Friday, October 21, 2016

Bovada's prop bets for the Miami Heat

Miami Heat Regular Season Player Props                   

Will Chris Bosh play a game in the NBA during the 2016-2017 Regular Season?

Yes      +350     (7/2)

No        -600     (1/6)

2016-2017 Regular Season - Total Points - Goran Dragic         

Over/Under                   17.5                    

2016-2017 Regular Season - Total Assists - Goran Dragic        

Over/Under                   5.5       

2016-2017 Regular Season - Total Points - Hassan Whiteside

Over/Under                   17                 

2016-2017 Regular Season - Total Rebounds - Hassan Whiteside

Over/Under                   12.5

2016-2017 Regular Season - Total Blocks – Hassan Whiteside             

Over/Under                   3.4

2016-2017 Regular Season - Total Points - Dion Waiters

Over/Under                   11.5        

2016-2017 Regular Season - Total Points – Justise Winslow

Over/Under                   10.5

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Hassan Whiteside to miss Tuesday's game vs. Magic after the death of his great grandmother

Hassan Whiteside will not play Tuesday night against the Orlando Magic and has returned home to North Carolina to be with his family following the death of his great grandmother. 

Hassan Whiteside"He's going through some tough times. But we're there for him," teammate Goran Dragic said Monday. "I can't wait to see him back."

Whiteside will rejoin the Heat on Thursday when the team plays at Charlotte, coach Erik Spoelstra said. 

Miami will also likely be without forwards Justise Winslow (back) and Luke Babbitt (groin) when it faces the Magic at 7:30 p.m. AmericanAirlines Arena Tuesday.

Spoelstra said Winslow would be a game-time decision and that Babbitt would get the night off for precautionary reasons after going through shoot-around on Tuesday. Winslow is the only Heat player that has started all five games this preseason.

"If it was his decision he would play," Spoelstra said of Babbitt. "But we want to give it another night."

Spoelstra said he feels like he's seen enough of the Heat through it's first five preseason games to not have to worry so much about studying rotations and instead can put health and well-being at the forefront of concerns.

Miami opens the season Oct. 26 in Orlando and wraps up the preseason with back-to-back games Thursday at Charlotte and at home Friday against the Philadelphia 76ers.  

"I think we're still going to move forward with the plan that we've had," Spoelstra said. "It also depends on who is available. I'd like to get guys as many reps to build that continuity. But I don't I feel like I need to have an official dress rehearsal. I just want to continue to have us look at things and move forward. Three games will be good for us."

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Heat's first starting five has a surprise in it

WASHINGTON -- When the Heat decided to match the Brooklyn Nets' four-year, $50 million offer sheet to Tyler Johnson it raised a few eyebrows with the fan base.

A few more eyebrows were raised Tuesday night when we learned about 45 minutes before the Heat's preseason opener against the Wizards that Johnson -- and not Dion Waiters -- would be starting in the back court alongside point guard Goran Dragic.

The Heat's first starting five this preseason: Dragic, Johnson, Justise Winslow, Luke Babbitt and Hassan Whiteside

Babbitt starting is no surprise considering how much coach Erik Spoelstra has talked him up during camp, saying he wants the career 40.3 percent three-point shooter to feel like he always has the green light.

But Johnson is a little surprising. He is a career 37.8 percent three-point shooter -- so maybe that's Spoelstra's angle with this, get a pair of his best three-point shooters on the floor together.

Still, as much as the Heat refer to Johnson as a combo guard, the franchise has also been emphasizing to him how much they need him to develop his point guard skills. But one preseason game in at least, he'll be sharing the starting backcourt duties with Dragic. 

"I think it's big especially for this team," Johnson said pregame Tuesday of his need to develop his point guard skills. "That role's so wide open right now I know that it's something I've got to improve on. But I want to do it. It's just another challenge for me in my career."

Asked specifically pregame what his preferred approach would be to the backup point guard position -- whether it would be playing natural point guards Briante Weber or Beno Udrih -- or going with one of his combo guards, Spoelstra said: "Well, we do like the versatility of our group.

