Thursday, April 28, 2016

Spencer Hawes out for Hornets for rest of series

The Hornets have surged back into the series as they've gone to bigger lineup.

And while Spencer Hawes has played only 53 minutes in the first five games of the series, he has the best defensive rating of any player on Charlotte.

So now Charlotte coach Steve Clifford will need to make a minor adjustment, since Hawes is out of Game 6 with a knee injury, and a potential Game 7 as a week. The Hornets say he will be re-evaluated in a week. 

Without Hawes, it's possible that Clifford goes back to an eight-man rotation.

Or he could slide Tyler Hansbrough -- not a Heat favorite -- as the Hornets' fourth big. 

Either way, it's likely that Nicholas Batum will continue to come off the bench, with Frank Kaminsky starting at power forward. 

League rules that Dwyane Wade was not fouled on final drive

Dwyane Wade said he didn't need to see the NBA's official "last two-minute report."

He definitely won't want to look at it now.

The NBA has released the report from Wednesday's Game 5 Hornets win, and determined that neither Cody Zeller nor Courtney Lee fouled Wade on what turned out to be the decisive possession.

Here's what the league said about Zeller:

Zeller (CHA) comes towards Wade (MIA) from across the restricted area, planting his foot and jumping vertically to defend Wade’s shot. Zeller absorbs contact when it occurs and, while his arms are not completely vertical, multiple angles confirm they do not make contact with Wade. Therefore, Zeller maintains a legal guarding position as he attempts to defend the shot.

And here's what the league said about Lee: 

Lee (CHA) makes contact with the ball during Wade’s (MIA) upward shooting motion, which makes his subsequent, minor arm contact with Wade incidental. Lee then makes contact with Wade’s arm again at about 00:04.9, however, Wade has already lost possession of the ball.

The league also said, while Luol Deng should have been called for a foul on Charlotte's initial inbound -- the one that Josh Richardson nearly stole -- no one on Miami was able to commit an intentional foul on the subsequent inbound. That's the one on which Deng and Richardson collided. 

Who was at fault for Courtney Lee's late rebound?

Courtney Lee has made what his coach, Steve Clifford, called the two biggest plays of the series.

The first, of his own miss -- and over Hassan Whiteside -- helped the Hornets run out the clock in Game 4 on Monday. 

Click HERE for the video. 

The second came Wednesday in Game 5, when Kemba Walker's 16-footer clanked out.

Lee then stepped back and made a three-pointer for a two-point lead, and what turned out to be the final score. 

So who was at fault?

Well, everyone assumed it was Dwyane Wade, since Lee had been his man throughout the game.

But watch the video HERE....  

Wade was playing hedging toward the lane as Lee stood in the corner. But when Hassan Whiteside jumped out to contest Walker's shot, Wade helped Josh Richardson (who had the Walker assignment prior to the pick-and-roll) box out Cody Zeller. 

Even Erik Spoelstra mentioned that in his post-game press conference. 

 

Credit Lee for darting into the paint to grab the carom. 

But watch the free man for the Heat, Joe Johnson. He's in the area, and he hardly budges. 

His reaction was much too slow. 

Justise Winslow was not on the floor in that situation but, as much as Johnson gives the Heat better spacing, Spoelstra may need to think more about offense-defense substitutions late.

We don't know that Winslow would have grabbed the board. 

But we've seen him do it plenty of times already.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Nic Batum expected to be available for Hornets off the bench in Game 5

The Charlotte Hornets expect to have starting swingman Nic Batum available for Game 5 off the bench.

"As long as he feels good after he warms up before the game, he’s going to try to play," Cifford said.

Clifford said Batum wouldn't play his normal minutes and would come off the bench.

"He wanted to try to play the other night," he said. "He was moving, cutting, planting."

Batum, a starter for the Hornets, missed Games 3 and 4 with a left foot sprain. But he told reporters after shoot around Wednesday he expects to play. He said he's asked to come off the bench.

"I told coach after the game and this morning I don’t want to mess up the way we’re playing right now," Batum said. "I asked him to come off the bench. I’m not really 100 percent yet. I’ve got to be honest with the team and the coaching staff. I just want to go out there and play as much as a I can and as effective as I can."

Bring Bosh Back? For the first time, the family goes public

The Chris Bosh saga has largely played out in secret, a subject that Barry Jackson and I detailed in our story on Saturday.

As we wrote, there have been clear differences between the scenes as far as the course of recovery and return, with the Heat continuing to be the more cautious party.

That, however, had not even been hinted at publicly.

Until now.

Tuesday evening, Bosh's wife Adrienne added her own spin to a tweet that I'd sent to a follower during Monday's game, when I identified a situation in which the Heat really could have used Chris Bosh.

Here's the tweet:

That hashtag (#bringboshback) traveled quickly on Twitter.

And then, later Tuesday, Bosh posted a video of himself on Snapchat, shooting at AmericanAirlines Arena and bemoaning how much he misses the game.

Here's the snap:

Expect the Heat to continue to deflect questions about Bosh.

But the questions may get louder, as it becomes clearer to everyone that Bosh wants back in. 

A closer look at the Heat's shot selection in the playoffs -- home vs. away

The Miami Heat host the Charlotte Hornets tonight in Game 5 of its first round series in search of some offense.

After averaging 119 points at home in Games 1 and 2 and shooting 57.8 percent, the Heat averaged 82.5 points and shot 36.8 percent from the field in Games 3 and 4 at Time Warner Cable Arena.

