BOSTON – The Boston Celtics are giving Dwyane Wade so much attention in the Eastern Conference finals that the Miami Heat guard is reminded of what life was like before LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined him.
In the past two seasons, opposing teams have had a difficult time double-teaming Wade because of the presence of James and Bosh. But with Bosh out indefinitely with a lower abdominal strain, the Celtics have thrown multiple defenders at Wade nearly every time he touches the ball.
"I'm getting doubled at the top of the key. I'm getting doubled in the paint," Wade said. "So unless I shoot a turnaround jump shot all the time, which is not a good shot for our team, we are going to have to find some other ways to loosen some things up eventually."
Wade averaged 33 points when the Heat ran off three straight wins without Bosh to eliminate the Indiana Pacers in the second round. James has played well in the East finals, averaging 33.3 points, while primarily being guarded by the Celtics' Paul Pierce. Wade is averaging 21 points in the Boston series, but that might not be enough to make up for Bosh's absence and the inconsistency of the other Heat.
To slow Wade, the Celtics have double-teamed him with a rotating group of guards that's included Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, Keyon Dooling and Mickael Pietrus. The Celtics will usually send a big man or another guard at Wade to help. Wade also hasn't had many opportunities in transition.
"Every time you have a scorer that gets to the free-throw line easy, it gives you a rhythm to get the ball in your hands and get your free throws," Allen said. "You get those easy layups in transition where you don't have to work as hard. Those are the things you have to work on early, so they don't get into that flow."
Wade had his most challenging game of the series in Friday's 101-91 loss, finishing with 18 points on 9-of-20 shooting. Wade shot six free throws in Game 1, 11 in Game 2, but none in Game 3.
"We got to find a way as a team to open up lanes a little more," Wade said. "But they're a good defensive team. They do a great job of protecting the paint and [make you] beat them from the outside. They've always been that way."
Wade didn't use his ailing left knee, which was drained in the Indiana series, as an excuse. He said he "can't really explain" why he didn't shoot a free throw in Game 3, but he planned to be much more aggressive Sunday.
"I guess I got to come out and be just as aggressive or a little more [aggressive]," Wade said. "Hopefully, I will get to the line."
Wade said opponents can't double-team him when Bosh is on the floor, but the Heat haven't set a timetable for Bosh's return. Until Bosh is back, Wade knows he won't have much room to breathe against the Celtics' defense.
"When it happens, we will get an All-Star player back who is a big part of what we do," Wade said of Bosh's potential return. "We don't know when that's going to happen. Right now, we got to focus on what we have and winning the next two."
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