Turning Superhuman into Super Human: Defending Dwyane Wade

6-20 for 21 points.  That was Dwyane Wade’s final shooting line Saturday night and that was probably everything the Bucks could have asked for.  That sort of night out of a player like Wade is part good defense and part good luck, but probably more good defense than we realize.  I took the time to break down every one of Wade’s shots and so I could see how the Bucks had such success against one of the better players in the NBA today.  Enjoy.

(There’s a synopsis of the whole thing at the end if you don’t want to wade through it all.  Get it, wade through? Ah, I do what I can.)

(Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)  Wade did not have a happy (second) homecoming this year.
(Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images) Wade did not have a happy (second) homecoming this year.

1-1: Wade catches it coming off a Jermaine O’Neal screen and then gets another screen from O’Neal off the dribble.  He’s able to take it right a back pedaling Andrew Bogut and hit a floater without a hand in his face.  When Wade’s isolated against Bogut like that it’s obviously not going to favor the Bucks very often.  Bogut isn’t quick enough with his hands to be able to contest a Wade shot without being susceptible to a fake and dunk combo.

1-2: Off a reload on an offensive board by Joel Anthony, Wade gets it at the top of the key and waits for a screen from O’Neal to attack.  Actually, “waits for a screen” isn’t quite accurate, as he takes off too early and O’Neal can’t connect with Charlie Bell on the screen.  Wade pulls up for a three as Bogut waits at the free-throw line and Bell dives back in to get his hand in Wade’s face.  This is absolutely the shot the Bucks can live without out of a player like D-Wade: a pull-up, semi-contested three with 14 seconds on the shot-clock. Clang.

1-2 FTs: Fouled on a fastbreak.

1-3: Wade brings it up the court and explodes for the first time all evening off another O’Neal screen.  He takes it right at Bogut in the paint.  Bogut kept his hands high and tried to just make the shot difficult rather than attempt a block and he was successful.  Wade missed a tough shot after contorting his body with Ersan Ilyasova coming over to provide additional support.  With both of them focusing on him, the rebound was available and Wade grabbed it.  He laid it off for O’Neal under the hoop where he was waiting for an easy shot and one.

1-4: After a timeout, Rafer Alston gets the inbound pass and dribbles to the left wing where he then finds Wade on top.  It’s isolation for Wade against Charlie Bell.  Wade dribbled into Bell and then steps back for a fadeaway jumper from around the elbow.  Bell contested and it didn’t fall.  This is a shot Wade can hit, but it’s certainly not easy.

2-5: Wade got it on an exchange from Alston on the left side and then came off two screens, one from Anthony and another from O’Neal again.  Anthony’s screen was a whiff, but O’Neal made very solid contact with Bell and Wade was able to get free.  He went right at Bogut in the paint once again and connected on a nine-foot floater.  Bogut was again a little paralyzed, it’s tough for him to get out at Wade because there’s such a great risk that he’ll blow by for a layup.

2-6: Wade posted up Bell way out on the perimeter and got the catch a step inside the three-point line.  He gave Bell a hard jab step that has to be respected with as much respect anyone can respect anything due to Wade’s nasty first step.  The pivot caused Bell to stumble and left Wade with an open look, but he just couldn’t hit the shot.  For good measure Wade fell down after the shot and I can’t tell how much contact there was, but it didn’t look like much.

2-7: Wade popped right back up and got the kickout from Anthony who grabbed the offensive board.  Bell had already left the picture and busted out since Wade was on the ground so Wade gets a wide-open three-point look.  He still can’t connect.

3-4 FTs: On a straight post up, Wade shrugs off a couple soft doubles, first from Brandon Jennings and then from Carlos Delfino and has Bell in the paint.  Not much Bell can do against Wade there and as Wade jumps for a shot he’ll likely make, Bell hacks him and makes him earn them at the line.  His strength mismatch with Bell was evident on this one and Bell felt like Wade knocked him out of the way with his body, but that didn’t seem to be the case.

2-8: Wade posts up Delfino on the outside after Bell leaves the game.  Wade looks to spin off Delfino first to the baseline and then to the middle, but doesn’t.  It looks like his look to the baseline may have been him measuring up a shot.  Delfino uses his body to keep Wade from getting too deep and then pokes at the ball a few times.  Delfino was very active on this possession and even initially did a good job trying to be physical in denying Wade the ball.  Eventually Wade attempts a fadeaway 16-footer from the baseline that doesn’t connect, another shot the Bucks will live with.

3-9: After Joel Anthony knocks out a missed shot to Udonis Haslem at halfcourt, Haslem finds Quentin Richardson on the right wing.  Richardson attacks and sees Wade cutting to the middle.  Bogut is preoccupied stopping the ball so he’s unable to get to Wade who shoots upon catching in the middle of the paint.  Another basket inside ten feet for Wade.

3-10: Wade is going around a screen from O’Neal off the ball, but sees Bellfino read it so he flares out to the corner.  Bell gets to him on a pump-fake and closes out hard enough that Wade can get by him.  After one dribble Wade pulls up for a floater, but Kurt Thomas does a great job to contest him with O’Neal sitting outside by himself18-feet from the hoop.  Thomas had to cut off Wade and the price was leaving O’Neal.  Fortunately Wade doesn’t look to him and misses a contested shot over Thomas.

FTs 5-6: Wade comes off a screen and catches outside the arc.  He gets a screen from Joel Anthony and attacks straight at Bogut who meets him just outside the charge circle.  Wade crashes into Bogut as he tosses a shot at the hoop.  It’s impressive how Wade’s able to adjust his body after contact and make it look like he was trying to shoot.  It seemed clear that he was just getting into the paint to crash into someone, but then once he hits Bogut he makes it look like he actually was attempting a shot.  That type of body control is absurd.  Anyway, Bogut’s set, his upper body is in position and it’s still a block on him and two freebies for Wade.

