Dwyane Wade has been an instrumental part of all three Miami Heat championship runs, so it is no wonder that everyone associated with the Heat is relieved Wade has returned to the team with three games left in the regular season.
However, Wade is not going to be the difference maker in the playoffs this season that he was before. A lot has happened since Dwyane led the Heat to its first championship in 2006. At the time, Wade was a young, budding star with a spring in his step that couldn’t be denied. Suffice it to say, Wade is not the same player.
We know what you are saying — Wade doesn’t need to be that same player any more. After all, he has a solid supporting cast, not to mention the fact that he plays alongside one of the greatest players of all time in LeBron James and perennial all star Chris Bosh.
That’s nice, but without Wade being healthy and explosive, the Heat are not going to bring home another championship. Don’t believe it? Remember, the Heat barely pulled off the championship last year. It was the Spurs’ championship to lose — and they did.
So if Dwyane is not going to be able to pull his weight and help carry the Heat with LeBron, when will the Heat be knocked out of the playoffs? Here are a few scenarios:
Chicago Bulls, Second Round
The Miami Heat-Chicago Bulls playoff series are known for being tough, physical, and entertaining. The one thing that Wade can say is that the Heat have defeated its nemesis each of the last few years. However, with Joakim Noah playing in beast mode this year, can Wade turn it on to help lead his team to victory? This might be the year that the answer will be no.
Indiana Pacers, Eastern Conference Finals
Dwyane Wade and Miami have not faced an Eastern Conference foe as formidable as this year’s Pacers in any of the past three years during which the team represented the conference in the NBA Finals. The Pacers are going to have home-court advantage and will be relentless. The question is, can Wade keep up?
Oklahoma City Thunder or San Antonio Spurs, NBA Finals
Either of these teams could defeat Wade’s team in the NBA Finals. The Spurs are coming back hungry after a narrow defeat last year. On the other hand, Kevin Durrant has played one of the greatest seasons in NBA history. Wade will need to be at his best for the Heat to beat either of these teams. Unfortunately for Miami, Dwyane Wade will never again be the player he once was.
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