"Guys can play multiple positions," Spoelstra said. "Now those lines are becoming more gray every year. And with this lineup and this team that rings true as well. If you ask the guys, different guys are bringing it up. Different guys are getting us into offense. Different guys are playing on the wing or under the basket. So, it changes. All those guys will be available. I'll probably work Tyler some minutes there. But, Dion has been handling the ball quite a bit as well. That's what I mean, those lines are gray. Obviously for more traditional point guard play, that will come from Beno and Briante."

We'll be watching closely to see how this first preseason game plays out.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Will the Heat's first projected starting lineup be the same on opening night in Orlando? Maybe

WASHINGTON -- The Heat will open the preseason here at the Verizon Center Tuesday night and although coach Erik Spoelstra hasn't disclosed who will be starting against the Wizards, the team's media relations department released a projected starting lineup in its game notes.

Dion WaitersAs expected, point guard Goran Dragic, forward Justise Winslow and center Hassan Whiteside were in that group. The other two projected starters: guard Dion Waiters and forward Derrick Williams.

Waiters has started 110 games in his four-year career and unless he and Dragic struggle to mesh this preseason he's probably the guy who will be in the Heat's starting backcourt when Miami opens the regular season Oct. 26. Or, at least until Josh Richardson recovers from the sprained MCL in his right knee and pushes Waiters to get into the starting lineup.

While Wayne Ellington will get his shot to impress, he has to prove he can defend better than he has in the past. Opponents shot 3.5 percent better than they normally did last season when Ellington was guarding them. Waiters held the players he guarded to minus 0.5 percent below their season average. 

As for Williams, an athletic, former No. 2 overall pick who has started 101 games in his career, he's fighting for a position that ultimately seems wide open with three-point specialist Luke Babbitt (38 career starts) and defensive-minded James Johnson (140 career starts) the other real contenders. Basically, all three together equal what Chris Bosh gave the Heat in one player.

Now, Spoelstra has to decide which of those three and the elements they bring, mesh the best with the starting unit. Then, he's got to figure out if and how he can still get something worthwhile out of the other guys if they are coming off the bench. It won't be easy especially since Josh McRoberts, who could also be in the mix to start, is still recovering from a setback with his broken right foot back in May. 

"It's going to be different things with different guys," Spoelstra answered Monday when asked he's ultimately looking for in a starting power forward.

"When Luke is there, he's spacing the floor and I want to him have an absolute green light. Like some of the guys we've had here in the past I don't want him to think about ever hesitating behind the three-point line. Even if he's taking some bad ones I want him to have that green light.

"But Derrick [Williams] has a different skill set. He can knock down threes. But he's an aggressive player that's really effective in the paint. James [Johnson] brings a different dynamic when he's there in terms of his ability to playmake, similar to the way Justise does. They do different things and we want to try to maximize those strengths and be OK with guys playing different roles in that position. They don't have to look the same."

For what it's worth, Spoelstra said he has some idea of the 10 players he thinks will be in the Heat's rotation. But I think health and how guys mesh with one another over these eight preseason games will ultimately determine who those 10 really are. Spoelstra has said on multiple occasions he's happy the Heat are playing the NBA maximum eight preseason games so he can get a good look at this team and evaluate his choices.

While Spoelstra wants to see the Heat remain competitive this preseason, winning will take a back seat to finding the lineup combinations and rotations. After all, that's what the preseason is for. 

Ultimately, you probably won't see much of the rookies this preseason except on nights Miami plays back-to-backs. The Heat only have two of those situations: Oct. 14 and 15 when the Heat visit the Spurs and then play the T'Wolves in Louisville, Ky. and then Oct. 20 and 21 when Miami wraps up the preseason at Charlotte and then at home against the 76ers.

"I don't anticipate I'll play guys over 20 minutes," Spoelstra said Monday of the Heat's preseason opener. "We'll have to evaluate and get guys in there. I also won't be able to play everybody. That's pretty obvious as well. How I work that out, I'm not totally sure yet."

