Improving Wade leads Heat to Game 2 win

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com


VIDEO: Dwyane Wade and LeBron James talk about the Game 2 win

INDIANAPOLIS – Sometimes, Dwyane Wade is back to being the best player on the Miami Heat.

In the biggest game of the Heat’s season to date, Wade picked up the slack for his two struggling co-stars, leading the Heat to an 87-83 victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, tying the series at one game apiece as it heads to Miami after a three-day layoff.

This was a high-leverage game. There’s a huge difference between a 2-0 Indiana lead and Miami taking away home-court advantage.

But LeBron James did not look to take over offensively as we’ve come to expect when his team is desperate for a win. And he didn’t improve on his poor defensive performance in Game 1 either, looking slow and disinterested on that end of the floor for most of the night.

Chris Bosh‘s struggles against the Pacers continued. This was the seventh time in his last 10 games against the Pacers that he scored fewer than 10 points.

A lineup change — starting Udonis Haslem instead of Shane Battier — didn’t really work. Haslem was a minus-20 in less than 19 minutes and Roy Hibbert destroyed the Heat on the offensive glass.

But the Pacers came back to earth offensively, shooting 5-for-22 from outside the paint in the first half. And Wade’s postseason revival continued.

Wade scored 13 of the Heat’s 41 points in the first half, more than twice as many as any of his teammates. He scored five of those 13 as the Heat took the lead with James on the bench early in the second quarter.

He was stuck on that 13 until the fourth, when he and James took the game over and put the Pacers away. Going back to the last three minutes of the third, James and Wade scored or assisted on Miami’s final 33 points of the game. After a sluggish first 33 minutes, the Heat scored those 33 points on just 24 possessions, turning a six-point deficit into a four-point win.

“Tonight was one of those nights,” James said, “where we were making plays, finding guys, and finding each other, finding a good rhythm with the ball in our hands.”

Wade shot 5-for-5 in the fourth, finishing off the Pacers with a personal 8-3 run in the final minutes. James woke up from his slumber just in time, but his co-star helped him, on both ends of the floor, get to those closing moments.

Not only did Wade carry the offense early, but he defended Paul George for most of the fourth quarter, with the Pacers’ star attempting only one shot (a contested, pull-up 3 late in the shot clock) and two free throws in the final 11 minutes. Once again, the Heat turned up the defense once they absolutely needed to, and it was Wade who took on the toughest assignment.

“He understands that as well as anybody that you can impact a win on both sides of the court,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Wade. “So that wasn’t only creating the offense for us on the other end, it’s taking a challenge on one of the best scorers in the league. And just trying to be there. That is all you can do. It’s trying to be there in front of him so he doesn’t get open looks and free throws at the rim.”

Wade doesn’t have the explosion he used to. He still, amazingly, does not have 3-point range. But he’s crafty. He finds ways to get the space he needs to get off a shot, and he has a remarkably soft touch.

Most importantly, Wade is fresh and strong at the right time. He played just 54 games this season in order to leave some gas in the tank and some lift in his legs for the playoffs. And the rest is paying off.

Wade has shot 50 percent or better in each of his last five games. And he has averaged 26.0 points on 32-for-52 (62 percent) shooting in his last three. He played his best game in a long time in Game 5 against Brooklyn, and that performance has carried over into the conference finals.

“I just want to continue to keep going,” Wade said, “continue to keep getting better. There’s a lot of basketball left, but I feel good.”

Though the Heat are now 9-2 in the postseason, their last four wins have come down to fourth-quarter execution. They haven’t been as dominant as they’ve been in the past and their defense has been inconsistent, to put it nicely.

But it could be that they’ve yet to play their best basketball, because Wade is looking stronger every time he takes the floor. And on nights when James doesn’t look like the best player in the world, it helps that he has a pretty good wingman with plenty of experience in being option No. 1.

52 Comments

  1. article error says:

    9-2 in this postseason?article error?

    • letsbereal says:

      Heat won 4 against Charlotte, 4 against Brooklyn, and 1 against Indiana. They lost 1 against Brooklyn and 1 against Indiana. 9-2

  2. D-WADE says:

    2 games for EAST and WEST.

