Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Recovery game

Easy to say that Tuesday night's loss was the most upsetting loss of the season. Loss in Boston was practically designed to be a disaster. The Hornets loss wasn't that bad because it was a near comeback and because the Hornets have yet to lose. But losing to the Jazz in that fashion was fairly discouraging for this team.

That said, there are a lot of factors that set up for the ultimate recovery game Thursday.

First, the Celtics will be without significant size for the game, and we all know what quality size has done to the Heat so far this season. Jermaine O'Neal is definitely out, and Shaquille O'Neal is very likely out, Doc Rivers said this morning at the AAA.

Second, the Heat is playing the Celtics, which will be considered a "revenge game" and will feel just as satisfying even without the O'Neals because, well, the Big Four will certainly be on the floor.

And third, and this might be the biggest key of them all, you could tell from being at Heat practice Wednesday that this team, for obvious reasons, is taking this loss extremely seriously. The team took the first two losses pretty seriously also, but this is the only one of the three that didn't come with a game the very next night. That meant an extensive film session and time to stew. Couple that with the manner in which they lost, blowing a 22-point lead and giving up a putback to tie the game, and it means the Heat might be as prepared for this game as for any game this season. At least mentally prepared to want to recover.

There are the little signs that certain players will be prepared. Udonis went to Spoelstra's office for a discussion prior to practice. LeBron, after practice, was huddled in the corner of the practice court getting loads of advice from asst coach Bob McAdoo. Dwyane spent extra time with asst. coach David Fizdale working on his free throws and being very specific on his approach, footwork and weight balance at the line. Those are all just little things, but it's heartening to know these players, no matter how great, take losses to heart and want to avoid ever making those same mistakes again.
UD upset

Speaking of mistakes, Udonis (left) strongly implied that Millsap flat shoved him out of bounds to get that last offensive rebound and putback to tie the game. "I didn't fall out of bounds by myself. My shoes weren't untied," he said.

Some would look at that play -- along with many other plays in the second half and overtime -- as examples of the Heat not being tough enough. It's hard to call a team with such good defensive statistics soft, so it's probably not toughness, per se, that's the issue. At least not Tuesday night. It was more of random lapses in focus. For example, yes, Udonis was pushed out of the way by Millsap. But Bosh, who was covering Kirilenko on the perimeter when the initial three-pointer was taken, kind of just floated back toward the paint with no real purpose as the shot was in the air. Had he gone to the boards "like a torpedo" the way Spoelstra described Millsap's effort, then Bosh would've either been able to fight for the rebound or at the very least disrupt the shot Millsap put up.

It's those little lapses that allowed the Jazz to come back, and it's that kind of thing Spoelstra means when he says the Heat can "learn" from that game. It's hard to imagine veterans shouldn't know that already, but sometimes they don't even know they're doing it until it affects them negatively. Tuesday offered the Heat that notice.

And finally, the Heat has now been the victim of flagrant fouls to LeBron against the Nets and James Jones against the Jazz. Asked if the Heat might need to answer back for the chippiness, LeBron said the following:

"We'll see how the game is being played. Maybe we need to do something."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Heat Awaits D-day for Dampier

If you listen to the latest sales job by Heat president Pat Riley, his pitch is that Miami will be just fine this Act_erick_dampier season at what arguably is the team's weakest position.

Riley sees a potential oasis where most folks see a pivotal position as stable as quicksand.

Sure, the Heat has about 28 feet of bodies committed to the center spot in the likes of 7-3 Zydrunas Ilgauskas, 6-9 Joel Anthony, 6-11 Jamaal Magloire and 6-10 Dexter Pittman. Each has either unique size or gifts. None is close to being the complete package that would make him the clear-cut anchor at the position.

And that's why Monday is the start of an intriguing period for the Heat. With training camp looming in a matter of days, there could soon be one big man on the market who has enough intangibles to garner a high level of Heat interest. Monday essentially opens the official bidding for the services of Erick Dampier.

Today marks the end of the 60-day period from which Dampier was dealt by Dallas to Charlotte, which can now trade the veteran center and his gold-mine of a $13 million, non-guaranteed contract. Dampier is highly likely to be released by any team that trades for him, meaning he'd end up a free-agent available at a drastically reduced price.

