Dwyane Wade Playing Hurt, Winning Anyway in NBA Finals Against Mavericks

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Dwyane Wade Playing Hurt, Winning Anyway in NBA Finals Against Mavericks Dwyane Wade says that there's nothing currently wrong with his surgically repaired  left shoulder.

In related news, Dwyane Wade is a bloody liar.

Wade was often seen over the course of the last week, as the Heat wrapped up a five-game series win over the Bulls, with his shoulder heavily taped. His play has looked a little tentative at times, definitely lacking the playoff fervor you'd expect from a savvy eight-year veteran with a Finals MVP award under his belt.

The Wade we know is running, jumping, throwing himself into harm's way without a moment's hesitation. He attacks everything and fears nothing.

That guy didn't show up in the first half of Game 1 against the Mavericks on Tuesday night. Instead, a rather human-looking Wade settled for a series of lazy jump shots and was just 3-of-10 from the field at intermission.

Wade then shot 6-of-9 from the field from the third quarter on, and the resurgent Heat outscored the Mavs 49-40 in the second half to earn the all-important Game 1 win. What was the difference?

"I came out in the third quarter, and I thought I was very aggressive before I went to the bench to get my rest," Wade told reporters in Miami. "I just wanted to continue that when I came back in for the fourth. I've been working really hard on my shot, and I was very confident that I could get a few to go. That's all it was. Just confidence."

Liar.

Here's the real answer: Wade came to grips with the fact that he was hurting, and he adjusted his game accordingly. He reminded himself mentally to be a devastating mid-range scorer. He started going right as often as possible, relying on his good arm. And he kept running plays for his teammates, most notably LeBron James, so that they could attack the basket for him and save him the trouble.

Wade's shoulder didn't magically heal itself at halftime on Tuesday night. But his brain did. He responded to the mental challenge of playing hurt, and it produced a monumental win.

Wade emerged with a fantastic stat line in Game 1 — 22 points, 10 rebounds (three offensive), six assists and two blocks –  and he moved into the NBA's all-time top 50 in career playoff assists, with 461.

"Well, maybe this will be something that will spark him," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "All I care about is he made an lot of winning plays on both ends of the court there in the fourth quarter. I'm not going to overanalyze his first half."

Suit yourself, coach. But there's a lot to analyze.

The Wade that took the floor in the second half was a totally different guy. He was a guy who's mastered the fine art of playing at less than 100 percent — and that's an art that a lot of players, even some of the great ones, never learn.

Wade's in some pain right now. Even if he doesn't admit it, it has to be true. His job now is to deceive the basketball world and win three more games.

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