Dwyane Wade hit the 20-point mark for the third time this postseason before halftime on Wednesday.
His two biggest points, it can be argued, came late in the fourth.
Wade’s fadeaway jumper with just under two minutes remaining pulled the Heat within three points in a game it eventually won 96-94 over the visiting Nets in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Wade’s shot was part of Miami’s 13-3 run to end things, an incredible run that helped knock Brooklyn out of the playoffs and propel the Heat into the conference finals for the fourth straight season.
“Coming off the last game, LeBron [James] had 49, and you know they’re going to be very aware of him,’’ said Wade, who ended up scoring 26 points.
“I took it upon myself to be very aggressive early on knowing that would open the game up. In the second half, I didn’t have to be as aggressive. Guys were getting into their rhythm.’’
Wade definitely helped keep the Heat in a game it didn’t look good in early.
Despite Wade’s 20 points, the Heat went into the break down seven. Miami had only six players on the score sheet at the half with Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, James Jones and Rashard Lewis giving Miami a combined 13.
James scored nine but ended with a game-high 28. James has led the Heat in scoring in all nine postseason games.
Wade definitely made Miami’s bad first half just that. It was a bad half, but it wasn’t devastating.
“He’s a playoff warrior,’’ coach Erik Spoelstra said of Wade. “He knows what we needed and was in attack mode. Right from the get-go, he got some easy ones and was able to attack and get things where there wasn’t a lot of space, a lot of gaps. He was able to find his way to the rim. He kept us in it particularly when they were in a pretty good groove there for a little bit in the first half.’’
The Heat was 1-for-16 from beyond the arc and started 0-for-11 before James Jones hit on the 12th attempt in the opening half. But it started sinking its threes in the second.
Miami hit eight of 13 three-point attempts in the final 24 minutes.
“It’s never easy for us,’’ said James, who hit two of his four three-point shots in the second half. “We had to do it once again. It was a big-time finish for us.’’
For Wade, who scored six points in the second half, getting to the east finals for a fourth straight year is something he says he “doesn’t take for granted.’’
It wasn’t that long ago that Wade and the Heat struggled to get out of the first round of the playoffs – if it made the postseason at all.
James and Chris Bosh came to town to join forces with Wade in 2010 and Miami went to the NBA Finals in 2011.
The previous year, however, Miami got bounced from the opening round of the playoffs by Boston in 5. The year before that, the Heat lost to Atlanta in 7.
“This is the reason we came together four years ago: to put ourselves in position to win championships,’’ Wade said. “We have a lot more work to do. We’re a team that worked very hard to get to this point. We’re going to try to get to the next round and continue to move forward.’’
Said James: “We still have some business to take care of. We don’t short-cut the process. But this is why we came together four years ago.’’