More than anything, the Heat went from a team dominating in the paint in Games 1 and 2 (51.0 ppg) to not being able to score in the paint (29.0 ppg) in Games 3 and 4. With the Hornets packing the paint, the Heat turned into a three-point shooting and jump shooting team -- not their strengths. And the shots simply didn't fall.

Here's a closer look at the team's shotchart Home vs. Away provided by the NBA.

The Green areas are where the Heat shot better than 50 percent, the yellow areas about equal to the league average and the red areas are where it was below the league average. 

GAMES 1 & 2

Heat's shot chart Game 1-2

GAMES 3 & 4

Heat's shot chart Game 3-4

Monday, April 25, 2016

Hassan Whiteside frustrated with Hornets in the "flop-offs"

At first, Hassan Whiteside declined to address it. 

Asked by Fox Sports Sun's Jason Jackson about the Hornets attacking the paint and getting calls -- they had 30 free throws to the Heat's 21. 

"I don't even want to get on the calls," Whiteside said. "I ain't got nothing to say.That's crazy." 

Oh, but he had plenty to say.

The next question was about how he gets more involved offensively.

"You know, I've just got to do a better job of looking out for Cody (Zeller) flopping," Whiteside said. "You know, the guy's flopping. I've just got to do a better job of that. And not get offensive fouls." 

Then, about Jeremy Lin, who scored 21:

"We've just got to watch out for him, because he likes to throw his arms into people," Whiteside said. "Basically, almost, I don't know, man. I really don't know...."

Whiteside laughed, trying to stop from saying anything else. 

Later, after another round of reporters arrived, Whiteside was asked how he stays composed.

"What can I say?" Whiteside said. "If I say something, I get T'd up, it costs me money. Can't say nothing about the refs, or they'll fine me. Nothing I can say." 

Told that Dwyane Wade said the aggressive style of defense was what Miami wants to do, Whiteside nodded.

"Yeah, they know that," Whiteside said. "So they just get in the lane, throw their head back, and ref just says foul...." 

Whiteside then referred to the playoffs as "the flop-offs." 

"I thought the playoffs were physical," Whiteside said. "This ain't physical." 

NBA releases second-round schedule options for Heat, others

Naturally, the Heat needs to eliminate Charlotte for any of this to matter.

But the NBA did release the potential scenarios for the second round, which are dependent on how longer the Heat-Hornets and Raptors-Pacers series goes.

Here's how it works:

-- If the Raptors and Pacers, currently tied at 2-2, end their series in six games, and the Heat (up 2-1) beats the Hornets in either five or six games, Game 1 of the next round would be Sunday, May 1st. 

If the Raptors win the next two games to advance, Game 1 of the second round would start in Toronto.

If the Pacers win the next two games to advance, Game 1 of the second round series would start in Miami.

-- If the Raptors and Pacers go seven games, OR the Heat beat the Hornets in seven games, Game 1 of the next round would be Tuesday, May 3rd.

.....

What does this mean?

It's possible the Heat could get as many as five full days off, if Miami finishes the Hornets in five games, and the Raptors and Pacers go the full seven.

And it's possible the Heat could get just one day off, and would have to travel from Charlotte to Toronto on that day, if it beats the Hornets in six games, and the Raptors do the same to the Pacers. Or if it beats the Hornets in seven games, and the Raptors do the same to the Pacers.

Dwyane Wade on celebrities he'd like to meet: "Smart people"

Dwyane Wade, born two years before the Purple Rain film was released, revealed the other day that his father had him watch it so often during his youth, that he thought it was the only movie ever made.

It was just another instance where one celebrity was asked about the death of a celebrity that he or she hadn't met.

And it raised another question for this reporter:

Is there a celebrity that Wade would want to meet, but hasn't yet?

"That's alive, that I haven't met?" Wade said, pausing. "Not really. Not really."

No?

"No," Wade said. "No, not really." 

What about his dead celebrity priority list?

"I mean, my dead list would be a lot longer, way longer, just from what I've heard," Wade said. "But alive? No. When I was young, I wanted to meet Denzel (Washington). But I've never had a big list even when I was young, of people I wanted to meet. Like, all right, I'm fans of people, I respect them, and if I get a chance to meet them, it's cool. But I never like, oh my God, wow I need to meet them." 

But is there anyone whose brain he'd want to pick, about staying near the top of a profession, handling the spotlight, or anything else?

"Hmm," Wade said. "It would be someone like (investor) Warren Buffett or someone like that. One of those kind of guys. Dead, I would like to meet Steve Jobs. Sit down and talk to him. Obviously, I've seen the movie, read things about him. But I'd like to be able to talk to him. It would be people like that, I guess, if I could meet anyone."

Wade's friend, LeBron James, has a relationship with Buffett -- as does Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who, like Buffett and Wade's wife Gabrielle Union, was a Nebraska Cornhusker. 

So, in the business world?

"Yeah, in the business world," Wade said, laughing. "It'd be smart people. Real smart people. It won't be because someone has like athletic talent or acting talent. It won't be that. It will be someone just to see the genius, more so than anything else. Somebody who is a genius. Just to see how much more of a genius they are than I am." 

One other thing:

He was a little young to be watching Purple Rain, wasn't he? 

"Probably so," Wade said. "But when you grew up like I did, there ain't no rules like that. Dad gotta put on something." 

 


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