By Dennis J. Freeman
It was just a matter of time. The Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade has been heating up the NBA’s MVP talk lately, going off on one of his usual patented scoring sprees. With Miami now looking like the Beast of the East as it rattles off win after win, including a statement blowout win against the two-time defending champions Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas, Wade has turned up his game another notch.
Wade has been so hot lately that he was recently named as the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, tallying 36.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game in leading Miami to a 3-0 record during the week of Dec. 2 through Jan. 2.
Wade scored at least 25 points in all three games, including a pair of back-to-back 40-point efforts. On Dec. 29, Wade scored a season-high 45 points on .708 shooting in Miami’s comeback win over Houston.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. Wade, known also as Flash, because of his cat-quick dribble penetration to the basket and his ability to blow by defenders, has made this kind of noise since he came into the league in 2003 after a shortened collegiate career at Marquette.
The 6-foot-4, 220 pound Wade has generated the kind of water-cooler buzz throughout his career with highlight-reel dunks and scintillating scoring moves that most players envy.
Now that he’s teamed up with two-time regular season MVP LeBron James and Olympian pal Chris Bosh, it’s taken some time for Wade to unleash his scoring fury on opponents. After some knocks and harsh criticism about their play after some early losses, the trio of Wade, James and Bosh have adjusted well playing together and have been making opponents pay.
Along the way, Wade found his game again. With so much attention paid to presence-imposing James, Wade has somewhat lurked in the background, biding his time to explode. It appears that time is now. In Miami’s 106-98 win against the New York Knicks, Wade dropped 40 points and nine rebounds on Spike Lee’s favorite team.
Wade then followed up that outing with a 45-point, seven rebound performance against the Rockets the next day in Miami’s 125-119 win. He slacked up a little against Golden State, scoring 25 points and dishing out eight assists on the night in Miami’s 114-107 win over the Warriors.
Wade, the 2006 NBA Finals MVP hasn’t slowed down, though. He poured in 31 points in Miami’s recent 96-82 win against Michael Jordan’s listless Charlotte Bobcats.
The key to Wade’s scoring resurgence has to do with two components: defense and his superstar teammates getting in sync with one another. Wade said as much after Miami’s win against the Lakers.
“The concepts of Miami basketball are about, first of all, defense,” said Wade. “It’s about our system and helping each other out. It’s not a one-on-one defensive system. It is five guys all being on one string at one time together. That’s the purpose of us three coming together playing.”