Eastern conference finals | heat vs. pacers

Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh still making contributions against Indiana Pacers

 

bjackson@MiamiHerald.com

Forty points from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh? That was close to the norm in the regular season, when they combined to average 37.8 per game.

But 40 combined from Wade and Bosh over two games? That’s their output from Games 4 and 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, with just 17 in Thursday’s victory that gave the Heat a 3-2 series lead.

And so, one win away from a third consecutive NBA Finals berth, the Heat enters Game 6 in Indianapolis on Saturday night not quite sure what it will get offensively from two-thirds of the Big 3.

For Wade, it remains a question of health. He said Friday the bone bruise on his right knee continues to have “good and bad” moments.

“I know he’s hurting,” Udonis Haslem said.

For Bosh, the offensive decline is a byproduct of Indiana’s stiff defense combined with taking fewer shots, especially around the basket.

“The last two years, when they’ve gotten to the NBA Finals, there was a three-man consistency with Bosh, James and Wade, but that isn’t the case anymore,” TNT’s Kenny Smith said after Game 5.

“Those guys [Bosh and Wade] don’t take the challenge that they used to take. It might be because of injury or it might be because of matchups.”

Both are still contributing.

In Game 5, Wade continued his stretch of outstanding defense and added six rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block. Bosh was active defensively against David West.

But offensively? That’s another story.

Bosh has scored only seven points in each of the past two games, marking only the third time in the past eight seasons that he has scored in single digits in consecutive games.

Wade, meanwhile, has gone a career-long 11 games in a row without scoring at least 20 points. His previous longest drought? Two nine-game streaks as a rookie.

Wade took only eight shots in Game 5, making three, and said Friday: “In my early years, I wouldn’t have shot eight shots. I would have forced it.

“LeBron and [Haslem] had it going. I’m trying to make plays for other guys and not necessarily worry about if I can get 20 points so you [reporters] can feel good, so you guys can come in and write a good story about me. … I’ve got five more games to win. Then I can get better.”

But asked if part of him wants to erupt offensively, Wade admitted: “Every night. I would love to score 20 or 30 a night. Everyone looks at how many points I put up … but that doesn’t really determine my success on this team. If [Saturday] is a night where I’m feeling better and I can go for more points, I will try to be aggressive.”

How tough is it to push through this injury?

“Very tough, but I can’t sit at home,” said Wade, whose playoff scoring average of 13.9 is well below his 24.5 and 22.8 averages the past two postseasons.

He spoke of “doing the little things … trying to make [Paul George] work as much as possible.”

Asked where he’s making his best contribution, he offered a simple answer: “Being on the floor.”

He tries to avoid hearing the undercurrent of criticism, including Reggie Miller’s comment on TNT on Thursday that Wade “at times looks so uninterested out there, like someone just going through the motions. This is not the same aggressive Dwyane Wade that we’re used to seeing.”

To that, Wade said: “I don’t respond. I can’t respond to everything someone says about me. It’s not the way I live. I’m out there doing what I can.”

As for Bosh, he has taken only 13 shots in the past two games, making four. But asked if he’s frustrated offensively, he said: “Why would I be? We’re up 3-2. This is a defensive series. What I’m focusing on is defense and rebounding.”

His defense was solid Thursday, but he has just 18 rebounds in five games.

Offensively, he is often stationed on the perimeter, but coach Erik Spoelstra was encouraged that he took four shots in the basket area Thursday. In fact, Spoelstra said “one of my favorite possessions Chris had” was Bosh “rolling to the rim and Roy Hibbert made a terrific block. …

“We need to put him in a handful of those opportunities. At the same time, he’s making a big sacrifice that not everyone understands. He’s also providing space for us. It’s a fine line.”

During the regular season, 47.9 percent of Bosh’s shots were within 10 feet. It’s 33 percent in these playoffs.

Bosh — who said he tweaked his ankle injury at the start of Game 5 but that he wasn’t significantly limited — said his positioning on the court “has been a little bit of everywhere. That’s why my job is difficult.”

He said his responsibility in this series “is more widespread. Against other teams, it was pretty simple. Sometimes offense really isn’t the most important thing in this series.”

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