From The Other Side: He's Older and a Bit Slower but He's Still Dwyane Wade | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

From The Other Side: He’s Older and a Bit Slower but He’s Still Dwyane Wade

By
Updated: March 7, 2018

Truth About It is a blog that primarily focuses on all things Washington Wizards. We have media credentials and that access allows for up-close coverage of games, practices, and other activities, irreverent and otherwise. But occasionally we use that access to explore what’s going on with the opposing team. We call this segment, “From The Other Side,” and in today’s installment, @rashad20 focuses on Dwyane Wade’s performance against the Wizards last night.

Seventy-five minutes before tip-off, Dwyane Wade stood about 10 feet beyond the 3-point line with a basketball by his side. He wasn’t moving, he wasn’t stretching, he wasn’t talking to anyone, he was simply standing still watching his teammates.

Justise Winslow was dribbling in and out of the lane practicing floaters off of one knee. Josh Richardson stood in the corner trying to perfect his 3-point shot, James Johnson was in the post trying out an array of moves, while attempting to stay out of Winslow’s way, and guards Tyler Johnson and Goran Dragic were on the floor stretching. And in back of them all, there was Wade standing still as a statue as he surveyed the Heat landscape.

After about seven minutes, a group of kids walked to half court to practice singing the National Anthem, and they finally uprooted Wade just a bit. Instead of standing 10 feet beyond a straightaway 3-pointer, he shuffled about 10 feet to the left. And instead of holding the ball, he put it under his foot, folded his arms, and kept watching his teammates prepare for the game.

Two minutes after that, Wade’s old friend Udonis Haslem walked on to the court, slapped fives with Wade, and then went to talk to assistant coach Juwan Howard. Then, as if Haslem’s hand had activated some type of freeze tag cheat code, Wade broke out of his catatonic state, and began doing vigorous dribble drills in preparation for the game against the Wizards.

Perhaps Wade was meditating, perhaps his body was just tired and he was pacing himself before starting his pregame drills. Or maybe, Wade was just practicing the approach he was going to use against the Wizards, because that type of cat-and-mouse game is exactly what he did during the Miami Heat’s 117-113 loss to the Wizards.

“It’s like that country song, ‘I’m not as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was.’ I truly believe that about Dwyane. He might not be able to play the role that he did for us in 2008 and 2009, playing 40 minutes and I would ask him to play the best player in defense on the other end as well. But for 20 to 25 minutes, I think he can be every bit of who he used to be, just in compact minutes.” – Erik Spoelstra

When Wade entered the game with 3:52 left in the first quarter, the Heat trailed by 17 points. A little over a minute later. he went on a run where he accounted for eight of the Heat’s last 10 points of the quarter. He scored on a driving layup, he hit a mid-range jumper, he capitalized on one of the Wizards’ three turnovers by dunking off the fast break, and then he found Kelly Olynyk open for a 3-pointer. By the end of the quarter the Heat’s deficit had gone from 17 to five points.

Wade scored a total of five points in the second and third quarters, but frankly, they were nowhere near as impactful as the feats of strength he pulled off in the first quarter.  In fact, his relative inactivity in the middle two quarters was akin to the statue-like existence he seemed to be in prior to the game. By the time the fourth quarter came, Wade snapped out of it and resembled his younger, more spry self–and most of it came at the expense of Kelly Oubre who is 14 years younger than Wade.

First, Wade caught the ball on the right side of the lane, took two dribbles, gave a slight fake and hit a right hook over Oubre to cut the Wizards lead to eight points.

Two minutes later, Wade caught the ball in the post, and Oubre attempted to smother him, because he knew he was younger, quicker and more athletic than Wade. In his mind, the closer he got to Wade, the less likely he was to gain any type of offensive advantage. But Wade took one dribble to the right, then quickly pivoted to the left and shot a fadeaway over the outstretched hands of the overzealous Oubre. Right before the shot went through the basket, Oubre fell into Wade knocking him into the crowd a bit and the referees called the foul. Wade nailed the free throw and the Heat led by two points, 90-88.

With 28.4 seconds left in the game, the Heat trailed by three points and Wade found himself bringing the ball up the court after a missed Tomas Satoransky 3-pointer. He dribbled the ball up the court and sized up the Wizards’ defense. He used a hesitation dribble to go by Markieff Morris and once he got to the rim, Bradley Beal tried to block or at least alter his shot, but neither attempt was successful. Wade was fouled, yet still scored and after he hit the free throw, the game was tied at 105, and that’s how it would stay the remainder of regulation.

Wade started the overtime session on the bench, which was Coach Spoelstra’s way of resting him until he was needed in the home stretch–and the need came after 1:36 had elapsed.

After a quiet three minutes of play, Wade found himself wide open in the corner for a 3-point shot. He let it go with Oubre closing in quickly, but on the release, Oubre managed to hit him in the face.  The referees reviewed the play to make sure it was indeed a foul, and once that was established, Wade hit all three free throws to bring the Heat within one point of the lead. He had victimized poor Oubre once again.

Just eight seconds later, Wade found himself in the lane, just two feet from the basket, with a chance to tie the game. First he head faked to get Satoransky off his feet, then he shot a floater over the arms of Markieff Morris, but the shot clanged off the back rim, and Oubre–yes the same Oubre who Wade had been torching in crunch time–grabbed the rebound. The Heat did not score another basket, and the Wizards ended up winning the game, 117-113.

After the game, Wade was asked how he was able to play such a sizable role in the outcome of the game despite playing on the second night of a back-to-back at 36 years old. To Wade’s credit, he downplayed the degree of difficulty and explained his feat in the simplest of basketball terms:

“When its at the end[of the game]…everything goes out the window at the end of games. I lock it in–its like a mechanism when you lock in.”

Coach Spoelstra could have been hard on Wade’s inability to force double overtime from point blank range, even on the second night of a back-to-back, but instead–in true Coach Spoelstra fashion–he chose to focus on the positive aspects of the past 48 hours for his star player:

I think one of the most brilliant qualities that Dwyane has is he can observe and take note of what’s needed for a team and find a way to fill in the gaps…and that may be to score like it is tonight but last night[against the Phoenix Suns] he was just a facilitator..when I saw he can be as good as he once was, that can be as a facilitator and somebody that will draw a lot of attention and help somebody else.

 

 

 

 

 

Rashad Mobley on FacebookRashad Mobley on InstagramRashad Mobley on Twitter
Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop, USAToday.com, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.