Wade was selected the Finals MVP after leading the Heat to its only NBA championship during the 2005-06 season. He averaged 34.7 points as Miami overcame an 0-2 deficit and defeated Dallas in six games.
Wade deservedly developed a reputation as one of the league’s clutch performers, “and, yeah, I definitely consider myself a leader,” Wade said recently. “I know a lot of times, the team follows my lead, my energy. So I try to give them that.”
People tend to forget James has been outstanding in the postseason — or they choose to ignore his accomplishments out of dislike for him.
Although he played poorly and appeared disinterested in Cleveland’s East semifinals loss to Boston last season, James has averaged 29.2 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.3 assists in 72 career postseason games.
James’s playoff scoring average ranks third all-time in NBA history. Against Detroit in the 2006-07 East finals, James led Cleveland from an 0-2 deficit to win the series in six games and had one of the NBA’s greatest individual performance in Game 5.
He set a franchise record with 48 points and had nine rebounds and seven assists in a double-overtime win. James scored the Cavaliers’ final 25 points and 29 of their last 30. San Antonio, which won the West that season, was far superior to Cleveland and swept in the Finals.
Despite never winning a championship, James led the Cavaliers to new heights with a relatively weak supporting casts. He didn’t sign with Miami to ride Wade’s coattails in the postseason. It’s about collaboration.
“I know a lot about winning ballgames,” the reigning two-time MVP said. “He [Wade] has gotten to the mountaintop, and I’m trying to get there, so he knows what it takes. But we’re just trying to follow each other’s lead every night.”
The tools are in place. The setting seems right. The Heat got what it wanted. It just has to get it done.