It was an astounding effort by everybody in the Heat uniform as they held the Magic to their lowest point total in five years by holding the powerhouse to 30 percent shooting from the field and 17 percent from beyond the arc. They got a combined eight points from Vince Carter, Quentin Richardson, and Rashard Lewis, while Dwight Howard scored all 19 of his points in the first half before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.
The defensive tenacity was a force to be reckoned with, as the combined effort of the entire Heat team limited easy, open looks for the Magic. James, Wade and Bosh were staples of the defense, as they held their opponents to a combined one for 19.
Every member of the Heat did his part, from James’ ability to fill a stat sheet to James Jones’ three-point sharpshooting. Udonis Haslem contributed his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds, Eddie House drained two three-pointers and Zydrunas Ilgauskas contributed eight points and five rebounds, all offensive.
But none had quite the impact Dwyane Wade had.
Wade was the most consistent player on the Heat, providing the spark in the second quarter when he finished off another one of his impressive and-one opportunities that would lead to a Miami run and a 51-45 lead going into the half. When the third quarter came around, LeBron started the half with a three-pointer and which were followed up by two consecutive three-pointers from Wade who made a six-point lead stretch to a 15-point lead in the matter of a few minutes.
This has been the second consecutive game we saw the Wade that the city of Miami has come to know and love following a disappointing 13-point effort against the Celtics. It was obvious that Wade had yet to gel with his counterparts after missing all but three minutes of the preseason. His injury and his little knowledge of playing with James, Bosh and his new teammates limited him greatly.
Three games later at 2-1, Wade has clearly shown that he is not only back, but he is the true leader of this team. LeBron is quietly adjusting to his position as role player by stepping back and allowing Wade to handle the scoring responsibilities while remaining a passer. He also greatly limited his turnovers after two rough outings with a combined 17 cough-ups by only turning the ball over three times in his latest game versus Orlando.
But back to the subject at hand in Wade. Dwyane has been a staple of the Miami Heat community for the past seven years, and it appears that not only could this be the year he takes home his second NBA title, but his first MVP award as well. The award is usually given out to the best player on the best team, and with Wade establishing himself as the clear cut leader, while the team is coming off a dominating victory over a top five team, this could be the year Wade walks away with MVP award.
MVP talk this early? It’s a little far-fetched to be talking about the MVP only three games into the season, but after the performance Wade and the Heat put on against their instate rivals on national television, it is only appropriate that we would discuss who is the true leader of this team and who could win the MVP award this season.
Wade has come as close as finishing third in MVP voting when he averaged 30 points in the 2008-2009 season when he led his lackluster club to 43 wins. This year is completely different, as even though he will see his stats drop, he will see his team’s wins skyrocket if all continues to go according to plan. Dwyane has already begun to thrive off of LeBron and Bosh by either taking double-teams and finding his teammates or finding open lanes to drive in thanks in part to the double-teams that LeBron and Bosh attract.
LeBron has clearly backed off as a scorer and is beginning to adjust to the role of passer by usually taking the ball upcourt. Unlike years prior, he is able to find teammates that can find open opportunities on their own while helping James out in the process by finding easier scoring opportunities for himself as well. With LeBron stepping out of the spotlight, he not only reveals his maturity and a desire to win, but he opens the door for players like Wade, James Jones and Eddie House to take some of the scoring load off of himself by giving his teammates scoring opportunities.
All of this and the team has barely begun to gel and form the right chemistry. The Heat are basically running off of pure talent at the moment and have only just begun to show on-court chemistry which showed in a Bosh-to-James-to Wade alley-oop in the first quarter of the Heat’s 96-70 victory over Orlando. If anyone knows how to lead a team to victory and to help a team form the right chemistry, it has been Dwyane Wade.
Even in the Heat’s 2005-2006 title run, there were many players who didn’t exactly fit. The team was a hodgepodge of veterans and role players, but through sheer determination and ambition by Wade, the team prevailed. Much like that team, aside from the Big Three, the current roster is filled with role players and veterans, and Wade is beginning to emerge as the clear cut leader who will be there come postseason time.
This regular season, however, is currently being used as a stepping stone for chemistry as the Heat look to form the right cohesion between the Big Three and the rest of the roster. With Wade as the leader, this team is capable of completing any task and going to heights that they have only dreamed of over the past few seasons. As the best player on possibly the best team at the end of the season, there aren’t many other factors that could keep Wade from taking home the MVP.
Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant better start watching their backs.