Game 2: Vintage Dwyane Wade Steers Heat to 72-Point First Half, Take 2-0 Series Lead

Recap6 years ago4 min readAlf, Heat Twitter President
Vintage Dwyane Wade

“We’re gonna lose.”

This is how I start off every Heat game. A Monday night against the Sixers? We’re gonna’ lose. National TV game at San Antonio? We are most definitely gonna’ lose.

This has been my process over the last five years since J.J. Barea taught me nothing is guaranteed in basketball.

So, that’s how I entered Game 2 last night against the Charlotte Hornets. I convinced myself the Heat were going to lose. I even came up with several logical reasons: The Heat could not replicate the offensive explosion from Game 1, Charlotte could not possibly play that poorly again on defense, and I’m not allowed to have nice things.

So, when Hassan Whiteside botched the opening tip, and Luol Deng missed his first mid-range jumper, I convinced myself that these were omens that couldn’t be ignored. I didn’t need analytics to tell me the Heat couldn’t possibly come back from an “oh-for-two” omen disadvantage. I’m not Tom Haberstroh, but the odds seemed overwhelming.

Thankfully, the Heat overcame those odds and won the game behind a first half offensive blitzkrieg – setting team records for field goal efficiency (74 percent) and first half points scored (72). A vintage Dwyane Wade led Miami with 28 points.

Everyone contributed, even Justise “broken jumper” Winslow was unconscious from the field. By the end of the second quarter, I wasn’t even sure what team I was watching. Sure, the Heat have gone through an offensive renaissance since the All-Star break, but this was ridiculous.

Even with the gaudy offensive numbers, what interested me, even more, was the Heat’s defense. It was easy to get upset, which I was, with Whiteside’s defense on Al Jefferson (25 points on 71 percent shooting) before you looked at it more closely.

Sure, Whiteside could’ve done a better job with bodying Jefferson early, pushing him off his spots. But what was more telling was the other Heat defenders’ refusal to help Whiteside with a matchup he has historically struggled with.

After a few possessions, the answer was obvious; the Heat were exchanging two’s for threes. The direction became clear. Do not, for any reason, leave 3-point shooters wide open.

Whiteside was on an island.

No help is coming big man; you’re on your own.

As frustrating as it was to watch, the strategy was sound. Charlotte reinvented themselves on their road to the playoffs with 3-point shooting. The Heat seem determined to put a halt to that trend. Erik Spoelstra and company are daring Jefferson and Kemba Walker to be great, and so far, the gamble has paid off.

Offensively, Miami continued to feast on pick-and-rolls and Jeremy Lin’s stupid haircut, scoring 25 points in the last four and a half minutes of the second quarter. Also, it seems that Hornets’ Coach Steve Clifford is determined to prove to the world that Frank Kaminsky was a terrible draft pick by having him guard Luol Deng.

On a side note, can someone tell Michael Jordan there is more to the draft than watching the Final Four and picking the guy who gets the most TV time? Does he have a scouting department? Is it Dick Vitale? Sean May didn’t die for this (I hope Sean May isn’t dead).

…Where was I?

Oh, so the Heat’s offense bogged down in the fourth quarter, scoring just 10 points in the first six minutes as Charlotte cut the Heat’s lead to seven with 2:45 left to play. But much to the chagrin of the analytics crowd, Dwyane Wade played hero ball to close out the game with a series of foul-drawing drives to the basket and turnaround mid-range jumpers. The horror.

Now comes the real test for a team that relies heavily on a couple of rookies and a second-year head case in Whiteside. Road playoff games are historically tougher on rookies and role players, even in a city like Charlotte, which isn’t known for its intense atmosphere.

The Heat are going to find out quickly if guys like Winslow, Josh Richardson and Whiteside are ready for the big stage.

But, you already know what I think…

“We’re gonna lose.”