| 12-21-2009, 09:32 AM||
Dwyane Wade's struggles with Miami Heat still a mystery
You figure his head is about to explode.
He's Dwyane Wade, for crying out loud, and he can't get his team over the hump at home. He's throwing up airballs and getting blocked by the bottom of the rim more times than ever. His team's president and supposedly biggest supporter just told the world that he's fat (not in so many words, but when Pat Riley says you're not in ideal condition, he might as well be sending you Weight Watchers meals and Richard Simmons tapes). And Sunday he can't even get a foul call (two free throws) or an obvious goaltending call in a game that he watched Brandon Roy pull a Wade and steal a victory with a handful of huge shots.
Surely, Wade is aggravated enough by now to do something, say something.
``I'm good,'' Wade said about 30 minutes after the Heat lost 102-95 to Portland despite leading by six points halfway through the fourth quarter. ``I'm good right now.''
Really? Because you have every reason not to be OK.
Everyone who has seen Wade play more than once is trying to figure out why, exactly, a player in his prime with an improving team around him is having the worst shooting season of his life.
The scientists are coming from his own front office (that would be Riley) and national and local experts alike, all of them attempting to devise the perfect theory for the most unusual development in what has been an otherwise predictable season.
Everyone seemed to have settled on the conditioning theory, because it seems to make the most sense.
This season, Wade is not coming off an Olympic run, and he is not coming off a summer where he built his legs back up from scratch, and he is not playing with as much to prove as he did last season, when he led the league in scoring and was third in MVP voting.
Everyone has settled on that theory -- except Wade. And shouldn't he know better than anyone?
``I wish I knew,'' Wade said, which pretty much tells you he doesn't agree with Riley's a.ssessment. ``If I could put my finger on it, I would do everything in my power to make sure it's not like that.
``Everyone has their own a.ssessment of you. When the ball's going into the basket and you're getting wins, everything's perfect. When you're not, then you start analyzing and looking at things. You know, I don't really care what people say.''
And he probably shouldn't. Those people who are trying to figure out what's wrong with him are the same people who had no idea he would ever be this good to begin with (that includes Riley). So if he proved them wrong then, he will probably do the same this time.
But the concern is whether Wade will figure it out in time to make this season interesting and not just a repeat of last year. It looked that way after seven games, and then again after victories against Toronto and Orlando. But then comes Sunday, and you wonder if this trend of Wade's somewhat sporadic play will be a season-long thing.
All the signs were there for a classic Wade finish. Andre Miller flagrantly fouled him, unleashing Wade's inner Hulk, and he turned a 10-point deficit into a six-point Heat lead just like that.
But down the stretch, he got so upset about a missed goaltending call by Joel Przybilla that it lingered for a couple of possessions of a tie game. Then he watches Roy pull the Blazers ahead by two with a 16-footer; and then Wade puts up what appears to be an unnecessary three-pointer 14 seconds later, and it misses.
``That's a comfortable shot,'' Wade said. ``I'm going to my left -- that's my power side. At the time, you're not thinking about the score, even.''
Considering there was that blown goaltending call combined with the fact Wade had taken all of two free throws, you had to figure he was due for a foul. So why not drive it?
``I'm not due for any fouls around here,'' he said. ``Not lately.''
Well, there's some frustration, at least. The good news is, even Wade figures the percentages should start moving from his current 43 percent and closer to his career 48 percent.
``Um, I mean, yeah,'' he said. ``But if it doesn't, then I just have to continue to keep working on getting there.''
Not entirely convincing. Maybe he's a little more frustrated than he's letting on. Because even he can't figure out his season to date.
Last edited by luda06; 12-21-2009 at 09:33 AM..