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Cleveland Cavaliers playbook: How Dwyane Wade beat the Bulls and leads bench units

The Cavs guard attacked his former team almost exclusively from the middle of the foor.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Dwyane Wade has settled in as the leader of the Cavs’ bench, carrying units that have been problems for the Cavs over the past few years. Last night against the Bulls, the ways the Cavs are letting Wade work was on full display.

By and large, Tyronn Lue is letting Wade work in areas where he’s most comfortable. That primarily means Wade was working in the mid-range with two shots at the mixed in. Here’s his shot chart from last night’s game, for example:

This matches up pretty close to where he’s taken his shots so far this season:

What does have some variety is exactly how Wade is getting his looks. In years past, the Heat or Bulls would give him the ball early in the shot chock and let him go to work. The Cavs still do that, but it often comes without LeBron James on the floor and with some shooting around him. Against the Bulls, that also included attacking the big man the Bulls were trying to hide on Jae Crowder. For example:

There’s also Wade - with LeBron on the floor - being used to exploit a matchup the Cavs feel is to their advantage. Here, the Cavs clear out so he can go one vs. one against Kris Dunn:

Ditto for when he was defended against Denzel Valentine. Notice LeBron and Kyle Korver working off ball to give Wade an option to pass if a defender meets him at the rim:

There’s also Wade being allowed to have the freedom to attack in transition, and predictably, he gets to his spot in the mid-range when he gets a matchup he likes:

There are fair questions about how much Wade will be able to do this for an entire season, and against the Warriors if the Cavs meet them in the Finals again And how his role changes when Isaiah Thomas returns (not to mention Derrick Rose) is something that Cavs are going to have to manage carefully.

But so far, in this role, Wade has carried the Cavs’ bench units, and he’s doing it by getting to spots on the floor where he’s at his best.