Dwyane Wade is Giving the Atlanta Hawks Nightmares
And he's giving the Atlanta Hawks nightmares.
Wade looked uninterested at times during the series opener. In the third quarter, with Miami trailing and needing to make a push, he didn't attempt a shot until there was less than two minutes remaining. By then, Atlanta had built their lead up to 21 points and Miami never mounted a serious challenge for a comeback.
Watching the Heat struggle from the comfort of his living room back in Miami was too much to bare for retired enforcer Alonzo Mourning. He's a guy who's had a kidney transplant—he knows all about pain.
Zo's former teammates needed their warrior one more time. His body might have succumbed to injury a while ago and extinguished his playing career, but clearly Mourning's competitive spirit continues to burn as brightly as it ever has.
With his team was in need of a battle cry call to arms, Mourning flew to Atlanta. He can't suit up and grab rebounds or block shots anymore, but he can use words to inspire.
So, armed with the only weapon left in his arsenal—one that doesn't require painkillers —Zo addressed his former comrades in the locker room prior to Game Two.
Whatever Zo said clearly struck a chord with Wade.
He exploded for 33 points in Game Two and the Heat flashed by Atlanta to even the series.
Then in Game Three, Wade torched the Hawks for another 29 points, which was also the margin of victory for Miami.
True champions raise the level of their game when the stakes are greater.
Wade certainly fits into that category.
Wade isn't known as a great three-point shooter (32 percent for the season), but he has knocked down 10 from beyond the arc from only 18 attempts in the last two games.
Then there are the blocked shots. Six in the last two victories, each one spiked away with the same ferocity that Mourning used to patrol Miami's basket with.
From an 1-0 series deficit, Miami has stormed into a 2-1 lead.
Wade is suffocating the Hawks and it looks like only the submission awaits.
Since that Game One embarrassment, Wade has been lights-out for Miami and has left Atlanta's playoff hopes flickering.
His importance to the Heat can't be overstated. Just like he was brought to life by one of his idols in Mourning, so too does Wade inspire his own teammates.
Like a true champion, Wade makes those around him better.
Dequan Cook, who was as absent as the Heat's defence in Game One, connected on six three-pointers in Game Two. Jermaine O'Neal has pushed the walking frame to the side to score 41 points in the last two games after managing just five in the series opener. He's also blocked seven shots.
O'Neal's days as one of the leagues best big men are over, but he's proving he can still be an effective player, similar to the way that Antonio McDyess has been for the Detroit Pistons in recent years.
Figuring out how to stop Wade is the challenge facing Hawks coach Mike Woodson. Thus far, hee's shown that he doesn't really have an answer and whatever he does decide to do, he's going to have to do it quickly as time is running out for Atlanta.
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