Dwyane Wade may be gone, but there’s a new closer in town, and his name is Dion Waiters.
Waiters drilled a three-pointer with 6.8 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to extend a one-point Miami Heat lead over the Brooklyn Nets to four. His shot solidified the team’s 109-106 win on Wednesday and gave Miami its fifth straight win.
Dion. Waiters. Night Night. pic.twitter.com/jiZPp4IoeU— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 26, 2017
It marked the second game in a row the 25-year-old guard hit a game-sealing shot late in the fourth quarter. Waiters nailed a game-winning three-point buzzer-beater over Klay Thompson on Monday to give Miami a 105-102 win over the Golden State Warriors. He proceeded to scream, “This is my city!”
Miami’s new closer likened those pressure moments to a quote that he, well, just couldn’t remember.
“I love that moment. You can never shy away from that,” Waiters said, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I just feel like ... One of my favorite quotes is ... uhh ... I forgot it already. It’s one of my favorite quotes. But yeah, man, you just can’t be afraid to take them shots.
“Like I said, I love them type of moments. They’re the type of moments you want to have, under pressure. And you gotta go out there and make a play.”
Are Dion’s big plays becoming a thing?
It was only two seasons ago when Waiters was in Cleveland and couldn’t get LeBron James’ attention for an open shot.
Now in Miami, guys are looking to get the ball to him. Waiters is asking for the ball and his teammates are trusting him.
“Coach just drew up a play and I looked at Wayne (Ellington) and said, ‘Give it to me. I want it,’” Waiters said. “And he did an excellent job. First and foremost, (Willie Reed) did an excellent job screening to get me open. And once I got the ball, once again, he let it get to my left hand. I just took the shot.”
He might be on to something. Waiters hit his first career game-winner in his second year with Cleveland. How? He got to his left hand, elevated, and let it fly.
Since then, he made a pit stop in Oklahoma City and formed a brotherhood with Kevin Durant, a bond the former league Most Valuable Player said “made each other better. And you can see he’s getting better by the day. ”
He might even have his own signature celebration, now.
After his game-winner against the Warriors, Waiters folded his arms with a stone-faced grill as his team rushed him to celebrate. On Wednesday after his big shot against the Nets, Heat center Hassan Whiteside similarly folded his arms to celebrate Waiters’ dagger.
Do the Dion pic.twitter.com/NcJoWDu5it— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) January 26, 2017
The Heat guard is averaging 14.9 points on a career-best 37.9 percent three-point shooting. Waiters’ scoring is the most he’s averaged since the 2013-14 season when he played for Cleveland, and he’s had seven games with 20 or more points despite missing 20 games this season with a groin injury.
In fact, Miami is just 5-15 in games without Waiters this season versus 11-15 with him.
We don’t know if he can keep this up. Waiters could miss his next eight game-winners and play himself out of a contract for his upcoming free agency. But it’s safe to say at this point that he’s the best option Erik Spoelstra’s got down the stretch.
And if he keeps making plays like the ones he’s made lately, Waiters might just find himself a home in Miami.