ATLANTA - The Miami Heat was certainly caught off guard.
Dwyane Wade teammates aren't used to seeing him clank open shots. They aren't used to seeing him throw the ball away. They aren't used to seeing him pull a disappearing act in the second half of a playoff game.
'He's not going to have too many games like that,' said Daequan Cook, the Heat's second-year guard. 'Actually, I've never seen him have a game like he did the other night.'
Indeed, Wade had a miserable time in the opener of the best-of-seven series against the Atlanta Hawks. The home team harassed 'M-V-3' with constant double teams and made him look, well, ordinary in a 90-64 blowout.
But it's these sort of situations that make Wade especially dangerous. Remember all those who wrote him off after two injury plagued years? Last summer, he was top scorer for the American team that reclaimed the Olympic gold medal in Beijing. This season, he almost single-handedly led Miami - coming off an NBA-worst 15-67 record - back to the playoffs.
Now, Wade is eager to make amends for his Game 1 performance. He'll get his chance tonight.
'I always take it personally,' Wade said Tuesday before the Heat practiced in Atlanta. 'I'm the leader of this team. We fought through a lot to get here. I fought through a lot to get to this point as well.'
He scored just 19 points on Sunday - 11 off his league-leading average. He missed all but one of his six attempts outside the 3-point arc. He attempted only four free throws (and missed two of them). He equaled a season high with eight turnovers, more than double his average.
Wade seemed to throw up a white towel after the Heat fell behind by 20 at the half. He didn't even bother putting up another shot until the final two minutes of the third quarter.
'In the first half, he was very much in the attack mode,' Atlanta star Joe Johnson said. 'I did see the aggressiveness go away in the second half.'