D-Wade and Gabrielle Union were engaged to be married ever since the Heat star presented the "Think Like a Man" actress with a monster diamond ring on Dec. 21. And if you've been too busy standing in line returning that Christmas sweater your mee-maw gifted you, the news that Wade welcomed a son by an unnamed baby mama may come by surprise.
While rifling through a heap of online comments from prognosticators suggesting that the surprise child Wade had during his "break" from Union (his gal since 2009) will be the bane of the Heat's season, one word comes to mind (in the spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge): humbug.
Sure, Union wasn't too pleased that her man was shooting free throws on some other woman's court, but she and her husband-to-be have reconciled, privately. Besides, Union was well aware of the child before accepting Wade's marriage proposal, according to a Dec. 31 Fox Sports report.
Understandably, after facing years of a protracted divorce/child custody battle, coming clean to his lover about a secret child and eying a two-peat in marriage, Wade has a lot on his mind other than basketball. However, it's my belief that only three things can sabotage Miami's chances of winning another NBA title this season -- and the "blessing" of a son isn't one:
Dwyane Wade's knee and back woes
It's no secret Wade has been battling worrisome pain in his knees for quite some time. Throughout the playoffs last season, his level of contribution was called into question, but he played through the pain like lionhearted athletes often do.
Not long after the Heat hoisted the championship trophy up high last season, rumors began swirling that Wade was courting knee surgery or some other "procedure" to address the chronic pain. That was followed up with chatter that Big Three players were eying their last days together and Wade would assume the position of a role player, as veterans often do when not much is left in the tank.
Fast forward to this season, and the knee problems are now accompanied by on-again-off-again back spasms, which caused the Heat staff to sideline Wade the entire second half of Miami's narrow four-point victory over the Denver Nuggets on Dec. 30.
This raises another point: The Heat's dominance drops like a bag of rocks when Wade doesn't suit up. Using the Nuggets game as an example, Miami was outscored in the second quarter 25-17 when Wade was taken out after his back locked up. And had it not been for the heroics of LeBron James, the Heat faced a potential road loss to a sub-.500 team.
Moreover, here's where the rubber meets the road on my argument that the Heat are a par team in Wade's absence: Of the seven games Miami has lost this season, Wade didn't play in four. A scientist would call that "statistically significant."
LeBron James' health
Over his nine-year career, LeBron has only missed 19 games due to injury. Using his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers as an example, when Bron-Bron was sidelined for five consecutive games due to an injury (2007-2008 season), the Cavs -- you guessed -- lost five straight, according to Hoops Stats.
This season, he's been the only Heat player to start the first 29 games. And while Miami managed a one-point win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Dec. 28, it was a nail-biter until the very end. Had it not been for Chris Bosh putting up 37 points and knocking down a pivotal 3-pointer in the waning seconds -- well, you know the rest.
In the Dec. 27 game-stunning loss to the Sacramento Kings by five points, LeBron James played with a groin injury, but still managed to put up 33 points. However, most of his scoring came from the perimeter as the injury prevented him from exploding in the paint.
It's fair to add that Ray Allen, Chris Andersen and D-Wade didn't play due to injuries. However, if James is not playing in solid form, the tables turn for the Heat. Sure, he posted 33 that night, but had he been healthy, LeBron could have posted points north of 40, all things considered.
The Indiana Pacers
Not much argument is required to make a convincing point here; the Pacers' dominance speaks volumes. In their first of two meetings so far this season, the Heat lost by five in Indiana. Moreover, Wade and James were held to just 17 points apiece.
In the second meeting at home, Miami leeched out a three-point victory thanks to James and Wade posting big numbers. However, it's worth noting that two of the starters, Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers, together, accounted for four points (zero and four, respectively).
Without question, these two alpha teams are on a collision course for the playoffs. This time around, if the Heat are not hitting on all cylinders, the Pacers, who seem to get better like wine as time goes by, will ruin the "three-peat-Heat-party."
The Heat struggled with length last season, which had fans on edge. And being 30th overall in rebounds per game doesn't make matters easier for Miami.
As far as the baby gossip goes, that makes for good tabloid talk and has no bearing on whether or not the Miami Heat will win another title. In my view, barring injuries, the Heat are in control of their destiny. But don't rule out the impact of a hobbled roster.
Bradley is a professional writer, journalist, sportswriter and avid follower of the Olympics, NBA, NFL, NCAA, PGA and tennis. He keeps a watchful eye on Miami Heat and Miami Dolphins developments.
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