Here's where the Heat comes in, depending on how drastic a reduction Dampier is willing to accept.

Despite four bodies at center, the Heat still has questions at the position. Unfortunately, Riley only has the veteran's minimum of $1.3 million to offer - and Dampier already reportedly has turned down more than that in some preliminary discussions on a new deal with Charlotte.

But this is Miami. And there's known to be mutual interest. In fact, Dampier has already told at least one long-time associate in his Jackson, Miss. hometown that Miami would be at the top of his list if he's released. Dampier's camp also indicated that to the Bobcats, who are convinced he's likely headed for Miami if Charlotte can't find a trade partner.

But the Heat is not in position to trade for him, with only Mario Chalmers and rookies available to send.

Even at this advanced stage of his career, Dampier, 34, is still a productive rebounder and shot-blocker. And he's far from a liability on offense. That combination, alone, would - or should - put him ahead in the pecking order the Heat has right now. Otherwise, the Heat would have to explore the alternative options at center. The ones Riley laid out during his recent conference call previewing the Heat's training camp.

"I can't wait for all of this to sort of work out," Riley said, before lauding Anthony's athleticism and shot-blocking, Big Z's shooting and size and Magloire's rugged defense. "But when people look at the center position, they probably look at those three guys and say, 'It's not good enough.' "

Riley believes Chris Bosh, Juwan Howard and Udonis Haslem - all natural power forwards - have shown enough over their careers to step in and fill some voids at center. Especially from an offensive standpoint. None would - or should - be asked to man the center spot for extended stretches.

"So, I think we probably have more versatility at the center position than, I think, anybody in the league, to manage that position with versatility, with savvy, different kind of players," Riley insisted, before mentioning the Lakers, Celtics and Magic as teams that have a clear edge on Miami in the middle. "But we feel we have enough up front to match up with any of these guys."

At the time of those statements, it was difficult to tell whether Riley was working harder to convince himself or his audience of the Heat's optimism at center - as is. Dampier's arrival - via free agency by way of a trade from Charlotte and/or his subsequent release - would render Riley's reasoning a bit more of a reality.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/WallaceNBAHeat. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Hot Takes on Miami Heat

What do Kwame Brown, DeSean Butler, Spoelstra's handling of the rotation and Heat hate all have in Spo-timeout common? We break them all down in the latest Heat live Q&A session.

Another week, another dose of dynamic questions from you guys regarding the Miami Heat.

Pretty soon, we'll start to see this team provide some answers. But until then, we try to give you as much info based on our insight and access from covering this team. Here's a sample of this week's chat, which wrapped up just a few minutes ago. Click on the link below to read the entire session from Thursday.

And then, jump into the fray next week with your own Heat takes and questions.

Most Recently Answered Questions

Questions 1 - 15 of 1244 (Page 1 of 42)

Q: Hey Michael, do you think Spoelstra will find enough minutes to go around to get these shooters involved in games. We have arguably the best core of 3 point shooters with Miller, J. Jones and E. House so I would like to see them get the minutes so that we can be an even deadlier squad. Another thing, do you see Coach Spo going maybe 10 deep into the rotation?...Thanks

Answered 08/12/10 14:06:05 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: The rotation always has been Spoelstra's biggest challenge. But now, he's got major talent at his disposal and won't have to do as much patchwork with the rotation. I'm almost certain that at least one of those three shooters will be on the court at all times. I'm not sure, however, that you'd want to take the rotation out to 10 players amid a quest for true continuity. I see eight or nine at most: Wade, LeBron, Bosh, Mike Miller, Haslem, Anthony, House, Chalmers and Big Z.

Q: Hey Michael, I would like to see Jerry Stackhouse be put into the equation. What do you think ? He said he would be a role player.

Answered 08/12/10 14:01:48 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I'm sure Jerry Stackhouse would like to see himself thrown into the equation right now, too.

Q: Hi Mike, I just wanted to know how heat are going to win in the final round of the playoffs without a true center and a point guard? i mean they have 3 kings, but don't you think, they should have at least tried to get a center like Shaq or Jermaine or perhaps Brad Miller, Shaq signed for the minimum with boston, so i don't think money was that of a big issue. And again if they would have gone after raja bell or matt barnes, they would bought an insurance policy of keeping wade and lebron out of foul trouble, and defensive presence against kobe.

