Hondo S. Carpenter

All Eyes on Wade 

By Justin Mangan 

  

Stopping Dwayne Wade hasn’t been made easy for the Dallas Mavericks, especially since the series moved from Dallas to Miami. A swing that has produced three straight victory’s for the Miami Heat who at one point found themselves down two games to none, but now seemingly lead the series 3-2. In the past, the focus has always been on how to stop Shaquille O’Neal, who is now being constantly double-teamed; but now the attention has turned to Wade. “He’s the best right now,” O’Neal said, “and that’s all you can say.” After Wade’s struggles in the first two games, his play has gotten progressively better. Since the finals have moved to Miami, Wade has scored 42, 36, and 43 points while collecting three straight victories. He has bounced back which was pivotal for Wade and the Heat. With the Heat one game away from winning it all, the Heat have achieved a lot, and Dwayne Wade responsible for most of it. 

  

The first two games of the series that ended with two victories for the Mavericks featured a struggling Dwayne Wade. He simply wasn’t carrying his load as missed shots and jumpers were seen throughout the court. All of that changed during the last three games as Wade consistently beat his man to the dribble, challenged is man in the paint, all while being unafraid to use his jumper. 

  

Game 5 of the series, which took place Sunday night, served as a record-breaking night for Wade. Here he broke 48-year-old finals record for free throws made in a game. And it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Heat. By looking into the struggling O’Neal’s numbers at the line, he drew a 2-for-12 mark. His struggles were so bad that the Mavericks continued to use the Hack-a-Shaq to bring the big man to the line. They used it twice in the final period as he missed three crucial free throws. In the end though, everything looked up, thanks to Dwayne Wade. He shot 21 of 25 from the foul line. This was two more than Bob Pettit had for St. Louis who held the previous record. With 1.9 seconds left in overtime, Wade sealed the deal with two free throws. When asked about bringing home a championship to Miami Wade replied, “We can smell it.” 

  

Wade’s heroics have also been flashed on the defensive side of the ball shutting down guys like Jason Terry. Early in the fourth quarter of Game 5, Heat coach Pat Riley put Wade on Terry. This briefly slowed down Dallas’ top scorer who had 35 points. Riley said, “We did not have a second option, believe me,” regarding Wades decisive drive. 

  

“You know, we took care of business at home like we’re supposed to do, won three games, two of them in dramatic,” Wade said. The Heat’s Game 5 fourth quarter offense consisted of giving the ball to Wade and letting him make something happen. Being only 24 years old, Wade is a huge part of the future of the NBA. And currently, being featured with Shaquille O’Neal, they have become the biggest attraction in the NBA Finals. 

  

Now with the Miami Heat one win away from the ring, all focus lies on Wade. In a series that has seen all home teams come away with victories thus far, Game 6 seems pivotal for the Heat. Wade cannot fall back to his performance early on in the series were he struggled. He needs to be able to step up and perform in the hostile environment in Dallas. Dwayne Wade may be young, but bringing a ring to the city of Miami means he needs to be able to carry the Heat.

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