By Dan Bernstein-
CBSChicago.com Senior Columnist
(CBS) The worst possible reason to take a shot is because you think it’s about time you did.
The NBA is full of such “my turn” guys, who are usually found on teams somewhere between middling and miserable. They fill up the regular-season box scores, make a more-than-comfortable living, and are often the ones in the postgame locker room looking at the stat sheet while others trudge to the showers.
There’s never a bad shot, only not enough of them. The scoreboard may as well not exist, nor does any other situation or context.
I never thought we would see two egregious examples of this kind of play from one of the greats of his era, particularly in high-leverage moments of a game with everything at risk. And, yet, there was Dwyane Wade – the ineffective and inefficient incarnation so common in these playoffs – seemingly not knowing or caring what was best for his team.
While Lebron James carried the Heat, Wade was content to be cavalier.
The fourth quarter opened last night with Miami trailing San Antonio 75-65, staring at 12 minutes separating them from historic ignominy on their home floor, with the deteriorating orbits of their stars threatening to shatter an increasingly fragile organization that had been so formidable just weeks ago.
Erik Spoelstra rolled with an undersized lineup of James, Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller, Chris Anderson and Ray Allen – the same arrangement that powered the second-half blowout in Game 2 — and that group was responsible for a 24-9 run from the end of the third that turned a 75-63 Spurs lead into an 87-84 Heat advantage with 3:48 to go.
Enter Wade, replacing the surprisingly effective Miller, whose quietly resourceful night would include 3-4 shooting, seven rebounds and controlled, competent perimeter defense.
Out of the 2:57 timeout with the Heat up by three, Wade chose to loft an errant turnaround jumper that Manu Ginobili rebounded and converted into a driving layup that cut the lead to one. That would be two points contributing to Wade’s team-low plus/minus total for the night of -17.
Next came what will be most remembered: the approach of the abyss, the yellow security tape anticipating the Spurs’ coronation, threes by James and Allen, and Gregg Popovich’s debatable call to match the smaller opposing unit instead of opting for the size advantage inside.
Overtime, and another inexplicable shot by Wade that gave the Spurs a possession to ice the game, the series, and possibly an era for the Heat.
Clinging to a tenuous 101-100 lead with the ball and 30 seconds left, Wade attempted his longest shot of the game on a night where few were falling for him, a 21-footer from the right side of the top of the circle. Instead of working through the offense, Wade took his turn.
Kawhi Leonard grabbed the rebound, and the Spurs had what they wanted – the ball, a mere one-point deficit, and a timeout to use with 8.8 seconds to go, a basket away from another NBA title.
That Popovich did not then get Tony Parker in the game is questionable, at the least. That Ginobili was left to again careen madly into the defense hunting for a foul was unexpected, but they were handed the kind of opportunity they so rarely have squandered.
Wade may indeed have brilliance remaining in him for one more game, perhaps even similar to the kind on display from James, who finished with 32 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists and three steals.
He’s lucky to have the chance to prove it, after forcing his team to overcome more than just the Spurs.
Dan Bernstein joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995, and has been the co-host of Boers and Bernstein since 1999. Read more of Bernstein’s columns, or follow him on Twitter: @dan_bernstein.
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