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LeBron versus Wade: A playoffs rivalry that never was

As the Miami Heat prepare for a road trip to face the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night the focus will be on what could be the last time LeBron James and Dwyane Wade face each other on an NBA court.


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As the Miami Heat prepare for a road trip to face the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night the focus will be on what could be the last time LeBron James and Dwyane Wade face each other on an NBA court. Wade and James are at different points in their careers, with the Miami Heat legend in the twilight of his career with this being his last season in the NBA while the Akron native is showing no signs of slowing down.


Although this will make for an entertaining match, NBA fans will always wonder what might have been in the case of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in a playoffs matchup.


The two draft mates who have 6 NBA titles, 26 All-Star apperances, 4 Finals MVPs and 2 scoring titles between them have, astonishingly, never faced each other in the NBA Playoffs. In their prime they led their teams to numerous trips to the postseason in the East but their paths never crossed.


Wade led Miami to six trips to the playoffs in his first seven years, this included guiding them to an NBA title in 2006. During that same spell, James missed the playoffs in his first two years with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he then helped the team reach the postseason five times, including one trip to the NBA Finals in 2007 where they were eventually swept by the San Antonio Spurs.


The two players could have met for the first time in the playoffs during the 2005/06 season, the Cavs had to eliminate the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference semifinals in order to face the Miami Heat, who had easily disposed of the New Jersey Nets in their semifinal encounter.


The Cavs had done well to recover from 0-2 down in the series to lead 3-2 but they were overwhelmed by the defensively sound Pistons in the last two games. A Game 7 victory for the Cavs would have seen James and Wade pit their wits against each other for the first time in a postseason game but it was not meant to be.


In the 2008/09 season the playoffs bracket would have seen the Heat and the Cavs cross paths but once again fate had other plans. The Atlanta Hawks eliminated Wade and the Heat in the First Round, preventing D-Wade from advancing to the semis where LeBron and the Cavs were waiting with much anticipation after sweeping the Pistons in the First Round.


The following season (2009/10) had another potential Cavs and Heat matchup in the pipeline, however the Boston Celtics eliminated the Heat in the First Round, preventing them from meeting the Cavs in the semis. The two players then joined forces and won championships together, they then separated again in 2014 but once again their paths never crossed in the postseason.


The 2015-16 Playoffs also had a bracket that would have potentially seen Wade and LeBron face off but the Heat were eliminated by the Toronto Raptors in the semifinals, the Cavs were waiting for the Heat after sweeping the Hawks but the matchup never materialized.


The Staples Center will see one final regular season duel between the two friends who have served the NBA with memorable moments, especially the iconic photo of Wade providing a pass for LeBron at the basket before turning away while James hammered the basket with an emphatic dunk against the Milwaukee Bucks. This might not be the fairytale playoffs ending for the friends, but they do enjoy facing each other on the field of competition.


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