It’s been quite a while since Dwyane Wade took the Miami Heat on his back and carried them all alone to victory. Old habits die hard, but old age has something to say about that. Still, it was mostly his work in a 95-91 win over the Brooklyn Nets that put his team back on the winning track.
Wade scored 28 points on 12-of-24 from the field, although the Heat actually managed to generate their leads earlier on, when he was taking a rest. It’s rare to see Wade playing 36 minutes these days but with the Heat falling to below the .500’s again and Chris Bosh out with a mysterious injury, there wasn’t a lot of doubt that a special kind of effort was needed in order to get the ball rolling in the right direction again.
Luol Deng was quite useful with 18 points and three more players coming off the bench: Shabazz Napier, Mario Chalmers and Shawne Williams all scored in double figures, as the Heat continue to go by their business with key players like Josh McRoberts and also now Danny Granger missing with a slew of injuries, that have been hurting this or that player since the beginning of this season. Maybe that’s why the Heat haven’t won consecutive games in almost a month.
The Nets have injury problems of their own, with Brook Lopez not playing. Mason Plumlee played well, scoring 21 points. Deron Williams finished with a 15-11 double double and Joe Johnson scored 16 points. But the Nets are a team with an expiration date on them. Not just the age, but the clear and known fact that the front office is willing to trade anyone to start disassembling this expensive and overall failed attempt at winning a championship by ignoring the luxury tax.
Money helps, but it doesn’t buy championships in the NBA. The New York Knicks needed years to get rid of the bad contracts Isaiah Thomas (not alone) plagued them with, but they seem to be in the same kind of problem right now. The Nets knew the minute they were knocked out of the conference semifinals last season it’s the beginning of the end, and the only question that remains is whether it’ll somehow be hastened by finding trading partners or will they have to let the contracts slowly expire and build around them.
The Heat might be headed in the same direction. Chris Bosh is putting up All-Star numbers, but obviously, there’s the question of his age and durability in the long term with the max contract he’s earning. Dwyane Wade took a discount, but he’s still a heft part of the wage bill, and it remains to be seen how much longer his body can hold up. So far this season, he’s living up to his end of the bargain, while the Heat built a decent but fragile side around them.
A rare occasion was to see the Heat, the worse rebounding team in the NBA, actually beating someone on the boards. Chris Andersen was excellent in his minutes with 9 rebounds, Mario Chalmers helped out with 7. Still, the same old problems from the LeBron James era remains and keeps haunting the Heat against most opponents. Luckily for them, the Nets were going through enough problems of their own, including shooting 39% from the field and getting nothing from their bench.