All Dwyane Wade needed was to make one big play. He needed just one electric moment to remind him how great he can be. Sounds silly, right? How could he forget what makes him a great player?
Well, Wade's game four performance against the Pacers was all about regaining one very important thing: his confidence.
Wade just didn't have it over the first few games of the series. Yes, a sore knee that needed to be drained before game three certainly didn't help, but the Heat's star guard has never used injuries as an excuse. Plus, let's not kid ourselves, all players are banged up at this time of the season. You don't think LeBron James is sore right now? I see James sink his feet into a bucket of ice for 20 minutes after every game. Oh, and just about every other part of his body is iced. The point is, injuries weren't the real problem with Wade.
Somewhere along the way, for lack of a better term, No. 3 lost his mojo.
Heat coach Erik Spoesltra keep saying they needed to find ways for Wade to be more himself and be more aggressive. Basically, they needed Wade to stop playing indecisive basketball.
That's what happens when a player, even one as great as Wade, gets in a rut with a lack of confidence. Wade won't say that was the issue, but actions speak louder than words. Wade had bad body language, passed up on good shots to take bad ones, didn't hustle back on defense and then had that well publicized exchange with his coach.
As both said, those things do happen, but not out in the open. They certainly don't happen to a player like Wade. He was losing his cool because he knew he had lost his game.
Yet, here he was, almost three hours before game four, on the court working on every part of his game. I watched him as he tried to work on his jumper and then his post-up game. He was dripping in sweat and looked frustrated at times. He was determined to find his game again. I can't say he did that during the warm-up's because he didn't look particularly good.
At the start of game four, Wade seemed to be in the same rut. Then, in an instant, something clicked. One explosive dunk was followed by another and then a barrage of jumpers and lay-ups. Suddenly, Dwyane Wade was back.
Did his knee suddenly get better? Did he just start getting lucky bounces? No. What happened was Wade got his confidence back. He found himself. He was aggressive, tenacious to the basket, even with a 7-foot, 2-inch Roy Hibbert waiting at the basket. He went after loose balls, tipped rebounds to teammates and exploded all over the court.
When it was all said and done, Wade scored 30 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and dished out 6 assists. Those numbers pale in comparison to the historic 40, 18, 9 stat line that LeBron James displayed, but Wade's reemergence was just as important.
For a while it looked like James would have to try and win this series by himself. As amazing as the three-time MVP is, that would be virtually impossible.
James and the Heat needed Wade to get back to being Wade. He did that, just in time to even the Eastern Conference semifinals.
And if he keeps his play up, maybe just in time to save Miami's season.
More: MIAMI HEAT