Stats and numbers are the easiest way to create a narrative for sports teams and athletes. And from year to year, these numbers change. But one thing that never changes is winning mentality and experience. The Miami Heat traded for Dwyane Wade at the deadline to add the experience and culture they needed to try to take this team to the next level. In what could be Wade's final postseason, he will need to find a way to channel Prime DWade to win the championship.
The Miami Heat just locked up the 6 seed with an overtime win over the Toronto Raptors in the final game of the season. This sets up Dwyane Wade to play in his 13th postseason in his 15 year career. This also marks head coach Erik Spoelstra's 9th postseason appearance in 10 seasons. If we can think back to last season when the Heat didn't have Wade, they only missed the playoffs by a tiebreaker to the Chicago Bulls who had Wade. This just shows that Spoelstra is one of the top coaches in the NBA, and as long as they have him, the Heat have a chance at a title. They will play the inexperienced 3 seed Philadelphia 76ers in the first round starting on April 14th.
Heading into Saturday, Joel Embiid's health status is still up in the air. Although the 76ers are coming into the playoffs hot with a 16 game winning streak, none of that matters in a 7 game series. The Miami Heat have a significant advantage in their playoff experience and winning culture. The 76ers are new to the game and the Heat will expose them for what they are, a very young team who overachieved this season. The Miami Heat have the 4th best scoring defense in the NBA, led by their big men in Hassan Whiteside and rookie Bam Adebayo. With the uncertainty around Embiid's health, the Heat will dominate the boards for as long as he is out. Embiid will come back for Game 4 with his team down 3-0 in the series and will bring his team back for a Game 7. But in a Game 7 scenario, Wade will see an increase in minutes and will do exactly what he did to the 76ers in their third matchup of the season (see video below), come in the clutch for his team that will lead to a big victory. Spoelstra will out-coach Brett Brown and will show who the real Coach of the Year is.
Their second round matchup will come against the hobbled Boston Celtics. The Miami Heat will be too deep to lose to another well coached team. The backcourt of the Heat will dominate this series, and will bring an end to the Celtics quickly. All-Star point guard Goran Dragic will have no trouble with Terry Rozier and will able to get to the paint and lead his team in free throw attempts over a 5 game series, just like he did all season. The Celtics have not been an efficient shooting team all season, ranking 21st in field goal percentage, and worse without Kyrie Irving. Josh Richardson led the NBA this season in go-ahead three point shots in the fourth quarter, and his clutch play will allow him to play with confidence against anyone who attempts to guard him. In a series clinching Game 5, Richardson will score 30 points in the final fourth quarter of the series and will solidify his place in Heat history.
The Toronto Raptors will fall to Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in an embarrassingly bad sweep, which will set up the first ever playoffs series between Wade and his buddy. The Cavaliers have posted the 5th worst scoring defense in the NBA and are the worst overall defense among Eastern Conference playoff teams. James Johnson will be due for a few good games, and will take his defensive play to another level when he has to matchup against Lebron. Johnson will limit James to only 30 points per game, and won't allow him to get the assists he needs to get his teammates involved. Spoelstra and Wade will know all of Lebron's moves and will come up with an overall gameplan to dominate the offensive game, exposing the Cavaliers defense. Wade will hit a pump-fake, fadeaway 19 foot jumper, leaning into Lebron, which will give him the And-1 and will hit a go-ahead free throw with 2 seconds left. Then will block Lebron's shot on the other end, as he did twice earlier in the season, to win the series. He will finally come out and say that Lebron only won championships because of him.
The hot play of the Heat will set them up with an NBA Finals rematch between them and the San Antonio Spurs. At this point, the media will still be asking Will Kawhi come back for this series? And guess what, he won't. It will be a series full of amazing play calls and defensive strategies, and will pit the two best coaches in the league against each other once again. Wayne Ellington broke the Miami Heat record for most three pointers made in a season with 227. That is an incredible amount of threes, and he will be just as incredible in this series. Pau Gasol will be guarding his younger self in Kelly Olynyk, and he will not be able to slow him down. Justice Winslow and Tyler Johnson will prove their doubters wrong will come up with great defensive plays every game over the course of a 7 game series.
The series winning shot will look exactly like Game 6 when Ray Allen hit that clutch 3. Except this time it will be a missed shot by Wade, rebounded by Whiteside, then kicked out to Richardson for the championship clinching three in Tony Parker's face. The NBA will award Dwyane Wade with the Finals MVP even though he only averaged 10 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds per game. Wade will ride off into the sunset and will announce his retirement and will enter the acting game. Miami is the East Coast Hollywood.
Flash is too clutch...
Just a man trying to make the most of his time on this planet.