Answered 08/12/10 14:00:46 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: Those are all great points. But I think the Heat is confident in what it has. Sure, one more big body on the front line would be great, as would a true veteran point guard. But that's not the case right now. I still think there's more than enough on the Heat's roster to accomplish what it needs to get done. But keep in mind, Miami still has the flexibility to bring in one more player and can shift its current rotation to play a number of different styles. What if Wade is willing to move to PG now that he has more scoring help? And what if Bosh is willing to take on some center alongside Udonis Haslem at power forward? There is plenty still unsettled about this team's approach. But the options are numerous with what's already here.

Q: So apparently if LA and MIA meet up next June the Heat are doomed because of the Lakers' size, or at least that's the case according to guys like Larry Coon and other ignorant Laker fans. Andrew Bynum's advantage over Joel or Z is the overwhelming matchup that leads to Miami's demise (please pick up the sarcasm Mike). So my question to you- as people examine the matchup of Chalmers-Fisher, Wade-Kobe, Lebron-Ron, Pau-Bosh, and Bynum-Joel/Z, do they just assume that Lebron vs. Artest is really a wash? I realize the Lakers are extremely talented and there's more to it then player by player matchups, but are you honestly telling me that these "experts" prefer the advantage that Bynum gives you over someone like Joel or Z rather than the one that Lebron James gives you over Ron Artest? Call me foolish, but I'll take the LBJ>Ron advantage over the Bynum>Joel/Z advantage any day of the week. You?

Answered 08/12/10 13:57:01 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I think these teams really offset one another in terms of those matchups. I think health/injuries will be a huge factor, as well as homecourt advantage, assuming these two teams advance to the Finals. As I said before, I'm not sure I'm ready to get too deep into the Xs and Os and matchups at this stage, because there's too much ball to be played. But I do think all signs point to that Lakers-Heat matchup in the Finals.

Q: I think if DeShaun Butler recovers from his torn ACL he would be a great pickup. He could have been a top ten pick without the injury. Also, Jon Scheyer should be signed. Smart, three point shooter, defender and can run the point. Your thoughts.

Answered 08/12/10 13:54:06 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: Those are two talented young players the Heat really hopes to see healthy one day real soon. Scheyer was knocked out of summer league with an eye injury and Butler is recovering from the knee injury. These two could end up on the Heat's roster in a year or two, once some of the low-cost veterans move on. But the timing might be the biggest factor this season.

Q: whats up Michael? I have a statement more than a question! Because this needs to be said! I hope that all HEAT FANS realize that we have a VERY SPECIAL GEM that comes around only so many years IN THE WORLD OF SPORTS!! And his name is DYWANE WADE !!!!! REALLY THINK ABOUT IT !!! THIS GUY NOT ONLY RESIGN WITH US, BUT IS MAKING LESS MONEY THAN LEBRON AND CHRIS BOSH. And its his team! And to the NBA world, they need to STOP HATING! And give PROPS to D-WADe! Because back in the day NO ONE would've done what D-WADE did for the MIAMI HEAT and their franchise! Jordan said he would've never called up Magic or Larry Bird to team up. Ask him if he would've took less money and shared the spotlight with those superstars? I'm almost certain that he and others wouldn't of !! If it was up to me, i would have a D-WADE APPRECIATION DAY!! Something for HIM and ONLY HIM !! Make not mistake about it!!! ITS STILL ABOUT DYWANE WADE!!!!! HEAT FANS support Lebron and Chris Bosh, but let D-Wade know that we LOVE him and its all about HIM!! LETS GO HEAT!!!!!!!!!!!

Answered 08/12/10 13:51:21 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: Statement delivered.

Q: James is an outstanding assist man. At Cleveland he was basically a point forward which on offense left the point guard as a liability. Unless the point guard is a shooter ie Allen Iverson. I think if they bought both to camp to see who would fit the supporting role better.

Answered 08/12/10 13:49:49 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: LeBron and Dwyane will both get plenty of opportunities to handle the ball as the de facto point guard. And yes, the most impressive part of LeBron's season last year came when he took over as the PG during that stretch in Cleveland when both Mo Williams and Delonte West were out with injuries. He basically averaged a triple double.