BACKCOURT MESH

As for the starting back court, until Richardson returns to full health and competes, the job is likely Waiters' to lose.

What does Spoelstra like about a Waiters-Dragic backcourt?

"You have two ball-handlers, two guys that can attack in the paint," he said. "They both can spread the floor for the other guy. They're both very capable three-point shooters. So, I do like that dynamic. Each can handle on the pick and roll and we can put a lot of pressure on the defense with those two guys."

Dragic told me Saturday before the Heat left the Bahamas that he feels like he and Waiters mesh well, but that both need to learn to communicate better as the preseason moves on.

"He can shoot the ball. He can space. He plays pick-and-rolls and sometimes that's good," Dragic said of Waiters. "It takes pressure off me a little bit. There's another playmaker on the court too. I already played like that before [in Phoenix] with [Eric] Bledsoe."

Is that who Waiters reminds you of?

"Yes," Dragic answered. "Better shooter though."

> What is Dragic looking for in the preseason opener?

"Just to get organized. We know what to run on a miss and on a make. I feel like when we're communicating and echoing the calls then it's much easier," he said Monday. "Our spacing is much better and then it's really easy to play because the ball is moving and I think the most important thing is going to be that tomorrow."

> Expect Winslow to be all over the court at different positions.He won't just line up at small forward or power forward. He could run the point at times, line up at center like he did in the playoffs and even play some shooting guard.

"That's not realistic for him," Spoelstra said when asked if Winslow would concentrate on just one position this preseason. "And he's better in those kind of situations where you challenge him to do more things and use more of his versatility."

> Here's some video of Winslow today working on his three-point shot. The hitch in his shot is noticeably gone.

FYI, Winslow has been the last to leave the court at almost every practice I've been at. And I haven't missed one. 

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Heat wrap up camp in the Bahamas, look ahead to start of preseason on Tuesday

NASSAU, BAHAMAS -- Some quick notes off the team's final day of camp in the Bahamas: 

> Saturday’s final practice at the Atlantis Paradise Resort ended with point guard Goran Dragic (knee soreness) and center Hassan Whiteside (left knee soreness) not participating in contact drills.

Neither issue is of serious concern to coach Erik Spoelstra.

Whiteside, who also worked off to the side on Friday, and Dragic, who said he was just sore from having played a lot this summer with the Slovenian national team, both expect to play in the Heat’s preseason opener on Tuesday at Washington.

"I'm looking forward to it," Whiteside said. "I'm pretty sure I'll be there the first game against the Wizards. Just get out there and get it started, get in front of the Heat fans and let's get this thing started."

The soreness for Whiteside is not in the same knee he severely sprained during the playoffs.

"It feels a lot better," he said of his left knee. "I just wanted to be careful with the contact. I worked out. I feel a lot better."

> Guard Josh Richardson, who sprained his MCL on Sept. 9 after he landed awkwardly following a dunk during a team workout, said he made some progress with his knee during camp but is still experiencing pain with certain movements.

The Heat still hope he will be ready for the season opener Oct. 26.

"I think I've made a lot of progress actually," Richardson said. "Before this week I just started walking and stuff. I never really got to get on the court at all. So this week I got to do a little court walk, start shooting some. Just being able to be mobile with my team has been great for me mentally."

Richardson said he will likely wear a leg brace to start the season.

> Spoelstra said he’s not sure who will start in Tuesday’s preseason opener just yet.

“I'll chew on that all the way until [Tuesday],” he said. “I'm going to have to learn a lot. Actually, I'm thankful we have eight preseason games. We're going to need these games to evaluate and continue to get ready.”

> Friday night the entire team got together for a barbecue on the beach and some bonding time.

"It helps when you go away,” Spoelstra said. “Going back to when Pat was coaching, you always like to get away and just have more opportunities that are unscripted [for bonding]. It has to be organic. You can't force it upon a group. It just happens very naturally here. Like I said it was a great environment to be here and the bus rides, all the meals we had together. The team barbecue last night was fun."

Dragic said he learned how to play dominoes at the barbecue. He might even be willing to head down to Calle Ocho now in Miami and take on some grand champions at Domino Park. 

