May 15 2013 10:23AM

The Wait For D-Wade

Jonathan Daniel/NBAE/Getty Images

I voted for Dwyane Wade as one of my All-NBA picks, so believe me when I say I am a fan of D-Wade a.k.a. Flash a.k.a. WOW or whatever else he is calling himself these days.

That said, I have not seen the real D-Wade in these 2013 NBA Playoffs.

I have not seen the player who posted a +3.39 Regularized Adjusted Plus Minus and 24.04 Player Efficiency Rating in the regular season, while averaging 21 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in 36 minutes per game with a .571 true shooting percentage.

That player has been replaced by a warrior who is getting by on guts alone, playing with a right knee injury that would ground lesser men.

Dwyane Wade still has the heart of a two-time champion, but he has lot his Flash. His WOW has been replaced with OW.

Wade can still defend, make the right pass and rebound. So many of the best attributes of his game are still around.

But he has lost his ability to score like a go-to superstar, and at some point in these playoffs, that skill set may be required.

The 6-4, 220-pound shooting guard still had a good +4.37 first-round RAPM, but he saw a major drop-off in the postseason with a 15.86 PER and 12-point scoring average with a lowly .474 true shooting percentage, while still averaging 5 rebounds and 5 assists in 32 minutes per game.

One can only wonder if the Miami Heat will continue winning, as the competition gets tougher, if the 31-year-old Wade does not get healthier.

Remember last year when Big 3 board member Chris Bosh went down in the 2012 NBA Playoffs?

Remember how vulnerable the Heat were without him, going down in the second round at 2-1 to the Pacers before ultimately winning 4-2?

Remember the Heat going down 3-2 to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals before Bosh returned to play 28 and 31 minutes in Games 6 and 7, leading Miami to a 4-3 comeback?

Those same days are now upon us with Wade.

The Heat are one win away from knocking out the Chicago Bulls and getting anywhere from 4-to-7 days rest for their superstar shooting guard.

That is imperative.

It makes this Heat Game 5 feel like a Game 7 if you are a Miami fan because Wade needs a week's worth of rest now more than ever.

Should the Heat, who is up 3-1 in this second-round series, lose to the Bulls in Game 5 Wednesday in Miami, the loss of rest-and-recovery time may be something the Heat would not be able to overcome in a physical defensive showdown with the Pacers, Spurs, Grizzlies or whoever.

That is why the weight of all future series will be applied to the Miami Heat in this Game 5 with the Bulls.

The defending champions would love nothing more than earning the right to rest. The right to wait for the rightful return of their superstar D-Wade.