Much of the blame for the Miami Heat being down three games to one in the NBA Finals has been placed on Lebron James. James has looked somewhat sluggish through the first four games, but he’s still averaging over 27 PPG. Somehow Dwyane Wade has escaped much of the blame, though he’s the one who has really been costing Miami.
The San Antonio Spurs‘ strategy on defense has been to keep the Heat slashers from getting to the basket, which is the bread and butter of Wade’s game. It seems like every time Wade touches the ball on offense, he drives and forces up a terrible shot into two or three San Antonio defenders. If he doesn’t get a clean look, he typically flails or falls trying to get a foul. That’s inevitably followed by a dirty look from Wade at whichever referee didn’t give him the call.
The best thing Wade could do to open up the lane would be to start hitting outside shots, which the Spurs are daring him to do. He’s never been a good three-point shooter, and his inability to hit an outside shot is the biggest difference between Miami and San Antonio on offense. The Spurs can stretch out the defense with four three-point shooters outside the arc, whereas Miami can’t do that with Wade on the floor, making them easier to defend.
The Miami shooting guard has struggled defensively as well. He’s constantly getting caught up in screens or taking ill-advised risks, frequently allowing the San Antonio perimeter players to get good looks. Then there are the times he’s switched off to guarding fellow veteran Boris Diaw, who has been able to do whatever he wants offensively with Wade on him.
If Miami is going to force a Game 6, Wade is going to have to play better. He needs to move more without the ball on offense and close out better on the perimeter shooters on defense. Unfortunately for Wade and the Heat, it doesn’t look like he’s physically able to do that anymore.