For our second entry, we go back to February 12, 2006. Coach Stan Van Gundy had resigned earlier in the year after an uneven start. Coming into this game against the Detroit Pistons, the Heat had suffered an embarrassing, 36-point loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Detroit, after beating Miami in the 2005 Eastern Conference Finals, had jumped out to a 41-8 start on the season.
The Pistons had a 13-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. Shaquille O’Neal trimmed the lead with some dominant low-post play. At the 7:04 mark, Antoine Walker attempted a hook shot that was so off that O’Neal slammed the ball like it was a lob. At the 5:35 mark, Shaq dunked the ball again. Miami was down, 88-83.
And that would be the last time anyone not named Wade scored for the Heat.
Wade took over the game, beating Detroit both inside the paint and from mid-range. Two free throws from Wade tied the game at 90 with 3:27 left to go. But Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton made 3s on back-to-back possessions. Wade would need to dig a little deeper.
And he did. Wade continued to score. At the 1:03 mark, Gary Payton stripped the ball from Billups — a huge defensive stop. Eight seconds later, Wade made a jumper, tying the game at 98.
Despite an offensive rebound, Detroit came up empty on their subsequent possession. With the 6-foot-9 Tayshaun Prince defending him, Wade rose up for an 18-foot jumper. Of course, it went in. Miami had a 100-98 lead with 2.3 seconds to go.
The Pistons called a timeout, allowing themselves to advance the ball. After the in-bounds pass, the Heat double-teamed Billups. He kicked it out to a wide-open Prince, who missed a 3 at the buzzer.
That victory was the first of a 10-game win streak that propelled Miami to the second seed in the Eastern Conference. And Miami defeated the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals. Some more fourth-quarter heroics from Wade in the Finals delivered the Heat their first championship in franchise history.