In his time with Miami, Dwyane Wade has constructed quite the highlight reel.
He has the traditional highlights that most stars possess: dunks, blocks, passes, robust statlines. It’s his timeliness, however, that separates himself from so many of the league’s greats. That rare ability to take in a moment that would usually make those who are weak to have their knees shake and their palms to sweat.
Wade is of a rare cut from the league’s best, and few are able to match him in his ability to come through in moments that would be defined as clutch by the NBA community. The moments that so many shy away from he embraces and personally takes it upon himself to prop his team up on his shoulders.
The most intriguing part of these collective game-winners is how so many of them have come by way of a jumper. The shots taken at the end of games are a funny thing. It always seems the style of team basketball is thrown out in favor of isolations that relies on one player doing it all himself.
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You want the ball in the hands of your best player, but wouldn’t it also be in the best interests to move the ball and see if a shot near the basket can be taken? It’s a great shot when it goes in, because it is in the hands of your best player, but moving the ball would also help, too.
Then again, I’m not one to argue with results, especially the results Dwyane Wade has come up with. He’s been hitting game-winners of the floater, midrange, and bank shot variety since he first entered the league in 2003.
Not only has he been clutch on offense, but he showcases his ability to aid his team on the defensive end, as well. He’s become known as the greatest shotblocking guard in NBA history for a reason. When he combines that with his ability to come through in the clutch, you get some defensive stands that are on par with his shots on offense.
Being able to easily compile a list of 20 clutch moments from Wade’s career goes to show just how apt he’s been in that significant dimension of the game.
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20. Dwyane steals and seals it vs. Orlando
The Heat should continue to run this defense at the end of games every time, mainly because it takes Ray Allen away from playing defense.
Allen falling and laying down was the best thing that could have happened to the Heat in this situation. He was wiped out on a screen by Hedo Turkloglu, which led to the sharpshooter being left wide-open and having the ball come his way.
Dwyane had different plans. He gambled off of Arron Afflalo and intercepted the crosscourt pass from Redick to Turkoglu, leaving nothing but open court between him and a four-point lead.
The only mistake Wade made was scoring immediately off the steal. It appeared nobody on the Magic had decided to give chase, meaning he could have just waited for time to run out or to waste a few more seconds before giving the Heat a four-point lead.
Either way, Wade proves once again that you can be clutch on more than just offense.
19. Dwyane banks in the game-winner vs. New Orleans
It’s not nearly as memorable or captivating as his first game-winner against New Orleans, but this was still a tough shot to hit.
Wade, who should be known as the master of hitting shots that have no right going in, hardly got a look at the rim before he faded away and threw up a prayer at the backboard over two defenders.
Because he’s an apt bank shooter, though, the shot was able to catch the side of the rim and find its way in to give the Heat a two-point lead, and the eventual win, with 1.3 seconds remaining.
18. Rodney Stuckey gets put in a straitjacket
Opponents shouldn’t only just worry about Dwyane Wade having the ball in his hands in the closing seconds of a close game. They should also be concerned when the ball is inbounded to someone who is being guarded by Dwyane.
In a one-point game and the Pistons in possession of the final shot, the ball was unwisely inbounded to Rodney Stuckey, who was being defended by Wade. Although he was able to get into the teeth of the defense, Wade was suffocating him the whole time, leading to the blocked shot on the floater attempt.
Wade’s job didn’t end there, though, as he also got the loose ball, ensuring the Pistons don’t get a field goal attempt right at the rim.
17. Game 4 vs. Boston
Consider Dwyane Wade’s Game 4 performance against the Boston Celtics as the last great pre-Big Three performance of his career.
It was also the end of an era. Although Wade has had great individual performances since then, such as scoring 45 against Houston and the Game 6 against Indiana, this marked the end of the entertaining, carefree style of Heat basketball that was limited to a “Either Dwyane scores 40 or we lose by 30” mindset.
The Heat were already finished in their 2010 First Round series with the Boston Celtics. Boston had gone up 3-0 the previous game on Paul Pierce‘s game-winner and neither of the games in Boston had been anywhere near close. As it turned out, this Boston team was a lot better than most originally thought, eventually reaching Game 7 of the NBA Finals before bowing out.
A lot of questions remained after this series, namely whether it or not Dwyane Wade would decide to stay. After four consecutive years of failing to get past the first round, Heat fans were wary that this was the last time they’d see Wade in a Heat uniform.
Nobody wanted to see the Heat get swept, especially if this was going to be Wade’s final year. Apparently, Dwyane felt the same way, which is why he saved his best for last in one of the more underrated series of his career.
