Do Heat really need Dwyane Wade?
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
Two story lines to watch during Saturday night’s seven-game NBA slate (all times p.m. Eastern):
Do the Miami Heat really need Dwyane Wade?
Heat at Phoenix Suns, 9: Miami is 20-5 over the past three seasons without its All-Star shooting guard. The Heat beat the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center for the first time in a decade Thursday while Wade watched from the bench because of a sprained foot. The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post reports Wade won’t play against the Suns, either, but does it matter? LeBron James runs the show for Miami. He and Wade form dynamic fast breaks, but in the halfcourt offense, Wade often seems useless because he’s the worst three-point shooter among Miami’s guards. Mike Miller and Ray Allen offer James perfect kick-out options on pick-and-rolls while also not demanding the ball or taking bad shots. Miami has a better per-minute point differential without Wade on the court, as shown by 82games.com. So it’s easy to see why the Heat keep winning without Wade.
But there’s a counterpoint: James can’t do it all the time. Even the best player in the NBA has bad nights and needs breaks. Wade remains among the best scorers and players in the league, and his own creativity allows James to take breathers. So the Heat do need Wade over the course of a season, even if they’re better without him over short stretches.
Can the Chicago Bulls stay relevant without Derrick Rose?
Bulls at Los Angeles Clippers, 9: The Bulls are not championship material without the 2011 NBA MVP, but they went 18-9 without him last season. The goal is to hold things over until Rose is back from his knee rehabilitation sometime this winter. But that plan keeps taking new turns. Kirk Hinrich, brought in because he can play point guard and shooting guard, injured his hip last weekend. He’s back, but he’s shooting 32.6% from the field and 45.5%on free throws. Nate Robinson has played well in spurts, but he is a shooting guard forced to run the show. Neither can compare to Chris Paul, the Clippers’ playmaker extraordinaire. Chicago would … [For more on Tonight's NBA schedule: Do Heat really need Dwyane Wade?, click here.]