    Who should you think deserves to be in yahoo top 10. DWade or James Harden?

  3. Malik says:

    In terms of this series the Heat absolutely have to get both wins at home, easier said then done but possible. The main thing the Heat need to focus on at this very moment is there defense and consistency on both ends. When they play fast pace 9 times out of 10 they’re going to win. The Pacers have been doing an excellent job stopping them from playing Heat ball. If they can grab two home wins, step up defense, and play at their pace, series over in 6

  4. NBAFAN says:

    Kobe better defender than D Wade, you must be kidding, please watch and love the game b4 u start typing

  5. lonelyisland says:

    First of all this reporter is so bias,
    Secondly, this victory separates great teams from good teams. When the heat truly needed to lock down they have done so, in crunch time when the game was on the line. When you have players with their legacy on the line (lebron) you must step up on both ends of the court in which he did. Thats what the greats do in this game, step up when needed. I also didnt forget wade much credit to him as well, really the heart and soul of this squad. In the end, i really choose the heat to close this series and move on. I believe this series will be decided by heat’s experience and lebron’s dominance and wade’s resurgence.

  6. Killerdogg says:

    Wow! U supposed Heat fans and basketball fans. What do U expect Lebron 2 do 40 plus minutes a game? He leads the team in just about every statistical category. He does what is needed during the game and understands its the 4th quarter that counts most. Look at what he did in this game. YES he gets tired and YES there are some plays NOT 2 go after. The game is fast and it takes ALOT of thinking. As long as its close in the 4th, then he’ll do whatever 2 take the game. He is not MJ that looks 2 take over the game just by scoring, and by the way MJ took defensive plays off during the game too, Lebron takes over by doing everything needed.

  7. moe says:

    from a heat fan,i think shuman is right. im very frustrated to say lebron at times in the big games still looks frantic and anxious. many games I sit seething watching lebron fade when we need him the most. if he wants to be the greatest of all time he needs to be way more aggressive when we our backs are against the wall. Michael Jordan would never have his fans screaming at the tv for him to be more aggressive and get in the game like we do with lebron and that’s a fact . mj was like a terminator and winning his mission. I hope lebron can finally conquer his mental fears and we can see the same fearless will power and drive and only then can you begin to mention him in the convo for g.o.a.t

    • Game Time says:

      Did you and John Schumann happened to miss the 9pts James scored that got Miami the lead prior to Wade?

  8. Manuel Benitez says:

    Playoff time is Wade time, really the heart and soul of the Heat. Precisely why James went to Miami seeking what he’s lacking to win championships.

    • Game Time says:

      Yet Lebron was the one that dominated OKC, and Lebron was the one along with Allen & Miller that hit key three pointers to get them the wins over SAN.

  9. Valdessir says:

    In a 7 series match, each game is different and it is like playing chess! At the end what matters is wining 4 and checkmate! In game 1 Indiana picked a great opening and Miami defense wasn’t the best one to stop that attack, then second game Idiana uses the same opening and Miami picked up the right defense. It was so much fun to watch Miami short-circuiting the connection between point guards and Hibbert! This is why I love to watch Miami they seems to adjust / learn so well versus the same concepts that makes it almost imposible to beat them in a 7 series match. Erick has a lot to do with this as well, always looking for answers and concepts that brings the victory. I am pretty sure Indiana will try another “opening” for his next chess game ;) Let’s see how Miami defense response.

    Great serie! Let’s the best win :)

  10. Blog-So-Hard-2014-NBA-Playoff-Edition says:

    Hibbert is too soft

  11. Let's go Heat says:

    Play bigger lineup. finally Spo can make right adjustment.

  12. Carlo says:

    Considering the vision-blurring accident to George, James tries to blur the vision of everybody else with his “sober” sweater.

  13. Shaun says:

    I’m a Heat fan. I want LeBron to end his career as the clear GOAT. But I have to admit, he’s been mailing it in defensively for most of the games. In fact, for the first time since he joined the Heat, I was happy when he left the game, and anyone who really watched will have to admit that the Heat weren’t defending until he sat down. It wasn’t just Cole playing well, it was Cole setting the tone. All of a sudden, hands went up, feet started moving, players were communicating verbally, they were anticipating, an awareness surfaced that just wasn’t there when LeBron was on the floor.