Miami lost their series in five games, but not before Wade had averaged 33.2 points on 56 percent overall shooting and 41 percent three-point shooting. No better instance of his individual mastery over the game and ability to take on five defenders at the same time was made than his 46-point Game 4. Wade hit five of his seven three-pointers, prompting him to openly question how his hand was capable of doing so, and scored 30 points in the second half to extend the series.
16. Dwyane convinces Ray Allen to join the Heat through intimidation
Had Rajon Rondo not hit an alley-oop at the buzzer to send the game into overtime, this play would have been more memorable.
In another instance of an opponent making the mistake of having the ball inbounded to whoever Wade is defending, the Celtics idea of the last shot almost immediately turned into a timeout and having to conceive a new play after the ball was mistakenly given to Ray Allen.
Allen was harrassed by Wade at midcourt and lost the ball, leading to Wade slamming it home with .6 seconds left to give the Heat a two-point lead.
Unfortunately for Miami, Wade wasn’t involved on the ensuing defensive possession.
15. Height is only a number
Dwyane has never been the type to shy away from putting taller players on his poster. But how many guards can say they do the same when playing defense? There are few other 6-4 guards that are even willing to go up and attempt to block the dunk of someone with nearly half-a-foot of a height advantage, yet Wade does so on a consistent basis and usually wins.
In this game against New Jersey that went into overtime, Wade made the greatest defensive poster of his career when cleanly blocking the layup of the surprised Brook Lopez, who didn’t seem to envision a guard sending back his shot.
Lopez stands at 7-feet. Had his shot gone in, the Nets would have been down one with two-and-a-half-minutes left. Instead, they continued to face a three-point deficit, and would eventually lose by five.
14. LeBron and Dwyane connect to defeat Minnesota
This play was a lot harder than it looked, because not only did Dwyane have to lose his defender in the thickets of defenders and his own teammates, but he also had to compensate for the inbound pass that was thrown into him by LeBron.
The pass was solid, but it could have been better as it came inches from being tipped away by a Minnesota defender. Fortunately for the Heat, Wade was able to focus long enough on the pass, ignore the passing defender, catch the pass at his hip, and then bank it in mid-flight to give the Heat a two-point lead with 4.6 seconds left.
This is all Minnesota’s fault by the way. Whose bright idea was it to have Ricky Rubio chase Dwyane Wade around on a possible inbound alley-oop? And then to have no defenders guarding the rim to top it off?
13. Perhaps anybody but Jeremy Pargo, Cleveland?
Crucial was one way to define the moment Wade and the Heat found themselves in up by one against a shorthanded Cleveland team that had lost a seven-point lead with 1:56 left in the fourth.
However, the Cavs’ two-point lead they held only seconds prior was no more following a Ray Allen three-pointer on the previous possession. It still left the Cavaliers with the final shot and only a one-point deficit, though.
Because they’re the Cavs, they had Jeremy Pargo attempt to facilitate the game-winning play. It almost seemed to play right into the Heat’s hands, however, as Mario Chalmers gave a half-hearted effort defending Pargo at the top of the perimeter, in order to have Dwyane Wade switch off on him.
Pargo spun and attempted an awkward shot, which was promptly swatted away by Wade into the hands of Ray Allen, who would split a pair of free throws to give the Heat a two-point lead and the eventual win.
12. Dwyane ends Indiana’s season in style
Clutch moments shouldn’t just be reserved for moments. Isn’t it clutch to be consistently good for an entire 48 minutes in a crucial game? Why only define moments or plays as clutch? One or two plays don’t tell the whole story because there’s an entire game played beforehand.
A few days after arguably the worst postseason performance of his career that saw the Heat go down 2-1 in their semifinals with the Pacers, Wade was in a Game 6 on the road to help clinch the very same series they were losing in only two games prior.
Because before Game 6, Wade had dropped 30 points on 23 shots in Game 4 and then 28 points on 17 shots in Game 5. Even after those two impressive performances, Wade was not finished. Not even close.
From start to finish, Wade was unstoppable. He got to the rim whenever he wanted, hit seemingly every midrange look he attempted, and got to the line for eight free throws, leading to his final statline: 41 points on 68 percent shooting to go along with ten rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Thanks to the improved play by Wade, as well as the chemistry displayed between him and LeBron, the Heat won the final three games of the series by a combined 52 points. Twelve games later and the Heat were champions for the first time since 2006.
11. Dwyane Supermans Charlotte
Even as LeBron James lit up the Charlotte Bobcats for 35 points this game, the ball still found itself in the hands of Dwyane Wade in the waning moments to win it.