Q: How come the Miami heat does not want to sign Kwame Brown on the roster? I truly believe that the Miami Heat can win multiple championship by signing Kwame Brown . I know he is not very efficient at producing point but he does not need to. His specialty is defending and rebounding and that what the Miami Heat really need right now. Kwame is strong ,big, tough and mean. He just need the heat to give him the opportunity to show case his potential . He will ankle the Miami Heat defend and provide much need rebound which the Miami does not have. Nobody can touch the Miami Heat if Kwame Brown is a part of the Miami Heat roster.

Answered 08/12/10 13:44:30 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: The Wizards became a playoff team AFTER Kwame. The Lakers got back to winning titles AFTER Kwame. And Detroit hasn't done a doggone thing WITH Kwame. So don't overstate Kwame's impact on anyone's roster. Having said that, he is a space-eating 7-footer who can still be a defensive presence. Money is the factor here. Not interest. The Heat is clearly interested. But there's nothing more than the vets' minimum to offer.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/qna/forum/heat_chat/index.html#ixzz0wPsWgiHr

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/WallaceNBAHeat. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Five Must-See Heat Games

Chances are, if you haven't locked down tickets to Heat games by now, you're probably going to be on the Celtics Heat Wade outside looking in.

The demand is that great. The expectations are even greater. And one thing that Dwyane Wade said a month ago, sitting at that press conference alongside new teammates Chris Bosh and LeBron James, resonates as sharply now as it did when he uttered the words on July 9.

"So thank us now," Wade said in a shout-out to the Heat's upcoming opponents this season. "Because every place is going to sell out when we come to town."

For those detractors out there, hate on the Heat all you want. But you still want to hear every word that comes out of these guys' mouths.

Rail on their egos and confidence. But your rear end will most likely be planted in a seat in front of the TV set when Miami's three dozen national TV games are broadcast. In a lot of ways, this Miami Heat team has become one of the most polarizing elements in sports and is nestled right in there with the Dallas Cowboys, Barry Bonds, Michael Vick, Mike Tyson and Brett Favre.

You either love to root against them. Or you live to root for them.

But you can't - or won't - stop watching.

That's one reason why almost every story in every NBA city across the nation written about the schedule's release yesterday was led by the date that particular team gets to either host or face the Miami Heat.

"So thank us now," reminds Wade.

I've already circled five games before the turn of the calendar year that are either "Must See" if you can get there, or "Can't Miss" if you have to settle for a seat in front of the tube. They are ranked only by when they appear on the schedule.

No. 1 - Oct. 26 at Boston: Why? Because it's the season opener alone makes this a magical event for the start of the Wade, Bosh and James administration. But add in multiple other subplots, and this becomes arguably the second-most hyped season opener in franchise history. The only other opener that's in this discussion for the Heat was its first-ever game played at the start of its 1988 season. Now, there's the battle of the Big 3s, the O'Neals' factor (Shaq and Jermaine) and the fact that Miami gets a chance to face the team that dumped Dwyane Wade out of the playoffs in the first round last season.

No. 2 - Oct. 29 vs Orlando: Anytime you get players from one team bickering publicly with the Howard-UD coach and general manager of another team - and those teams happen to be in the same state - you know there's a little something extra here. If the Heat-Magic matchup wasn't truly a rivalry before (Orlando has won 14 of the last 17), clearly it is now. No doubt about it. Otis Smith and Stan Van Gundy sort of called out LeBron for his decision to bolt Cleveland. LeBron and Wade let it be known that they couldn't wait to get back on the court to provide an answer. Toss in Dwight Howard's stated refusal to answer questions about the Heat, J.J. Redick's side comments last month and Jeff Van Gundy's set-them-up-to-fail praise last week, and you know there will be a winner-take-all feel to every game they play.

No. 3. - Dec. 2 at Cleveland: LeBron has tried to go the extra mile - literally, with that Akron charity Bike-a-thon event last week - to make amends with northeast Ohio for his decision to leave the Cavaliers hanging high and dry. But no amount of goodwill can erase the fact that much of the state remains scorned behind his move to Miami. Count on extra security being on hand at this one. Count on an entire arena letting loose all of the venom it can muster to voice displeasure for James. And you can also probably count on the Heat going out there and handing the inferior Cavs a 20-point beating - on the second night of a back-to-back set, no less.

