Jun 14 2013 9:31AM

Flash Back In Game 4, But Who Takes G5, G6 & G7?


Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

Game 1 was Tony Parker's Harlem Globetrotters' 00.1 24-shot-clock-beating basket.

Game 2 was LeBron James' block party on Tiago Splitter, while leading his subs on a 33-5 run.

Game 3 was Danny Green, Gary Neal and the Spurs' Finals-record-breaking 16 three-pointers.

Game 4 became the day we retired talk about Dwyane Wade's bum knee and instead talked about his entire body of work.

Why?

Because Dwyane Wade was simply incredible.

Because Dwyane Wade became D-Wade again.

Because D-Wade made us say "WOW" once again.

Because Way of Wade became "06 Flash tonight," to use LeBron James words, in reference to 2006 NBA Finals MVP Dwyane Wade, a man I had forgotten about in these 2013 NBA Finals when his numbers plummeted to 14 points per game on .441 shooting in the first three Finals contests.

Not to mention his second-half numbers in those games fell off the cliff even faster--2.7 points on .222 shooting.

But on Thursday, June 13, 2013, the world saw The Return of Dwyane Wade and we didn't have to pay $20 for a movie ticket and popcorn to see our superhero save the day.

Count 'em up: 32 points on 14-of-25 shooting, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 6 steals in 40 minutes.

Consequently, Wade and his trusted Justice League brother LeBron James--33 points on 15-of-25 shooting, with 11 boards and 4 assists in 41 minutes--led the Miami Heat on an important quest to take down the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4 Thursday, 109-93, to even up the 2013 NBA Finals at two wins apiece.

It was an avenging performance by Wade that was truly worth marvel.

But rather than rehash the whole story that you'll hear non-stop the next three days, I thought I would focus on a three-and-a-half minute slice of the game where Wade relieved a tired LeBron in the fourth quarter, and did so in a way that led Miami to victory.

To set the scene, Miami takes an 86-79 lead with 9:45 to go in the game when D-Wade goes iso off the right wing on Manu Ginobili after gliding through a soft Chris Bosh screen, and then taking a step back into an 18-foot jumper.

On D the very next play, D-Wade then ties up Tiago Splitter, forcing a jump ball, which then leads to LeBron walking to the Heat sideline to tell Coach Erik Spoelstra that he "needed a break," as LeBron described later at the NBA Finals post-game press conference. "A few minutes for sure. I gave everything I had."

Armed with a seven-point lead, for the following three-and-a-half minutes, D-Wade carries the city of Miami on his back, making 3-of-4 shots, grabbing a steal, a rebound and diming an assist as well, as his LeBron-less Heat went on a 10-6 run to push the lead to 11 by the 6:03 mark, when LeBron caught his breath and returned to the floor.

That three-and-a-half minute gap from 9:33 to 6:03 should have been the moment when the Spurs cut the lead from 7 to zero-or-so.

Instead, Wade served notice to the world that he was indeed back--posting fantastical numbers of 32 points on 14-of-25 shooting, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 6 steals in only 33 minutes--for the first time in these NBA Finals.

Is he here to stay?

Who knows?

But D-Wade did finally throw his name into the hat of Top 10 Finals standouts who stood out so far in G1-thru-G4 and have shown signs of coming up big in Games 5, 6 and 7.

1. LEBRON JAMES, HEAT (121 BoxPlus, .742 BPA): To describe my made-up metric, BoxPlus is just plus-minus score added to points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks minus missed field goals and turnovers, while BPA is simply BoxPlus Average (BP score per minutes). So it is no surprise four-time MVP LeBron has the best BoxPlus score in these 2013 NBA Finals and the top BPA for Finals players with 96-plus minutes. That's what happens when you average 21 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists in 41 minutes per game, with a +19 in a hotly-contested series.

2. DANNY GREEN, SPURS (87 BoxPlus, .664 BPA): Green has made at least three 3s every Finals game and has gone 19 for 28 (.679) in treyland versus the Heat this postseason. He also broke the NBA Playoff record for most three-pointers (47) in an NBA postseason.

3. TIM DUNCAN, SPURS (86 BoxPlus, .666 BPA): Look for Duncan's 15 points and 11 rebound averages to rise, if the Spurs need to initiate offense from outside their usual triggers. His 107.8 offensive rating versus the Heat shows San Antonio's offense has been at its Finals best when Timmy has been in the game.

4. KAWHI LEONARD, SPURS (82 BoxPlus, .631 BPA): The 21-year-old Kawhi is getting his Masters, Doctorate, Purple Heart and Silver Star medals of valor all at once for taking on the challenge of slowing down LeBron James. Kawhi's 11 point and 11 rebound averages show he's holding up nicely, but it is LeBron's subpar .498 true shooting percentage that has the Spurs hoping he can contain the MVP for two or three more games.

5. CHRIS BOSH, HEAT (77 BoxPlus, .566 BPA): Slowly but surely, since tweaking his ankle in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Bosh has been coming around. To the point now, where his 14 points and 10 rebounds Finals averages are big signs of progress.

6. MIKE MILLER, HEAT (67 BoxPlus, .848 BPA): Miller only played 21 minutes as a new starter in Game 4 of these 2013 NBA Playoffs, but the Miami victory makes for probable cause Coach Spo will call Miller's name again to start Game 5.

7. RAY ALLEN, HEAT (67 BoxPlus, .691 BPA): Allen has become the team's most reliable shooter--and fourth-leading scorer (11.0 points per game) following the Big 3--making .727 of his Finals two-pointers and .538 on his Finals three-pointers.

8. TONY PARKER, SPURS (59 BoxPlus, .447 BPA): Yes, Parker was the star of Game 1, but in the two Spurs losses he has been quite disappointing--28 points on 30 shots, with 14 assists and 8 turnovers--thus the low ranking here. The good news for the Spurs is that he has playmaked very, very well in the two games they've won: 14 assists, 2 turnovers, +26.

9. DWYANE WADE, HEAT (45 BoxPlus, .321 BPA): If he plays like Games-1-thru-3 Wade, Miami won't repeat. If he plays like Game 4 D-Wade, the Spurs won't likely win Sunday.

10. MARIO CHALMERS, HEAT (40 BoxPlus, .360 BPA): This slot is more of a placeholder than Chalmers' permanent spot, although Super Mario embodies what this list is about, when he snuck up on Game 2 and screen-and-rolled with LeBron to a 33-5 run which propelled Miami to victory. The same could be said for the shooting heroics of Gary Neal (28 BoxPlus, .280 BPA) in Game 3. Or perhaps it will lead to other struggling performers--like Manu Ginobili (-11 BoxPlus, .113) and Tiago Splitter (30 BoxPlus .349 BPA)--or little-used reserves--Chris "Birdman" Andersen (32 BoxPlus .842 BPA) and Shane Battier (-7 BoxPlus, -.250 BPA) to perhaps play bigger roles in the games to come.