The Miami Heat limped into the All-Star break with back to back losses at home. They just learned that Chris Bosh could be out for some time. So when they arrived in Atlanta to play the Hawks in the first game after the break without Bosh, Whiteside or even Dwyane Wade, the expectations weren't very high, at least from us.
But...we were surprised. Goran Dragic, Luol Deng and even Gerald Green were leading Miami to a great victory. And they did it more by offense than defense.
That's when Dwyane Wade realized it. This team was going to change, and he was going to need to change.
Here's the excerpt from the Miami Herald about what went down:
After the Heat, without Wade, scored 115 points against Atlanta in its first game after the All-Star break, Wade got up and gave a "speech" to teammates the next day, Dragic said. The message? According to Dragic, Wade "said: ‘We want to play like last game. Play your game. I am going to adapt, don't worry about that.'"
Wade decided to make the adjustment. And that's a huge relief because it was becoming clear that the way the Heat staff was trying to use Dragic wasn't working. Now? Just look at the numbers it the small 9-game sample size that things have changed.
The Heat have scored 100+ points in 7 of their 9 games, and seem to be doing it with ease. Sure, the addition of Joe Johnson helps with the loss of Chris Bosh, but it has been to play of Dragic, Deng, and Whiteside that have helped the Heat. It has been a faster paced offense, one that starts with Goran Dragic that has changed the way Miami plays.
There's two places that deserve some credit here. The first is Dwyane Wade. As the captain, face of the franchise, this isn't the first time he has taken a back seat to help Miami. And when I say back seat, I mean he isn't demanding his own. He's still scoring, contributing and helping. But he has allowed the talents of others, now, to dictate his game and the way he contributes to winning.
Wade has diverted the sole attention of him on offense to a more balanced, ball-moving approach to facilitate scoring and pace. But there's also a little more credit that is due: the second belongs to Erik Spoelstra. It seems as though he spent part of his All-Star break cooking up this plan and allowing it to unfold. He hasn't gone away from what has worked, For as much of a SpoBot he is, that is a good sign.
Once again, Wade is making the case that winning trumps all else. His "speech" to his team, whatever it was -- communicate this: you do your thing as best as you can, I will adapt.
That's the attitude of a true captain and one that has the team's interest in mind.
The Heat have won 5 in a row and 7 of 9 without Chris Bosh.