• With 28 points off the bench, Dwyane Wade played as if he never left Miami in leading the Heat to a Game 2 win over Philadelphia.
By Jeremy Woo
April 16, 2018

Dwyane Wade was probably never supposed to leave Miami, and so Monday night just felt right. At 36, Wade is at the stage of his career where each bit of brilliance warrants our redoubled appreciation. On a night where he passed Larry Bird for 10th all-time in postseason points, Wade anchored what was effectively a mouth-punch from the Heat to the 76ers, scoring a game-high 28 points in 26 minutes off the bench to spur a 113–103 Game 2 win on the road to knot the series at 1–1. He added seven rebounds, three assists and two steals, coming up huge in the second quarter and the fourth, finishing as a Plus-16 and never missing a beat. Perhaps he never left.

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Wade had 21 of his points in the first half, helping bolster an 18–2 Heat run that flipped the entire game script, impacting what felt like every possession and sending a message as it pertained to Miami’s postseason makeup. He made his first six shots of the game. Wade was there again in the fourth quarter, reappearing with timely rebounds, a late dagger and a classic ambush of Dario Saric with an overhand swipe on the ball that led to his own, measured two-handed dunk with four minutes left, keeping the Heat up by four. The Sixers would never again bring the game closer than that.

“It’s fun having him back in the family,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters after the game. “It just feels normal…I always say it’s like that country song—I’m not as good as I was once, but I’m as good once as I ever was.”

It was certainly normal, Toby Keith notwithstanding, in how nonplussed Wade appeared throughout the moment, from collected glare to clinical footwork to a hard fourth-quarter foul that welcomed a driving Ben Simmons to postseason play. He jawed with a courtside-seated Kevin Hart (who, similarly, may never leave our collective consciousness). The faces around Wade have changed; Wade’s never has.

The Sixers had not lost since a March 13 regular-season tilt against the Pacers. Philadelphia had looked convincing while rolling to a win in Game 1 and was confident enough not to rush Joel Embiid back from injury entering Monday. Having a 7-foot ace in the hole is nice, but as the series heads back to Miami, the Heat look capable of dragging things out at minimum, with Wade as the closer they needed all season. If nothing else, it’s safe to declare Chicago and Cleveland no longer canon.

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