"It was great," he said. "We finished practice and had a good meeting. After that it was relaxing and having fun. The fellas, they teached me how to play Dominoes and it was fun. Something new, but at the same time you can talk with those guys and ask them questions and get to know them."

How is the bonding going with Dion Waiters in the backcourt?

"Great. I just I think we still need a little bit more time," Dragic said. "From his part, he needs to be more communicating. But he's an unbelievable player. We've already seen what he can do. Even in this training camp he's explosive. He can get other people involved. He can create his own shot. So, it's going to be easy. We just need to talk so we can be on the same page."

15 questions with Goran Dragic

NASSAU, BAHAMAS -- With a new season on the horizon I figured now might be a good time to add a new feature to the blog.

It's basically going to be fun, mostly off-the-court questions with players, coaches and people around the team. 

Point guard Goran Dragic agreed to be my first subject on Friday. 

Q: I'm stealing this question from Dan LeBatard. Your house is on fire, assuming your family is safe outside, you have enough time to go back into the house to save three items. What are you saving and why?

"I'm taking my wallet man. We need credit cards so we can eat. I'm taking that first. Second thing, I'm taking baby toys for my kids. The third thing is my passports. So I can go home to Slovenia."

MoussakaQ: When you are back home with Mom in Slovenia what are you asking her to make for you?

"Moussaka. That's like layers of potatoes. Then she puts meats, vegetables and then layers of potatoes and then cheese on top. It's similar to lasagna."

Q: If you could turn the tables on the media what would you do?

"I would make them do everything we do -- play all 82 games and travel and then after the season you guys can write about how you guys feel."

Q: If we stole Goran Dragic's iPhone what music do we find on there?

"Most of it is just Serbian pop music, pop rock."

Q: Is there a song you sing in the shower?

"That was a long time ago. I don't do that anymore. It was before when I was single. Now with my wife there's no singing in the shower."

Q: Is there a Serbian rock star we don't know about?

"Ceca. She sings this song Beograd. She has a lot of great songs."

Q: What would you do if you couldn't play basketball?
"Soccer."

Q: No, a regular job. You have no athleticism at all. You are a regular person.

"That's a good one. I would not want to be a cop. I would not want to be a firefighter. I'd be a dentist."

Goran Broken ToothQ: Is that because you've been to one so often in your career as player having your teeth knocked out?

"You can make a pretty a good living out of it. Plus, I have pretty good experience with them. I know what they're going to do to me."

Q: You are a happy guy. I'm sure this one is tough for you. The last time you cried was? 

"The last time that I cried -- man that's a good one. The last time I cried was 2013. The European basketball championships when our goal was to get a medal. We played really well -- all the games. Then in the quarterfinals we got France. They were the European champions and because it was at home, it was such an awesome feeling to play in front of your whole country. At that stage I was 100 percent certain we were going to win a medal. Then we got France and they eliminated us from getting a medal.

"I was not crying, crying, but it touched me. I wasn't crying before the game. It was after. Because at the moment I knew the championship was over. We were not going to experience that anymore, to play at home, in front of so many people. Everybody was so pumped."

Q: What's Goran Dragic's guilty pleasure?

"What does that mean?"

Q: Something you feel bad about after you do it. A fat guy like me might say eating chocolate or drinking whiskey.

"You know what, I don't know what it's called, but when you stay up late watching TV shows. If I watch one then I have to finish it all at once. I watched the whole night and then the next day I'm tired and I'm thinking, I'm sorry for my language, 'Why the [expletive] did I stay up watching that?' The last TV show was Narcos. I couldn't stop watching. I watched all the episodes of the first season in like one day."

NarcosQ: Seen Season 2 yet?

"No. I'm waiting to have a free day. I'm going to have to wait until next off-season. Because the next day I feel awful. I'm tired. And I say to myself 'Why the heck didn't I just stop it and go to bed?'"

Q: Have you done it with any other shows?