4-11: Wade gets it on the left wing and shakes Bell off him just a bit with a behind the back move.  He gets to the elbow and has Bogut awaiting him not sure if he’s going to keep going or pull-up.  These are the situations in which Wade has flourished in this game.  Wade pulls up with Bell coming from behind and Bogut in front of him and nails the jumper from just inside the paint.

Offensive foul: Wade is waiting for a catch at the top of the key after bumping with Bogut a few times.  Bell is doing his best to pester Wade and Wade gets caught extending the arm that Bell’s hanging off.  Bell goes down and the ball goes to Milwaukee, offensive foul Dwyane Wade.

4-12: Wade gets free of Bell with the help of a semi-screen from Haslem outside the three-point line.  He penetrates to the right elbow and then his drive plateaus.  There are four Bucks in the paint and it seems like Wade hesitates when he sees this.  He takes another dribble and shoots a free-throw line mini-fadeaway jumper over a jumping Hakim Warrick with no success.

4-13: After a near turnover the Heat are scrambling and find Wade posting up Bell with three seconds left on the shot clock.  Wade has to loft a very tough 19-foot fadeaway jumper over Bell and he draws nothing but air as the shot clock expires.

4-14: Wade gets it on top and eyes up Bell.  He takes a few dribbles between the legs to get his rhythm and shoots a contested three to no avail.

5-15: Bogut turns it over and O’Neal outlets to Wade on the left sideline.  Wade gets matched up with Bogut one on one outside the arc.  Bogut keeps his distance and seems okay with letting Wade get a jump-shot.  Wade eyes Bogut up not unlike he did Bell on the previous possession and then attacks, going right into Bogut.  There is some contact and Bogut is knocked back a step, just enough for Wade to hit a 14-footer a step inside the paint.

TECHNICAL FOUL: Wade catches at the left elbow and is stripped by a reaching Bogut.  D-Wade isn’t feeling it and contests that Bogut got him on the arm.  He doesn’t let it go through the next possession and is issued a technical foul.

6-16: Wade gets a screen from Haslem on top and blows by Ersan Ilyasova.  Bogut doesn’t react in time and Wade splits Bogut and Ersan with a dunk, his first of the night.  That was as aggressive as he’d been and probably had something to do with the technical he just received.  He followed that with his fourth foul though.

6-17: Coming off a screen, Wade catches at the elbow and misses a contested floater in the lane.  Bogut came out towards him with his hands high, as it was clear he wasn’t keeping this one on the ground to get by anyone.

Offensive Foul: Wade posts up and then runs a pick and pop with Jermaine O’Neal.  As O’Neal pops Wade is penetrating and Ilyasova slips in front of him drawing the charge and Wade’s fifth foul.  This wasn’t a very good call and seemed a little momentum based.

FTs 6-8: Wade gets by a reaching Delfino and Bogut meets him just outside the charge zone again.  Bogut seems to get happy feet and doesn’t really establish himself, as he’s backing up while Wade’s coming at him.  Wade’s in control and Bogut’s moving a little too much, so the call goes to Miami.

FTs 7-10: Wade’s strides are really freaking long.  He changes direction so quickly that when he has a head of steam going and Bogut isn’t directly at the basket it is a complete mismatch in Wade’s favor..  Wade gets past Bogut just a little bit and Bogut hacks Wade going towards the hoop on a block attempt.

FTs 9-12: After a screen from Jermaine O’Neal on top, Wade blows right past Hakim Warrick and finds Brandon Jennings waiting for him.  Bogut had to come out with his fifth foul after the last foul so the Bucks were playing Warrick and Ilyasova together in the front court, which leaves them without shot-blocking.  The Heat cleared out their power and small forwards to open things up in the middle even more. We all know Jennings isn’t stopping anyone, much less D-Wade and he resorts to grabbing Wade’s arm as he goes up for a layup.  On the plus side, it was a very hard foul and left Wade with almost no chance at making the shot.  That’s the kind of foul you like to see from Jennings.

"Novak's Better"
"Novak's Better"

Note: At this point Wade steps up to the line and starts to chuckle as he looks at Squad Six.  Why?  “Novak’s Better” was the chant according to informed sources.  Bravo Squad Six.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many players react to a section of the crowd like everyone has been reacting to Squad Six this year, I couldn’t be any more impressed by them.

6-18: Wade got an open look at a three after a screen from Haslem lost Charlie Bell at mid-court.  Wade just couldn’t hit, as was the case most of the night.

6-19: Garbage time three misses.

6-20: Garbage time three misses.

Synopsis Time:

So, that was a lot.  I understand if you don’t want to go through with reading about every single one of D-Wade’s shot attempts from Saturday night and how the Bucks defended them, so I’ll go synopsis here.  Essentially, when the Bucks were able to force Wade to be indecisive or settle for fadeaway jumpers, they had success.  When Wade seemed to know what he wanted to do before he set out to do it, he was able to set the Bucks up as he wanted and then get a good look.  On the floaters Wade was hitting, it looked as though he was intent on shooting those the whole time, but the Bucks still had to respect his driving skills.

The dangerous thing about Wade is when he starts hitting.  If Wade is connecting on the fall away jumpers or the “what do I want to do now that I’m in the air” shots, he’s nearly unguardable.  But the Bucks played the percentages Saturday night and made Wade take a lot of difficult shots.  It was a complete team effort on Wade and it’ll have to be again if they want to have any success on Monday.

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