MIAMI -- Heat guard Dwyane Wade is at a point he no longer needs to play in "attack mode" on a nightly basis.
Or even a quarterly basis.
The days of Wade being expected to produce points consistently are gone. With LeBron James possibly at his peak and the Heat offense geared toward balance, Wade can pick and choose his spots when to play like an All-Star.
That was the case when Wade scored 28 points in Miami's series-clinching victory against the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. After winning the best-of-seven series 4-1, the Heat will play in their fourth consecutive conference finals.
Whether it's against the Indiana Pacers or Washington Wizards, Wade will approach it the same.
Know when to score. Know when to defer.
"My body was moving early and I was moving early," Wade said. I just kept that aggressive mind set the whole first half. The second half, with our team, some nights it's needed where a guy's got to keep going but some nights it's not. I was just playing quarterback from there."
By quarterback, Wade meant he knows when to hand off to James. In the most recent case, it was the fourth quarter of Game 5. It was Wade who kept the Heat alive early, scoring 26 points through three quarters.
From there, he gave the keys to James, who scored 14 of his team-high 29 points in the fourth.
"It was huge," James said of Wade's early scoring. "I felt he was going to have one of those games. He basically kept us afloat, as much afloat as we could, throughout our struggles. He got into the lane. He got to the free throw line. That means he was attacking. ... He was very aggressive. We needed it."
Playing off James has grown easier, especially after a big game. Wade knew Wednesday was the opportune time to attack because James scored 49 points in Game 4.
"Similar to what LeBron did the other night, he has the sense of what we needed," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He was in absolute attack mode from the get-go. He was able to get some easy ones."
Wade has treated fans to these types of performances several times over the years. It was the 12th postseason game he scored at least 20 points in a half.
Yet it was just his first this season.
"You know that everyone's going to be aware of (James)," Wade said. "I just took it upon myself to be very aggressive early on, knowing that was going to open the game up. That's all I tried to do. In the second half, I didn't have to be as aggressive. More guys got into the rhythm."
The most impressive part has been Wade's ability to turn it off. With the Heat facing the possibility of having to make another trip to Brooklyn, he took just three shots in the fourth quarter. There was no need to press.
Not with James on the court.
"He's doing a good job of not trying to do everything by himself," guard Mario Chalmers said. "He knows when he needs to get us an easy bucket and he knows when to make that extra pass."
No one can relate to the situation more than center Chris Bosh. He's made a similar adjustment over the last four seasons, going from primary to role player in an instant. The process has been more gradual for Wade.
"It's always a work in progress until the end," Bosh said. "You always have to figure it out as the season goes on. Dwyane, he did a great job picking and choosing when to attack. He had the mid-range going, which was great for us. He got us off to a good start. ... He did a great job just playing the game, being patient and getting in the right opportunity."
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