    Some of this may be due to them depending on LeBron too much. But let’s think about that. I’ve heard people compare the Heat supporting cast to the old Cavs team when folks start standing around, missing shots etc. If that’s true, then there’s only one common denominator between the two teams. I can understand a leader having to take a step back…for whatever reason…but obviously that leaders focus, awareness and energy cannot recede. I think that’s a lesson for LeBron because without him on the floor, everyone else responded like champions, whereas the Cavs would’ve fallen apart completely.

    • TMac says:

      But you forget Lebron does everything. He leads the team in everything, but blocking. He plays almost the whole 48 minutes every game. The dude gets tired. When he sat down and got some rest and came back in the game what happened? Him and Wade both went HAM.

    • aa says:

      To be honest, they kind do look like the cleveland supporting cast right now, Miami got very old roleplayers. but Its in the finals their vetereans have usually stepped up, Battiers, miller, Ray.

      Andersen has been playing very well in this series so far.

  14. jim Williams says:

    One thing I know in believe the Miami heat gone beat the Pacer everybody saying Pacer this Pacer gone do that cause of game 1 its alot of Heat coming when bosh chamers Allen in the rest of the heat players turn up wade in James keep it up say hello to backup in game 3

  15. alex_03 says:

    hey schuhmann.. go home, your drunk.. i know you do these things to get the attention.. but your too obvious… #heathater #dwade&heatalltheway

  16. TROYBOY says:

    This is why this will be a 7 game series.

    Game 1 Headline: PACERS DOMINATED THE HEAT

    Game 2 Headline: HEAT WON GAME 2

    The Pacers looked poised throughout the game. Miami winning is not a surprise. They’re the 2 time champs. Pacers fans should be happy that their team looked more like the more experienced team.

  17. manie says:

    wade shooting has been amazing he has played great during Nets and Indiana series as for LeBron James he does seem not fully engaged on of offensive and defensive end especially when wade is scoring well.. James does have the quickness and elevation but he rarely attempts to block shots. Just look at nets game 5 with the nets Joe Jonson scored so many points on James until James finally put his hand up blocking joe jonson. I love james and the heat and this is simply constructive criticism

    • Saeed says:

      That is not necessarily right. You can NOT be overaggressive against a player just because he scores. When a player defends a star, he has to live with the tough shots that star makes else he’s gonna take his 5th at the end of the 3rd quarter. And that’s exactly what happened to James in game 5 of Semis. You HAVE TO LIVE WITH Joe Johnson’s ability to make tough shots or else you wind up with foul trouble spoiling your team’s offensive rythm. Your job in the defense is to suitably contest. and that’s it.

      • #dwade#flash says:

        right on the spot SAEED. You cant take those risks, you cant stop a accurate shooter but you should try slowing them down.

      • Game Time says:

        Very well put. Plus James does so much. I think he’s just trying to get the team to do more, and should they knock off Indy he’s going to explode in the Finals.

  18. Ron says:

    Miami needs a big man to stop Hibbert, then it would be a piece of cake to win Indiana – It would be a sweep… Stephenson is a joke.

  19. LordP says:

    Where are the haters..?Gone..you guys are worse than flies

  20. D says:

    It is funny, I started reading the article and only a few sentences in I knew this was written by John Schuhmann. So negative towards Lebron. He had a few bad minutes and then had shut down defense the rest of the game. After a few adjustments from Coach Spoelstra, he was able to roam and help at all of the correct times. Miami defense was at its finest this game!

  21. sally says:

    It sounds like your not a Lebron James fan Schuhmann, You are quick to criticize him and not give him credit where credit is due. Just because he does not score a lot of points does not mean he’s not working to help his team. He’s a facilitator, not a big shooter, and you need to recognize that. He is not perfect by far and he does not have a dynamic game every time he plays but he does need to get some credit for what he does do. You must be an Indiana fan it clearly shows. You are the only writer that does this to Lebron. Could it be you are jealous maybe ??? If you are going to criticize then even it out and not just heap it all on him. Not good !!