"Entourage. But Entourage was pretty long. It's like seven, eight seasons. Then, what's the name of that show with those bikers. It's really violent. Sons of Anarchy. [Laughter]. I like to watch shows."

Q: If we ever have a Goran Dragic movie, which actor plays Goran Dragic?

"The last time I lost my tooth everybody said Jim Carrey, man. So I guess Jim Carrey."

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Notes and quotes from Tuesday's Heat practice in the Bahamas

NASSAU, BAHAMAS -- The Heat's first practice of the season took place here Tuesday morning inside a ballroom turned basketball court and as so many Miami fans have come accustomed to hearing Josh McRoberts was a non-participant. 

Coach Erik Spoelstra said McRoberts, who was on a stationary bike, injured his foot and ankle about five weeks ago.

McRoberts, who has a chance to make an impact this season with Chris Bosh out and Miami in dire need of help at power forward, has missed 88 games in his first two seasons with the Heat because of various injuries.

"He's actually rehabbing well," Spoelstra said. "So, he'll be doing more and more this week. [Undrafted rookie forward] Stephan [Jankovich] also has a sprained ankle. But he was able to participate probably the first half hour of practice. We'll monitor both of them as the week goes on. [Josh Richardson] is doing a little bit."

Richardson, who sprained his MCL coming down after a dunk during a team workout three weeks ago, said he spent nearly all of Tuesday's practice on a stationary bike. 

"Today I rode the bike for the first time," Richardson said. "I did some band work, balance work. I was on the court with the guys talking and helping out. But I couldn't really like run or anything like that."

Richardson said he can't tell if there is any pain in his knee because he really hasn't "tried anything yet."

He said he has no timetable for when he will start practicing for real. It's clear Spoelstra wants to be cautious with him.

"We really need to be careful," Spoelstra said. "With him it's tough, he's one of those guys we don't want to fast track because he would think he's ready to play right now. We want to be smart about it."

NO FUN IN THE SUN?

Though the Heat is spending six days here at a resort, there's not going to be a lot time for fun, Spoelstra said. The team has practices scheduled for 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day. 

"They know what to expect," Spoelstra said. "And if for whatever reason that escaped them not knowing what a Miami training camp would be like then I think after the session tonight they'll realize they won't have a lot of excess energy to do other things. But it's a great environment to get to work. The views are fantastic. Even out of our meeting rooms, coming out of our meals, it's a nice environment. We wanted to give these guys that environment while we're getting things done."

Guard Dion Waiters said he was probably going to be too tired to enjoy the water slides and beaches at Atlantis.

"I'm not going to no beach," Waiters said.  "I'm tired. It's work. This is what it's about, taking care of business now so when the game comes it's easier. If we push each other like we did today we're only going to make each other better."

Still, veteran Udonis Haslem said he would like to get players together to do something fun before they leave.

"I have to find out the schedule from coach," Haslem said. 

Will he take the team down the 50-foot slide? 

"I don't know," Haslem said with a grin. That slide gives you wedgies."

TEAM IN GREAT SHAPE

Spoelstra said he was extremely happy with the collective conditioning of the team -- especially Waiters who has shed close to 12 pounds and 3 1/2 percent body fat in three weeks. 

"Guys came in extremely well conditioned," Spoelstra said. "So we were able to really get into full contact in this first practice. We didn't mess around or wait. We got right to it. We didn't feel the need to use practice to get guys in shape. Instead we were getting ready to work, which we need a lot of it. We have new faces, guys in different roles. I commend them for really spending the last seven, eight weeks putting in that time to get their bodies right.

"[Waiters] made it through this practice without a problem. We love his conditioning right now."

Said Waiters: "I feel good. I feel lighter. I have a lot of energy. I felt great."

Having Haslem around to lead the team in voluntary workouts since Aug. 1 has been huge, Spoelstra said.

"He's been tremendous," he said. "When you bring in new players and you're developing a young group you have to have veteran leadership and somebody who understands what the Miami Heat way is. We're not saying the Miami Heat way is better or worse than any other way. But at least we know and believe in a way. That brings some stability to some of the guys coming in here. They have an idea of what to expect.

