For more than two weeks, Dwyane Wade watched the Miami Heat from afar. The birth of Wade’s first daughter took the guard away from the team from Nov. 7 until Tuesday, when he returned to the court in the Heat’s 104-92 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
But he’s the 12-time All-Star. He’s the future Hall of Famer and the most accomplished player in franchise history. Wade is uniquely qualified to asses Miami’s struggles, even when he watched the Heat’s recent 2-5 stretch from his couch out in Los Angeles.
So what does he think? The Heat (6-11) has shot miserably from the field all season, most recently with a 36 percent effort against the Nets (8-10) on Tuesday in Miami. Are his teammates just overthinking things right now?
“We’ll go with that,” Wade said with a grin. “I’m not going to say my real feelings on it. The league has just changed. Things are different.”
It didn’t take much to get the superstar to elaborate. The Heat want to win with defense and it can be a difficult task in the modern NBA, where pace and space dominates. Teams held to 95 or fewer points this season are just 5-57. Miami has now failed to crack 95 in two of its past three games.
In the home locker room at AmericanAirlines Arena following the loss to Brooklyn, Wade was asked whether the current roster might not be well-suited for the current NBA.
“I don’t know,” Wade said. “I think coach [Erik Spoelstra] came in with an idea of how he wants to play and it’s going to come soon. There’s going to be some bumps with that with guys having to play a little bit out of their comfort zone and do things a little different than they have done, so you don’t want to say, Oh, we’re going to accept losing, but you’re also going to understand that with that is going to come some trials and tribulations.”
The cliche of “threes and dunks” being the sole focus for NBA teams is true to an extent and the Heat has particularly struggled in the latter category. Miami is shooting just 60.5 percent from inside the restricted area, eighth worst in the NBA. Inside of eight feet, the Heat is shooting just 54.3 percent, fifth worst in the league.
Miami’s overall field-goal percentage of 43.5 is third worst in the league ahead of only the Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets. The Heat is also the fourth-worst team in terms of free-throw percentage, ranking 14th in the league in makes despite attempting the sixth most.
While Miami is competent from beyond the arc — the Heat sits at No. 10 in three-point percentage — it hasn’t been enough to overcome deficiencies elsewhere. Eventually, Miami hopes its formula will work, but for now the Heat is struggling to adjust to the realities of the modern NBA.
“That’s kind of not the full reason why we’re 6-11, but you can definitely see guys aren’t play just free with their game, they’re overthinking at times and in this game you don’t want to,” Wade said. “You just want to play, so it’s just trying to get comfortable with where the NBA is. It’s three-pointers, and it’s floaters and layups. And everyone knows that, so everyone plays that, as well. Some guys are great at it and we’ve got guys on this team that’s trying to figure out how to be better.”