  22. Aram says:

    Wade is still on of the best player in the NBA. I’m annoyed at Stephenson’s mockery about Wade’s knee which I think really served Wade a good motivation.

    • aa says:

      You shouldnt really read into what lance said to much, because he wasnt serious when he said it, he smiled and said that he heard his knees were messed up as a joke. He had no intention to undermine wade or try to injure him during the games.

  23. theholyspectator says:

    a very impressive win, when the miami heat are engaged and active, dont think any team can beat them…that suffocating defense and forcing opponents to play super fast is what makes miami heat basketball so great..

  24. esc says:

    “Slow and disinterested?” John you need to choose your works more acurately, and for the most part more intelligently as a man that watched the game last night. Except for the one laspse wnen LeBron’s man got behind him he was totally “engaged” in this one. There is no other player in this league- EVER, that has the responsibility of carrying so much “dead-weight” as he does. The continued pitiful play of Chalmers, and more particularly Bosh is killling Miami as it has all season long. If Chalmers and Bosh get engaged, (especially with Wade playing his best basketball of the year) I anticipate a :three-peat.

  25. stabilizer says:

    that’s my man DWADE!

  26. miniminer says:

    if dwade and lebron would constantly drive to the basket to fish for foul or kick out to an open teammate heat will cruise in this series

  27. jdub455 says:

    bron and dwade still a potent offensive combo… their shooters just have to make those open shots and this series will be over… its the spurs that will give the champs a run for their money… hopefully, they get that 3peat! yeah!! go heat!!!

  28. timpson says:

    When the heat lost lebron hurried up and left the floor last nite they won and he’s trying to hang around looking around.wow

    • lonelyisland says:

      Actually he was being interviewed by several broadcasters on the winners circle,
      and looking towards high fiving his teammates. When you lose there is no business being on the court, head to the locker room and call it a night so you can prep for the next game. No player just wonders the court after you win. Unless its the finals. If its an negate effort your trying to make towards lebron, its dumb and pointless kid.

  29. HEAT_FAN says:

    F F FLASH IS BACK: D. WADE!!!

  30. Mohammed says:

    Your articles are always negative when you write about MIA if they won or lost

  31. kazanova says:

    So much for Wade “having regressed” and him being the third best player (for god’s sake) in Miami heat.

    You cannot be a NBA.com reporter and be so biased. I am not surprised with his performance – It makes sense. He had a great regular seasons with 55% shooting accuracy (best in guards) and played limited minutes and therefore he’s rested to preserve his body for the playoffs. He was not just the second best player in the miami heat, he was top 10 in NBA overall.

  32. Kc says:

    Well, I don’t know how you call it, but pacers’s offence is coming down to their usual level when they typically are not too effective offensively, and they are not moving well without the ball. And at the same time, Lebron displays his disappearing act which we see quite a lot a couple of seasons ago, where he seems disinterested, does not drive to the basket and does not post up.
    Kinda hard to understand sometimes why the best active player can appear so disengaged.. May be it’s his playing style not to force things… Well, I would say heat got lucky this time,, though wade definitely played one of his best games, heat also make some shots at the most crucial times, and pacers chose the worst times to show their soft belly, not moving the ball, turnovers, no go to guys, and bigs somehow not involved down key stretches.
    The good news for heat fans is its 1-1, especially where heat did not play, so rationale says when they are back to the home court, they will bounce back, esp Lebron would have a strong game in game 3.
    Just hope Pacers stays together for game 3 and not crack up.
    Pacers surely did let one slip away.

    • TMac says:

      The Heat got lucky? So powering back when the Pacers clearly had the momentum most of the game, keeping the home team under 90 points, causing the Pacers to make big time mistakes, stopping the Pacers’ bigs from having a big scoring night was luck and holding the Pacers to 40% shooting was nothing but luck?? C’mon, bro.

    • LOL says:

      No they didnt actually. It was pretty OBVIOUS that the Dynamic Duo TOOK IT FROM THEM. Pacers got OWNED in crunchtime.

  33. wooderson says:

    thats why hes the second all time greatest 2 guard after jordan

  34. Average Joe says:

    A good word for the Heat from Schuhmann. What is the world coming to?