Reporting Tim Kephart
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OKLAHOMA CITY (CBSMiami) – In the aftermath of the Miami Heat losing the 2011 NBA Finals, the blame fell squarely on LeBron James. But as the 2012 NBA Finals get rolling, the Heat need another superstar to step up his game, Dwyane Wade.
The man once known as “Slash” has been struggling with knee problems for several years and he’s had his knees drained at least once thus far in the playoffs. It’s starting to show up in his game in the playoffs as well.
Since his scoring peaked in the 2008-09 playoffs and the 2010-11 playoffs, Wade has been trending downwards. Wade scored just 19 points in Game 1 of the NBA Finals and his shooting percentage from both the field and behind the 3-point line are the lowest he’s seen since 2009.
Wade has averaged around 22 points per game in the playoffs thanks to a huge 41 point effort against the Indiana Pacers in the conference semifinals. If that game is removed, Wade is averaging just 20.5 points per game in the playoffs, or the lowest total since he was a rookie.
Some have pointed to Wade’s perceived constant griping at officials as part of the reason his game has suffered. Wade was not seen doing that as much in Game 6 & 7 of the Conference finals and the Heat easily won both of those games.
The critics say Wade spends too much time talking with officials and not getting back up the floor to play defense. But it’s not just Wade that is the problem in transition. During Game 1, Oklahoma City had a 24-4 scoring advantage on the fast break, including 11-0 in the second half.
Combined, Wade and power forward/center Chris Bosh were 11-30 from the field. If the Heat want to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the series, both members will have to step up their game to the same level LeBron is playing for the Heat to succeed.