NBA Finals: The return of Dwyane Wade

Hey, I was right! Kind of. Prior to Game 4, I predicted a Miami Heat win and a superhuman effort by LeBron James. Well, both of those things happened. And also Dwyane Wade jumped in a time machine and turned in a performance reminiscent of his 2006 Finals MVP run. In 40 minutes, Wade scored 32 points on 14-25 from the field, and also added 6 steals, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block and 0 turnovers.

D-Wade was in the zone for all 4 quarters, making San Antonio pay early for defending him with guys like Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw. The mid-range game was falling, the first step was explosive and the defensive intensity was sensational. LeBron was awesome, but Miami won this game because of Wade.

For what it’s worth, here’s Wade’s stat lines from Games 1-3.

  1. 17 points, 36 minutes, 7-15 FGs
  2. 10 points, 30 minutes, 5-16 FGs
  3. 16 points, 34 minutes, 7-15 FGs

So that’s barely 14 points per game on less than 16 FG attempts. In those 3 games, he’d only attempted 8 free throws. And that’s from a guy who averaged 21.2 points and 6.2 free throw attempts per game in the regular season. For comparison’s sake, in the 2006 NBA Finals, Wade averaged 34.7 points per game and shot 97 free throws in 6 games — Wade’s 33.8 PER in that series netted him John Hollinger’s greatest Finals performance since the NBA-ABA merger.

How much of Wade’s demise is due to playing second fiddle to LeBron, injuries and age — he’s 31 — I’m not sure. But if Miami gets this Dwyane Wade two more times this series, there’s nothing San Antonio can do.

Miami’s ‘Big 3’ > San Antonio’s ‘Big 3’ … by a lot

Through 3 games, the story of this series had been San Antonio’s, mainly Kawhi Leonard’s, ability to frustrate LeBron — and even kill the 4-time MVP on the boards. How much of LeBron’s 3-straight games of not reaching 20 was on Leonard’s defense, and how much was on LeBron’s aggression, or lack thereof?

From the jump on Thursday, LeBron was hyper-aggressive, reminding us all why he’s the best in the game. He finished with 33. He only attempted two 3-balls, one of which he drained in garbage time — less than the 5, 3 and 5 he attempted in Games 1-3, respectively. And he took 25 shots, more than the 16, 17 and 21 in Games 1-3.

Then there’s Chris Bosh. Bosh annoyed the national pundits in Game 1 with his willingness to take 3’s — he attempted 4 — instead of keeping his position in the mid-range. (He’s only attempted one 3 since.) But Bosh, who had scored 13, 12 and 12, respectively, in the first 3 games, added 20 points, 13 rebounds and 2 blocks in, by far, his best performance of the series in Game 4.

How good was Miami’s ‘Big 3’ Thursday? Here’s their collective stats from Games 1-4.

  1. 48 points, 20-47 FGs
  2. 39 points, 18-40 FGs
  3. 43 points, 18-46 FGs
  4. 85 points, 37-64 FGs

On San Antonio’s side, much has been written about Manu Ginobili’s ineffectiveness in this series; he’s scored 30 points in 4 games. That’s 7.5 points per game this series, not a far cry from his 10.6-per-game average this postseason, the lowest since his rookie year. In Game 2, the Spurs were -23 in Ginobili’s 18 minutes; in Game 4, -22 in 26 minutes.

Now, these numbers are more skewed than Miami’s, given the success of San Antonio’s role players this series, namely Danny Green and Gary Neal. But here’s the stat lines of San Antonio’s ‘Big 3’ in Games 1-4.

  1. 54 points, 21-48 FGs
  2. 27 points, 10-33 FGs
  3. 25 points, 10-23 FGs
  4. 40 points, 14-31 FGs

If anything, aside from Parker’s brilliance in Game 1, it’s San Antoni’s secondary ‘Big 3’ — Green, Neal and Leonard — that have this series tied 2-all. Their stat lines:

  1. 29 points, 10-27 FGs
  2. 36 points, 13-25 FGs
  3. 65 points, 24-42 FGs
  4. 35 points, 12-25 FGs

If the Spurs want to win Game 5 and then 1 of 2 in South Florida, either Green and Neal have to go nuts, ala Game 3, or Parker, Ginobili and Duncan need to be collectively brilliant 2 more times.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickJDuprey.


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