Was Heat’s Game 4 loss Dwyane Wade’s final game in Miami? Wade: ‘I don’t want to answer that right now’

Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade reacts after his score against the Philadelphia 76ers in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s Game 4 of the first-round playoff series in Miami. Heat forward Justise Winslow looks on. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)

MIAMI – The big question as Ben Simmons dribbled out the final five seconds of the 76ers’ 106-102 victory Saturday, what went through Dwyane Wade’s mind.

Was the 36-year-old thinking about Game 5, and what his team, down 3-1, had to do bring this series back to Miami? Did he fast forward to next season, wondering what Pat Riley’s plan was to put enough talent around him to make sure the Heat are not in this position again?

Or, did Wade take a look at the rafters, nostalgia piercing though his veins, see the banners depicting three championships, all of which he played an important role in, and, more importantly, the retired numbers and figure he would join them sooner rather than later, knowing there would not be a next, and 16th, season?

Wade did not answer that question as to whether Saturday was his final game at AmericanAirlines Arena, but he sure knows how put some drama into a non-answer.

After a long pause, a glance around the room and an wry smile, here is what Wade said:

“I don’t want to answer that right now. I’ve got another game to play. I’m focused on the next game.”

Wade is in his 15th season, all but 1.5 of those with the Heat. Barring a very unlikely Heat comeback to the young, talented Sixers, the Heat re-acquiring Wade on trade deadline day will be the highlight of a season that will end with a very unsatisfying feeling.

Wade quickly put his stamp on this team and emerged as one of its better players, which tells you why Miami is on the brink of its season coming to an end. His 25-point performance, in which he scored 12 of the Heat’s 19 fourth quarter points, was the second time this series Wade put this team on his shoulders.

The first time, Game 2 in Philadelphia, Wade had enough help to complete the chore. Saturday was a different story.

“I definitely was trying to lead my team,” Wade said. “Coach put the ball in my hand and I was trying to lead us to try to steal one, in a sense, once they took the lead, we were trying to steal one here back at home, so we could go back 2-2.”

Erik Spoelstra has not hesitated to turn to Wade since the future Hall of Famer returned on Feb. 8. Several times Wade has taken big shots, some potential game-winners in the final seconds. Sometimes they went in and sometimes they didn’t.

Twice in this series the game was in Wade’s hand. He was able to deliver with 28 points, including a steal and dunk after the Sixers climbed to within two points late in the Heat’s Game 2 victory in Philadelphia. And on Saturday, his 25 points on 10-of-22 shooting wasn’t enough.

This despite Wade scoring Miami’s final seven points, all coming in the final 1:45.

“Dwyane’s been in these situations forever,” Spoelstra said. “When their defense tightened up, particularly the last three, four minutes down the stretch he ended up being our best option to be able to create something for us. We’ve come to know that Dwyane for a long time. As the game gets more intense, the context of the game goes to that level, he becomes more calm.”

Wade admitted the Heat are in an uphill fight, and were from the jump in this series. He has referenced several times the Sixers being the No. 3 seed – “They’re the third seed. We’re not the third seed, we’re coming in and we’re trying to cause some havoc and we’re trying to make a series out of this,” – and knows it will take an extraordinary effort on Tuesday to keep the Sixers and their fans from celebrating their first playoff series victory in six years on their home court.

“Each individual feels like they lost the game because they turned it over or because we got a bad shot or because we messed up a defensive assignment,” Wade said about the mood in the Heat locker room on Saturday.

“And ultimately it’s a team thing. We didn’t come out with a win. We didn’t do enough as a group to win the ballgame. We’re going to get back to finding out what it is to try to get better, to get to that point. Like I told them, ‘we have nothing to lose, man. … Our only goal, our only thing we have to do is put everything we have on the line.’ We’re trying to make a series out of this so let’s go in and just play free but play hard, play the Miami Heat way, live with the results from there.”

[Hassan Whiteside improves with more time, but Heat can’t hang on]

[Five takeaways: Sixers rally for 106-102 win over Heat to take 3-1 lead in series]

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