• Joe Keller

Wade Turning up the Heat

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*Photo via USA Today

Dwayne Wade is a first ballot hall of famer, one of the best guards the NBA has ever seen. His explosive moves on the court has led to 11 All-Star selections, a scoring title, five trips to the Finals, including three wins, and a Finals MVP in 2006. However it’s been no secret his body has been deteriorating over the past couple of years. His playing style caught up to him and it was visible in Miami’s last couple of Finals trips. You saw flashes of his greatness, but his knees didn’t allow him to be the same explosive player he once was. So he deferred to LeBron, and it worked out pretty well for him and the Heat, but with the LeBron leaving, Wade knew he had to take on a bigger role then previous years.

At 33 years old, this was going to be a challenge for Wade to have an increased role, especially because the team wasn’t built to allow him to take games off for rest, like in seasons past. They would most likely be fighting for a playoff spot or seeding, but they did still have Chris Bosh so the weight wasn’t squarely on Wade’s shoulders to carry the Heat, until it was. After the All-Star break, doctors discovered a blood clot in Bosh’s lungs, and declared him out for the season. It was now up to Wade to keep this proud franchise in the playoff hunt. Could he do it with his injury history and lack of a supporting cast? The answer has been a definitive yes.

In the midst of a five team playoff race to snatch the final two spots in the east, it is no surprise; Wade has stepped up his game when it matters most. He has scored 25 points in seven straight games, something he hasn’t done since 2010. In those seven games he is averaging 29 points, while shooting 53 percent from the field. Wade has attributed his recent play to his health, something he hasn’t had a whole lot of in years past. Wade is quoted as saying “This is the best I've felt in years right now.”

The Heat are surely benefiting from his improved help as they’ve won seven of their past ten games, and three in a row. Wade’s play has lifted the Heat to 7th place in the East, two games above Boston, who sits in the 8th spot. While it looks like Wade can carry the Heat into the playoffs, I don’t believe they can do much damage, but a healthy D-Wade is a scary thing for any team to face come playoff time, especially if it is against the current two seed Cleveland Cavaliers. Wade gets an extra bounce in his step when he faces off against his buddy LeBron. The Heat have won both matchups with the Cavs, and Wade is averaging 31.5 points per game, shooting 54 percent from the field, and 40 percent from three. The Heat would ultimately fall short in this series, but if Wade continues to play at a high level, and stay healthy it will be quite the entertaining first round match up.

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