Wade huge in Shaqs absence
If he wasn't electrifying enough already, if he hadn't stepped up enough already, if he didn't prove himself to you already, he did.
Many have asked the question "How will Dwyane Wade perform without Shaq?". They have attributed all of his success to the Diesel. Sure, Shaq makes things easier. Sure, Shaq makes you better. But how much? As O'Neal tumbled in Tuesday night's loss against the Bulls, all of those questions were soon to be answered.
As the night progressed, so did Flash's game. Wade, who is prone to the inside game, began taking more outside shots. In fact, he drained many of those. Despite Wade's 21-point,11-assist,3-block,4-steal effort, it had been a bad night for him. The team lost, and O'Neal was out.
Fast forward: Twenty-four hours. The Heat are facing the revived Indiana Pacers, and Jermaine is the only O'Neal playing.
Wait. Who is that in the distance, coming in fast? Could it be? Yes, it is Flash! But could he rescue the Heat single-handedly? No. He could have, in fact he almost did. He took the game into overtime, where he almost led our troops to victory. As the clock was winding down to double zero's, Flash threw up a rare three pointer. Everyone in the Conseco Fieldhouse was silent as the ball took it's path to the basket. It hit the rim, and failed to fall in.
Regardless of Wade's diligence the Heat had dropped it's second straight game.
Not enough evidence for you? You can't argue with numbers, so here they are: 38 points, FG%:53, 12-15 FT's, 8 assists, 5 steals. Impressed? Wade wasn't. He wanted a win. In his mind, the team comes before your stats.
Wade was now back in the comfort of his own home, in the American Airlines Arena against the Orlando Magic. The Heat were again without O'Neal. In the first quarter, Wade was held scoreless. By halftime he only had 5 points.
Could our hero be gone? It appeared so. Wade had another slow quarter. He had six points in the third quarter. Just when you thought he was gone, Flash revealed the lightning bolt on his chest. He was back. Wade exploded for 14 of his 25 points in the final quarter.
Not only did he play a good offensive game, but he closed the game on two great defensive plays. As Steve Francis tried going for a layup late in the fourth quarter to bring the Magic within two, Wade leaped up and spiked the ball out of bounds. Then, again as the Magic attempted to inbound the ball for one last shot, Wade tipped the ball out of bounds to end the game.
The Heat had won, Wade felt accomplished.
So to those who ask "How will Dwyane Wade perform without Shaq?", there is your answer. If it does not satisfy you, I don't know what will.