Dwyane Wade's disappearing act had become column fodder throughout the 2013 playoffs. It took until Game 4 of the NBA Finals, but it appears the trick has reached conclusion and the Miami Heat have their star back.
Wade put together an honest-to-goodness complete game, as his team put away the San Antonio Spurs 109-93. The win evens the series at 2-2, with a big Game 5 Sunday night.
A Miami defense that hasn't fully been seen in this series showed up in Game 4. The Heat were playing actively at that end, causing a number of deflections and easy buckets the other way for the Heat.
The defense came from everyone. Chris Bosh (20 points and 13 rebounds) recalibrated himself and made a home protecting the rim. He still took jumpers on offense, but was parked inside on defense, contesting everything in his proximity. Wade and LeBron James got in on the action as well.
Wade was stellar throughout. He has had a few solid first halves in this series, but shrunk from the moment after that. Thursday night, he was different. He used six steals to create defensive intensity, which fueled an offensive night he hasn't had in months.
Midway through the 2nd quarter, Dwyane Wade has already matched his postseason scoring average: 14 points.— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) June 14, 2013
Wade finished with 32 points, six rebounds and four assists. He scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, helping Miami outscore the Spurs 28-17 in the frame.
James was taking and making mid-range jumpers all night. When that starts happening, things can get real dangerous for the opposition. Because of Wade's big night, James didn't have to be superhuman, but you got the feeling that possibility was there if needed. Still, the MVP tallied 33 points and 11 rebounds.
Tony Parker took over Wade's old role of a non-existent second half. After a huge start to the game, Parker did not score after intermission. Tim Duncan posted a team-high 20 points, while Gary Neal chipped in 13 off the bench.
Boris Diaw capped an 11-2 run, featuring seven of his own points, with a fast-break layup to tie things at 49 heading into the half. Parker had the other four points during the run, giving him 15 and six assists in the first half.
What a half.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) June 14, 2013
The teams traded baskets throughout the first half of the third quarter. Defense was fairly lax at both ends, particularly in the paint. Wade picked up five more points, but was also whistled for foul No. 4. His bucket with 7:48 left in the quarter knotted things at 58.
Mario Chalmers hit the first two threes of the game for the Heat during the third quarter, and more steady defense from Bosh and James had the Heat up 76-70 with 1:58 to go in the period.
If Chris Bosh has played a better game defensively in a Heat uniform I don't remember it.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) June 14, 2013
Neal and Danny Green continued their hot three-point shooting (6-of-9 combined), but James overpowered the Spurs down the stretch. A put-back at the end of the quarter put the Heat up 81-76.
The Spurs seem to have stumbled upon a successful offensive strategy: take a bunch of 3's and never miss any of them.— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) June 14, 2013
Wade got himself six straight Heat points, one of which he created by jumping a passing lane, and a mid-range jumper by the Miami guard put the visitors up 92-83 with 7:33 to go.
Spurs commit 16th turnover. Wade now with 30 and only 4 coming at FT line. #NBAFINALS— Jeff Caplan (@Caplan_NBA) June 14, 2013
The Miami defense continued to cause problems for San Antonio, and Miami went up 100-85 with 5:16 remaining.
With his team trailing 15 and just under four minutes left, Gregg Popovich started subbing in his scrubs, as Nando de Colo and DeJuan Blair got some run late. An all-important Game 5 is coming up, the Spurs' last at home, and they will need to be fully rested.
Annnnnnnnd Parker and Green coming out. You may think there are 4 min left, but Gregg Popovich is telling you this game is over.— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) June 14, 2013
Adding insult to injury, James knocked down a pair of jumpers in the closing minutes. His three with 22 seconds left gave the final score of 109-93. There was possibly some vengeance on his mind from the Game 3 blowout loss.
When Wade and Bosh both show up, San Antonio has ZERO chance.— Nate Jones (@JonesOnTheNBA) June 14, 2013
The Spurs get two days off to regroup. No matter what happens Sunday, the series will head back to Miami. Heading to South Beach needing one win instead of two makes all the difference.