Bulls guard Dwayne Wade, with 14 years of NBA experience and three league championships, has a certain amount of self-awareness these days. It’s either be self-aware or be retired.
So he knows the Bulls need one of those “Dwyane Wade moments” sooner rather than later in this playoff series with the top-seeded Boston Celtics. The momentum has been ripped from them — a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-seven series now a 2-2 tie.
“I was just talking to coach [Fred Hoiberg] about that,” Wade said. “Obviously with [Rajon] Rondo going down [with a fractured right thumb], the ball’s going to be a lot more in my hands. But I talked to Coach about it, and there were a couple opportunities where I could have been more aggressive. Some of it is on me. Sometimes when I’m running the offense, I’m doing it. I’m passive. I come off, and the first screen is a pick-and-roll, I get off of it, and it doesn’t come back. So I have to figure out a way to, certain times, be more aggressive than I was last game. And I’ll figure it out. I’ve been playing a long time, so I’ll leave it up to myself to figure it out.”
Wade hasn’t been bad through the first four games. But he hasn’t exactly been good. He’s averaging 34.3 minutes, 15.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists against the Celtics while shooting 41 percent from the field. His highest scoring total was 22 points in Game 2.
Considering all the attention Jimmy Butler is drawing from the Celtics’ defense, the Bulls need some games from Wade like the ones he threw at the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals last May. He put up 38 points in Game 3 of that series, then followed it up with 30 points in Game 4.
The hope is that Wade, now a year older, can still “figure it out.”
What he won’t get caught up in — and has been warning his teammates to stay away from — are the kinds of extracurricular activities that went down in Game 4 on Sunday: Robin Lopez and Jae Crowder messing with each other’s shoes, and verbal sniping between Butler and Marcus Smart. The trick is to just let it go.
“Those things are a part of basketball,” Wade said. “You’re playing those guys, you’re seeing them every other day, you get aggravated by the little things they do. And that’s all it is. At the end of the day, the focus is on what it needs to be, and that’s basketball.
“The coaches play their games in the media and all these things, but we’re focused on the game of basketball. When you’re out there, it’s a physical sport, a testy sport. But you have two teams trying to win and doing whatever it takes.’’
Wade has offered another warning to his teammates: Momentum is fleeting, and it takes very little to take it back.
“Obviously, the momentum points to Boston,” he said. “They’ve got two of the last three at home. But in the playoff series — especially the way it’s going — each game is different.
“Let’s see how the slugfest goes. It’s one of those weird series from the outside, but both teams have done what they need to do in the games they’ve won, and that’s what it’s been all about.”