How Dwyane Wade turned back the clock to potentially save Miami Heat's season
With Miami's season potentially slipping away, a familiar face saved it
When Dwyane Wade was traded back to Miami, it was supposed to be something of a ceremonial homecoming. No longer a great player, he would pick up some bench minutes and have a few moments here and there and offer leadership on a good team headed for the playoffs, but mostly, it felt like a scripted, romantic ending to a great sports story.
Turns out, Wade still has some masterful basketball left in him.
With Miami's 16-point second-half lead, and perhaps its season, slipping away in Game 2 vs. the Sixers, Wade went full Flash with three potentially series-defining plays to completely reverse Philly's seemingly unstoppable surge, and ultimately send this series back to Miami tied 1-1 for Game 3 on Thursday. With just over four minutes remaining and Miami's lead whittled down to two, Wade re-entered the game and promptly did this:
In a game that featured grown-man defense, on both sides, all night long, this was unquestionably the biggest defensive play of the night. If you were watching the game, you know the kind of energy Philly was riding. Somebody had to do something for Miami, and quick, and Wade leaving Ersan Ilyasova, who has murdered the Heat through the first two games of the series, to rush Dario Saric's blind side is a combination of guts and instinct that only the great ones tend to summon in moments like this.
It only took Miami's lead from two to four, but it felt like a 10-point swing. Miami was able to settle in with at least a tiny bit of breathing room on the next defensive possession, which led to a stop, which led to Wade doing this on the Heat's ensuing possession:
So now the lead is six with three and half to play, and when Goran Dragic hit a baseline jumper a minute later, the lead was extended eight just like that. But Dragic didn't create the shot himself. It came after an offensive rebound by -- guess who -- Wade, to extend the possession. None of these three plays were typical highlight plays. Wade, for the most part, isn't that kind of player anymore. Hasn't been for a long time. He didn't posterize anyone or cross some poor sap over. He snuck up on an unsuspecting ball-handler for a steal, he anticipated an opening in the defense and delivered a pin-point pass, he scrapped for an offensive rebound. Those are simply winning plays by a winning player, and Wade, on of the great winners of all time, the Heat's Manu Ginobili, can still do that.
It was the rest of the game where Wade was dropping highlights, hanging Euro-steps and step-back jumpers on helpless defenders like he was kid again. Late in the second quarter, Wade passed Larry Bird for 10th on the all-time scoring list with this piece of work:
All told, Wade posted 28 points, on 11 of 17 shooting, and seven rebounds on the night, leading a Heat team that saw six players score in double figures in the type of balanced, scrappy effort we've come to expect, if not fully appreciate, from this solid-but-starless squad.
Now the attention shifts to Game 3 in Miami on Thursday, and you have to wonder if Joel Embiid will be back in uniform for the Sixers. For his part, Embiid is making no secret of his diminishing patience with wearing a suit on the bench. His face might be broken, but the man wants to play. From Embiid's Instagram account shortly after Philly's loss:
Yeah, Thursday night is going to be fun.
Until then, enjoy your full D-Wade highlights.
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