Miami-Toronto: Raptors Just the Tonic for What Ails Dwyane Wade and Heat

Steve SmithSenior Writer INovember 20, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 13:  Dwayne Wade #3 of the Miami Heat in action against the Golden State Warriors during an NBA game at Oracle Arena at Oracle Arena on January 13, 2010 in Oakland, California.  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 Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

I sometimes wonder if the South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman even likes the Miami Heat. He’s one of that paper’s beat writers for the team, but the vast majority of the articles he writes about the boys from South Beach seem negative.


His latest adventure into negativity is a piece speculating on whether Miami’s recent two-game losing streak, and Dwyane Wade’s current mini-shooting slump is indicative of something larger; something more problematic.


He does make a few good points in the piece, however, noting that Quentin Richardson, despite starting every game the Heat have played this year, hasn’t gotten to the foul line one time this season. He also notes that Jermaine O’Neal takes an inordinate number of fadeaway jumpers and needs to be more of a force in the paint.


He points out with relative clarity that Mario Chalmers rarely attacks the paint when he’s coming off a pick-and-roll, and he expounds on how despite all of Michael Beasley’s potential he’s making himself an easy cover for opposing teams by not driving to the hoop enough and settling for jumpers.


Note to Ira: The Heat and Wade are just fine, buddy.


I think they’ll prove that tonight to the bellicose “would-be” journalist, too.


Dwyane Wade has certainly been in a funk of late, as I mentioned in my recap of the 105-90 loss to the Atlanta Hawks you can read here. However, if there ever was a tonic for what ails Wade, it’s Miami’s opponent tonight, the Toronto Raptors.


His coach, Erik Spoelstra, feels the same way.


“Some of my favorite moments as a coach are when he [Wade] gets sort of counted out after a tough couple of games. I treasure these moments, because you know he’s going to get it going and really respond to the adversity.”


It was just a year ago that those in the media, including Ira Winderman, were speculating in the same way they are now about Wade. He’d began the season shooting just 20-of-51, was 0-of-12 from beyond the arc, and looked dreadful.


He then went on a tear that shut those critics up quick, scoring at least 29 points in eight of the Heat’s next 10 games.


Just such a run might be about to kick off tonight at the Air Canada Center against the Raptors, who have traditionally seen Dwyane Wade use them as his own personal punching bag.


In the last two games, Wade and the Heat have played against the Raptors, Dwyane has scored a combined 82 points. He’s done so very efficiently, too, shooting 62.3 percent from the field. In 15 career starts against Toronto, he’s averaged 26.8 points per game and shot 53.1 percent from the floor; not really looking like the Raptors are going to have an easy time keeping Wade in that mini-slump, huh?


Although Quentin Richardson’s status is still unclear for the game tonight, Wade should get some help from his teammates as Udonis Haslem is slated to return after missing one game after being left off the roster for the game against the Hawks with a sore shoulder.


The fact that Daequan Cook is seemingly back to his old form also should help give Dwyane enough rest during the contest to keep him fresh for some fourth-quarter heroics if needed as Cook comes off the bench with Haslem to form a formidable one-two inside-out punch.


However, if the Heat are going to win this game tonight they’re going to need some real consistency from both Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers, and Jermaine O’Neal. All three of them are capable of filling up the stat sheet on any given night, and it would be real nice if they do so all in the same game and keep Wade from being required to pour in 40-plus points.


That’s not to say it wouldn’t be nice if Dwyane did just that. I would love nothing better than to see Wade score 40-45 points while JO and “Beas” each dump in 20, with Mario getting 10-15 of his own. That kind of balanced scoring would spell real doom for the Raptors.


One thing that’s sure to be on the minds of many are the constant rumors that Toronto forward Chris Bosh is Pat Riley’s main target in the upcoming 2010 Free Agent Bonanza.


I’ve assured people numerous times that Bosh is the last player Riley is going after. I’m firmly of the belief Pat has his sights set on LeBron James; as does Wade. Yet, the baseless speculation that Bosh is at the top of Miami’s list of will almost certainly be a storyline for the media in tonight’s contest.


My advice? Simply ignore it.


Instead, concentrate on the game, and watch as Dwyane Wade once again plays like the superhero he’s nicknamed for, Flash .



My prediction? The Heat beat the Raptors by 20 on Nov. 20:  Miami 108 Toronto 88