Heat coach Erik Spoelstra expected Dwyane Wade to have ‘big-time fingerprints’ in Miami’s season
Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was hopeful to bring back veteran icon Dwyane Wade for what would be his last season in the league, and while he couldn’t have predicted a tooth-and-nail fight with the Detroit Pistons for the last playoff spot in the East, he expected his longtime stud to have a significant imprint this season:
“I thought we’d be in a better spot right now, so I figured these games would have incredible meaning, which they do right now,” said Spoelstra, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “We’re trying to climb up. But if you want to play against the best teams in the league, you need some Hall of Fame talents. And Dwyane is that. Even at his age. He is somebody that’s special, that’s different.”
Wade’s averages of 14.0 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists pale in comparison to his All-Star-caliber numbers in the past, but they are nonetheless vital to the Heat’s playoff chances, playing 25 minutes per game in an essential role off the bench.
The 13-time All-Star’s value to the Heat goes beyond the numbers, but translate into a level of veteran leadership that is more than just experience, but championship-level insight that only he can offer:
“So did I anticipate he would be playing this many minutes? I don’t know. But definitely somebody that was going to have big-time fingerprints on the direction of this team,” said Spoelstra of Wade. “It’s with his play. Obviously it’s with his leadership. This team needs a lot of it. And particularly the young guys need his Hall-of-Fame mentorship. And he’s doing all of it, the trifecta right now.”
The Heat are currently at a deadlock with the Pistons, sliding out of the playoff picture merely by a tiebreaker, with 26 games still left to go before it’s all said and done.