Barry Jackson

Why Dwyane Wade enters these playoffs with some uncertainty

Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook jockey for position in a game on Monday night. For the first time in his postseason career with the Heat, Wade will be coming off the bench.
Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook jockey for position in a game on Monday night. For the first time in his postseason career with the Heat, Wade will be coming off the bench.

A six-pack of Heat notes on a Thursday:

This will mark the 12th time Dwyane Wade has gone to the playoffs with the Heat but the first time he’s doing it as a bench player.

He’s curious to see how it goes. And while he has embraced the role, he admits he's not always at ease.

“Certain games where I'm thankful I'm coming off the bench,” he said this week. “Certain games where I don't know how good it is. Just trying to figure it out, just trying to play my role on this team.

“Always being on the second unit, that gives us a good advantage some nights over opponents. Not only from a scoring standpoint, from a leadership standpoint, especially in the playoffs. I've never done it before so I guess we’ll see.”

And that isn't the only area where there's uncertainty for Wade.

For the first time in his Heat playoff tenure, it's far from certain if Wade will be playing down the stretch of close games. That will be determined game to game, based on matchups and who's playing well that day.

Wade was the alpha male for the Heat offensively in clutch time in the first few weeks after his acquisition and hit the game winner late in the third matchup against Philadelphia.

But he didn't play late in the Heat's final two close games of the season — the playoff clincher against Atlanta and Wednesday's overtime finale against Toronto. Erik Spoelstra used Justise Winslow as a late game ball handler on Wednesday, with Wade on the bench.

During clutch time with the Heat (defined by the NBA as the final five minutes of games with a margin of five points or fewer), Wade shot 13 for 28 (46.4 percent), including 0 for 4 on threes but 13 for 13 on free throws. The Heat was 4-7 in those games, and Miami had a zero plus/minus (same number of points scored and allowed) during his clutch minutes.

Overall, Wade’s final averages in 21 games with the Heat: 12.0 points per game, 22.0 minutes per game, 40.9 percent shooting, 3.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists. He shot 9 for 41 on threes (22 percent). The shooting percentage is well below his 48.3 career average.

Wade isn’t sure what to expect from this team in postseason.

“It's going to be good to see how young guys react to the playoffs,” he said. “It's a different level of basketball.”

Like Wade, Heat forward Udonis Haslem said this week he hasn’t decided whether to continue playing next season.

“I am sure we will talk about it together,” Haslem said of Wade. “Each decision is individual, but it will affect the outcome of the other's decision. It's not that I can't play. I just might want to put that energy somewhere else. I still have a lot to give this team and give to this game. Physically and mentally, I can still contribute.”

But coaching doesn’t appeal to Haslem. “I've got too much to focus on outside of basketball at this stage,” he said. “I've got my other businesses; my kids are growing.”

Haslem has partial or majority ownership in five Subway restaurants, two Auntie Anne’s pretzel shops, two Starbucks and Einstein Bros. Bagels.

“And we have another concept we're bringing to South Florida — 800 Degrees Pizza; I have a couple of those too. I'm up to 11 or 12 franchises [overall among those five business]. Some I am majority owner. Some 50/50 and some smaller pieces.”

After losing yet another tooth in a game last week, Heat guard Tyler Johnson now has lost four teeth in games and six more in practices in his career. Does he ever wonder why this keeps happening to him?

“No,” he said. “You see how I play. It's not really a surprise.”

There’s no rush to replace them because even though “I would prefer to have all my teeth, it's a matter of doing it at a time when they probably won't be knocked out again.”

Here’s where the Heat finished in several league categories: Offensively, Miami was 23rd in points per game (103.4), 17th in field goal percentage (45.5), 15th in three-point percentage (36.0), tied for 10th in three-pointers made per game (11.0) and 22nd in free throw percentage (75.5).

Defensively, the Heat was fourth-best in points allowed per game (102.9), tied for fifth best in field goal percentage allowed (44.9) and 13th best in three-point percentage allowed (36.0).

In individual categories. Hassan Whiteside — if he had enough games to qualify — would have been sixth in rebounds per game (11.4) and eighth in blocks (1.74).

Josh Richardson was 35th in blocks at 0.93 and third among all small forwards in that category, behind Kevin Durant and Jerami Grant.

Richardson was 18th in steals at 1.49 and fifth among small forwards in that category.

Wayne Ellington was tied for sixth in three-pointers with Damian Lillard, with 227 for the season.

Goran Dragic was the Heat's leading scorer, averaging 17.3 per game, which ranked 37th in the league.

Some franchise milestones: The Heat set the franchise record for three-pointers in a season. ... Miami finished the season scoring at least 90 in 32 consecutive games, third longest in franchise history — five short of the record.. .. Miami led the NBA by having 10 players average in double figures. ... The Heat's six one-point wins were its most ever in a season.

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