He might have been the dinner guest at Chris Bosh’s house the night before Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, but it was Dwyane Wade who served up a plateful of perspective to his host.
Bosh, who scored just five points in Game 6 against the Pacers, needed some encouragement. Wade, going through his own struggles, probably needed a pep talk himself, but the eve before the biggest game of the postseason was no time for a collective pity party.
“Chris, it didn’t matter if you scored 30 points a game up until this point,” Wade said that night. “If you get in Game 7 and score two points and we lose, you’ll feel just as bad or worse than you feel now. So it’s all about Game 7, man. It’s all about this moment. Let’s do whatever we can, do what we’ve got to do until things turn around for us.”
Bosh responded. So did Wade. And now a new banner is being fashioned for the rafters of AmericanAirlines Arena.
Conference championships are nice, but rings are the only things that matter in Miami. Simply put, for the Heat to defeat the Spurs in The Finals, and repeat as NBA champions, Wade and Bosh will have to rejoin the triumvirate alongside LeBron James. The Big 3 was put together to make history, and it is going to take a historic effort to knock off a San Antonio team that has gone 12-2 in the playoffs, rolled through the Western Conference finals in four games and has had nine days to rest and prepare. Wade’s knee is a constant bother and Bosh’s ankle, which he sprained against the Pacers, still isn’t right, but the confidence had better be back.
“I thought [Bosh’s] mind-set of being aggressive was a change to hopefully bring into this series, and my mind-set as well,” Wade said. “So hopefully there was a turning point. If not, doing whatever we can to make sure we’re part of the team and helping our teammates to win this championship that we’re trying to get.”
Wade is averaging 14.1 points per game in the playoffs and Bosh’s average stands at 12.3. Both are career postseason lows. And while Wade and Bosh limped through the Eastern Conference finals, the Spurs were busy dissecting film on what Indiana did so well to limit two-thirds of the Heat’s core. Of course, that’s no secret. The Pacers closed the talent gap with physical play and a big front line.
The Finals will be the height of competition in professional basketball but don’t expect it to get nasty like the Eastern Conference finals. The Finals Media Day at AmericanAirlines Arena on Wednesday was a love fest. Both teams displayed a level of respect for their opponents that bordered on fandom.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he “can’t help” but still refer to Heat president Pat Riley as “Coach Riley,” and explained why he called Riley on the phone back in 2010 to congratulate him on signing James, Wade and Bosh.
“I guess he’s Executive Coach Riley and all that, slash whatever,” Popovich said. “But he’s been a competitor obviously his whole career since he was a player in college and beyond. He put together a team fairly, within the rules, that is a monster. So why wouldn’t he get credit for that? Why wouldn’t you congratulate him for that?”