Wade Must Be Aggressive for All of Game 2
After struggling through the first three rounds of the 2013 playoffs, Dwyane Wade significantly elevated his play in the first half of Game 1 against the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. Wade was aggressive immediately after tip-off, scoring the game’s first points with a two-handed dunk just 19 seconds into the contest. Wade finished the first half with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field.
This wasn’t the inconsistent and injured Wade that has been on display for much of the postseason, the one who scored 20 or more points just twice. This was the attacking and energetic Wade, the one who gets to the basket and gives LeBron James and Miami HEAT the second option they need.
However, Wade wasn’t nearly as effective in the second half, when he contributed just four points on 2-of-7 shooting from the field. Some wondered if Wade was fatigued in the third and fourth quarter, but he insisted that wasn’t the case. Instead, he said that he simply wasn’t as aggressive and acknowledged that he must continue to attack for the entirety of Game 2.
“I just got to be a little bit more aggressive,” Wade said. “I don’t think I was as aggressive in the second half as I was in the first half last game, especially in the fourth. Just be more aggressive, take the opportunities that I have, but also go get a few myself.”
Wade has been battling a knee injury for much of the postseason. At one point, the HEAT star even had to use tape to move his kneecap into a more comfortable position. However, he felt better in the final game of the Eastern Conference Finals and the first game of the NBA Finals.
“I felt a lot better in Game 7 and Game 1,” Wade said. “I feel better today. So [in Game 2], just continue to put the pressure on as much as possible. The state I’m in, I’ve been in this state for almost three months now. I’ve adjusted to playing with it. You just got to do what you have to do. I’ll try to be a little more aggressive, a little better, especially in the second half and the fourth quarter.”
Wade’s improving condition has contributed to his recent success, but he also changed his mindset and approach the last two games. This is something that LeBron James noticed leading up to Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers, telling Wade, ‘You look different today.’
“Your body is not going to get any better at this point. At all,” Wade said. “The way you approach things can change and I just changed my approach the last couple of days. I’m starting to enjoy it a little more. It’s changed a little bit, my mindset.”
James and Wade have now been teammates for nearly three years, and they have gotten to know each other very well. That’s why James is able to recognize if Wade is going to play well just by looking at him.
“What I tell D‑Wade is when he’s most in tune with the game, I can see it on his face,” James said. “I think his face just shows where he’s at in the game. I don’t know if it’s maybe his knee or maybe frustrated at times or maybe he’s just not in the rhythm, but I can see it on his face when he’s there. That’s what I told him, ‘Even if sometimes you’re not in the rhythm, I need to see your face that you’re in tune and you’re ready for the next possession and ready to move on from whatever is going on.’ For me, as one of the leaders of the team who has the ball in his hands a lot, I have to do my part as well to help him, I guess, get that face, where he feels like he’s involved, and where he feels like he’s a part of everything that’s going on, both offensively and defensively. And it helps us out. When his energy level is high, his motor is going, his face is [like that] and he feels like he’s in tune, we’re a really, really powerful team.”
During the Eastern Conference Finals against the Pacers, James was forced to carry Miami on his back and score the ball much more than he prefers. During that series, James took more than 20 shots in three different games after not doing it all during the first or second round of the playoffs. He was Miami’s leading scorer in all seven games of that series.
In Game 1 of the NBA Finals, James attempted only 16 shots because Wade’s productivity in the first half allowed him to go back to the facilitator, triple-double mode that he loves.
Now, Wade just has to finish as strong as he starts. That’s what it will take to beat the Spurs – two stars playing at a high level rather than just one. Anything less and the HEAT will likely go down 0-2 – the Spurs are that good. Wade believes that San Antonio is the best team that Miami has faced in the Big Three era.
“They’re probably the best overall from the standpoint of this team knows their game,” Wade said of the Spurs. “This team is very consistent in their game on both ends of the floor. They have many different players that can score the basketball, that can do multiple things. It’s a good team. … This is as good as it gets in the NBA and you have to figure it out. That’s what we’re going to have to do.”
Game 2 of the NBA Finals will tip-off tonight at 8 p.m. ET.