Dwyane Wade's postseason struggles have spilled into the NBA Finals.
Wade, known for his clutch playoff exploits that include a 2006 Finals MVP, was 7-of-19 shooting for 19 points. He also committed three sloppy turnovers.
“Some nights I have big nights scoring and some nights I don't,” Wade said. “That's just the season. That's the way it's been designed for me.”
In his past five games, dating to Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Wade's offense has been uncharacteristically sluggish, shooting 38-of-97 (39 percent) from the field.
“He had a couple good opportunities to get into the paint there in the fourth, a couple of them he wasn't able to convert,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But he was aggressive during that quarter, and so we'll try to get him in places where he can continue to be aggressive.”
BOSH COMES OFF BENCH
Before Game 5 against of the Eastern Conference Finals, Heat forward Chris Bosh had only come off the bench 12 times, regular and postseason combined, in his nine-year NBA career.
In fact, the seven-time All-Star hadn't played as a non-starter since 2004, his rookie season. But Bosh, coming off an abdomen injury that forced him to miss nine games, came off the bench for the final three games of the Boston series.
Because of his strong play and the team's turnaround, some speculated Bosh should remain a bench player in the Finals. Spoelstra was coy about it pregame, saying he would be fine telling the Thunder, but didn't want to release it to the media.
“One of the few times that hopefully we can control a little bit of the noise out there,” Spoelstra said. “Guys can just focus in, get into their iPads and focus on the game.”
About 30 minutes before tip, lineups were handed out and Bosh once again came off the bench. He finished with 10 points and five rebounds in 33 minutes.
“He has been very accepting of just trying to fit in,” Spoelstra said. “But I think we're going to need more from him offensively and try to get him in spots where he is able to be aggressive.”
As the playoffs drag on, with action intensified and possessions magnified, many coaches condense their lineups. Miami, and coach Erik Spoelstra, may be the greatest example of that.
In Tuesday's series opener, eight Heat players got minutes, but only six of them played a significant amount of time. Joel Anthony got two meaningless minutes and Mike Miller chipped in 10.
“You know, going into this game we were going to try and keep a tight rotation, maybe not as tight as it was, and give it our best shot.” Spoelstra said. “But I'll probably try to go a little bit deeper in game two.”
For the past few seasons, Chesapeake Energy Arena has been touted as the rowdiest venue in the NBA. During this playoff run, many national media members have backed that sentiment, comparing Oklahoma City's atmosphere to a big-time college arena.
Heat guard Mario Chalmers, a standout at Kansas, agreed, likening the Thunder's homecourt advantage to that of the Jayhawks' famed Phog Allen Fieldhouse.
“Feels exactly like the crowd at KU,” Chalmers said. “Oklahoma is basically a college town. They got OU, Oklahoma State just around the corner. Everybody comes together for the Thunder.”
But over the past two seasons, after Miami playing the role of villain, many of the Heat players have become immune to raucous atmospheres.
“Everybody keeps talking about how loud it is. It's regular,” Chris Bosh said. “We've been in a lot of other arenas and it's all the same. Once it gets that loud, it's all the same. But they have a great home court here, their fans are very vibrant and they bring a different aspect to the game.”