Dwyane Wade? 40 Points?! No, this isn’t fan fiction, but 2015 NBA basketball and the rush to make the NBA playoffs, as the three-time NBA champion is putting his injuries, pain and body-mileage behind him so he can carry the Miami Heat, barely, into the postseason.
Wade reached the 40 point mark for a second time this season (had 42 against Utah in December), the first time he’s had two 40-point games or more in one season since 2010-2011, the first Big Three year in Miami. He did after scoring just 13 in a loss to the Hawks and a day after having fluids drained from his knee. Somehow it couldn’t keep him down.
Wade didn’t just score 40 with a slew of long range shots and flukes. He attacked the paint and did it some more, finishing with 14-of-27 from the field and 12-of-13 from the line, attempting just one three pointer (and missing it). He overcame the injuries the Heat are burdened by, with long time teammate Udonis Haslem scoring 18 points and grabbing 13 rebounds despite his own ankle problems.
It helps that the Detroit Pistons look like a mess, not putting up too much of a fight in the 109-102 loss. Andre Drummond scored 32 points and Reggie Jackson had 31, but as the Heat continue to play without a single center and with just one natural power forward, it might say more about the team on the losing side than it does about the will and ability displayed by Wade and Haslem among others, refusing to go out quietly into the darkness, which means missing out on the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Just being strong-willed. We didn’t have that many guys coming into the game, we lost two coming out of halftime but you have to do what you have to do. And by doing so Wade keeps the Heat inside the playoff picture, 7th in the East at 34-39. They’re two games ahead of both Boston and Indiana (32-41), both tied for the ninth spot in the conference.
Calculations about who should they get next? It doesn’t really matter. Not for a banged up team like the Heat, happy just to be among the final eight in the East, even if it means making the playoffs on a losing record. Hawks, Cavaliers or anyone else for that matter. With Chris Bosh out for the season, the bench depleted and Hassan Whiteside also missing right now, any other playoff team will seem like an impossible mission through seven games.