Wade led the Heat to a 101-92 victory in Game 4 against the Celtics by scoring 46 points to help avoid a four-game sweep in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. He also had a talk with his right hand during an incredible stretch in the fourth quarter.
After Wade hit his third 3-pointer in less than three minutes of the final period, he ran down the court screaming at his hand.
|Dwyane Wade's red-hot right hand doesn't need any pumping up in Game 4. (Getty Images)|
For the first time in this series, one on five was good enough to win. Wade has gotten little help from his supporting cast in trailing 3-1 against the Celtics, but he put on a show that even impressed his mother, Jolinda, who was in the crowd.
She was jumping up and down throughout the game, especially in the fourth quarter when Wade took over.
"That means we're both going to have to ice when we get home," said Wade, who showed no ill effects from the cramps in his left calf from the end of Game 3 by going 16 of 24 from the field, 5 of 7 from the 3-point line with five assists and five rebounds. "She's my biggest fan. She said that we were going to win Sunday."
Mom was right, but that doesn't mean the Heat will win this series. History is on the Celtics' side.
No team in NBA history has overcome a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-7 series. The Celtics have also won 14 of the past 16 meetings with the Heat, including a 6-1 edge this year.
The Heat needed Wade to score a playoff franchise record in points, including 30 in the second half, and get hot from the 3-point line, which isn't the best part of his game. And the Celtics had to fall apart in the end.
While Wade was putting on a show, the Celtics were making uncharacteristic mistakes. Ray Allen, a career 89 percent free throw shooter, missed three consecutive free throws in the final three minutes of the game. Kevin Garnett (79 percent) missed two more in a row in that same span.
Rajon Rondo also missed a wide-open runner, and the Celtics lost a chance for extra rest before advancing to Round 2, most likely against Cleveland.
Sunday recap: Heat 101, Celtics 92
Series matchup: Celtics 3, Heat 1
"I look at it as a fluke," Allen said of his missed free throws, but he also could have been talking about the loss to the Heat. "Sometimes I'm just unlucky. I just have to get back in there and shoot a couple hundred."
The Celtics knew the Heat would be ready Sunday. Garnett and Paul Pierce both said the close-out game of a series is the toughest one to win.
Boston will make adjustments for Game 5 on Tuesday, starting with its defense on Wade. He is averaging 33.8 points in the series, but the Celtics will continue to send extra defenders to take the ball out of his hand. For the Celtics it is stop Wade, stop the Heat and move on.
"He did what he was supposed to do," said Rondo, who led the Celtics with 23 points and nine assists. "He took the game over. That is why he is who he is. That is why he is the man for the Heat."
Wade will have to be the man at this level for three more games if the Heat want to make history. Michael Beasley, who had 15 points, said Saturday the Heat should "Boldly go where no one ever ... how's that line go?"
He couldn't finish the quote, and the Heat will be finished soon. It might happen Tuesday or this series could linger into Game 6 or even Game 7, but history suggests the Celtics will win.
Sunday was more about Wade showing how dominant he can be. It was about what the future might hold for the Heat if they give him more help this offseason if he returns to Miami as expected.
Wade said he just wasn't ready for this season to end, but unfortunately for him and the Heat, the end is coming soon. Not even his right hand can stop that.