"I say this a lot, but we can spend a lot of time explaining what the Miami Heat culture or what it means to put on a Miami Heat uniform. Or, we could show a picture of Udonis Haslem and they get the idea of what the culture is by his example. His voice has been tremendous. The guys respect him."

Haslem said the team "had a lot of energy" Tuesday.

"As usual, offense is a little messy. But that's what you expect the first couple days with people flying around like chickens with their heads cut off," he said. "But there was a lot of energy out there, a lot of fresh legs out there."

> Players said it was weird not seeing Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade around after so many years with the organization. But the message has been consistent from the top on down -- it's time to move on. 

"It is strange," Spoelstra said. "But, once you get on the wood and start working with this group they got the attention that they deserve from the coaching staff. It's about these 19 guys right now, investing in all of them. And preparing for 29 days from now."

Center Hassan Whiteside said it sucks not having Bosh around. He misses his friendship in the locker room. But the Heat has to move on.

"We have really talented guys," Whiteside said. "Guys that are willing to put in work everyday. We just have to move forward with what we've got. These guys are talented. So, I'm not worried." 

> What is Whiteside looking to improve on?

"Just build trust with the guys, build chemistry with the guys," he said. "Me and Goran [Dragic] had much better chemistry the second half of the season. We got like almost a whole new team. Building chemistry with the guys and showing them I'm trustworthy and vice-versa."

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Goran Dragic hit with technical, $2,000 fine for swinging at Cory Joseph in Game 4

TORONTO -- Goran Dragic has been hit with a technical foul and $2,000 fine by the NBA for swinging at Raptors guard Cory Joseph with 2:17 left in the fourth quarter of the Heat's Game 4 overtime victory.

Here's a look at the play.

Dragic is the first Heat player or coach to be hit with a technical in the playoffs.

Dragic is lucky he didn't connect. Had he punched Joseph he would have likely not only been ejected from Game 4, but potentially suspended for Game 5.

Dragic has been frustrated all season with the officiating and how he hasn't gotten the benefit of many calls. In Game 2 vs. Toronto, DeMar DeRozan elbowed Dragic in the mouth, leaving him bloodied and requiring eight stitches to close a gash on his bottom lip. Dragic was called for a blocking foul.

And it's clear on that play he was swinging out of frustration.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Goran Dragic has reached his boiling point with officials

TORONTO -- Goran Dragic spent halftime Thursday having the gash in his bottom lip stitched up by the Heat's medical staff.

DeMar DeRozan's left elbow to his mouth wasn't what Dragic asked for on the eve of his 30th birthday. 

But nothing bothered the Heat's starting point guard more that when he was also called for the foul.

"Of course it was a charge -- I bled," Dragic told reporters after the Heat's 96-92 overtime Game 2 loss to the Raptors.

"If he hits me with the elbow first, then it's a charge. What can I say? This season, every time [I get hit] I get [called for] a foul. I lost two [teeth], got stitches and always they call it on me. I don't know if the refs are there watching the game or not."

Did Dragic get an explanation?

"No," he said. "I didn't even want to -- talk because it's only going to get worse."

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

What happened on Kyle Lowry's heave, the Heat's late inbounds woes and why the Dragon is on fire

TORONTO -- When the NBA releases its Last Two Minute Report Wednesday afternoon there's a chance it's going to say Kyle Lowry's 39-foot, buzzer-beating heave at the end of regulation probably should not have counted.

Well, we think they will.

There's plenty of evidence surfing the internet (screen shots) to suggest that Lowry's left foot stepped out of bounds -- directly in front of a referee no less -- moments before he dribbled up court and unleashed the prayer that sent the game to overtime tied at 90.

That said, the Heat could have avoided all that drama had it not gone into meltdown mode in the fourth quarter. There were a series of late turnovers including a pair by Luol Deng on inbounds passes that crushed the Heat.

But before we get to those, we'll start with Lowry's halfcourt heave.