No. 4 - Dec. 17 at New York: After essentially tanking two seasons and tearing their roster to shreds just for the chance to land LeBron, the Knicks welcome the player they so desperately coveted and face the team that drove a dagger into their free agency plans. Pat Riley gets the last laugh after all against the Knicks, right? It will be a media zoo when this game takes place. James and Wade have had some of their better games against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Expect an Ali-Frazier type atmosphere at the Garden, although this basketball battle will hardly live up to that epic prize fight from the early 1970s. This could turn out to be one of the highest-scoring games of the 2010-11 season.

No. 5 - Dec. 25 at Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe. LeBron. Dwyane. The three best players in the game.  Lakers-Heat-Main Enough said. Although Boston and Orlando would argue otherwise, this could very well be a preview of the 2011 NBA Finals. This is the matchup the world wants to see. The NBA truly delivers a gift on Christmas with this game. How badly did the league want to feature this game on this date? It's the second game of a two-game trip for the Heat, which plays at Phoenix two days earlier. Miami is never sent that far to play fewer than four or five games. Can Miami's star power match L.A.'s championship experience and swagger? Can the Heat's dynamic wings offset the Lakers' massive size up front?

So much intrigue. So many questions. We'll learn a  lot about this team over the first two full months of the season.

Buckle up. It's going to be a crazy ride.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/WallaceNBAHeat. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

O'Neal-itis + More (Vegas, Day 4)

A lot of chatter in Vegas regarding the Heat's two former O'Neals - Shaq and Jermaine.  J

Both have made headlines in recent days. Jermaine O'Neal was introduced to the media on Wednesday in Boston, where he indicated he turned down an opportunity to return and play with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

Some of the comments O'Neal made raised quite a few eyebrows.

There was this ...

"I could have re-signed back with those guys," O'Neal said in his press conference. "It comes down to personalities and style of play, and I thought Boston had all of that for me. It came down to winning now and not worrying about chemistry."

What Jermaine didn't come right out and say was that he had absolutely no chemistry with Bosh when the two were in Toronto. For that matter, Jermaine also didn't have much of a rhythm with Wade in Miami, either.

O'Neal favored the Big 3 that already has won a championship together over one that's forming in Miami. "Being part of something great is what matters to me," O'Neal said. "Obviously, those guys (Garnett, Allen, Pierce, Rondo), they have a ring already. They want another one. They know what it takes to get one."

It will be interesting to see how Jermaine's comments are interpreted by Wade, Bosh and James.

And then there's the other O'Neal. Shaquille. Word is he's looking for Brendan Haywood and Marcus Camby-type money in free agency. But there isn't a team in the league - and perhaps on the planet - that would pay Shaq anything close to $10 million a year.

And there might not be any teams out there willing to give him the full mid-level amount of about $5.8 million in first-year salary. But there are a handful of teams that would toss him a portion of the mid-level or the $2 million veteran's exception.

  Shaq Let's make one thing very clear here: Miami isn't one of those teams. There is absolutely no interest in a Shaq reunion from the Heat's side. Even if the burned bridges didn't exist, it just wouldn't be a good fit.

The last thing the Heat needs is a lane-clogging, ball-hogging presence in the paint. The first thing Shaq would want is his share of touches to feel involved in the process.

The one thing Shaq remains - and always will be - is an attraction. That's why fan-starved Atlanta makes sense. That's why New Orleans (returning to the state where Shaq played his college ball) might work.

One league official tossed out one very intriguing potential destination for Shaq: Los Angeles. No, not the Lakers. The Clippers. Imagine that.

LOCKOUT CONCERN: Heat fans better take every opportunity to watch Wade, LeBron and Bosh this Three Kings season. Because the way the things appear to be headed, this could be a one-and-done-for-awhile show.

In an interview Wednesday with Yahoo! Sports, players union executive Billy Hunter insists the league is headed for a lockout when the current collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2010-11 season. A day earlier, commissioner David Stern said, "we're not as far apart" as people make it seem. Sounds like Hunter disagrees.

"We can't be caught blindsided," Hunter said in the interview. "We have to prepare for a lockout. That's what I'm expecting."

Scare tactic? Perhaps. But this battle will loom heavily over what could be an extraordinary season.

