Dwyane Wade still getting it done at 30
BY MARK POTASH email@example.com June 13, 2012 7:16PM
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JUNE 12: Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat goes up for a shot over Derek Fisher #37 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the second half in Game One of the 2012 NBA Finals at Chesapeake Energy Arena on June 12, 2012 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Heat vs. Thunder
Thunder leads series 1-0
All games on Ch. 7, 1000-AM
G1: at Thunder 105, Heat 94
Thursday: at Thunder, 8 p.m.
Sunday: at Heat, 7 p.m.
Tuesday: at Heat, 8 p.m.
x-Next Thursday: at Heat, 8 p.m.
x-June 24: at Thunder, 7 p.m.
x-June 26: at Thunder, 8 p.m.
Updated: July 15, 2012 3:32PM
OKLAHOMA CITY — One of these days, Dwyane Wade is going to reach into his bag of tricks and come up empty. And he knows it.
‘‘One day it’ll happen,’’ Wade said Wednesday. ‘‘Father Time will knock on the door and tap me on the shoulder. But not right now.’’
We’ll see about that. The 30-year-old former Richards star isn’t far-removed from the peak of his magnificent NBA career. He averaged 33.2 points in the playoffs in 2010 and 26.5 points in the NBA Finals last season against the Dallas Mavericks.
But he has a ton of mileage on him: 702 games and 22,436 minutes in the last nine seasons, including the playoffs. Add to that the incalculable mental toll of being a highly visible superstar on a ‘‘Hollywood as Hell’’ team in the era of social media, and it’s not unfathomable that the downside of Wade’s Hall of Fame-worthy career might be steep.
The question is when. That’s a pertinent query as the Heat, which trails the Oklahoma City Thunder 1-0 in the Finals, looks to Wade to carry his share of the load and then some after a 19-point, 7-for-19 performance in a 105-94 loss Tuesday.
As teammate LeBron James said about Wade on Wednesday, ‘‘He still has it.’’ But nobody knows how much is left. After Wade crapped out in Game 3 against the Indiana Pacers in the second round to put the Heat in a 2-1 hole — scoring only five points on 2-for-13 shooting and barking at coach Erik Spoel-
stra in a late-game fit of frustration — he responded with 30, 28 and 41 points in consecutive victories that clinched the series.
But after Wade struggled in losses to the Boston Celtics in Games 3
and 4 of the Eastern Conference
finals, his response was much less heroic, though good enough to get the job done. He followed with games of 27, 17 and 23 points on 43 percent shooting as the Heat survived.
Wade is confident, as always, that he and James will recapture the hit-and-miss chemistry that makes them so potent.
‘‘We’ll figure it out,’’ he said.
But he seems to sense the difficulty of the challenge to reach that elite level when he really needs it. Asked to compare his athleticism now to when he last won a title, Wade sounded as though he was talking about a different person from a different era.
‘‘From 2006?’’ he asked, almost incredulously. ‘‘I was 24 — totally different. Six years ago, man — I’m not that athletic, I’ll tell you that, as I was in ’06. But I still have something left in me. I wish it was possible to stay at the same athleticism as I was at 24, but that’s not possible.’’
An NBA playoff series can turn around between Games 1 and 2. Last season, the Heat did it against the Bulls in the conference finals and the Mavericks did it against the Heat in the NBA Finals.
But the wear-and-tear factor adds to the degree of difficulty for Wade. After playing only six games in the final 26 days of the regular season, Wade has played 19 playoff games in 46 days. The Thunder is younger and more rested. It had a total of 18 days off between series before the Finals, a mental break that can’t be discounted. The Heat had eight.
Without the athleticism he had at 24, Wade will have to rely on tricks he has never needed to reach the same heights. It’s a chance to redefine just how great he is.