They are, in one breath, real. That said, the Miami Heat are seen as the best team in the east, a roster that comprise of the Superteam with every South Floridian proudly buying into the hype of the Batman/Robin/Superman trio. Described as supervillains, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade — as an unstoppable tandem — have led the Heat like superheroes.
While we tend to dismiss Miami and its playoff run, on a quest to win an NBA championship, we are less aware of its superstardom and earnestness, especially as the Heat try to quiet the universe. You can think of it as Will Smith bringing the Heat to South Beach, with the trophy going to Miami? The Heat, once second to the TV show Miami Vice, are now everyone’s priority and not even the Marlins or Dolphins absorb much public eye. Before them came Crockett and Tubbs, and even well before Miami Thrice formed the most unprecedented trio in basketball history, Martin Lawrence and Smith ruled South Beach.
This team, as you might notice, is starting to play at the highest level. And it’s not just James, who had 28 points on 12 for 23 shooting. Following one dismal game in this series, wondering and questioning his leadership, Wade shook off troubles and scored 41 points as the Heat beat the Indiana Pacers, securing a spot in the Eastern Conference finals with a 105-93 victory in Game 6 on Thursday night. There’s no doubt that the Pacers matched well against the Heat, but in all, Miami was the better team.
By example, Wade had a brilliant 20-point second quarter as the Heat cut into a deficit to take the lead. From there, the team collectively controlled the rhythm and dominated against an impressive opponent, much more younger and raw with much more to learn in order to improve, which would benefit the Pacers in the long run. For now, however — and it shouldn’t be hard to believe — the Heat are to be reckoned with, particularly if you know who continues to have a monstrous game. To be more precise, I’m speaking of Wade.
If one player for the Heat must dictate whether they are rattling enough to finally win a championship, an initiative in trying to shut up the naysayers rooting against them because of James’ presence, it would be Wade. And again, when much was at stake, he was simply a supplement and necessary to usher his team. He rose to the occasion, closing out a compelling playoff series. If one masterpiece is defined as intriguing in our time spent watching these NBA playoffs, it is witnessing Wade absolutely have a scoring tear, even more so seeing him have a high-scoring game after criticism from his Game 3 struggles, scoring only five points on 2 for 13 shooting in Miami’s loss.
In the wake of Game 3, the fan base in Miami demonized him, while some were asking for him to be traded at their request. By now critics have forgiven Wade, and they know without him the Heat would not advance further in the postseason. How interesting, a night after an encore performance, to see Wade credited in a good way for once, distinguished as an actual superstar and not a pouter or choker. Stuck in a perpetual wave of trouble, Wade measured up to greatness by capping a season-high and playoff best in points, an impressive hero pioneering his team to a conference finals.
After that, a night he can never, ever forget, Wade sauntered into the postgame interview room where he was treated like a star, for which he was after his spectacular performance. Without a debilitated Chris Bosh, Wade’s effort was enough after he seemed mortal and unable to carry the weight. It doesn’t matter who’s the sidekick, but what matters is how proficient both Wade and James play together. This was some kind of game for doubters to truly find out Wade’s and James’ role on one team that was well assembled to possibly begin a dynasty.
Flying through traffic, finding the open lane to confuse the Pacers, Wade dished off a behind-the-back pass to James, who was named MVP, for an empathic dunk. There were no dirty, nasty hits, no flagrant fouls, none of those violent knockouts, like in Game 5 when Udonis Haslem nearly defaced Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough and when reserved center Dexter Pittman delivered a vicious elbow that resulted in suspensions. As this Pacers-Heat matchup produced bad blood, from the toughest to the softest, from the strongest to the weakest, the Heat weren’t soft and fought and stood strong to the finish.
Forget about Wade exchanging words with his coach Erik Spoelstra in a verbal confrontation during a timeout in Game 3. By the next game, they both had kissed and made up with much focus on grinding out a must-needed win, and Miami certainly stayed true to its word. Bodies flew everywhere, jawing went from ear to ear, trash talking made the series more interesting. A day before Game 6 or so, Larry Bird, Pacers president of basketball operations, said his team “went soft,” criticizing them for their lack of effort in Game 5. Even with a bit of motivation from him, the Pacers couldn’t last another day against the Heat.
There was no way, just no way. Meanwhile, the Heat awaits Boston or Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference finals beginning Monday night in Miami. Wade is an entirely different assassin from his teammates and sidekick, he’s a monster when he wants to play like one and a hybrid guard elevating his stardom at this very moment, more than James or anyone else who plays for the Heat.
Eleven points down, it took an early rally and the Heat surged in a game where Wade’s scorching shooting made a difference. At the half, he tied Tim Hardaway’s 16-year-old franchise record for most playoff points in the first half. Late in the second, as the clock dwindled, James netted consecutive shots to close it out. It was also rousing that Mike Miller fired three after three, knocking down most of his shots from long range, along with Mario Chalmers finishing with 15 points of his own.
But this was D Wade’s show, a moment for him to lead the Heat. It’s his team, not LeBron’s. That was made obvious, just by Wade’s shooting clinic.
Wearing red slacks and a flashy white Miami-style shirt, he spoke to the media and joked.
The smiles and jokes said it all.