Riding the stars: Dwyane Wade’s Game 3 show

Miami's Dwyane Wade is one of the best crunch-time players in the NBA.

The Miami Heat defeated the Boston Celtics Sunday in what will likely to amount to a meaningless showing of pride for the boys from South Beach. Boston now leads the series 3-1, and it would take downright magic for Miami to advance to the second round.

Paul Pierce subdued a hopeful Miami crowd in Game 3, sinking a buzzer-beating jump shot to give the puzzling Celtics a stranglehold on the series.

Not to be outdone, Dwyane Wade did his best MJ impression in torching the Mean Green for 46 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists on 66 percent shooting Sunday afternoon.

And it is that not-to-be-outdone spirit that separates the truly elite players from the great ones in the league. Many remember Wade’s earth-shattering Finals performance against the Dallas Mavericks (over 30 points a game, including no fewer than 36 in the last four), and those displays are a testament to what Wade really can do.

There’s no underestimating the star.

There’s no expecting a star to fall. The star can be off all night and knock down a contested three-pointer to tie up the game in overtime. The star could be blistering hot and put his team on his back and carry it to victory with no support whatsoever.

So when Wade goes out and lights up the Celtics like that, he’s making a statement.

“My teammates might not be ready to play in the postseason, but I certainly am.”

And even if the Heat lose in Game 5, a Celtics victory won’t come without a superb effort from No. 3. Wade’s hungry, and the only way to satisfy him is to give him the W.

That said, Wade has more to play for than just an off-chance at an NBA Title. Wade is showcasing himself to the variety of talent that will bless the free-agent market this summer. He wants to let LeBron and Bosh and Amar’e know that, at his side, there’s no limit to a team’s greatness.

To be honest, I thought Miami would win this series. I thought Wade’s excellence would vastly outshine the skills of the aging Celtics. But Boston showed resurgence, and it took a Wade outburst to quell the uprising.

Hopefully, the Heat won’t go quietly and we, the fans, will get more greatness from the series. Why do we watch? Mr. Dwyane Wade.

These stars are so good for the game: They sell tickets, they sell merchandise, and they swell TV ratings. There’s no predicting what Wade or LeBron or Kobe is going to do next, and it’s that anticipation that makes the game so great.

So, Dwyane, even if you fall to the Celtics, don’t fret. Wherever you go, great things will follow. You’re just that talented. And Game 3 reminded us all that Boston actually has a problem on its hands.

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