There are few in the league who can consistently do what Wade has done in his career. That’s why no matter how well LeBron had played beforehand, the ball had to be in Dwyane’s hands to win it. Only because he’s going to deliver seemingly more times than not, which is exactly what occurred when he dribbled, almost stumbled, and banked in the game-winner to put the Heat up by one with only seconds remaining in their eventual victory over Charlotte.
Of course he had to do Cam Newton‘s celebration with the Panthers quarterback sitting only a few feet away from where the play had occurred. There was no excuse not to.
10. Dwyane allows the Nets to continue their torrid pace of failure
The Heat were closing in on one of their more embarrassing losses in franchise history when they found themselves down by two points with 4.1 seconds left against the New Jersey Nets.
But this wasn’t just any Nets team. This was a Nets team that went into their game with Miami having lost the first nine games of the season. Nine more losses in a row to start the season and they would set the record for most consecutive losses to start the season.
What does this mean to the Heat? Well, in their inaugural season the Heat set the record for most losses in a row to start the season, losing their first 17 games.
Obviously, the Heat didn’t want to become the team to deny New Jersey chasing this rare feat. So the Nets were probably a tad disappointed when Dwyane Wade, not known for his three-point shooting, was able to hit an out-of-rhythm, rushed three that almost seemed to sit in the net as it fell with .1 seconds left.
Wade had missed the previous four three-pointers he had taken this game and the game-winner was his only points of the second half. Timely doesn’t do this shot justice.
As we all now know, the Nets would go on to lose their first 18 games of the season, breaking the Heat’s record for futility.
9. Dwyane Wade hates Utah (Part 1)
After sending his team into overtime with two free throws, Dwyane Wade was ready to put an end to his team’s contest with the Utah Jazz.
With Raja Bell defending and clearly wary of his assignment’s speed, Wade was able to get to his spot a few feet above the left elbow with Bell giving him too much air space. Wade pump faked and froze Bell, then rose up and threw in a jumper that teasingly bounced on the rim, before finally falling in.
By his second year in the league, Wade had already hit a game-winner in the playoffs. A regular season home game against the Jazz wasn’t going to phase him.
8. Dwyane Wade hates Utah (Part 2)
In nearly a carbon-copy repeat of what he did to Utah three years earlier, Dwyane Wade hit a game-winner from a little beyond the left elbow that needed a bounce to will itself through the rim.
Wade even got to his spot and pump-faked just as he did when he hit the first game-winner against Utah. The only difference this time was the assignment was Deron Williams, the ball bounced on the front of the rim rather than the back, and the Heat were absolutely horrible this season as opposed to them being championship contenders.
This was one of 15 wins the Heat had in the 2007-08 season. At least they made one of the few wins they had memorable.
7. The Wade-Bryant matchup delivers again
Most outlets will hype up the LeBron-Kobe dynamic when the Heat play the Los Angeles Lakers, but it’s the Dwyane-Kobe matchup that always ends up enamoring audiences because of the intensity displayed by both on both ends of the floor.
As usual, there was no shortage of intensity in this late-season matchup in Miami. With the game tied at 88 apiece and a minute-and-a-half remaining, this was going to come down to some of the best players in the history of the game having to do the things that recognized them as superstars.
As Kobe tries to make his move, Wade, who is attached to Kobe’s hip, pokes the ball away from Bryant, leading to a tapout from a diving Mike Bibby. The tapout goes out to Wade, who is surprised to find LeBron James streaking down the lane and ready to throw in a dunk that was going to cap off another heated Heat-Lakers battle.
Miami would eventually pull out the victory behind Wade’s defense on Kobe, who was held to 8-of-21 shooting and zero points in the final minute-and-a-half.
6. Dwyane decides to do the fourth quarter by himself
A dominant display of Wade’s capabilities, Dwyane went supernova in his team’s fourth quarter comeback win against the Detroit Pistons.
When the Heat were in possession of a healthy Wade and a healthy Shaq, they could consider themselves the biggest rivals of a Pistons team that was attempting to maintain solidarity as the East’s best team. However, the Heat were challenging that notion, especially with Wade pulling off the feats that he pulled in this game.
With his team facing a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter, Wade took it upon himself to lead the Heat back from the brink. Instead of admitting defeat, Wade decided to score his team’s final 17 points, including the game-winning jumper over the outstretched hands of Tayshaun Prince.
Oh, and guess where it came from? Naturally, that famed spot a few feet beyond the left elbow.
Once again, Wade wasn’t exactly shying away from the big moments early in his career. It’s dominant performances like these against lockdown defenses that paved the way for the rep he has today.
