After Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Finals LeBron James openly said to the media that the Miami Heat need an aggressive Dwyane Wade if the Heat are going to win the series and inevitably, a championship.
Some, including Wade himself, may think he has lost a step since his last NBA Finals and championship victory in 2006. This maybe true since a spectacular athlete doesn’t stay spectacular forever. Age, injury and the hunger to win leave after so many seasons. In Game 2, Wade not only proved he still has his aggressive basketball nature but can also still play like a man possessed.
The box score’s listing of 24 points on 10-20 shooting from the field, six rebounds, five assists and a block for Wade are All-Star numbers. If anyone thinks Wade isn’t a top five player in the league, their not watching the right game. Anyway, it wasn’t just his numbers that made his performance in Game 2 incredibly effective for his team.
It was his demeanor.
Wade had the look we all associate Kobe Bryant with. The look that tells every opponent and team supporter I am a living, breathing, basketball God and will eat the heart out of anyone who tries to prove differently. In my eyes, Wade played like Game 2 was the last game of his NBA career, which is the same manner James should have been playing for the last two seasons.
The nine year NBA vet attacked the basket with resentment like it stole his date or swiped his wallet at a dinner party. One of the main story lines heading into this series for me was whether or not Wade would be able to have big games with a defender of Thabo Sefolosha’s caliber on him. No need to fear Heat fans, it didn’t seem to matter who was on him at all.
Wade was able to out maneuver Sefolosha, Russell Westbrook and James Harden whenever they tried to match up with him.
If he wasn’t taking it to the hoop, Wade was getting the rest of his team involved whether it was with a pass or moving without the ball to free up his teammates from their defenders. It seemed Wade made sure he was far away from Shane Battier, but always looking to see where he was around the three-point line. Battier continued to torch the net in Game 2 as he went 5-of-7 from the arch (6-of-8 from the field) for 17 points.
A lot of Battier’s shots had to do with floor spacing and the distributor looking for him on the floor. Wade is a big contributor of both.
Defensively, Wade stuck with Westbrook as much as he could and contested a large majority of the Thunder’s point guard’s shots. On the other hand, Westbrook is a freak athlete in his own right and was able to score 27 points.
At the same time, Wade read passing lanes, switched well and crashed the boards for an all around stellar defensive effort.
If Wade continues to fuel off of James’ comments and the rumors he is losing his step, the Oklahoma City Thunder are in trouble. When Wade gets going and is determined to win, he isn’t only amongst one of the best players in the league but he turns his teammates into All-Star caliber players as well.
Game 2 Wade was a monster, what happens if he decides to be a monster in Game 3?
Miami will lead the NBA Finals 2-1.