Dwyane Wade

“I mean, anytime you can get to the finals two years in a row is tough,” said Wade, who’ll be making his third straight finals appearance and fourth overall. “But to win it back to back? I remember Michael Jordan saying winning your first title is the toughest. And in some ways it’s very tough to win that first one. But I personally think it’s tougher to win the next one, because now you’ve finally gave everything to win that first one.”

This postseason is certainly proving to be tougher for Wade.

A bruised right knee has dogged him now for the better part of three months. In the beginning, the official word was that the ailment was minor and the hope was that it could clear up with a bit of rest. Obviously, that’s not exactly the case.

Wade is averaging only 14.1 points in the playoffs on 45 percent shooting. He’s getting to the foul line, on average, 3.9 times per game in these playoffs, or less than half of what he managed in his first eight postseasons.

And his trademark explosiveness just has not been there, either.

In his first 110 playoff games, he scored more than 20 points on 87 occasions. This year, in 15 playoff games, he’s topped 20 only twice — getting exactly 21 points both times, the second coming in Monday’s win over Indiana in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press