Five quick-hitting Miami Heat items after the team takes a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals:
1. Dwyane Wade gets a lot of it.
Actually, he gets more of it than most other great NBA players in recent memory.
The odd desire of so many observers to declare that he's done or, at the very least, declining. Sometimes, the shots have come from inside the NBA, as when Charles Barkley questioned whether he'd learned how to play below the rim, as when Kevin Durant omitted him from the league's top 10, as when Lance Stephenson, prior to this series, suggested that running Wade could make his knees "flare up."
Why do others seem to take glee in taking him down?
Well, that, Wade doesn't get.
"I don't know, I don't know," Wade told Bleacher Report after Sunday's practice. "I don't know, man."
It's almost as if some are waiting for him to walk—or limp, trudge or slink—away.
"I don't know why," Wade said, laughing. "I think I've been good for the game. I don't know why anybody would want to get me out of here. I don't know. I have noticed that. And they're quick to move me out of the way. But, you know, it just makes the story better. Because I won't let them move me, I won't leave. I mean, I'm only 32 years old. Like Chris (Bosh) said (to the media), it's not like I'm 40-something. So, I don't know. I guess it's just the way they want to do me."
Wade missed 28 games this season.
But in this series, he's averaging 24.3 points on 62 percent shooting.
He has commonly claimed that he doesn't hear much of the chatter.
It doesn't sound like he tunes it out completely.
"I tune it out from the standpoint that it's not going to affect me, from the standpoint that I'm going to do what they want," Wade said. "You know, sometimes it's motivation. Because people don't really understand exactly what it takes to be who I am, what it takes to be on this team, what it takes to be unselfish to be here, and all the things I have to deal with. You know, all people want to talk about is points. You know what I mean?"
He has won a scoring championship, but this season, while shooting the highest percentage of his career, he averaged 19.0 points, lowest since his rookie season.
"You had a good year because you scored 24 points (per) game," Wade said. "You know, that's a good year. And that's all that people care about. They don't really look at all the other things in this game. I guess when you get here, and people see you being a top-five leading scorer, and you're not top-five, I guess you can't play no more."
He laughed again.
Does he think that some of the people may treat him better after he's finally finished?
"You know what, I don't know," Wade said. "My teammates treat me great, the organization treats me great, the fans treat me great. The rest of it is just noise. I always say that, that I'll be appreciated more later, for what I was able to do, my height, my size and my time. But that later is going to come when I'm ready for it. Not when everyone else is. They were ready to throw me out three years ago."
2. Chris Bosh got a surprise very late Saturday night—or actually, in the wee hours of Sunday morning, while dining at a restaurant.
"We busted in on him," Wade said.
Wade wasn't specific about the traveling party but did refer to "couples and friends."
And what they did most of the night was bust out laughing.
"It was a great, great, great night last night," Wade said. "A fun, unexpected night."
It was a night that he felt his teammate needed, after struggling through the first three games of the Eastern Conference Finals, scoring nine points in each, and totaling just 12 rebounds, and uncharacteristically lashing out and earning a technical foul.
"We could sense it," Wade said of the frustrated Bosh. "And they've done it to me. So you could kind of sense it, and understand that sometimes it's not always about here, sometimes it's about away from here, and how you can make a guy feel...that can change everything."
Wade sensed something similar during the 2013 postseason. Both All-Stars were struggling then, so they met a few times away from the court, including once at Bosh's house, to clear their minds and play video games. Bosh actually went through an even less productive stretch in the final four games of that Eastern Conference Finals against Indiana, scoring seven, seven, nine and five points. But he did have a 20-point game in the NBA Finals, and he did grab the offensive rebound that saved the season in Game 6 against the Spurs.
Will he snap to life this time?
Certainly, that's what the Heat are hoping, and it's clear that it's a collective effort to boost his spirits.
LeBron James said the Heat weren't worried about Bosh's play, while acknowledging, "We know we have to get Chris going. We have to. He's too big a piece of the puzzle for us not to get him going." He blamed Bosh's Game 3 struggle on "tough calls" that put him in foul trouble and highlighted some of the positive defensive plays that Bosh made down the stretch.
But he also said something that sounded extremely similar to what he said during the 2013 NBA Finals, when Bosh's scoring statistics were suffering.
"We have to do a better job of trying to get him the ball," James said. "And he has to do a better job as well, of getting himself involved too."
James said, that, as a leader, he would "make a point of emphasis of getting to him for sure. But he hears from you guys enough, I don't need to be in his ear about what he needs. He knows what he needs to do to be great. And that doesn't mean 25 and 15 or anything like that, but he knows how to make an impact on the game. But I will do my part."
