After going up 2-0 against the Charlotte Hornets, the well ran dry for the Miami Heat and they now face a 3-2 deficit heading to Charlotte for Game 6. Miami is looking for their first playoff series win since LeBron James returned to Cleveland, but they’ll need an excellent showing in Game 6 and a potential Game 7 to do it. Dwyane Wade knows a thing or two about big-time playoff performances; he has three shiny rings to prove it.
Without Chris Bosh, the Heat will need a vintage game from Wade to extend their season past Friday night. Wade knows exactly what that performance looks like, having seen it firsthand from James in his classic Game 6 against the Boston Celtics in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals.
“LeBron James had an amazing game to propel us to that win, but we were just very focused as a team,” Wade told ESPN on Wednesday as he recalled the night James had 45 points and 15 rebounds to force a decisive Game 7 back in Miami. “It’s going to be tougher for this team because we’ve never been here. But you don’t run away from the competition.”
That was arguably the best game of LeBron’s career. When backed into a corner after his dispiriting play in the 2011 Finals and facing elimination against a Celtics team with which he’d developed a personal rivalry, LeBron responded by shooting laser beams with his eyes for 45 minutes en route to a crucial Game 6 victory. He then finished off the Celtics with a ho hum 31 points and 12 rebounds in Game 7.
The stakes aren’t quite as high for Wade and the Heat this season, but he can draw on the experience of that Game 6 in Boston to potentially lead his team to a do-or-die win. The only difference? He won’t have help from the best player on planet Earth to do it.