Three games into his Cleveland Cavaliers career, three-time champion Dwyane Wade admitted he is searching for his role with his new team following the Cavs’ 114-93 loss to the Orlando Magic on Saturday.
“I’m trying to find it, man,” Wade said after scoring five points on 2-for-8 shooting against the Magic. “It’s very different, different than I’ve ever played. Just trying to find my way, as we go on, see how I can be best for this team. Everything’s happened so fast. This has been a long, a long week.”
Wade and the Cavs fell behind by as many as 37 points to Orlando, which was missing starters Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon, dropping their record to 2-1. Wade is averaging 5.7 points on 28 percent from the field and 25 percent from 3-point territory with 3.3 assists per game.
He has scored in single digits all three games he has played, something he did only six times in 60 games with the Chicago Bulls last season when he finished with averages of 18.3 points, 43.1 percent shooting, 31.0 percent on 3s and 3.8 assists per game.
What’s the biggest difference this season for the 15-year veteran?
“My option,” Wade said. “I’ve always been a [No.] 1 or 2 option. It’s just a different game. You got to kind of figure out your way.”
Cleveland’s No. 1 option, LeBron James, said that integrating Wade is a priority.
“We got to get him going at some point,” James said. “That’s something we’re going to look at and we’re all trying to figure it out as well but we got to get him going and hopefully we can do that on Tuesday.”
The Cavs host the Bulls on Tuesday and could be without Derrick Rose again. He missed the Magic game with a sprained left ankle that Rose classified as “mild.”
Jose Calderon started in place of Rose and was pulled after just five minutes, with Orlando jumping out to a big early lead. James said it was the first time at any point during training camp, preseason or the regular season he’d shared the court with Calderon on his team.
There are many pieces that Cleveland is trying to fit together, however Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, like James, also spoke about Wade as if the 12-time All-Star is near the top of his to-do list.
“Just got to get him in positions to where he’s comfortable,” Lue said. “Right now we have a new offense, a different offense than he’s accustomed to running. We just have to put him in better positions to be aggressive and get to a spot. That’s not really an issue of mine or his. Just continue to keep playing good, team defense and his shot and his game will come around offensively.”
Wade said he is a “rhythm player” and added, “I take a lot of shots,” when explaining the transition he is going through. Wade is averaging just 8.3 attempts per game for the Cavs, about half of the 15.9 attempts he took for the Bulls last season.
“It’s just trying to find that rhythm, trying to find where it will come from, when it will come from. It comes with time,” Wade said. “I haven’t forced it. [Saturday] I had some opportunities where I had the ball, I passed it, got a few assists. The shots that I shot was shots that I [normally shoot], I just missed them.
I didn’t feel like I forced them. I feel like they were good shots, just two out of eight of them went in. Like I said, everyone, we’re all just still trying to figure it out. Sometimes you press a little bit, you want every shot to be perfect. And that’s just not the game of basketball.
There will be times when you hit 8 out of 10. And you don’t go 2-for-8.”
Wade wasn’t the only player who struggled against the Magic. Orlando made more 3s in the first quarter (8-for-13) than Cleveland made for the game (7-for-25) and the Cavs shot just 38.4 percent as a team overall.
They allowed the Magic to open up a 36-18 lead after the first quarter and after fighting to get the deficit back down to seven in the third quarter, were done in by a 14-0 Orlando run to break the game open again.
“Listen, we’re not the team that we want to be,” James said. “We played two really good games against Boston, against Milwaukee, but we’re going to have some games like this early on as we continue to try to figure out our lineups, figure out our rotations and then with D-Rose going down, so that kind of [made us have to] switch our rotation again while we’re still trying to figure it out.”
The loss snapped the Cavs’ 17-game winning streak against the Magic dating back to February 2013. It was Cleveland’s longest win streak against a single opponent in franchise history.
Orlando coach Frank Vogel had little interest in discussing the streak before tipoff.
“It has nothing to do with this year’s team, in my mind,” Vogel said. “I didn’t even know that was the case. And that’s a nonfactor to me. We’re here to win tonight. We know we have a chance to win tonight and that’s all we’re focused on. What happened five years ago is completely irrelevant.”
After the win, Vogel remained even keeled.
“They were far from their best and we understand that. We need to keep that in perspective,” he said. “The Cavs were not at their best tonight, and we capitalized.”
Lue acknowledged that his team has had a tendency to overlook opponents over the years, with the Orlando loss being the latest example.
“I thought coming off a big win [Friday] night and coming back home to validate it, I didn’t think we did a good job with that,” Lue said. “As far as letting our guards down, I just thought they outplayed us. They kicked our butt.