Dwyane Wade has spent the season yo-yoing in and out of the lineup. All in all, Wade has missed a total of 13 games this season and the uncertainty surrounding whether or not Wade will suit up even has his running mate LeBron James a little frustrated.
Wade returned to the lineup on Sunday after missing 4 straight games against the San Antonio Spurs, but he didn’t return to his normal starting spot in the lineup. Instead, Wade came off the bench and logged 23 minutes in the Heat’s 113-101 victory over the Spurs.
Though Wade was only able to score 8 points on 3 for 8 shooting, there were signs that indicated that playing Wade off the bench may actually be more beneficial to the Heat in the long run.
For one, it’s crystal clear that the Heat don’t care about having the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. But what they do care about is having Dwyane Wade as close to 100% as possible heading into the Eastern Conference Finals and the Finals. Playing Wade at a max 20-25 minutes a game can assist with that.
But the biggest potential plus of bringing Dwyane Wade off the bench is the instant offense that he could potentially bring. A healthy Dwyane Wade playing against 2nd team NBA defenses could give the Heat the edge needed to win their 3rd consecutive title. And not to mention, there is now a clear division of responsibilities for both LeBron James and Wade. With the first team, the offense always flows throw James and with the second team, the offense flows throw Wade.
Both of these possibilities sound great, but will they happen? Or more importantly, will Dwyane Wade allow for this to happen?
All indications so far say that Wade doesn’t mind coming off the bench. In fact, it was Wade’s idea to come off the bench on Sunday.
“He came to me and we talked about it,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He said he wants to work his way into his rhythm, into the flow, get some game conditioning. We decided to do it. I would like to get him back into the mix and get him more minutes.”
“I don’t have an ego like that,” Wade said. “My thing is to come in and help my teammates. … That’s all I’m trying to do. I’ve been off for a while. I didn’t want to come in, mess that up, especially when I wasn’t necessarily ready for it this early in the game. I wanted to work into it.”
The truth of the matter is it really doesn’t matter if Wade starts or is the 6th man. What really matters is if he’s healthy come playoff time. But it is intriguing to think about Wade coming off the bench as a wildcard that could explode for 20+ points at any time.