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Dwyane Wade’s decline is dragging down the Heat

Updated: June 14, 2014 10:28PM



SAN ANTONIO — The Miami Heat finally found something they can excel at in these NBA Finals.

Then again, they have had some practice making excuses for Dwyane Wade the last two seasons.

‘‘I have no doubt he’ll bounce back,’’ guard Mario Chalmers said Saturday.

‘‘He has more than enough,’’ coach Erik Spoelstra said. ‘‘He’s proven time and time again that he has an incredible way of just finding a way. Finding a way to impact and help your team win.’’

Wade obviously has found an incredible way of lying to himself. Asked whether his chronic knee problems were the reason for his 3-for-13 shooting display in Game 4 and his lack of defense against the San Antonio Spurs the entire
series, Wade replied: ‘‘I’m fine. Last year, I had one leg and did all right. I’m totally fine, man. I didn’t play well in Game 4. Has nothing to do with my health at all.’’

Yes, Wade did play ‘‘all right’’ for a one-legged player against the Spurs in the Finals last season. If we’re counting him as a two-legged player, though, he was awful. You don’t finish at minus-54 in the plus/minus category for a series, like Wade did, and come away feeling like you did ‘‘all right.’’

The difference was Le-
Bron James was able to drag Wade’s carcass across the finish line and still hold up the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Nothing like covering up the evidence with a championship banner.

The Heat’s plan this season was to keep Wade away from back-to-back games during the regular season, so he could unleash hell come June. They would settle for Wade unleashing mediocrity at this point. No team has come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals, and that trend will continue with Wade missing in action.

‘‘None of us have played well enough,’’ Wade said, again shouldering almost no blame. ‘‘We’re not singling out anybody on our team. We as a team, the Miami Heat, we haven’t played well enough. We’ve lost three games together and we’ve won one collectively. So we all need to play better.’’

Actually, one guy — James — has played well. How about 27.5 points on 60 percent shooting and 7.3
rebounds per game? The only reason James’ assists are down is because no one else on the Heat has been able to score.

‘‘I’ve been telling myself I need to do more,’’ James said. ‘‘Is it too much to ask myself? I don’t know. I need to do more because what I’m doing isn’t enough. It’s just what I put on myself.’’

You hear that, Dwyane? That’s some old-fashioned responsibility being taken by the true face of the Heat.

With the Big Three’s reign on life support, some league-altering decisions have to be made, as James, Wade and Chris Bosh can opt out of their contracts this summer. It’s time for James to cut Wade loose, whether that means Wade leaving Miami or James looking to go elsewhere.

The reason James left the Cleveland Cavaliers was to make sure he wouldn’t have to rely on players such as Daniel ‘‘Boobie’’ Gibson.

‘‘Boobie’’ Wade, anyone?

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @suntimes_hoops



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