Wade, James seeing hardly any stat dips
MIAMI – The stat is known as PAR, simply calculated by adding points, assists and rebounds.
LeBron James led the NBA in it for the past three seasons.
And this year, he's still atop the rankings.
So much for the notion that James and Dwyane Wade would be making big-time statistical sacrifices by playing together in Miami. Midway through this season, the pair have seen nary a dip in their usual numbers, even improvement in some categories — and both expect those trends to continue.
"It's a developmental relationship," Wade said. "We understand to be successful, that's what we need to do. But also, that's what we've always done. That's why we've both individually have been successful in this game."
Entering Tuesday's games, James ranked No. 3 in the NBA in scoring at 25.9 points per game, Wade two spots back on that list at 25.1. Yes, those numbers are down, but only nominally: James came into the season averaging 27.8 points in his career, Wade 25.4.
If those paces hold, they would be only the third duo over the past decade to finish a season among the NBA's top five in scoring. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal did it with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002-03, and Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony did so for Denver in 2007-08.
"They're great players and they've proven to be productive in their careers," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "So once they became comfortable with this team and with each other, that was a matter of time."
When it comes to PAR, James and Wade are on the leaderboard, for certain.
James' score gets rounded to 40.2 — 25.9 points, 7.2 rebounds, 7.2 assists, just a smidge ahead of Minnesota's Kevin Love (39.6). Wade ranks ninth league-wide in that ranking at 35.8, his points complemented by a career-high average of 6.5 rebounds along with 4.2 assists.
"The one thing I've always done is try to be the complete player," Wade said. "Same goes for LeBron."
The Heat entered this season with some thinking they were embarking upon an impossible mission, taking three players who have always been the focal point of their respective teams and putting them together in Miami.
But James, Wade and Chris Bosh — who is averaging 18.6 points, down from his career-best 24.0 average last season in Toronto — have found a way to make it work so far.
Even with a slew of injuries, Miami is 31-13.
Wade practiced again Tuesday in sunglasses, his eyes still sensitive to light after a migraine-filled weekend, and he hasn't ruled out wearing them for Miami's next game on Thursday in New York. Bosh still has not practiced because of a sprained left ankle and could end up missing the four-game, five-day stretch that starts with that Knicks matchup. And James has dealt with shin and ankle problems already this season, but he's the healthiest of the trio at this point.
As a gag, he even wore sunglasses as well on Tuesday, unable to resist the chance throw Wade a jab.
"D-Wade is like a kid who transferred schools and doesn't have any friends," James said. "So I felt like me putting on the glasses today, I'm going to help him be accustomed to the new school."
He doesn't need glasses to see that what the Heat are doing is working.
There were some clear growing pains in the first quarter of the season, when Miami stumbled out to a 9-8 start. Since then, James said he and Wade have tried to revert back to their former selves in some respects, spending more time attacking defenses like usual instead of trying to react to one another.
Miami is 22-5 since — still the second-best record in the league since Nov. 29, behind only San Antonio (24-5), even with a recent four-game losing streak factoring into the Heat mix.
"I just think it came to a point where I think we were sacrificing too much and it was hurting our team," James said. "It was hurting our individual play. We just went back to the style of basketball we knew how to play — and that's being in attack mode."
NOTES: Spoelstra did not formally rule Bosh out of the four-game, five-night odyssey that starts Thursday, but gave clear indicators that the power forward is, at best, doubtful. "I don't have a timetable for him. All I can tell you is he's getting better," Spoelstra said. ... James and Wade both said they felt for the plight of Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, who was ripped by several NFL players on Twitter after coming out of the NFC championship game with a knee injury. The Bears said Monday that Cutler had a sprained MCL. "I'm not going to question his toughness," said Wade, a Bears fan.