In the aftermath of his knee problems in the playoffs last year and the stalling progress of his recovery from surgery over the summer, plans have been put in place—through his cooperation—to shorten his minutes and adjust his game.
The intent of such an approach is to ensure his availability to the team for the long haul.
In the short-term, that will hopefully translate to a healthy Dwyane Wade come playoff time.
The far-reaching goal, however, is to enable his prime to age as gracefully as it has for older superstars like Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan.
Thus far, the Heat and Wade have successfully followed through with those plans five games into the season.
Most importantly, the Heat are still winning despite the fact that these subtle adjustments are taking place.
But that is a reality more attributable to a confluence of factors.
And, as we are seeing early on, it will be because of all the small victories that have come Miami's way over time, that its biggest obstacle to a repeat—an unhealthy Wade in the playoffs—will ultimately prove to be an asset.
The Addition of Ray Allen
In case you're keeping score, the addition of Ray Allen has:
A—been a constant thorn in the side of everyone affiliated with the Boston Celtics
B—given Miami the best available shooter in the league at a discount rate
C—helped their offense operate at a level higher than ever before
D—led to their 1-0 rate of success thus far in crunch time, a moment that used to represent the team's Achilles' heel
E—improved their bench to a degree that a Sixth Man of the Year award may already be waiting for him
F—allowed Miami to preserve Dwyane Wade's minutes
In other words, he's become the bench equivalent of LeBron James—someone who does so many things for you, it almost feels too good to be true.
But Miami, and Dwyane Wade, can rest knowing that while Allen is on the court, the Heat will be in good hands.
Conceding the Team To LeBron
It was no coincidence that LeBron began to assert himself and elevate the team in the process after Wade gave him the "franchise player" keys.
At the same time, Wade was already stricken with knee issues as a result of trying to co-pilot the team with LeBron.
But if Wade was willing to take a step back then, during the biggest point of the season, I'd suspect the regular season won't even be an issue.
The Emergence of Chris Bosh
Ever since Miami switched to a position-less lineup that emphasized the team's speed and shooting, Bosh has flourished.
Averaging nearly 20 points, a Miami Heat-high for Bosh, the former black sheep of Miami Thrice is quickly establishing himself as a more than capable second option.
Not to mention, he recorded his first 40-point effort with the team earlier last week.
Winning a Championship
One would think the knowledge of winning a championship comes with the lesson of steadying your body through a season.
To review—the NBA season is a little over eight months, equating to around 240 days. The regular season is 82 games and the playoffs are, at the very least an additional 16. That means, in the best case scenario, a team has an average of about 2.4 days to recover from the daily pounding of the season.
The lesson—the season is a marathon, not a sprint.
Perfecting his Mid-Range Game
Wade's goal coming into this season was to be efficient and improve his mid-range game.
Thus far, he's been successful, shooting 56 percent from the field and taking more shots from outside the paint than inside it.
So, although Wade once built his reputation as the guy who could "fall down seven times and get up eight", the second half of the season and his career will fare much better if he can throw up eight mid-range shots and knock down seven.
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