Maybe counting out Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh isn’t the wisest thing to do, but it seems that the concept of the big three is no longer part of the Miami Heat, turning into a teams with an exceptional superstar, one of the greatest of all times, and a very talented roster around him, with players who can still be All-Stars, but probably can’t play to that ability on a game-to-game basis.
This doesn’t mean Bosh and Wade are no longer important. Despite Bosh finishing game 7 of the NBA finals against the Spurs with 0 points, he finished the series averaging 8.9 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and 1.9 steals and averaging 11.9 points. His ability to draw away the main rim protector for any team away from the basket it part of why the Heat have been so successful over the last three years. It’s just that in the playoffs, his role seems to be a little bit different, and has less to do with scoring. He still averaged 16.6 points per game last season, but that was his lowest since his rookie season.
Wade had an up & down playoffs, and an up & down finals, but ended up scoring 23 points in the final game, averaging 19.6 points in the series. His defense has certainly fallen over the last couple of years, but Wade has always been about going unnoticed and coming up with steals instead of being a shut down defender. When you think about offense first and how to get there, you’re never going to be a lockdown perimeter defender.
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And yet he had three games of 23 points or more in the finals. For the final four games, it was close to vintage Wade. He forgot about his knee problems, which Wade himself insists aren’t something a surgery is going to fix and might be something he’ll have to live with for the rest of his career, maybe for the rest of his life.
His explosiveness is fading, and his first step just isn’t what it used to be. He is still a very dangerous mid-range jumper, as the Spurs allowed him to be, but next season might be the first since his rookie season in which he averages less than 20 points per game, especially if the Heat give him more and more resting minutes and games to keep him fresh, as much as possible, for the playoffs.
The big three is a concept, a name, nothing more. Having three players at the same level of importance on offense is never a good idea. The Boston Celtics were called the big three as well when they took the title in 2008, but it was clear who is the number one offensive option on that team (Paul Pierce), and who takes cares of leadership and defense (Kevin Garnett), while Allen just scored whenever someone left him open.
This does put more pressure on James, especially on offense, but the Miami Heat can live with it. James, as we saw in the finals series and against the wishes of a lot of haters, has no problem with it. The Miami Heat won their first NBA title against the Oklahoma City Thunder partially due to finally realizing how things should work for them on offense, and who gets the ball before everyone.
Nothing is set in stone, but it’s clear that Wade and Bosh play second fiddle to James. Next season? Probably more than ever, but it doesn’t seem to make the Heat any less likely to once again be the best in the league, as long as Wade’s and Bosh’s decline doesn’t continue at a too rapid pace.