Will Wade keep the Heat from repeating?
by Sean Highkin, USA TODAY Sports
Dwyane Wade is not healthy. That much was clear after the Miami Heat’s 88-65 blowout win over the Chicago Bulls on Monday. Wade tweaked his left knee with about four minutes gone in the second quarter and wasn’t the same the rest of the game. He scored six points on 3-for-10 shooting and looked lost on defense.
After the game, Wade was taping his kneecap into a more comfortable position, and USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt spoke to him after the game about the progress of his knee. The day-to-day pain level is a major concern as the Heat attempt to close out the Bulls, but it’s impossible not to look ahead to what his injury could mean for Miami’s chances of repeating for the title.
The Heat have to win one of the next three games to advance to the Eastern Conference finals, which seems likely, especially considering two of those games are at home. From there, they’ll face either the New York Knicks or Indiana Pacers.
LeBron James and Chris Bosh both had outstanding games on Monday, but no matter who the Heat play in the Eastern Conference finals and, should they get there, the NBA Finals, they’re going to need all three of their superstars contributing. Wade at full strength or close to it is crucial.
It’s conceivable that the Heat could win a title without getting much from Wade. They still have the best player in the world, performing at his absolute apex. Bosh has had a strong series. Ray Allen and Shane Battier will knock down any open three-pointer they get. Miami has even had a surprising breakout star emerge in backup point guard Norris Cole. They have the depth to remain competitive no matter who they face in the later rounds.
However, what they get out of Wade is the difference between a team that’s simply favored to win the title and a team that’s prohibitively favored. Judging from his recent health, and the impact that’s had on his play, it’s unclear how much they can count on him.
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