The past clouds the present predicament, and makes it so the future somehow blends both faith and fear.
On the one hand, we have seen Dwyane Wade resurrect himself after public burials, and against this very team no less, to end Indiana’s season just last season.
On the other hand, the tough Indiana Pacers have all the things — size, defense, athleticism, youth, fearlessness — one would need to upset this Heat team if Wade isn’t going to be Wade.
So what do you believe is closer to the truth?
Or your fear?
The answer to this really can’t be to just keep asking LeBron James to do more. How many times are you going to demand the greatest be greater? He is in a Miami uniform in the first place because of how tired he was of that request.
James was amazing Friday night. Candid Indiana coach Frank Vogel said after the game it is one of the best games he has ever seen played by one man. And the Heat still lost at home. When does that ever happen? How about never? In his three years here, James has never scored that much, that efficiently, and lost at home. Not once. So this Indiana team survived the four-time MVP’s best punch because the four-time MVP didn’t have enough help.
James was literally gasping for air in the fourth quarter, something you rarely see, having played more minutes than anyone in the game and having to guard that bull David West on the defensive end. That might have had something to do with James producing two turnovers in the game’s final minute, something that has never happened to him before in a playoff game. James might be the best decision-maker in the history of this business, a fast-twitch calculator of efficiencies on the fly, but you can’t be defending West on one end and carrying Wade on the other while playing more minutes than anyone on the floor and expect the end of Game 1 more often than the end of Game2.
Here are the damning things:
The Pacers have shot more free throws in each of the first two games of this series. That’s not how Miami wins. Miami tilts the game’s math in its favor by being more efficient than the other guys, by getting more points per possession, and you do that by attacking the rim for close-in shots and/or taking free throws when the opponent has to foul to stop you. In extinguishing the Pacers last year, the Heat shot more free throws in all but two of the six playoffs games. And the biggest disparity for Miami was five fewer free throws than Indiana — the game, not coincidentally, Miami lost by 19.
That’s when the howling started around Wade for the first time ever in this city, really. Wade smiled last week when talking about the burden he and LeBron agreed to share when merging. He acknowledged that the yelling and screaming wasn’t really shared at all, that LeBron got the bad end of this shared-burden merger … until that Game 3 against Indiana last year. That’s the worst any of us has ever seen Wade play. Two for 13. Passive. Yelling at his coach. And you remember what he did the game after that. Made 10 shots in a row in the second half of Game 4, changing the series by scoring 30 points. Of course, LeBron had, um, 40, in that one — and was doing a great deal of the feeding to Wade for easy baskets, too.