Eastern Conference First Round (Miami 4, Charlotte 3)
Game 1-April 17 (Charlotte 91, Miami 123): Being a veteran, Luol Deng understands that momentum is very important in a playoff series and that every possession matters. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that Deng was locked-in from the start against the Hornets and connected on his first six shots on Sunday night. While his contribution in the first half was superb, the 31-year-old simply remained hot throughout the contest.
In fact, Deng narrowly missed a playoff career-high in points. He ended up so close to reaching that mark since most of his damage came from beyond the arc off good ball movement from the HEAT. Speaking of which, Miami tallied 27 assists on the night and shot 57.6 percent as a result.
Otherwise, Deng continued to fight on the offensive glass and remained strong on the defensive end. In addition to his 31 points, the former Blue Devil also had seven boards (three offensive) and shot 4-of-6 from long-range.
Game 2-April 20 (Charlotte 103, Miami 115): Dwyane Wade simply did it all against Charlotte. Whether it was drives off the pick-and-roll, mid-range jumpers or attacks in transition, the vet was feeling it in Game 2. Hassan Whiteside did a nice job of freeing him up with some hard screens, but Wade’s most impressive drive on the night didn’t require one.
With 3:31 to go in the first quarter, the shooting guard brought the ball down court after securing the defensive rebound. Once he approached the right wing, he showed excellent burst on a drive right past Jeremy Lin, absorbed contact from behind and finished the play. Wade also sank the ensuing free throw to put the HEAT up 24-17 early.
As the Hornets inched closer in the fourth quarter, Wade attacked Courtney Lee inside and drew fouls to make sure Miami wouldn’t relinquish its lead.
In addition to his 28 points, nine of which came in the final period, the 34-year-old also tallied a team-high eight assists.
Game 3-April 23 (Miami 80, Charlotte 96): Luol Deng kicked off the game with a corner three and carried that over throughout the first quarter. In fact, Deng hit his first five 3-pointers to help the HEAT stay neck-and-neck with the Hornets early on. The vet’s constant movement off the ball made it difficult for Frank Kaminsky to keep up with him in the first period.
On the defensive end, Deng did well on Kemba Walker in the third quarter and helped limit the guard to 1-of-9 shooting during that span. However, Kaminsky started to get going in the third and Charlotte gained momentum.
Deng finished the contest 6-of-12 for his 19 points to go along with eight rebounds and two assists.
Game 4-April 25 (Miami 85, Charlotte 89): After falling behind by 18 points with 9:27 to play in the third quarter, the HEAT responded in a big way. Thanks to improved defense and better execution on the offensive end, Miami went on a 17-1 run to cut Charlotte’s lead to 58-56. Dwyane Wade continued to wheel and deal and dished out four of his game-high ten assists in the third. Joe Johnson, meanwhile, hit a tough contested 3-pointer and scored five points in the period.
While the Hornets closed out the quarter well, the HEAT gained some momentum thanks to their run. In fact, Wade and Johnson continued to convert in the fourth quarter, but Charlotte made more plays in the end to come away victorious.
Game 5-April 27 (Charlotte 90, Miami 88): Dwyane Wade was simply fantastic in Game 5. In fact, the vet led the charge in the second quarter as he got Miami back in the game by pushing the pace a bit more. While Wade converted a number of nifty drives to the basket both in transition and in the half court, there was one sequence in particular that was really special.
With 3:03 left in the first half, Wade received the ball from Luol Deng after Hassan Whiteside forced a miss from Al Jefferson. From there, the guard quickly brought it down court and drove between three defenders before throwing it down over Marvin Williams.
Of course, the 34-year-old’s greatest contribution came in crunch time. Wade scored six points in the fourth quarter and did all he could to try and get the win.
For example, he made a fantastic play in defensive transition to alter a shot from Courtney Lee at the rim with 1:04 to play.
In addition to his 25 points on 11-of-19 shooting overall, Wade also grabbed five rebounds and dished out a team-high four assists.
Game 6-April 29 (Miami 97, Charlotte 90): When the pressure is at its highest, there’s one guy you want with the ball in his hands. That man, of course, goes by the name of Dwyane Wade.
With Charlotte threatening to take the lead in the fourth quarter, Wade responded and hit some extremely difficult shots to force a Game 7 in Miami. In fact, the vet scored 10 points in the fourth on 4-of-7 shooting, including 2-of-2 from beyond the arc. On the flip side of the ball, the shooting guard also tallied two blocks in the period, with one of those coming on Kemba Walker with 14.8 seconds to play.
Earlier in the contest, Wade mixed things up offensively with pull-up jumpers and aggressive takes to the rack. A big reason why he was able to get free was due to some solid screens from Hassan Whiteside.
In addition to his 23 points on 10-of-20 shooting, the 34-year-old also had six boards and four assists.
Game 7-May 1 (Charlotte 73, Miami 106): Game 7 is all about trusting your instincts as a player. For years, Goran Dragic has made a living by attacking the basket and finishing tough plays inside. Well, the point guard did just that on Sunday afternoon.
In fact, Dragic scored 17 points in the first half and took Kemba Walker off the dribble early and often. While he had a number of great conversions in the half-court, the Slovenian’s best finish, of course, came in transition.
