by Eddie Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan
Dwyane Wade without a shadow of a doubt has to be the MVP of ‘The Association’ and it’s not even close.
The simple fact that the Miami Heat are on a nine-game winning streak this late in the season, given the surroundings around No. 3 and his upcoming participation in “The Season Of 2010” is astounding. The talent that surrounds Flash this season reminds me of a disgruntled quarterback who was recently traded to an inter-divisional rival where for the last 11 years the quarterback had wide receivers nicknamed “Trash” and “Stinkston.” (Can you tell I’m still a bit flustered from the news that broke earlier this week?) Nevertheless, this might be the finest season Wade has put together since the Heat’s championship run back in ’05-06 as a veteran-laden squad led by Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Gary Payton, Antoine Walker, James Posey & Co. overcame all struggles (and some beneficial officiating) to bring the first NBA title to Liberty City.
What does Dwyane have this season? Well, the second most talented player is Michael Paul Beasley, a mercurial and loquacious forward whose day-to-day performance is more up and down like Rasheed Wallace’s mood. Jermaine O’Neal is the resident big man on this squad, and his knees are basically made up of paper clips, balsam wood, hot Velveeta, Cray paper, fairies’ wishes, and baby’s breath. All hail the Boricua floor general Carlos Arroyo for bringing some stability to the point guard position, but even he has seen better days. As a matter or fact, I think there’s only one man who’s carried his weight on behalf of Wade. Who is that?
Udonis freaking Haslem.
Maybe it’s because Udonis is from Dade County (Miami) is the reason the man plays with pride everyday for the Heat. Hell, he probably realizes this might be the last time he ever gets to play with Dwyane again. Regardless, Haslem’s averaging 12.4 points and 11.5 rebounds a game during the nine-game winning streak, and has been a fixture for the Heat for years. Haslem is probably one of the most underappreciated players in the League, he’s almost a guaranteed double-double (off the bench no less) every night and you know he’s going to bring it on the defensive end.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the improved play of Quentin Richardson (who’s been revived from the dead), Dorrell Wright and Mario Chalmers who it seems that one of the three pick up the slack for the Heat each game.
Yet, at the end of the day this team doesn’t move until Dwyane starts pushing. I mean come on…Wade’s averaging a ridiculous 27 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds (oh, and if you care…2 steals and 1 block per). It’s unfortunate he plays in a league were a 6-8 defensive end who moves like a tailback puts up even better numbers than Wade’s, but that man’s team (LeBron, Cavs) have a significantly better squad than what’s in Miami. Yet we’re already ready to crown LeBron as the MVP? Look at LeBron’s numbers this year compared to Dwyane’s:
LeBron: 29.7 pts, 7.3 rebs, 8.6 asts, 50.3% FG/33.3% 3PT/76.7% FT
Dwyane: 26.6 pts, 4.9 rebs, 6.6 asts, 47.4% FG/30.1% 3PT/76.1% FT
Now, I’m not here to say Dwyane’s better…that would be blasphemy. What I am saying is Dwyane is doing much much more with much much less. The man has no other consistent scoring threat whatsoever. Their defense is average at best, and their coach is still in fear as he looks over his shoulder wondering if Pat Riley’s going to steal his job.
Simply put, Miami would be doing the John Wall Dance if Dwyane wasn’t on this team, they’d be lottery bound. The Miami Heat are finally doing something quality teams do, they are beating the teams they are supposed to beat. I won’t try and hype up their nine-game streak (only three of the nine wins were against teams that are currently Playoff bound) but there’s something to being able to go in and consistently execute against a gameplan and knowing your personnel. Maybe head coach Erik Spolestra is figuring it out, maybe DWade’s balling out for “The Season of 2010,” maybe this team finally gets it. But if they can carry this momentum into the Playoffs then anything can happen.
As it stands, Boston and Atlanta would be the two teams that would matchup again Miami in the first round. It’s conceivable that they could lose to Miami at all, plus how can you bet against Wade? You can’t. So folks from Dade County, get to American Airlines Arena and witness what’s going on in the arena…you might miss Flash and the Heat spoiling the Eastern Conference Playoffs party.
Eddie Maisonet is a freelance sports writer, blogger and big time hoops fan from Oklahoma who currently resides in Cincinnati. Keep up with Eddie at SLAMonline as well as his blog Ed The Sports Fan and on Twitter.