Just a few short months ago, all seemed lost. The Heat were once again faced with the crushing blow of having lost Chris Bosh for an undetermined, but likely indefinite, amount of time. Even before getting that news, the Heat seemed like a puzzle that didn't have all the right pieces.
Hassan Whiteside was a roller coaster no one was sure they wanted to ride. Tyler Johnson, an
Then something weird happened; the Heat didn't collapse or feel sorry for themselves. They reinvented themselves and somehow became a team that looked rejuvenated. The pieces suddenly fit. The talk of free agency faded in favor of talk of the playoffs.
And now the midseason seed that was planted has grown into something special as the team heads into tonight's game ahead of Toronto 1-0. It's clear what the real prize of this season will be: another season of getting to watch Dwyane Wade lead the Heat. (Bosh, it was announced yesterday, will not take part in the playoffs.)
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Sure, Dwyane Wade should be back for more seasons in a Heat uniform, but to not recognize that he might not be asked to do this much, or even need to, would be shortsighted. This may be the last time Heat fans get to see Dwyane Wade lead the Heat in a title chase in this fashion. The Heat are always looking to add star power, and Wade, even in his prime, has shown a willingness to sacrifice. There will come a day where Dwyane Wade isn't expected to do this for the Heat to have a chance to win. Frankly, it's amazing that day hasn't come yet. It caught up to guys like Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, and many others.
This Heat team is fun to watch because so many ingredients go into the winning recipe. On any given night, any of four or five guys could score 25. What has been a treat to watch for Heat fans is Dwyane Wade continually being the one most likely to do it. His playoff performance thus far has been nothing short of legendary. His play is leading the Heat to a place few predicted they could go a few months ago. His leadership, after the devastating loss of Chris Bosh, has been miraculous.
Nobody knows what the offseason will bring. It could lead to a Heat team that depends more on Kevin Durant. What Heat fans do know: Never underestimate what an offseason can change, and never take for granted what is happening now, because a few days in July can change so much.
Whatever happens the rest of the way in these playoffs, Heat fans have already won. They've got a bonus season of seeing Wade take on the NBA again.