Heat notebook

Dwyane Wade getting defensive-minded

 
WEB VOTE What's the Miami Heat's most impressive road victory during the 18-game win streak?

jgoodman@MiamiHerald.com

Dwyane Wade’s wardrobe change at halftime wasn’t about fashion — believe it or not.

Wade is one of the most fashion-centric players in the NBA and, yes, he’s trying to sell his new shoes at all times, but Wade said he changed his footwear for the second half of the Heat’s 105-91 victory over the Pacers because he burned through the first pair playing defense.

“I went through them in the first half,” Wade said. “I was moving. I wanted some stiff shoes.”

Wade finished the game with six steals; Miami had 10 steals as a team. As healthy as he has been all season, Wade said after the game that defensively he’s playing “as good as I have played in a while.”

“I’ve just been trying to be active and not make too many mistakes,” Wade said. “Everyone has to do their job and sometimes it’s my job to make big plays. Because I’m healthy, I’m able to move. I think it’s as good defensively as I’ve played since 08-09.”

In somewhat of a surprise strategic move, Wade started the game on defense covering Paul George, the Pacers’ young All-Star. George finished the game with 10 points in 42 minutes.

Wade was originally supposed to guard George Hill and said after the game that it was teammate LeBron James’ idea for a defensive switch.

James, who would normally guard George, defended Lance Stephenson.

“LeBron said he wanted me to guard him and I said fine,” Wade said. “It was just between players. I think the biggest thing is [James] wanted me engaged in the game early for the start and very aggressive.”

On fire

Wade is just getting it done defensively.

After going 9 of 16 from the field against the Pacers, Wade is shooting 60.8 percent (104 of 171) over his past nine games.

Wade currently has scored in double-figures in 48 consecutive games, which is the fifth longest streak of his career.

Wade scored 23 points Sunday against the Pacers.

In perspective

After winning 18 games in a row, the Heat now has the best winning percentage in the NBA (.770) and also has clinched a spot in the playoffs. Coach Erik Spoelstra said his team isn’t going to spend much time dwelling on the milestones.

“Maybe only the microcosm of a second for perspective,” Spoelstra said. “For us and this franchise and the people that have been here in the tough years, particularly that 15-win season and how miserable that year was.”

If the Heat finishes the season with the best record in the league, it would have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. It seems important, but Spoelstra said he’s not worried about it.

“The most important thing is we’re playing well,” Spoelstra said. “That trump almost everything. If we’re playing well, then that probably means we’re playing to our identity. Those are habits that take a long time to build.

“For us, it’s something we have to continually stress, because there is an easier way for us to play. But that’s not a successful way for us to play. And we know what our keys are on both sides of the floor, but it takes a great commitment and a great energy commitment.”

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