"It is what it is."
That was Dwyane Wade's response to his battle with his knee. It's not getting any better and it's not getting worse, so Wade is learning to adjust his game and try to be effective while fighting through it.
Still, fans are longing for Wade to be a glimpse of his clutch playoff self. Last year, Wade was not healthy but the Heat still had enough drive to find themselves hoisting the trophy at the end. This year, it seems as though Wade is even less healthy than before and less effective.
In the 2011 playoffs, Wade was incredible. He averaged 24.5 PPG behind LeBron James. Last season, as Wade was still battling injury, he still managed to average 22.8 PPG in the playoffs. But so far this year, Wade is putting up a meager 14.3 PPG. It's leaving his teammates out to dry. And although the Heat are 10-3 in the postseason, they find themselves in a tough battle against the Indiana Pacers that could swing either way.
Wade's inability to get going offensively has hurt the Heat. LeBron James is being responsible to carry an even larger load, and it leaves little room for margin if he isn't playing great. Wade has found ways to be useful while on the court, but his lack of efficiency and being able to penetrate has changed the team's approach.
If you take a look at this one game highlight from roughly a year ago, you'll see the difference in Wade (May 31, 2012).
One of the things you'll notice is that Dwyane isn't getting to the basket in the half court nearly as much. So far this postseason, it seems that every pick-and-roll with Dwyane Wade does not end in Wade driving at the rim. Even his driving doesn't have to end in him shooting, but creating. His attacking has been limited. Partly, because he doesn't have that quick euro-step and mis-direction move in his belt right now. He doesn't even have the dig to get past a secondary defender.
When Wade is able to split, switch, or pass the pick-and-roll second defender, it creates more offense for the Heat. He has a drive to the basket, he's hitting an open teammate or he's making the necessary rotations to get the Heat to the trigger they want. Wade has been ineffective in the pick-and-roll mostly against the Pacers.
|2012 - Dwyane Wade||21.2||5.0||5.1|
You'll also notice the speed at which Wade plays has changed. In the highlight, Wade is caught catching up to Ray Allen and getting a transition block. He's seen blowing past the defense in transition and getting an and-1, and he's seen dunking on someone. Wade seems to be in slow motion right now with Miami. He certainly has his spurts, but he cannot sustain it as long as he used to. And remember, this is a highlight of when Wade was not healthy.
I could go back and show you a highlight of a healthy Dwyane Wade, but it would just make you angry. Because a healthy Dwyane Wade = night night. No chance for anyone to beat the Heat. With Wade hobbling and battling injury, Miami is vulnerable.
One of the things the Heat can do to help this situation, since Wade won't be making a transformation, is putting him in the low post more often. In the post, Wade doesn't have to be fast or quick, he just needs to be smart. Wade is capable of producing down there and setting others up. On the block, Wade can take Stephenson, Hill, or Sam Young where he wants, as long as he is patient.
Another adjustment that we could hopefully see would not be on Spoelstra, but on Wade himself. If he can convince himself to be more aggressive off the ball, he can sneak past a defense in the half court with LeBon. In fact, some of the best Heat basketball we have seen has been when LeBron handles and Wade cuts or finds himself open lanes or spots when James gets the attention. Wade should be patient and look for his spots in the offense. He does this regularly, but a larger dose of it would be beneficial.
The old Dwyane Wade doesn't seem to be coming back this postseason. Let's hope I am wrong. The ease to dominate will come when Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Norris Cole show up more for this series.
What do you think?
Can the Heat win it all without a healthy Wade? What else can they do to mask his ineffectiveness?