaving the game with his injury. Again, those aren’t flashy numbers, but this series is showing Bosh’s biggest impact isn’t always in the stat sheet.

It’s a shame some basketball fans and members of the media aren’t willing to give Bosh the credit he deserves.

Howard Still In Touch With Magic

The Magic are in a full holding pattern.

This week management will meet and begin making decisions and evaluations of everyone on the Magic staff and roster. Ultimately though, the Magic’s future lies in the decisions of one Dwight David Howard Jr.

This past season was all about Howard decision or indecision. It dominated headlines throughout the season and it is something that the Magic do not want to go through again. So at the end of the season as Orlando sorts through what is looking to be a mess of an offseason it all boils down to one decision once again:

Will Dwight Howard sign a long-term extension with the Magic? Does he want to be in Orlando for the short or long term?

It seems every decision the Magic are going to make this offseason will depend on that answer. Alex Martins has all but said that if Howard will not sign a long-term extension this offseason, the team will go forward with what is best for the team. That likely means getting what value the team can for Howard in a trade. And it seems that will get done before the season begins.

The one voice that has been uncharacteristically quiet though is Dwight Howard himself.

The public has not heard from Howard since TMZ cornered him coming out of rehab a little more than a week ago. There, Howard said he had been in contact with coach Stan Van Gundy and his teammates. Van Gundy confirmed that he had chatted with Howard via text before Game 2 but said at exit interviews that he had not spoken to him since.

Several players, including Jameer Nelson, said they had been in touch with Howard via the phone.

“He is bored to death because he can’t really do anything,” Stan Van Gundy said before Game 4 of his conversations with Howard. “He is sitting in a motel and doing his rehab. and the rehab is not like he is running three miles or anything. You are starting out slow. He is bored more than anything.”

Howard said in that interview with TMZ that he feels like he is in jail because he cannot go anywhere and could not be with his teammates. Howard grew visibly frustrated in the interview when the interviewer brought up the subject of whether he was faking any part of his injury. That is how the interview abruptly ends if you watch it again.

Fans I have talked to have been very critical of Howard’s absence from the team during the Playoffs and at the end of the season. It is tough to say exactly what Howard is thinking. I will not pretend to know — otherwise, reporting would be easy at this stage of the offseason.

Podcast: And Then There Were Eight

Mark and McNeill jumped on the mic to break down the NBA Conference Semifinals. Some of the topics include the impact Chris Bosh’s abdominal injury will have in the Miami Heat, Kevin Garnett jumping into his Delorian, the Lakers not playing with any passion and the epic roll the Spurs find themselves on.

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Here’s the MP3 if you want to download it to listen to it on your MP3 player.

Another Painful Loss For The Bulls

Say it ain’t so, Jo.

After an 180 degree from the third quarter in Game 2, the Bulls looked primed to take Game 3 in a definitive way. After outscoring the 76ers by 10 in the 3rd, the Bulls again were unable to generate much offense in the 4th, losing the quarter 28-14 to Philadelphia, resulting in a 79-74 loss.

In Game 1, the Bulls lost their leader and best player, Derrick Rose. In Game 2, they lost their heart and soul. Playing 26 minutes, Joakim Noah scored 12 points and had seven rebounds. Then, Noah twisted his ankle, an injury that eventually had him hobbling to the locker room, ending his night, and potentially sidelining him for Game 4.

It is going to be a slow, painful death for the Bulls.

Just get it over with. What is a win in this series, and another grueling, nearly unwatchable series that follows going to do for anyone involved? Fans will forget about the team led by the reigning MVP, and Tom Thibodeau will grow more and more frustrated with the wins not piling up.

The Bulls season is hanging by a thread, and without Noah, it can pretty much be sunk. They are the Bulls, so maybe, just maybe, Thibs and company has some tricks up their sleeve that will get them right back into the mix of things with the 76ers.