Friday , Mar , 17 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Wade is the man in Miami

By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor

(Sports Network) – Miami will go as far as All-Star guard Dwyane Wade can
take them in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Even though the dominant
Shaquille O’Neal is still a huge presence, the Heat are Wade’s team.

The 24-year-old Wade came through once again for the Heat during a 107-104
victory over the Boston Celtics at AmericanAirlines Arena. Wade finished with
30 points and six assists in over 39 minutes of action. He was 12-of-20 from
the field and collected three steals.

Boston led by 18 at the half, 63-45, but the Heat recovered in the locker room
and outscored the Celtics 30-16 in the third to get within four points heading
into the final quarter. Led by Wade, who scored 24 of his 30 points in the
second half, Miami, which trailed the Celtics by as much as 25 points,
continued its solid play in the fourth quarter and took home the three-point
victory.

“That is what great players do,” said Miami point guard Jason Williams about
Wade’s play in the second half. “When they see their team struggle, they try
to pick it up anyway they can. He did a great job.”

The Celtics did have a chance to tie the game at the buzzer, but rookie Orien
Greene missed a three-pointer from the corner fell short as time expired.

“We were more aggressive in the second half,” said Wade. “I just did not want
us to lose. I do what I can to help my team win. I was just doing what I can
to help my team win.”

Wade did get plenty of help from his teammates. Shaq netted 26 and pulled down
11 rebounds in the win over Boston, while Williams ended with 21 points and
five assists.

“That was obviously another one of those games,” said Miami head coach Pat
Riley after the win over Boston. “They (Boston Celtics) played extremely well.
They were focused and they had a tremendous approach to the game. They
executed in the first quarter flawlessly. They did not feel our defense and
they did not feel our presence. We were waiting for them to miss and they just
didn’t. ”

Originally drafted out of Marquette by Miami in the first round (fifth
overall) of the 2003 NBA Draft, Wade has become the leader in every way for
the Heat. Yes, Shaq is arguably still the most dominant player in the league,
but when Miami needs a big play or a bucket its Wade whose number is getting
called.

The win over Boston is a perfect example as to how Wade has stepped up an
become the leading man in Miami. The Heat were struggling and needed someone
to take over, and that is exactly what the multi-talented Wade did. He took
control of the game and put the Heat on his back on their way to their 13th
win in their last 14 contests.

Wade leads the Heat in scoring (27.9 ppg) and assists (5.9 apg) this season.
He has played in 60 of Miami’s first 64 games and is shooting and impressive
50.4 percent from the floor.

With Shaq and Wade, Miami is very dangerous and is probably the only serious
threat to the Detroit Pistons in the East. Last season, Detroit knocked off
the Heat in seven games in the conference finals. The difference between
2004-05 and 2005-06, is that the Heat are now Wade’s team.

The Marquette product is the one who is going to lead the Heat into battle. He
is now the No. 1 option and Shaq is fine with that, which makes Wade even more
effective and dangerous.

Miami’s two superstars both want to win, and the 34-year-old O’Neal knows that
he may have to jump on Wade’s bandwagon sometimes if he wants to have his best
chance at winning another ring.

Watch the Heat and see how far Wade can carry them in the postseason.