Dwyane Wade Hasn’t Looked Like Himself Against Celtics, Which Comes as Bit of a Surprise

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June 2, 2012

Dwyane Wade Hasn't Looked Like Himself Against Celtics, Which Comes as Bit of a SurpriseDwyane Wade hasn't looked like, well, Dwyane Wade in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Sure, he's produced solid numbers by anyone's standards, but when simply using the eye test, it's easy to see that LeBron James has been the focal point of Miami's offense. What makes Wade's effort in the series thus far a bit surprising — if not alarming to Heat fans — is that the guard's "struggles" come despite going up against a hobbled Ray Allen.

Allen has played well defensively against Wade in the past, but all indications heading into this series were that Wade held not only the distinct advantage, but had a prime opportunity to dominate given Allen's physical state. Plus, if you factor in Wade's offensive explosion in the final three games of Miami's series with Indiana, which included a 41-point output in the series-clinching Game 6, then there were plenty of reasons to believe that he would be every bit of the offensive superstar that he's capable of being against Boston.

Yet, here we are, reflecting on a Game 3 in which Wade failed to go to the free-throw line for just the second time in his playoff career. He scored 18 points on 9-for-20 shooting and never really looked poised to take the game over. That's a rarity for a player of his stature, but it's become somewhat of a common theme through the first three games of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Now, obviously, we shouldn't discredit Wade's impact by any means. And you can bet the Celtics won't either. That would be downright idiotic, especially with how Wade responded the next game after a five-point effort in Game 3 against the Pacers last series. But Wade's mediocrity in this series has at least been enough to warrant a discussion about whether he is playing at 100 percent healthwise.

There's hardly much to base that notion on other than Wade not looking like himself, but at this time of year, it's a fair question when a player who has shown such a propensity for thriving in the clutch suddenly goes from shotgun to riding in the backseat.

"No, there's nothing wrong [with Wade]," Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said following Friday's Game 3. "At this point, this deep into the playoffs, you can ask that question to any player that's logging significant minutes. They probably don't feel 100 percent. But he's still able to impact the game."

Spoelstra's right. Most players aren't feeling 100 percent this time of year. But in the case of Allen, the Boston veteran is lucky if he's feeling 75 percent, yet he's logging nearly as many minutes as Wade while keeping the Miami star's offense at bay.

As far Wade still being "able to impact the game," that part should be obvious. Of course, he's still able to impact the game, and he'll need to do so more often as this series goes on in order for Miami to pull away from Boston.

What's not so obvious, though, is just what exactly is up with D-Wade. The bar is set ridiculously high for the former Finals MVP, but we're so used to seeing him find a way to hurdle over it that limboing under won't do the trick.

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