Although Miami Heat All-Star forward LeBron James was awarded the NBA MVP Award for his accomplishments during the regular campaign; when the Heat wanted to close out their series against the Indiana Pacers in six games on Thursday night, they chose the club’s true leader, All-Star guard Dwyane Wade to lead them to victory. The Miami veteran came through for his squad as he racked up a double-double including a game high 41 points to lead his team past the Pacers 105-93 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals as they look to reach the big dance for the second straight year.
Just as an army can only have one commander; a team can only have one true leader within its ranks and D-Wade fills that role for the Miami Heat. James held that position earlier in his career when he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers; however he chose to give that up when he and Chris Bosh signed on to Wade’s team. The dynamic may have been different had James and Wade both left their clubs to sign with the Chicago Bulls, but because the two forwards followed the guard to a club where he was already established as the star, Wade automatically became the leader of the trio.
The former Marquette player who was drafted by Miami with the fifth pick in the first round of the 2003 NBA Draft, played hurt almost all of this season; as he was on the court for only 49 of his team’s 66 games during the regular season. He was flat-out terrible in game three of the match-up last series as the veteran could only muster 5 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, an assist and a steal as Miami lost their second straight game to Indiana by a final margin of 94-75. Wade even got into a screaming match with bench boss Erik Spoelstra during the game; as it appeared that the club’s season was falling apart.
That may have provided the wakeup call that the star and the team needed; as the scenario turned around in game four as James knocked down 40 points while Wade added 30 as they beat Indiana 101-93 on Sunday; knotting up the series at 2-2 and restoring the Heat’s confidence with the action returning to Miami on Tuesday. The defending Eastern Conference Champions regained the upper hand in the match-up in game five as James dropped 32 points while Wade had 28 as they dominated their guests 115-83, setting up a win or go home situation for their opponents Thursday night.
Wade most likely will be the difference maker for Miami in the next round, as either the Boston Celtics or the Philadelphia 76ers will have a tough time trying to shut him down. Evan Turner is a talented guard, but he is not in the same area-code as D-Wade, while the Boston Celtics will try to guard him with veteran Ray Allen who is playing on tender ankles. On paper at least; the match-ups favor the guard from Miami.
The guard helped lead his team to their first NBA Championship in 2006; for the Heat to have any chance to win their second title this June, it will have to be with Dwyane Wade leading the charge.