3 things to watch this week: Dwyane Wade returns to face Heat for first time



Dwyane Wade returns to Miami on Thursday.

Dwyane Wade returns to Miami on Thursday.

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Heat have three games this week, starting tonight against the Thunder, but none will receive the attention as much as Dwyane Wade’s return to Miami for the first time in a Bulls uniform.

The man whose name appears in the Heat record book more than any other player will face his old teammates for the first time on Thursday. Although Wade’s departure signaled the start of another rebuilding process for the Heat, the one player who remains and certainly will be a part of whatever tribute the Heat have in store for Wade will be Udonis Haslem, who was Wade’s teammate for all 13 seasons Wade was in Miami.

Here are three things to watch.

Dwyane Wade celebration: No opposing player will be treated to as much adulation and as many ovations as Wade will be Thursday. Wade has gotten off to an uneven start with the Bulls. He is averaging 17.0 points, which would be his lowest since his rookie season, and shooting 42.5 percent (which would be a career low). He had a 35 point game on Friday and followed that with four points on Saturday. It will be interesting to see how much the emotion of the night carries him through Thursday’s game considering it’s the second night of a back-to-back for the Bulls.

How the Heat defend Russell Westbrook: Before facing Wade, the Heat will try to slow down the very-early leader for MVP in OKC’s Russell Westbrook. Westbrook has two triple-doubles and became the first player to record a triple-double with at least 50 points (51 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists against the Suns) in 41 years. Westbrook is third in the league in scoring (33.2), fourth in assists (9.7) and 19th in rebounding (9.0). “He’s just a freak of the nature,” Heat guard Goran Dragic said. “He’s so quick and so athletic. But we just need to make it tough for him.”

Josh Richardson gaining some rhythm: Richardson had a tough return Friday from a knee injury he suffered eight months ago. The second-year guard was scoreless in 12 minutes at Toronto, missing all four of his shots, with two turnovers and two fouls. “I got to play better if I’m going to get more minutes,” he said Sunday. “That’s the first part. I’m going to try to get to the flow of the game a little bit better. It was kind of tough for me last game just figuring it out. I know it’s a process so I’m not looking into it too much.” Richardson said the game was going too fast for him. “I have to slow my mind down because the game was so fast, especially being away from it for so long,” he said.

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