RECRUITING SEASON: As it looks to fill out its final roster spots at the  veterans' minimum, the Heat officially has shifted from recruiter to being recruited. Former Heat point guard Mike James is the latest in a line of vets who'd like to latch onto the Heat's thrill ride guided by Wade, James and Bosh.

Speaking at Wednesday's golf event in advance of The Summer Groove in Miami, James said he's been in contact with the Heat, contact he initiated. "I'm 35 years old, but I'm in the best shape I've ever been in," James said. "I want to be able to help these young guys get better. But I can still hit a jump shot and I can still stop somebody on the other end."

HEAT MOVES TO 2-1: Guard Weyinmi Efejuku scored 19 points and center Garret Siler put together his second consecutive strong performance with 15 points, seven rebounds and two blocks to lead  the Heat to a 92-83 victory against Detroit on Wednesday in the Las Vegas Summer League.

Siler, a 6-11, 304-pound prospect, was undrafted out of Augusta State last year. But he has been the biggest surprise through three games of action. Siler has outplayed Heat second-round pick Dexter Pittman, and has averaged 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 76.9 percent from the field in his last two games. Pittman, Jarvis Varnado and Shavlik Randolph were held out Wednesday.

Siler, however, held his own against lottery pick Greg Monroe. "He was just one of the those guys that people saw potential in early, and some people didn't see it in me early," Siler said of his matchup with Monroe, who finished with 20 points and six boards. "You don't want to go out there with a chip on your shoulder. But you want to prove your own worth out there against some of these guys."

The Heat plays its fourth game Friday against Milwaukee.

MEDIA ROOM HUMOR: True story. Question: "So no Bosh jersey burnings in Toronto after his free agency announcement?" Response: "Nah. We knew a long time ago he wasn't coming back."

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Feast Week For Heat

While the main dish - or dishes - won't begin to arrive for another couple of weeks after the July 1 start of Bosh screaming free agency, today starts what could prove to be the next most important week of the Heat's offseason.

It's not quite "Feast Week" just yet for the Heat. That will only come once signatures from Dwyane Wade and the likes of Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer or Joe Johnson start rolling in.

But this week more than any other could very well set the table for the offseason makeover in Miami. It's been nearly two months since the Heat's season ended in that five-game series loss to Boston in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

That means you've had to endure eight weeks of sometimes senseless speculation, blogs, chats, Q&As, talking heads, tweeting hands and a lot of other gibberish from those who insist they're in the know. But the truth is, none of us are any better informed about what's about to go down in the next few days/weeks than we were when the Heat's offseason began that dreadful night in Boston.

LeBron seems to be no closer - or farther away - from making a commitment to Cleveland.

Amare is still no closer to casting his lot with Phoenix as he gets some R&R in Miami.

Bosh has gone from Miami to Houston to Dallas to Los Angeles (Lakers) to Chicago and now is supposedly on his way to Cleveland to join LeBron if the latest ramblings are to be believed. But you won't hear that from Bosh because he's tweeting on everything except his free agency.

And Dwyane is, well, still Dwyane. And that's good for Heat fans because he's the only marquee free agent who repeatedly expresses his desire to remain with his current team.

But first, there's some other business to get to this week before the madness begins in less than 10 days.

RIO RE-UPPED: The Heat got a headstart on handling its end-of-June personnel matters when it picked up Mario-magic the $850,000 option on guard Mario Chalmers over the weekend for the 2010-11 season. But the move probably raises more questions than it answers, although it was essentially a formality that Mario was going to be back in tow. Carlos Arroyo, who finished the season as the starter and is a free agent hoping to return, could be the odd man out. Pat Beverley, last season's second-round pick, will also be playing for a potential roster spot when he auditions with the Heat's summer league team in Las Vegas next month. And the Heat also has been looking hard at guards in the draft, where the team has four picks. Mario is either the intended starter at the point or the backup, which likely leaves only two PG spots available for next season. It's a position that must remain a priority in free agency for this team to avoid the merry-go-round that settled absolutely nothing last season. 

