Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sitting Wade is the Right Move

While Dwyane Wade's availability is in question tonight for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, he did go through the shoot-around this morning and is still likely to suit up tonight. Yet, surprisingly the Heat have been better off without their second star. Erik Spoelstra's crew is fully capable of closing out the injury-riddled Bulls at home without D-Wade. In fact, in the “Big 3” era, the Heat have a better winning percentage without Wade than with him. Shocking, right?

Normally, one wouldn't say Wade is a detriment to his team during the playoffs, but clearly his knee is negatively effecting his game right now. The 31-year-old is playing in his 9th postseason, and is posting his lowest PPG, 2nd-lowest fast break PPG, 2nd-lowest FG% and lowest 3-pt FG% -ever. Yikes.

Further, he is relying on his teammates to set him up for baskets, with 66.7% of his made field goals coming off assists. Wade can't use his trademark quickness on the pick-and-roll to create easy buckets for himself. It's fair to question whether Wade will be healthy at any time during these playoffs.

Although he had a full ten days off to rest his body between Game 3 of Miami's first round series and Game 1 of the Bulls series, Wade has still not improved and tweaked his knee again in Game 4. This should not deter the Heat, though. Chris Bosh is playing some of the best basketball in his Heat career in these playoffs and second-year guard Norris Cole has added a playmaking element that has neutralized Chicago's Nate Robinson. You'd think Coach Spoelstra could rely on King James and his supporting cast to toss aside the struggling Bulls. Three of the Bulls' five starters began the year on the bench, so it's looking like a layup for the Heat.

Big picture, the Heat need to be careful with their aging superstar. LeBron has an opt out after the 2013-14 season, so Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra are counting on Wade to hold up next season before assessing their options in the summer of 2014.

Only time will tell how that situation works out, but one thing is certain, Wade's body is not right and his play reflects it. Not sitting him would be a severe misstep, one that the Heat organization has not made in a long time.