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LeBron, Wade need to figure out roles -- and start having fun

by | Special to CBSSports.com

MIAMI -- Sometimes after a loss or a bad performance, Dwyane Wade will stay up until 6 in the morning after the game to watch it over again and dissect every moment.

Following a 93-77 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Monday, in which Wade scored three points on 1-for-13 shooting, he had no interest in watching the game and re-living one of his worst nights as a pro.

LeBron and Wade know they need to loosen up if the Heat want to rebound from their slow start. (AP)  
LeBron and Wade know they need to loosen up if the Heat want to rebound from their slow start. (AP)  
Instead, he was focused on going out to dinner with LeBron James. The two talked about the game at the arena, but at dinner the game didn't come up in conversation as the two new superstar teammates continued their efforts to get to know one another.

"One thing about me and LeBron which we will continue to do a better job is try to get better communication," Wade said. "I think us two are having the biggest adjustment and we are the ones who probably have the closest relationship. We have to lead these guys so we have to be more in tune with each other."

Without question, the two perennial All-Star wing players have to make adjustments playing with one another. As players once expected to carry their respective teams offensively on a nightly basis with the ball in their hands on a frequent basis, the two are learning how to play without the ball.

"We have to," James said. "There is only one basketball. Me and D-Wade are so accustomed to having the ball in our hands quite a lot, so we have to figure out ways we can help our team even when we don't have the ball. It's definitely a challenge, but it's something I will work at."

The Miami Heat are 8-6 on the young season, but at times it has seemed like an eternity for a team with such high expectations, including analysts predicting a 70-win season.

"It's not easy putting this kind of talent together," Wade said. "The easiest part was making the announcement and that seemed like it was hard, right? It's going to take time, and as long as we continue to communicate with each other, keep our goal that we have in mind first, and don't really get into the outside expectations, because we are together for six years. The outside expectations of what this team can be one day might be that. Right now at this moment, it's not that, and we have got to understand that and keep working."

The six losses have come against the Celtics (twice), Hornets, Jazz, Grizzlies and Pacers.

"You see guys playing above their heads; there's no secret about it," said Wade, who noted that he feels a bigger bull's eye on the team this season compared to when the Heat were defending champs. "Teams are playing very well against us. There's a lot of things that we have that go against us at times, but we'll figure it out. It's understandable. We understand that we're a team that everyone wants to beat. When they finally do that, it's their playoff game. It's their biggest win of the year possibly, unless they beat the Lakers. I don't think it's going to get too much bigger, so we are not really worried about that."

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One reason for the struggles, which include a current two-game slide, is that Wade and James have not fully been comfortable together on the court. The two often look to be too unselfish at times trying to get the other involved, which has hurt the team. James has had to adjust to playing a lot of point guard, even more than he did in Cleveland, and Wade has been adjusting to not having the ball in his hands for the entirety of a possession, which happened infrequently in recent years with the Heat.

Both players are shooting 45 percent from the floor, the lowest in Wade's career and second-lowest for James. In addition, both players are averaging their lowest scoring output since their rookie seasons -- James at 23.5 and Wade at 21.4.

"We are both similar players and when you're on the court, you're thinking too much," Wade said. "When you have the ball, you're thinking about the other guy. You don't want to take two shots in a row so there's a lot going on up here and if affects certain parts of the game, which it wouldn't have affected him when he was in Cleveland or when I was in Miami when you are just playing instinctually, but now we're thinking a lot. For players like us, that's not really a great thing to over-think the game. You just want your talent to show."

James feels the duo, which has not produced 25-point outings in the same game this season, is playing too passive.

"Myself and D-Wade, we are playing passive and then when we take a shot it almost looks out of rhythm," James said. "It looks very out of rhythm. It's like one of those desperation shots where it's like, 'OK, I need this shot to go in to get myself in rhythm and if not, then I'm out of rhythm for the rest of the game.' We can't have that pressure on us where every shot it feels like it is a pressure moment."

While things are not going as planned thus far, the two are constantly working together in practice and are putting in effort to get it corrected.

"They are always talking trying to get stuff together, so that's a good thing," veteran guard Eddie House said.

After the loss to the Pacers, James echoed the sentiments that he needs to have more fun on the court. His customary pre-game dance rituals in Cleveland have been replaced by a more subdued, business-like approach in Miami. The fist pumps, chest bumps, and on-court smiles have been nearly non-existent. Winning can be more fun, but it's not a guarantee.

"It's easy to hide things when you're winning," James said. "When you lose, then you can be like, 'oh [expletive], we need to figure it out.' It's a fine line because you don't want to disrespect the game. I'm not talking about disrespecting the game, having fun, jumping around and doing crazy stuff looking like a circus. But what I'm saying is going out there and having fun playing the game of basketball, playing at a high level."

Wade has noticed that James has not been his typical self.

"LeBron is a guy who is always lively, always has got a lot to say, he is very loud and the disconnect on the basketball court that we had [Monday] night is not the way he is used to playing or likes to play and he wasn't comfortable with it," Wade said.

If James starts to display a more fun, expressive personality on the court, which he is more than capable of doing, his teammates, including Wade, could begin to loosen up as well.

"I have a lot of fun with [basketball] and it has helped me get to the point where I am as a professional athlete and I don't think I've brought that to this team thus far," James said. "We're not having fun at all."

Wade also feels his teammates are not having as much fun as possible, either.

"You just want to see enjoyment out there with guys, you want to see guys having fun playing together," Wade said. "Myself, LeBron, and Chris [Bosh], this is what we wanted to do. You want to see guys having fun playing with us and I don't think you're seeing that."

As James, Wade, and the rest of the Heat continue their quest towards achieving the greatness that is expected of them, you can be sure they have no interest in playing like the Pacers.

"The Indiana Pacers -- and take nothing away from them -- but they don't have a lot of playmakers," Wade said. "Their offense is their playmaker and they do a great job of it, but that's why they play the style of ball they play. That's not LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade. That's not our games so we have to figure out with our games and our strengths what to do and that's not us. Yeah, we move the ball and we have offensive sets to get the ball moving, but we're not trying to play like the Indiana Pacers."


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