DALLAS – We’ve seen this before at this time of year.
Five years later and Dwyane Wade is still giving the Dallas Mavericks fits in The Finals.
Chris Bosh hit the game-winner on Sunday off a brilliant pass from LeBron James (and with help from a Udonis Haslem screen), but it was the other member of the Miami Heat’s Big Three that carried the team for most of the night.
Yes, there was some “hero-ball” from Wade in Game 3, but with James playing distributor and Bosh playing hesitant until that final basket, the Heat may have needed hero-ball to get them through this night offensively.
Wade only got to the line four times on Sunday, but he finished with 29 points on 12-for-21 from the field, hitting two of his four attempts from 3-point range. Before Bosh’s game-winner, Wade had the Heat’s previous three buckets, one off a post-up and two pull-up jumpers (one of them a trey) from the top of the key.
“We allowed him to bring us home offensively,” James said.
Wade did most of his work while being guarded by Jason Kidd, who has been excellent in defending guys like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant this postseason. But Kidd was mostly helpless on Sunday, with Wade taking him off the dribble and into the post.
“He played spectacular basketball,” Bosh said of Wade. “He was aggressive and took good shots. We rode the wave for a little while. He set the tone for us.”
For the series, Wade is averaging 29.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists. He’s shooting 57 percent from the field and 6-for-15 from 3-point range. His scoring and free-throw attempts are down from the 2006 Finals (when he averaged 34.7 points), but he’s still the Heat’s go-to guy.
And on Sunday, Wade wasn’t just making buckets. He was trying to get his teammates to come along for the ride.
“He had every right to say what he said to me,” James admitted. “As a competitor, you love when guys challenge you. He challenged me in the locker room at halftime. He challenged me on the court. As a competitor, like I said, I respect that.”
“[I] just took it upon myself as a leader to try to lead my guys by example,” Wade said. “And I think for me it started in practice yesterday. I was very aggressive going to the hole practicing. My teammates seen it. They can tell I wanted this game, and I came in with the same mentality today.”
Wade wanted this game, and he got it.
“I’ve been here before,” he said.
You don’t have to tell the Mavs that.