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Heat Doesn't Live Up to Riley's Standards, So It's Time to Focus on Appreciating Dwyane Wade

Heat Doesn't Live Up to Riley's Standards, So It's Time to Focus on Appreciating Dwyane Wade
Photo by George Martinez

This past Saturday night, the Heat's season died. The team's 119-96 loss to the Detroit Pistons was as ugly as it was sad. It dropped Miami's record to 26-32, good for the tenth spot in the East.

Sure, there are still more than 20 games left, but at this point, even if the Heat can slip into the playoffs, it's clear the team will be dead on arrival against one of the Eastern Conference's top seeds. It's time to salvage what they can from the rest of the season and make it count in ways more important than a few wins.

In any other season, the rest of the year would be best dedicated to finding young talent and playing Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, and Bam Adebayo as much as their young legs can stand. This isn't just any season, of course. This is Dwyane Wade's farewell tour.

It's time to treat it that way. Nothing else matters. Enough of Wade checking in toward the end of the first quarter. Enough of trying to get Dion Waiters and James Johnson to gel. Enough worrying if Hassan Whiteside is pissed off because he isn't playing enough minutes in the fourth quarter.

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Enough. Focus on Dwyane Wade. Maximize the moments left. Start the greatest player in franchise history the rest of the season and give him the ball every time there's a big shot to take, because in 20 years, no one will remember if Goran Dragic willed the Heat to a win against the Toronto Raptors in a 4-1 first-round series defeat. Everyone will remember 2018-19 as the final season of Wade's career. It's time to treat it as such.

Pat Riley gave a sit-down interview to ESPN's Dan LeBatard yesterday afternoon in which the Heat president said that the current squad is not up to his standards and that he doesn't plan to retire because he "can't go out like this." If the man who assembled this team admits it's critically flawed and nowhere near good enough, why should anyone else invest in its winning potential for the rest of the season?

It's time to cut bait and move on. It's time to recalibrate this season, accept it for what it is, move Wade into the starting lineup, and to hell with worrying about anything else. It's now or never to appreciate the all-time great's last minutes in a Miami Heat uniform. Fans would rather see more of those minutes go to him than to James Johnson. 

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