Save your manufactured panic for another time. Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat are not going to take the continual calls of criticism and go down without swinging at a seemingly mechanically-perfect San Antonio Spurs team.
For the weekend, the Heat can sleep easier after the latest victory by way of a blowout, this time a 109-93 win in front of a stunned AT&T Center. It follows San Antonio’s 36-point win in Game 3, and features a 55-point swing in between games.
Three games of mediocre and subpar play amongst the members of the ‘Big Three’ came to a stop in Game 4. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 85 points on only 64 field-goal attempts, nearly outscoring the entire Spurs team.
While LeBron was the one who led all scorers with 33 points, matching his Game 3 point total by the 4:13 mark of the second, it was Dwyane Wade that brought back memories of the 2009 scoring champion and MVP candidate.
He was a slashing, mid-range shooting, fastbreak-leading animal. It looked nothing like the Wade that had been present throughout the postseason, and it was Wade’s best postseason performance since dropping 41 points in Game 6 against Indiana last year.
It was an occurrence that we haven’t seen in awhile. While some were calling for his benching/trade/mid-postseason amnesty, Wade nearly had as many points in Game 4 as he had in Games 1, 2 and 3 combined.
Wade shot 14-of-25 and finished with 32 points, 6 rebounds (he only had four in the Finals going into Game 4), 6 steals, 4 assists and 0 turnovers. James shot 15-of-25, grabbed 11 rebounds, dished four assists, had two steals, two blocks and only one turnover in 41 minutes.
Chris Bosh was huge on the defensive end. After a slow start in the first half, Bosh finished with huge numbers in the form of 20 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals.
Bosh scored most of his early points in the paint, before getting into a rhythm outside and hitting key jumpers late.
It was Wade and James who set the tone, however. They had it going early, Wade scoring the first seven Heat points of the game and LeBron with 11 first quarter points, and kept the Heat’s offense clicking as they began to make the mid-range jumpers the defense had given them all series.
LeBron also found his offense coming from transition opportunities early, running off of defensive rebounds and not allow the Spurs to get into their half-court defense. He also began to make San Antonio pay for throwing the smaller Kawhi Leonard at LeBron, finally establishing his presence in the post.
James had 15, Wade had 14 and Bosh had 8 by the end of the first half, but the Heat still found themselves tied with the Spurs. San Antonio was heavily supported, once again, by their ability to hit nearly every three-pointer, no matter the difficulty.
The heroes of Game 3 in Danny Green and Gary Neal continued their torrid stretch of shooting, combining to shoot 6-of-10 from beyond the arc and finishing with 23 points.
Two of Green’s rattled violently rimmed around the rim, while Neal hit an off-balanced 30-footer while heavily guarded. It’s going to be interesting to see if they can keep this up.
What will be consistent, though, is Miami’s high point total and an efficient offense if they continue to work the ball inside the paint. The Heat scored 50 points in the paint and were able to get to the line for 17 free throws.
After shooting 0 free throws for the first time since 2009, LeBron had four attempts. Dwyane and Chris also had four apiece.
While the Spurs were able to close the second half on an 11-2 run, they weren’t able to sustain their perimeter attack. Miami had a few sizable leads evaporate, including a 47-38 lead with 3:03 left in the second that started before San Antonio’s run to close the half.
Miami took a 62-61 lead with 6:13 left in the third on a Ray Allen layup and never gave it up.
The Spurs were able to back-to-back three-pointers in the final 1:39, but the Heat continued to stave off every attempt at making enough shots to take the lead back. Miami was able to keep the lead at five heading into the fourth, supported by nine third-quarter points from LeBron.
From there it was the Dwyane Wade show. He would score eight points in an electric one minute, 32 second span that featured three mid-range jumpers and a masterful fastbreak slam over Gary Neal.
Wade would have his 30th point by the 7:33 mark. He’d send Bosh a perfect entry pass under the rim to give Miami a double-digit lead for the first time since a 41-31 lead with 6:59 left in the second.
An 8-2 run that carried into the 4:36 mark put the game on ice as Miami’s lead escalated to 15. LeBron would cap it off with three consecutive jumpers in the final 1:26 to add insult to injury.
The supporting cast for Miami outside of the ‘Big Three’ was led by Ray Allen’s 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting and Mario Chalmers converting two three-pointers and having five dimes, but also turned the ball over four times.
Erik Spoelstra implemented a change in the starting lineup by starting Mike Miller over Udonis Haslem. Miller, who had shot 5-of-5 from three in Game 3, was limited to only one shot, which he missed, in 21 shot attempts.
Chris Andersen also was absent for the night, with Miami opting to give more time to a small lineup that featured more Shane Battier and even less of Udonis Haslem.
The smaller lineup didn’t translate to three-point shooting (Miami only shoot 4-of-12), but it did translate to a faster game as Miami finished with 85 possessions and scored 60 points in the second half. They also limited the Spurs to only five offensive rebounds a game after allowing 19 that turned into 22 second-chance points.
The Heat forced the Spurs into 18 turnovers, while also limiting Tony Parker to 15 points on 16 shots. Miami outrebounded their opponent 41-36 and were led by big performances from LeBron and Chris.
Game 5 is Sunday in San Antonio, but Miami has already won back homecourt advantage just with the win tonight. They are two home wins away from a championship.