For his part, Bosh spoke positively about Game 4, and particularly getting in better rhythm. And he spoke of shutting out the noise. That doesn't just come from the media, but from family and friends.
"I just tell them 'Evaluate the win,'" Bosh said. "It's all about wins. I know everybody is used to playing video games, and everybody gets 30 and then you still win the game. You know, that's unrealistic. Especially now, it's all about getting a win. That's all I ever cared about. I always touch back with, 'Hey, if I score 20 and we take an L, is that better?' I want to win the game."
It sounds like Saturday night's conversations were a lot more fun.
And perhaps, for his psyche, a lot more productive.
3. Kyrie Irving was drafted first overall in 2011.
Another point guard in that class, Norris Cole, went 28th.
Sometimes, it's not when you go, but where. While Irving was expected to carry the rebuilding Cavaliers, Cole slotted into a specific role—energy-spiking backup—for the contending Heat.
Irving hasn't played in a playoff game yet.
Cole just completed his 52nd. Yes, completed. He finished on the floor for Miami, playing 33 minutes, hassling Pacers ball-handlers (especially Lance Stephenson) while running the offense well.
He constantly speaks of being "blessed" to be in his position.
"I don't think I would want to be anywhere else," Cole said. "We've won two championships. Who wouldn't want to be on a two-championship team?"
He's been collecting stories, for later telling.
"Birdman, and his mohawk," Cole said. "Playing with the best shooter ever (Ray Allen). Playing with one of the best players ever, who may end up being the best player ever, in LeBron. D-Wade, one of the best guards ever. Rashard Lewis, one of the top three-point shooters by percentage, ever."
He laughed at his fortune.
"Chris Bosh, member of the Olympic team, you know, nine-time All-Star," Cole said. "I mean, the list goes on and on. Pat Riley, (president) of basketball operations, who was the creator of the Lake Show back in the '80s. Juwan Howard, the Fab Five. Unbelievable storylines."
So what will they say about him?
"That he was fast, he could run all day," Cole said. "He could dance real good."
4. Ray Allen and Chris Andersen, from a personality perspective, would appear the mismatched pair.
But they've developed a kinetic chemistry on the court, one that goes beyond their plus-36 in 189 minutes in the playoffs. One always seems to know where the other is, and Allen has become adept at finding Andersen near the rim.
"He's going to set the screens, and he's got great athletic ability," Allen said. "Typically, it works because the brunt of our offense is on the strong side, with D-Wade and LeBron out there. So when I come off a pindown, they're so paranoid about what's going over there, then they help.
"So by the time I come off a pindown, their big has to decide whether or not they are going to help, and then Bird is open at the basket. We noticed that at the beginning of the year, we just don't run it enough. I'd say I can get Bird six to eight points a game off that, because it seems like the pocket pass is always there, the lob is always there. Something good will come out of it."
Allen didn't know Andersen before the latter signed in the middle of last season, but he calls him "one of the great finds" in recent years. And yes, they communicate off the court too.
"He gives you a lot, surface-wise," Allen said. "But he's a very quiet person, a very loyal person. You won't say that he's this crazy character. He's a character, for sure. But personality-wise, he fits in like everybody else."
He even has a soft side, as was evident in this interview with Bleacher Report earlier in the series, when he spoke of being humbled that people see his story as an inspiration.
5. George Karl played a significant role in Andersen's second chance.
After a lengthy drug-related suspension, Andersen received his reinstatement from the NBA during the 2007-08 season but was released by the New Orleans Hornets the subsequent summer. The Denver Nuggets, for whom Karl was coaching, gave Andersen a contract, and he rewarded them two spirited seasons, before his playing time petered out in the next two.
The Nuggets amnestied him in the summer of 2012, and after his legal trouble cleared, the Heat signed him. Now, at age 35, he was Miami's most reliable sub in the regular season, and the Heat are a plus-12.1 per 100 possessions with him on the floor in the playoffs.
So what does Karl, now an ESPN analyst, think of his performance?
"Oh, I can't deny that he has surprised me in how well he's played, and how consistent he's been," Karl told Bleacher Report by phone. "And I think this year he's actually been better than last year."
Some have suggested that Andersen should get an opportunity to start against Indiana's front line, something that Andersen wouldn't mind, even though he's started only 10 games in his NBA career. Karl, who started him just twice in four seasons, even discussed that possibility on television.
But on the call, Karl didn't endorse that promotion.
"I think he's a bench type of motivated guy," Karl said. "He comes in and brings a lot of energy. So, in general, I think he's still better coming off the bench."
Either way, he's better than anyone expected.
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