To start the sequence with 5:01 left in the second quarter, Hassan Whiteside swatted Al Jefferson’s shot attempt inside. From there, Dragic grabbed the loose ball, went with a behind-the-back dribble against Courtney Lee and drove towards the right block. That’s when things got fun, as the point guard hit Lee with a spin move before finishing the reverse layup.
In the second half, Dragic continued his offensive onslaught thanks to some nice screens from Whiteside and Joe Johnson. Oh, and let’s not forget about a jam he had in the third quarter as the HEAT were rolling.
In addition to his 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting, Dragic also tallied six rebounds and four assists.
Eastern Conference Semifinals (Toronto 4, Miami 3)
Game 1-May 3 (Miami 102, Toronto 96): To no one’s surprise, Dwyane Wade came through in crunch time to help the HEAT steal home-court advantage in Game 1. In fact, the 34-year-old totaled 11 points, two blocks and two steals in the fourth quarter and overtime period combined. He simply made clutch play after clutch play on Tuesday night, including blocks on both DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry and a steal on DeRozan that led to the game sealing and-one.
On the flip side of the ball, Wade got to the rim a few times, but he primarily converted from the perimeter against Toronto. The shooting guard was able to get free often thanks to some hard screens from Hassan Whiteside.
In all, Wade tallied 24 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals to go along with his two blocks.
Game 2-May 5 (Miami 92, Toronto 96): Nothing keeps the Dragon down. Despite needing eight stitches in his bottom lip after taking an elbow from DeMar DeRozan, Goran Dragic came back in the game after halftime.
It’s a good thing that he did.
After a fantastic start from the perimeter, Dragic carried that over into the all-important fourth quarter. For the second-consecutive game, the Slovenian sank a huge 3-pointer towards the end of regulation. This time around though, it forced overtime. While it ultimately wasn’t enough in the end, Dragic continued to be aggressive. That’s always a good thing.
In addition to his 20 points on a very efficient 8-of-12 shooting, the point guard also tallied four rebounds and four assists.
Game 3-May 7 (Toronto 95, Miami 91): While Dwyane Wade had a solid first half offensively, nothing could prepare the Raptors for what was to come in the third quarter. In short, Wade went off in the period with aggressive takes to the rack which led to free throws, pull-up 3-pointers and difficult mid-range jumpers off the dribble. The vet ended up with 18 of his 38 points in the third and just went into attack mode. With Jonas Valanciunas leaving the game early in the third with a sprained right ankle, Wade did the smart thing and took advantage.
Speaking of taking advantage, Wade also had a superb put-back jam after following his own miss.
In the final quarter, the 34-year-old attacked the basket and worked well in the two-man game with Udonis Haslem. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough this time around.
In addition to his 38 points on 13-of-25 shooting, including 4-of-6 from distance, Wade also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds and dished out four assists.
Game 4-May 9 (Toronto 87, Miami 94): Remember Dwyane Wade’s excellent performance in Game 3? Well, the future Hall-of-Famer answered the call once more. On Monday night, the vet did a little bit of everything against the Raptors and left them looking for answers. Whether it was tough mid-range jumpers, floaters inside or slams in transition, Wade usually found success.
The fourth quarter was particularly great, as the 34-year-old weaved through the defense and finished play after play at the rim. He ended up with 11 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter and overtime period combined, including a steal and slam that essentially sealed the deal with 16.8 seconds remaining.
In addition to his 30 points on 13-of-24 shooting, Wade also had four rebounds and two assists on the night.
Game 5-May 11 (Miami 91, Toronto 99): With Game 5 hanging in the balance, both Dwyane Wade and Joe Johnson did what they usually do down the stretch: score.
Wade hit a few tough jumpers in the fourth quarter and ended up with eight points in the period. He also got to the charity stripe quite often in the contest. Johnson, meanwhile, started to take advantage of his matchup with Patrick Patterson and scored six points in the fourth. Although the Raptors did a nice job defensively overall, the duo continued to fight until the very end.
In addition to his 20 points, Wade also tallied seven rebounds and four assists on the evening. Johnson, on the other hand, finished with 11 points and eight boards.
Game 6-May 13 (Toronto 91, Miami 103): Elimination games are when you put it all on the line, and Goran Dragic did just that against the Raptors in Game 6. In fact, the Slovenian was aggressive from the very start, as he took his man off the dribble often for some nifty finishes at the rim. While Miami’s faster tempo benefited the Dragon, he also fared well in the half court.
That wasn’t all to Dragic’s night, though. The point guard mixed up his offensive approach with some impressive step-back jumpers and a few 3-pointers for good measure. He simply had the whole repertoire on display.
In addition to his 30 points on 12-of-21 shooting, Dragic also had seven rebounds and four assists.
Game 7-May 15 (Miami 89, Toronto 116): Once again, Justise Winslow got the start at center and fared well in the early going. In the first quarter, the rookie had some nice rolls to the hoop where he either finished the play or drew the foul. On the flip side of the ball, he showed his versatility by defending multiple guys as usual. He started off on Bismack Biyombo and Kyle Lowry before he guarded DeMar DeRozan in the third quarter.
It was in that period where Winslow truly shined. With the Raptors going on a big run, the former Blue Devil responded to adversity supremely well and hit the deck for loose balls quite often. He also drew his second charge of the contest during the flurry. Those little plays went a long way in Miami chipping away at the deficit. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough.
The 20-year-old finished the game with 14 points, eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks.