Dwyane Wade shows his evolution with 3-point barrage in win over Celtics
Bulls get big win in home opener, and Dwyane Wade hit four of six threes to silence the critics
Never doubt Dwyane Wade.
For nearly a half-decade now, people have been trying to bury the Chicago Bulls star who made his debut in his hometown Thursday night vs. the Celtics. And for nearly a half-decade, he's been disproving those old tropes about his being "washed up" or having declined past the point of being an impact player.
For all the talk of Wade's athleticism, though, the conversation missed a crucial element in any examination of his game. He has adapted constantly.
When the Bulls needed him to adapt the most, to become a 3-point shooter after shooting 28 percent from deep for his career and 15 percent last season, Wade told reporters he would. He said he was shooting more threes and would add it to his game. People scoffed and rolled their eyes. And surely, a heartier sample size than the home opener is needed.
But the fact remains. Dwyane Wade, 22 points, six rebounds, five assists.
Four-of-six from 3-point range. Bulls 105, Celtics 99.
Oh, and he hit the dagger.
Wade's debut in Chicago was unthinkable a year ago. While the circumstances of his departure from Miami were bitter -- a cross between Pat Riley's cold-hearted evaluation of where the team was and is going and Wade's own professional pride -- his arrival in Chicago has been emotional, for a number of reasons. It's about more than basketball, and that was evident in his excitement leading up to the game. But when the ball went up ... back to Dwyane Wade, only one that now (or at least for a night) hits 3-pointers.
It's an evolution of his game and proof of what Wade is capable of when he goes about modulating his skill. The Bulls had other things go their way, Jimmy Butler led the team in scoring and also hit 4-of-6 from deep, Rajon Rondo hit 1-of-2, the Celtics were short-handed without Kelly Olynyk and Marcus Smart, and on a back-to-back vs. a team on its home opener -- a brutal scheduling quirk.
But it felt like Wade's night as Chicago began what will be a long process in getting people to buy into this team as viable in the pace-and-space era. The team itself had kind of accepted the idea they weren't going to have a lot of offensive firepower, with Jimmy Butler even saying "there's more to the game than 3-pointers" when coach Fred Hoiberg announced non-shooter Taj Gibson (8-of-13 for 18 points and 10 boards, by the way) as the starting power forward.
Notably, though, it was the addition of other players that opened the door for Hoiberg's offense, which failed so spectacularly last season, to work. Rondo looked at ease pushing the ball and whipping it in mid-transition for short jumpers and Robin Lopez looked like the perfect center in the system. There are ways to create space in the flow of an offense, and the Bulls did so. From there, it was on non-shooters to knock them down. They did.
Wade averaged 19 points, four rebounds, five assists per game last season on 46 percent shooting, leading his team to the second round and a Game 7 vs. the Raptors. He remains a legend, just one who is transitioning to those later days of his career. But Wade is no one-trick pony, and his mental approach to the game, his ability to connive defenders into letting him get to the spots he wants, has always been his greatest gift.
Chicago knocked off the hyped Celtics in a nationally televised opener, and the native son is home. The old commercials for Wade used to say "Fall down seven, stand up eight" (from a Japanese proverb). Thursday night, Wade stood up and knocked down the shots he maintained he could that everyone doubted. Now all he has to do is keep it up for another six months and beyond. But it's a start.
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