It seems like Dwyane Wade is playing his best basketball in years, but when it’s without Chris Bosh or anyone else on the Miami Heat helping him out, it ended with a 105-87 home defeat to the Utah Jazz, led by the hot hand of Gordon Hayward.
Wade led all scorers with 42 points, his first 40-point game since 2011 and the most points he has scored in a game since 2010. Alas, it wasn’t even good enough to make it a close game, as the Heat fell 33-16 behind in the first quarter and never really got very close. With Wade on the floor the Heat were only losing by five points, but no one on the team was even close to their average ability, let alone playing above it. Without Wade’s 12-of-19 from the field, the Heat were shooting just 29.4%. It wasn’t a whole lot better with him (38.6%).
Hayward scored 29 points to lead the Jazz to only their third road win of the season in 13 games. He added 6 rebounds and 7 assists, but was on the money with each of his shots, regardless of if he was wide open or with a hand in his face. Enes Kanter enjoyed more than anyone the lack of any big man presence under the basket on the Heat’s side, scoring 18 points. There was no need for special defensive dominance in order to come away with the big win: Just great shooting and keeping the Heat making tough shots.
As long as Bosh is out, this is what it looks like for the Heat. Wade leading the way and streaky shooting or missing from both Luol Deng (8 points, taking only six shots) and Mario Chalmers (11 points, 3-of-13 from the field). That’s what the Heat have to sell at the moment, suffering from playing Justin Hamilton at center, someone who doesn’t give them anything on both ends of the floor except for a body simply occupying the position.
Adding Chris Andersen to the lineup didn’t help change the fact that the Heat are a team without an interior on both ends of the floor. While Bosh is playing, it can be masked at least offensively, averaging 21.6 points per game. However, whenever it’s a different player on that spot, all of the flaws and weaknesses left behind by the departure of LeBron James and the way Pat Riley has patched things up come to light.
As for the Jazz, this season feels like another one of building towards hopefully making the playoffs in the near future. There’s a solid foundation to rely on. Now all they need is for Trey Burke and Dante Exum to become the point guards they were hoping for when they first picked them in the draft (especially Exum, averaging only 4.9 pointer per game, but scoring 10 in the win over the Heat), and hoping their next lottery pick takes them over that certain bad-to-good barrier. It’s worth noting the Jazz are doing it without tanking.