It took a dazzling 46-point performance by Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade just to stave off elimination in Game 4 of his team's first round series against the Boston Celtics. Wade put on a record setting show in front of an ecstatic home crowd to extend the Heat's season another game and avoid a 4-0 sweep.
Miami now finds themselves down 3-1 and once again facing elimination as they head to Boston tonight for Game 5. Wade and the Heat will be looking to do the improbable and win at the TD Garden and force the series back to Miami. For the Heat to accomplish this, they will have to play nearly flawless basketball and a key component in that will be the play of the supporting cast.
Throughout the first three games of the series, the Miami Heat role players have been pretty much non-existent, with most of the production coming from Wade. Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem, Carlos Arroyo, and Mario Chalmers have all been less than impressive. And Jermaine O'Neal has been absolutely atrocious, shooting six-of-34 (17.6 percent) through four games.
The lack of support from the role players has forced Wade to shoulder the entire offensive load. He is averaging 33.8 points per games in the series, third best in this year's playoffs, and has increased his scoring in each game thus far. His Game 4 effort capped off his 2010 postseason and showed just how valuable he is to the team. Wade outscored the Celtics by himself, 19-15, in the fourth quarter just so his team could survive.
Although the role players have played under expectations, the Heat can find solace in the fact that in the last two games, there has been a slight increase in production. Beasley has averaged 15.5 points over the last two games and has been a lot more aggressive with drives to the rim and hustle plays.
Quentin Richardson scored a playoff career high Sunday with 20 points on an impressive four-of-six shooting from the three-point line.
If Richardson and Beasley can have similar performances and if O'Neal can find a way to get into the series, then Miami will have a legitimate chance to pull off the victory.
In addition to role players stepping up, Miami will need to find a way to contain Rajon Rondo. The Boston point guard has outplayed the Heat's guard duo both offensively and defensively, which has forced Wade to run the point and take on more work. Arroyo and Chalmers will need to step up defensively.
Even if the supporting cast steps up, Miami will still need another repeat performance by Wade to avoid elimination. The Celtics have played very well against the Heat this year, going 3-0 against them in the regular season and have won 14 out of their last 15 games against them.
Miami is 0-5 against the Celtics on the road this season, including the playoffs, which will make Game 5 an even tougher task for the Heat. They suffered from large offensive droughts in both Game 1 and Game 2 in Boston, which ultimately doomed them in those contests. Miami cannot afford another scoring lapse.
Boston is determined and hungry to close out Miami on their home floor and will look to build a big lead early. The Heat have a big fight ahead of them and will have no room for error.
Hopefully, Wade will have another "Flash" like outing and force the series back to South Beach. Even if Wade does put the cape on, he will need help from his teammates to keep the Heat's season alive.