Does Dwyane Wade Have One More Run as Miami Heat Push for NBA Playoffs?

Updated: April 5, 2019
Dwayne Wade Pic

The Dwyane Wade retirement tour had a significant stop in San Antonio a couple weeks ago, as the Spurs and their fans put their once-heated NBA Finals rivalry to the side and feted the future Hall of Famer.

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who split two NBA Finals matchups against Miami in 2013 and ’14, presented Wade with signed jerseys from Spurs greats Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker.

Wade then reminded the Spurs of the thorn in their side he can still be when he hit a clutch shot in traffic with his left hand to help ice the game for the Heat. It was a big win over a playoff team – and a hot one; San Antonio’s nine-game winning streak was snapped – as the Heat are making a charge for the Southeast Division title.

For much of the season, the Heat were struggling. However, in a division that is ripe for the taking (none of the five teams in the Southeast have a winning record), a recent surge has been enough to put Miami in first place (in an ongoing battle with Orlando) and in a battle with Detroit and Brooklyn. Those four teams are battling for the final three spots in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

This hot streak began with perhaps the shot of the season for Miami.

Coming off three-straight losses after the All-Star break, the Heat were hosting the two-time defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. Miami, who had also lost the previous six on their home floor going into this contest, led by as many as 24 points earlier in the game, but a furious Warriors rally put the champs up by two in the final seconds.

The ball ended up in Wade’s hands beyond the arc as time ran out. Jordan Bell got a piece of the shot, but Wade recovered the ball and, on one leg, fired a desperation shot that banked in to win the game.

A narrow loss at Houston followed the next night on a brutal back-to-back. Since that game, the Heat have surged to win 11 of their next 15 games to put themselves in playoff position.

“We’re playing as good as a group together as we’ve played since I got back here,” Wade said after the win over the Spurs. “it’s fun playing basketball with these guys this way. One thing you know, obviously with the Miami Heat, we’re going to fight, we’re going to scrap, we’re going to give ourselves a chance to be in games because of that. But now, we’re executing the game plan. Everyone is playing with a lot of confidence. Even in the moments where a team goes on a run on us, we feel confident we can stop the bleeding and we can figure it out.”

Can the Heat maintain this run over the season’s final week? All but one of Miami’s final six games are against playoff foes, finishing up at Brooklyn in a game that could decide seeding or even the last playoff berth.

Wade’s flair for the dramatic aside, he is in lesser role this season. He hasn’t started a game this season, but he’s averaging a decent 14 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. The Heat have a balanced scoring effort, as eight players are averaging in double figures. Hassan Whiteside is still a force in the middle, averaging 12 rebounds per game, and Goran Dragic is rounding back into form as he’s about a month into his return from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee that cost him 39 games of the 2018-19 season.

ESPN’s BPI lists Miami’s odds at reaching the postseason at 46 percent. If they get there, the likely opponent will be Milwaukee or Toronto. The Heat’s work will be cut out for them, but don’t discount another few moments of postseason magic before Wade rides off into the sunset.

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