Miami Heat: Are Miami Heat Better Without Dwyane Wade in the Starting Lineup?

Peter EmerickSenior Writer IIJanuary 5, 2012

ORLANDO, FL - DECEMBER 21: LeBron James #6 and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat high-five after a play during a preseason game against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center on December 21, 2011 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Let's just get the answer to the question of, "Are the Miami Heat better without Dwyane Wade in the starting lineup?", out of the way.

The resounding answer to that question is no, because Wade, who is a former NBA champion, a seven-time NBA All-Star and the Heat's most clutch player as of late, is one of the best players in the NBA right now.

The Heat did, however, look pretty solid without Wade against one of the most surprising teams of the young NBA season, the Indianapolis Pacers.

The Wade-less Miami Heat dominated the Pacers from the opening tipoff, ultimately beating the Pacers by 35 points, 118-83.

So was playing without Dwyane Wade a major reason why the Miami Heat looked so good Wednesday night against the Pacers?  The clear answer is yes and no.

Having Dwyane Wade's MVP caliber offensive prowess, defensive intensity and basketball intelligence on the court is one of the Heat's biggest strength, but that is only true when Wade is 100 percent healthy.

Wade's health is the difference maker in deciding whether or not it is effective to have him in the starting lineup, and the bad news for the Heat is that Wade often times tries to fight through injuries, which in turn hurts the Heat.

In the Heat's only loss of the NBA season, a game in which Wade was suffering from the same foot injury that kept him out of Wednesday night's game, Wade went 4-17 from the field for only 12 points in 39 total minutes.

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 25:  NBA referee Josh Tiven #58 talks with Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat at American Airlines Center on December 25, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

His overall production wasn't really the issue because Wade also accounted for 10 assists, but what is disconcerting is the offensive opportunities he gave up by taking shots he couldn't make because of his injury.

In the Heat's loss to the Atlanta Hawks, with Wade fighting a foot injury, the Heat as a team shot only 46.6 percent from the field, as compared to their shooting percentage of 52.5 Wednesday night against the Pacers, as Wade was resting his ailing foot. 

In addition to Wade's poor offensive production when injured, there is also the fact that Wade just isn't the same on the defensive end of the ball when he is fighting a lingering injury.

Against the Atlanta Hawks, in the Heat's only loss of the season, Wade's inability to cover Joe Johnson resulted in the Heat's defenders consistently leaving their defenders to help cover Johnson's dribble drive.

The Heat's constant defensive help on Wade's man in the paint ultimately led to their demise, with Tracy McGrady hitting two open three-pointers late in the fourth to seal the Heat's fate in their 100-92 loss.

The point I'm trying to make is that the Heat have so much talent within their starting five with LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers, in addition to the talent on their bench in Norris Cole, James Jones and Udonis Haslem, that the Heat are better off with an injured Wade staying off the court.

The problem for the Heat is that Dwyane Wade more often than not tries to fight through injuries to stay on the court, in hopes of "helping his team".  Hopefully Wade realizes that he holds the Heat back when he plays injured, rather than healing and returning when he is 100 percent.

If the Heat had the roster strength they did before the infamous 2009 NBA offseason, Wade playing hurt wouldn't be an issue.  With all the talent on the Heat's roster currently however, Wade has the luxury of taking time to heal without hurting his team, and that is something he will have to become more comfortable actually doing.

Dwyane Wade, do yourself and the Heat a favor and take as much time as you need to heal.  Sure the Heat are better with you in the starting lineup, but they are still pretty darn good without you when your injured.