Wade sizzles while Wallace fizzles in Eastern finals
Posted: Monday May 29, 2006 12:38PM; Updated: Monday May 29, 2006 1:51PM
The Pistons struggles with the Heat in the conference finals seem to have brought out the worst in Rasheed Wallace.
Have a question or comment for Kelly Dwyer? Submit it here.
Though we haven't seen the sort of tight, four-overtimes-finally-decided-by-a-coin-flip madness that typified the first two rounds of the playoffs, the conference finals have been entertaining enough. Whether that is because both pairings have combined to play each other 33 times over the last 19 months, or in spite of it is a matter for debate. No matter, the hug-to-shove ratio over the first six games has been just right.
So who have been the studs, and the duds, of the third round? Couldn't tell you. We do know who the champs and chumps are, however. Dig:
Detroit Pistons-Miami Heat
Champs: Dwyane Wade
The Heat is up two games to one -- with Game 4 on tap Monday night in south Florida -- and Wade has been a big reason why. The third-year guard is shooting a ridiculous 69 percent from the floor (86 percent from the line and a 76 percent True Shooting mark) while averaging 30.7 points a game in the series. This comes as little surprise after Wade continually made a joke of Detroit's vaunted defense in the regular season.
Credit Pat Riley for drawing up plays that give Wade room to work and options galore. Wade, though, still has to make the diagrams work, which he does by staying a step ahead of help defenders and three giant steps ahead of his own man, all while expertly finishing drives, runners and high-arcing jumpers. Also, his help defense has been superb in this series, which his combined nine blocks and steals only hint at. Wade has broken up numerous Pistons plays, forcing them into improvising late in the shot clock and disrupting the free-flowing offense that won 64 games.
Chumps: Rasheed Wallace
It's entirely passable to act as the ornery straw that stirs the drink when you're offering something on both ends of the floor that the opponent cannot match. Unfortunately for Pistons fans, Rasheed Wallace isn't offering much of anything against the Heat, pulling down 6.7 boards in 35 minutes a game (while Detroit has been outrebounded by eight a game on average), shooting under 40 percent from the floor and converting on only four of the 15 3-pointers he's launched. While Heat counterpart Udonis Haslem's 27 percent from the floor might suggest Wallace's long arms are the reason, Haslem has missed more open shots than we can count -- and he's also pulled down as many rebounds as Sheed in five fewer minutes. Wallace has been even less effective at helping slow down Shaquille O'Neal, who is shooting 60 percent in the conference finals.
Wallace's poor performance has been an outright embarrassment to watch over the first three games, whining about calls, showing up the refs and (in Game 3) distancing himself from his team. Whether it was borne of personal frustration, anger at the referees or an actual beef with teammates or coaches -- you don't stand at half-court while your team huddles for a timeout in the first quarter of the most important game of your team's season. It doesn't matter if Dale Davis goosed your grandma, Carlos Delfino stole your Skin So-Soft, or Flip Saunders asked you to guard Dwyane Wade -- you don't do it. The other misdeeds (hurling a stream of profanities -- hilarious -- at Jim Gray; stiffing your coach on a handshake in front of ESPN cameras) are just as unseemly, but this bit of child's play can affect the whole team.