Why did Justise Winslow, who was guarding Lowry, give him so much space before he took the shot knowing Lowry was only going to have time to fling up a prayer? Basically, because the Heat were willing to live with it instead of giving him any sort of chance to tie the game at the free throw line.

"He hit a crazy shot. That's it," Winslow. "Even on that shot he jumped six feet forward and landed on me. I didn't want to get too close to him because he's crafty and I didn't want a four-point play. I don't think he's going to make that shot 3 out of 10 times."

INBOUNDS WOES

Although Heat coach Erik Spoelstra took the blame in the Heat's post-game press conference for Miami's woes trying to inbounds the ball late (he said he has to diagram better plays), Deng wouldn't allow the blame to fall on his coach. 

"The first one I traveled on [with 22 seconds left] I saw he missed the shot, but when we stopped [for a substitution] and we were talking I thought they scored," Deng explained of what happened moments after Lowry airballed a long three-pointer. "Whenever they score, that's when I take it in. I didn't even hear the ref say you can't move. That one was my mistake."

Deng's second turnover on an inbounds pass happened with the Heat up 89-86 with four seconds to play. Deng threw the ball in the direction of Dwyane Wade who was running towards midcourt. But Deng's pass was off target and Wade slipped on the play along with Toronto's Cory Joseph, who was guarding him.

"I really try to time his run," Deng said. "I don't know if he tripped or what. I should have held the ball and called time out. But I thought he was going to keep running through and that's why I threw it. But I definitely don't think it was Coach Spo's fault.

"If we would have lost -- that would have been a bad one. I'm just glad we stuck together, guys had my back and we won."

> Wade afterward said he "hit the inside" of his knee on the floor when he slipped and fell forward on that Deng inbounds pass toward the end of regulation.

"I hit the bone, and I'm sure it's bruised," Wade said. "I will be fine. I've played with it before so I will do it again." 

HOT DRAGON

Goran Dragic's emergence over the Heat's last two victories has been a welcome sight for Heat fans.

But if you ask the players, there's really nothing different about the way Dragic has been playing. It's really just about the defensive coverages being different.

Or, it could just be Luol Deng's new sandwiches.

All sandwich jokes aside, Dragic said it really is just the fact the paint isn't crowded anymore.

And Deng, Wade and others all supported that idea.

"He's always the same guy," Deng said. "Sometimes he really understands he might not have it going and w've got to look for D-Wade or look for Joe [Johnson]. There's different guys. The first six games [against] Charlotte, they were so focused on taking away the paint from him that we had all these shots and looks from three.

"Tonight, I felt Toronto was really worried about my shot. And they were showing on my screen. Any time you show [on the screen], it really gives Goran a chance to go downhill. A lot of times [defenders] keep him or the big drops. It's hard to penetrate, so he kicks it back out. We just realized that early. Soon as they went to that small lineup I knew my screens would be showing."

Said Wade: "He's very aggressive man. He's getting to his game. Whenever he can get downhill, get to the basket and put pressure on the defense, that's the Goran Dragic everyone, basketball fans came to know. In the end, he's getting his opportunities to make some shots based on how the defense is playing. He's been very aggressive and we need that. I'm not saying we need him to score 25 every night, but we need him on the attack. It makes everyone's job easier."

LATE NIGHT LOWRY

Lowry finished 3 for 13 shooting in Game 1 and is now 34 for 111 (30.6 percent) from the field in the playoffs and 8 for 50 from three-point range (16.0%).

But he's not giving up on his shot. As reporters were leaving Air Canada Center early Wednesday morning, Lowry was in the arena putting up shots by himself.

"It's tough, but at the end of the day I'm not going to beat myself up too much," Lowry said of his struggles. "I have enough going on with my teammates and they are being positive. At the end of the day, I still have to try and help my team win. Even if I'm not shooting the ball well I have to figure out a way to help my team."

Told Wade was 8-for-50 from three-point range in this series, Wade joked: "Sounds like me in the regular season. Those are about my numbers. So he's already on track to make some big ones."

Then, Wade got serious. "Kyle Lowry, he can get going," Wade said. "So, we always have to be aware of him. He's an All-Star player in this league."


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