Through a cruel twist of the NBA schedule, the Miami Heat are going up against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade this week. On consecutive nights and on the road.
Friday’s game at Cleveland is Miami’s first against LeBron without any hint of the old Big Three alliance in the Heat lineup.
Then, on Saturday, it’s on to the United Center for a second try against Wade and the Bulls. Chicago won the first meeting between the teams 98-95 on Nov. 10 at AmericanAirlines Arena, with Wade struggling to score 13 points and concluding “I’m glad it’s over with.”
Awkward reunions are going to keep coming up like this for LeBron and Dwyane. Teamed with Chris Bosh in Miami they were terrific, winning two NBA titles and reaching the Finals a few more times.
Since LeBron broke up the band and returned to Cleveland two years ago, it’s been fun to see how they do against each other. The results, at least to me, have been fairly satisfying, since Wade is far more the favorite.
In his final two seasons with Miami, Wade went 4-3 against LeBron and the Cavs. There were two games in there where one or the other did not play. In the five where they both did, Wade averaged 23.8 points and LeBron averaged 26.8.
Since Wade signed with the Bulls in the offseason as a free agent, there has been one meeting between the two.
The Bulls beat the Cavs 111-105 last week to give Wade a head-to-head record of 5-3 against LeBron since the end of the Big Three era. In that game Dwyane scored 24 points and LeBron turned in a terrific performance with 27 points and 13 assists but came up short.
Everybody knows that LeBron will continue to do just fine where he is, but the question now is whether Wade will thrive in Chicago more than he might have by staying in Miami another year.
So far, neither team is tearing it up but Miami is in a tougher spot as far as rallying for playoff contention.
Wade, meanwhile, is scoring about like he did last year with the Heat, in the neighborhood of 19 points per game. He’s playing just a little more, 31 minutes plus per game, and making a higher percentage from three-point range.
Altogether, not bad at all for a 34-year-old guard, turning 35 next month, who changed his game when LeBron joined Miami and continues to adjust now that both have moved on.