"Yeah, I needed a game like this, but my teammates needed a game like this from me," Wade said. "Needed me to be aggressive. Needed me to play the way that I'm capable of. Most important, they needed the "Big Three" to play the way we're capable of. They depend on us a lot. We love our teammates, and we can't win without them. We're not going to win this series if myself, Chris and LeBron don't show up to play on a consistent basis."
Oh, they showed up in Game 4.
Wade had 32. James had 33 points and 11 rebounds. Bosh had 20 points and 13 rebounds.
And no Spur had more than 20 points.
Voila. Series tied, and no one looked more relieved than Wade.
"His floor game was there from the beginning," Spoelstra said. "The six steals, the deflections, his activity around the rim when he was there. We obviously have so much more versatility when our wings cover that type of ground. But he was extremely aggressive tonight."
Wade's postseason has been highly un-Wade-like, with him averaging only 14.2 points in the playoffs entering Thursday. His right knee has been an issue for more than three months — not coincidentally, that's also when his last 30-point outing before Game 4 was. And by the time fourth quarters roll around, he's typically been finished, getting an average of 2.3 points in the final 12 minutes of games in these playoffs.
He is not the 2006 version anymore, without question.
"Except for tonight," Miller said. "Tonight, he was."
And what the Spurs did against him defensively Thursday had to strike a nerve.
Because the Heat started Miller, the Spurs had no choice but to open the game with Splitter — their center — guarding Wade. That experiment ended after 47 seconds. And in the second half, the Spurs went to Diaw — another person who it's difficult to envision guarding a former Finals MVP who's quicker and smaller — to open against Wade.
Both stints were brief. Nonetheless, something got Wade going.
"How are you going to respond?" Wade asked his teammates before the game.
He apparently took those words to heart as well.