This is why you have a 36-year-old impending Hall of Famer on hand.
Because when it comes to, in his own words, turning to the “old-man game,” Dwyane Wade steps into his comfort zone.
And it is one that well might continue, as the Erik Spoelstra’s team moves forward.
“That’s something we’ve been talking about in practice as well, it takes the turnovers down,” Wade said, as the Heat turned their focus to Sunday’s visit to the AmericanAirlines Arena by the Utah Jazz. “It was great at the beginning of the year, everybody was running, running, running. But the turnovers were high and you’re losing. So let’s figure out a way where we’re going to win and what’s successful.
“And right now, that’s a good game for us, when you look at the numbers. We stuck with it [Friday] and it was good for us.”
With starting point guard Goran Dragic sidelined by a swollen right knee that has had him out the past six games, the Heat’s ability to play at pace has been compromised.
Enter Wade, amid this self-proclaimed “One Last Dance” 16th and final NBA season.
“He was just dissecting everything, playing at the appropriate pace,” Spoelstra said. “And that’s something we’re really using him to help our other playmakers, to learn how to play with more pace, more poise, a little of a slower tempo, just to get where you want to get to. And then, more importantly, to be able to see what the defense is doing.
“When we got flattened out a little bit. We reinserted Dwyane. Everything just kind of came down to a calm, and Hall of Fame players have that kind of impact.”
Wade closed with 18 points and just one turnover, with the Heat finishing with 22 assists to only 13 turnovers.
“Just slow the game down, as I do best,” Wade said. “As I’ve always talked about, from my standpoint, just being the calming factor for the team, and just continue to understand defensively we’re playing well.
“I thought we did a great [job] of it, but offensively kind of slow it down and get the shots that we want.”
The inclination of the Heat’s youth is to play with a high-motor approach, an approach that sometimes has gotten Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo into trouble.
“I mean, you’ve got to have a good mix,” Richardson said. “You’ve got to be able to run and play at pace and then you’ve got to be able to slow it down in halfcourt offense. You’re not always going to be able to just run on people like that. So just have a good mix.”
Enter mix master Wade.
“We talked about slowing it down in the last couple of minutes, playing that old-man game, which I started smiling, because I love it,” Wade said, smiling again. “But just getting good looks, running our offense, getting the shots and getting the ball in the hands of the guys we wanted it in. And they were able to settle us and then we were able to get back a little bit better in transition, so we’re not giving up those transition passes that we’re giving up.”
Wade said it is too soon to say the Heat have redefined themselves or even whether the victory over the Pelicans has gotten the Heat out of the funk that still has them with losses in eight of their last 11. But he said it also is good to know what can work when needed.
“We’ve got to continue with it,” he said. “If we want to go on any kind of winning streak here, we’ve got to bottle up the things that were good for us [Friday] and do that more consistently.”
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