NBA: Regular Season Rest Has DWade Healthy In Quest For Miami Heat 3-Peat
USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt on Miami’s smart strategy resting D-Wade during the season and keeping him fresh for another title run:
MIAMI — Dwyane Wade was being Dwyane Wade, catching a pass from LeBron James, Euro-stepping to the basket right past the Indiana Pacers’ Evan Turner and launching a bank shot high off the glass and over the stretched-out left arm of seven-footer Roy Hibbert for two points.
Driving to the basket, posting up, making jump shots and guarding Indiana’s Paul George — this is what the Miami Heat are getting from their 10-time All Star against the Pacers. These are all things that weren’t possible last season because of a knee injury.
With Wade healthy, the complexion of the 2014 NBA playoffs has changed. His performance — obviously combined with the brilliant play of James — is why the Heat don’t look so ready to relinquish the title.
“It’s enjoyable not to deal with what I had to deal with,” Wade told USA TODAY Sports. “That’s most enjoyable — knowing I can help my team this year in ways I couldn’t do at this time last season.”
A week ago, the San Antonio Spurs were by far the best team in the playoffs and the favorites to end Miami’s attempt to win three consecutive championships. Now, the Heat, on the brink of a rare fourth consecutive NBAFinals appearance, are playing better the deeper into the playoffs they go.
“The first round was me just kind of trying to get my footing a little bit, trying to do some of the things that I was capable of doing, trying to see if I could do it,” Wade said. “Then the second round came a little more and then the third round.
“Now I’m in the groove and the flow that I want to be in, and also understanding that the game of basketball is tricky. You can get out of it in a second, and you’ve got to figure out a way still to compete and help your teammates win.”
Wade is averaging 19.2 points, 3.9 assists and 3.4 rebounds and shooting 52.1% in 13 playoff games. Against the Pacers, he is averaging 22.0 points and shooting 56.5% from the field. From Game 5 vs. Brooklyn through Game 3 vs. Indiana, Wade and James each scored at least 20 points, the first time since November they did that in four consecutive games.
The dynamic James-Wade combination looks fantastic again, Wade’s performance not only has implications for Miami now, it could have consequences on Miami’s future even though Wade said he is not singularly responsible for James’ decision this summer.
But truth is, when James looks at his options and tries to determine which team has the best shot of winning a championship next season and beyond, a healthy Wade makes the Heat’s chances of keeping James.
“Just don’t solely put it on me,” Wade said, laughing. “That’s what I’m saying. Don’t put the X on me. … There’s a lot that goes into, so just don’t say, ‘If Dwyane Wade doesn’t have the year that we’re accustomed to, it’s over.’ ”
To try and ensure Wade, who had OssaTron treatment, a non-surgical shock wave procedure on his knee, was healthy for the postseason, the Heat embarked on a plan at the start of the season that allowed Wade to play in most games but rest in some. Instead of maintenance plan that gave Wade a bunch of rest at the end of the season, the maintenance plan spaced out his rest, especially in back-to-back games.
Wade and the Heat didn’t know how it would play out, and Spoelstra won’t take credit for how well it has worked.
“That would make us look like we’re much smarting than we are,” Spoelstra said. “He didn’t have much of an offseason. We knew that after the OssaTron, he wasn’t ready to play 15, 16 games in a month in November. We wanted him to participate in training camp and preseason and whatever games he’d be available for, we would adjust to that.
“From there, it would always be about getting stronger and healthier as the season went on. If he wasn’t passing his tests every day — his strength and conditioning, his corrective exercises, his conditioning, his weight work and his footwork — we would hold him out. … We were living in a day-to-day world with Dwyane.”
It came with some frustration. The Heat lost some games when Wade didn’t play that they could’ve won had he played, and the decision to sit Wade came with a price. Miami missed on home-court advantage. Around midseason, Wade felt his knee get stronger and wanted to play in some games the Heat sat him out.
“It was very frustrating for all of us, the organization and players,” Wade said. “No one really knew what we were doing, how we were doing it and if it was going to work. We all trusted in each other. But it was just stepping back and trying to be smart and saying, ‘OK, if this is what the powers that be say should work, then let’s give it a try.’ Up until this point, it’s worked.”
Often open and honest about his game, Wade knew critics questioned how effective he could be this season and in future seasons.
“You lie if you say nothing bothers you whether you use it for motivation or not,” he said. “More than anything, there’s dark moments sometimes when you don’t know and you’re trying to do everything possible but you’re not getting to where you need to get to. But you need to keep working and keep working and once you finally feel that there’s a change coming, it makes all worth it.”
Posted on May 29, 2014, in NBA, Sports Media World and tagged DWade, LeBron James, Miami Heat, NBA Playoffs. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on NBA: Regular Season Rest Has DWade Healthy In Quest For Miami Heat 3-Peat.