5. Dwyane finishes what LeBron started
There goes Dwyane Wade and his fascination with that spot a few feet beyond the left elbow.
After LeBron James sent this wild game into overtime with a corner three off a Wade assist, it was up to Wade to put an end to it after an offensive rebound off a LeBron miss gave the Heat the final shot. Not only did Wade replicate previous game-winners from that same spot, he also did the same pump fake. It worked to perfection as he was able to draw contact on Paul George, but no foul was called. Nevertheless, as the sideline questioned why a foul wasn’t called, Wade was still able to swish home the jumper.
As so many of Wade’s game-winners have done, .1 seconds were left on the clock. You’d think the timekeeper at the American Airlines Arena would just give Wade the buzzer-beater, but, alas, the employee in charge of that loves the suspense.
4. Signature Madison Square Garden moment
Every star needs to have their signature moment at Madison Square Garden. LeBron has his 52-point near triple-double, Kobe has his 61 points, Michael has his double-nickel, and Dwyane Wade has this devastating game-winner.
Wade let the seconds tick down, took Trevor Ariza dancing, stepped back and unleashed a deep two-pointer that hit nothing but net over the outstretched hands of his taller defender.
You have to love the Knicks’ fans in denial that Wade didn’t hit the shot in time. New York has been dealt so many blows over the past decade that you would assume they’d be used to this type of treatment.
3. Stan Van Gundy jumpstarts Dwyane‘s career
Was it Stan Van Gundy that turned Wade into the lethal, confident player he is today?
Possibly. I certainly don’t doubt that Wade was capable of making such plays before his team’s Game 1 against the New Orleans Hornets in his first-ever playoff appearance, but it’s sure to boost the ol’ confidence when the ball is in your hands to win the first playoff game you’ve played in.
Dwyane did just that when he was given the opportunity. He hit Baron Davis with a sick crossover to gain penetration in the lane and floated a shot in over Jamaal Magloire to give the Heat a two-point lead with 1.3 seconds left.
The Heat had other options. Lamar Odom, Eddie Jones and Caron Butler were all capable non-rookies who could have taken that shot. Stan, however, saw something in Wade that we only noticed after the floater went in to give the Heat Game 1.
2. Dwyane erupts through Games 3 to 6 of the 2006 Finals
It just wouldn’t be right to take singular moments away from Dwyane Wade’s historic performance in the 2006 NBA Finals.
As the story goes, Wade willed his down-and-out team from a 2-0 series deficit, facing a 3-0 deficit as they were down by 13 points at home midway through the fourth quarter, and almost single-handily won his team the final four games of the series.
Wade appropriately took home Finals MVP thanks to insane averages of 34.7 points per game on 47 percent shooting, facilitated by 42 points on 26 shots in the Game 3 comeback, a pair of 36-point games in Games 4 and 6, and a 43-point outing in Game 5, which included the game-winning free throws to secure a one-point victory.
Dwyane was relentless in the final four games of the series. He continually took his opponents off the dribble and forced the Mavericks slower, bewildered defense to foul him. When he wasn’t being fouled, he was scoring the easy points that allowed him to average the most any player had averaged in a Finals setting since Shaq averaged 38 against Indiana back in 2000.
He was so prolific that we forgot he missed the two free throws at the end of Game 6 that kept the door open for Dallas to tie it; so prolific that Mark Cuban is still commenting how he despises the Heat, even after his team exacted revenge.
Still, that was five years worth of nightmares before the 2011 Finals happened.
1. Brad Miller‘s mad
Fans of the Chicago Bulls are still jeering LeBron James whenever he touches the ball, but shouldn’t they be drawing that ire more towards Dwyane Wade?
Even though he’s the hometown boy from Robbins, Wade should be known as one of the most loathed NBA players in Chicago. Because if some player did to my team what Wade did to the Bulls one random night in March, I would certainly take exception to them every time I saw him.
I’m not sure how the Bulls faithful were able to sleep without images being conjured up of Wade standing on the broadcast table. After nearly an hour’s worth of game, the Bulls were in position to take the final shot with the ball being inbounded to John Salmons, only because Wade had successfully denied of Derrick Rose.
However, the factors were still in favor of the Bulls, as Salmons was guarded by the slower Udonis Haslem. Instead of taking advantage, Salmons dribbled within the perimeter and spun right into the waiting arms of Dwyane Wade, who ripped Salmons and immediately began sprinting down court.
With two defenders by his side, Wade Euro-stepped, jumped from the top of the perimeter, leaned back, and miraculously converted the 25-footer to put an end to the double-overtime thriller.