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From the Department of Hackneyed: Heat Are Putrid; Dwyane Wade Needs Rest

Watching the final minutes of the Heat-Knicks, er, contest, last night was downright painful.

Sure, any Knicks win is hard for me to enjoy, but this had nothing to do with the blue and orange.

It has everything to do with the team with the two banged up stars and under-performing supporting cast that can't beat anybody.  Certainly not in 2008, anyway.

The Heat couldn't buy a basket at the end of an 88-84 loss, and, sad as it is to say, Dwyane Wade may have been a big part of the problem rather than the solution.

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His overall numbers on the season might be decent, but watching him even for just a few possessions illuminates what Pat Riley has to be cognizant of: Dwyane Wade is not anywhere close to being himself these days.  Chances are, it has to do with his recurring injuries that Riley has referenced and every television announcer feels compelled to mention every six seconds.

But regardless of what the issue is, Wade's game is completely off-kilter.  He doesn't have his explosiveness, and as a result he isn't doing what he does best: getting to the basket and drawing fouls with abandon.  Since the turn of the calendar, Wade is only getting to the line 6.4 times per game, a figure well below his season average of 10 per game.  Wade is a decent jump shooter but by no means a lethal one, and he is doing a lot of settling for deep mid-range jump shots (he is a putrid three-point shooter).  This makes him far less dangerous, as it is easier not only to keep him from scoring but to keep him from getting his teammates involved.  When Flash gets into the lane, he is more likely to require the attention of multiple defenders, thus opening up passing lanes to shooters on the outside and cutters to the rim.  With Wade forcing jump shots instead, those lanes aren't there, and the entire offense stagnates.

The Heat have now lost 13 straight.  Their season is all but over.  Their franchise player is in terrible physical shape.  For the long-term good of this franchise, Pat Riley needs to suck up the embarrassment of coaching a downright horrendous team and shut Wade down before he permanently damages the franchise's most valued investment. 


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