As the Miami Heat targets Saturday evening in Charlotte for their knockout blow in Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs, we can point to a plethora of reasons for their dominant 2-0 series lead over the Hornets.
Hassan Whiteside is shooting 90 percent, rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson are thriving, and Luol Deng looks 25, as Miami’s offense has torched what’s been a pretty solid Hornets defense all season to the tune of a godly offensive rating of 132.3. For perspective, Golden State’s 112.5 splashy rating this season was the NBA’s highest since the Steve Nash Phoenix Suns in the 2009-10 season.
Yet nothing baffles me more than the statistically and film-driven impact of 34-year-old Dwyane Wade, a player who I’ve been clamoring to do less as his fantastic career winds down. Well, in this brief two-game sample, Wade has been a sensational playmaker, averaging 22 points and 7.5 assists on 50-percent shooting, all while still dominating the ball with team-highs in usage rate (35.8%) and plus-minus (+43).
Wade looks bouncy and despite only shooting seven free throws in two games, appears to be slicing into the paint with ease, creating a positive ripple effect for Miami’s offense.
It’s a tiny sample but it’s safe to say recovery time has a lot to do with it. The Heat had two days off before Games 1 and 2, and will have another two days before Game 3. Looking at his shooting splits for the season, Wade was demonstrably more efficient with more rest.
Wade's FG% splits based on rest this season: pic.twitter.com/j2JmfAfJE9
— Josh Baumgard (@joshbaumgard) April 21, 2016
It’s also a similar disparity among the more advanced metrics, like Net Rating, where we see Wade was a different player on back-to-backs vs. one or two days of rest. Miami was nearly 16 points per 100 possessions better when Wade had one day of rest and 7 points per 100 possessions better with two days rest.
Most teams and players perform at a more efficient level with increased recovery time, but for Wade the variance is especially enormous. No other players in Miami’s rotation came close to that discrepancy.
There’s still some juice in Flash’s legs, he just needs a little time reload. Thankfully, playoff hoops guarantee him that recovery time.