So, how’s the knee Dwyane?
That was the query for the Heat’s Wade before Game 3 against the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday.
His (typical) response: “Yeah, it’s fine. Thanks for asking.”
For the first half, one could be forgiven to wonder if he was fibbing.
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Put simply, he looked diminished.
Wade lumbered through the first two quarters, with more turnovers (five) than shot attempts (four). He scored just six points in 18 first-half minutes.
It was arguably the worst Wade looked since the 2013 postseason, when a swollen, painful knee limited him to a career-low 15.9 points per game in the playoff run. He had surgery shortly after the Heat’s second consecutive title.
Wade’s first half was as ugly as the Heat’s in general. Miami entered halftime down three touchdowns, and the only starter less productive than Wade was the confounding Mario Chalmers, who went scoreless.
Wade’s defense was arguably worse. He was the exposed by both Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, who combined for 31 first-half points.
"That's the nature of the playoffs," Wade said after Miami's 111-92 Game 3 loss. "It's not always good. This time of the year is dark days for us. Tonight, they came in here and took care of business."
Tuesday night wasn't all dark.
Miami outscored the Spurs 25-15 in the third quarter, with Wade the spark plug.
He opened the action with a circus, backwards shot that found the bucket. Later, he missed a reverse layup, then snagged his own miss and made amends.
Finally, he drained a floater in the lane that cut the deficit to single digits for the first time since the first five minutes of regulation. In all, he scored 11 points in the period, and the Heat had a pulse.
But the road was simply too long. A Spurs lead that once ballooned to 25 got as low as nine. But Wade, LeBron James appeared to have simply exerted too much energy to get it that close.
While Wade was still a factor in the fourth — driving, dishing, and scoring — San Antonio won comfortably, and took a 2-1 series lead.
Sixteen of Wade’s 22 points came after the break. He also had four rebounds and two assists, and didn’t commit a turnover in the second half.
It was a strong night for a player of any age, but certainly a 32-year-old with plenty of miles.
But on this night, it also nearly wasn’t enough.
“[It’s] the Finals, and you have to deal with all the emotions that happen in the Finals,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. “Frustration, anger, plain, elation, all of it, and it can swing back and forth.”