JOEL'S JUGGLE: Heat center Joel Anthony has until Thursday, the day of the draft, to decide whether to pick up his roughly $900,000 option for next season or to opt out of his contract to enter free agency. From all indications, Joel and agent Mike Higgins have struggled with the decision. But I'm told that the shot-blocking specialist is leaning toward opting out, a move the Heat expects. At a time when other minor free agents have decided to take advantage of job security and bypassed the opt-out clauses, Anthony is in a situation where he really doesn't have much to lose. If he opts out, the Heat would have to extend him a $1.1 million qualifying offer to have the right to match any outside offers to retain Anthony. If the Heat doesn't extend the qualifying offer, Anthony is free to go anywhere and get the most money he can get. In that event, it's not likely that he would receive much more than what he'd make next season if he simply picked up his option to return to Miami. And if all else fails, there's a good chance Miami would gladly take him back at the end of the summer at the salary number it was intending to pay Anthony for next season anyway. So in many ways, Joel could be in a no-lose situation, which is the reason why he'd opt out.

DRAFT (OR)DEAL: The bigger question facing the Heat entering Thursday's NBA draft isn't whether there's a bigger need, with the No. 18 pick, at point guard, swingman or center. Pat Riley and his staff have certainly kicked plenty of tires along the evaluation process. What the Heat is debating is whether anyone at No. 18 is worth eating up the $1.2 million in salary-cap space next season that could be used to potentially sweeten a deal for Joe Johnson or Carlos Boozer in free agency next month. Max guys are going to get max money on the free agency market. But for those deemed worthy of less-than-max money will be looking for as much as they can get. And an extra $1.2 million goes a long way at the Heat's negotiating table when factoring in other benefits such as no state income tax. Considering Riley's fetish for 7-footers, my hunch is the Heat keeps the pick, goes big at the draft and takes a shot at the likes Hassan Whiteside or Solomon Alabi. If there's buyer's remorse, the Heat could still package the pick in a July trade.

TRADE FRONT: And speaking of trades, don't read too much into Michael Beasley's whispers to a former Heat Mavericks Basketball TXMF101 Kansas State teammate in which he suggests he would have stayed in college four years. That's B.S. Mike hasn't stayed anywhere in his life for four years, let alone any particular school. And there's no way he'd go back and pass up the money he's guaranteed to make as the No. 2 overall pick in 2008. This is the same Beas who once said he refused to read a book coach Erik Spoelstra assigned to him because, "There's a reason I left college early, coach." Having said that, NBA life with the Heat hasn't always been enjoyable for Beasley. Adult life and the game hasn't come as easy for him at this level. Still, he's only 21 and has a world of talent and untapped potential. The same qualities that make Mike adorable to cover are also the traits that make him a headache to coach and manage sometimes. This week opens a lively trade window in which Beas could be dealt to create more cap space or to acquire veteran help at a position of need. Although Beasley has returned to Miami for workouts and discussions with Heat officials, he's been given no assurances he won't be dealt. At this point, I'm told Beasley is even bracing for a trade, although he's privately insisting he wants to make it work in Miami and doesn't want Riley to give up on him just yet.

FREE AGENT WATCH: By now, you know all of the big names: James. Wade. Boozer. Amare. Bosh. Dirk. Johnson. But if you look a bit deeper into the free agency pool, there are a number of intriguing prospects that could be added to complement a marquee addition. For the Heat, that could mean looking Mike Miller for mid-level type bargain that would come after Wade and a second max free agent are signed. Among those the Heat could find in the $3-6 million range is former Florida swingman Mike Miller. Miami has been interested before, when Miller was in Memphis. He brings the kind of shooting, ball-handling and scoring on the wing that would fit well alongside Dwyane Wade. There are questions about defense, always have been. But the Heat loses more games because of a lack of fire-power than it does because of defensive shortcomings. Even in a down year with the Wizards last season, Miller still averaged 11 points, six rebounds and four assists while shooting better than 50 percent from the field and 48 from 3-point range.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Answers to Thursday's Heat Q&A

Q: I think Bosh is more than likely somewhere else with a better sign and trade opportunity as opposed to the Heat. If that is the case, I personally would prefer a Boozer/Joe Johnson combination than just getting Amare or Amare with Johnson. What do you think? Also, do we have the cap space, or can we attain it through a Beasley trade, to get a Brendan Haywood, Earl Barron, or bring JO back at a discounted rate to be our center?

Answered 06/17/10 14:33:27 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I'd take Haywood, but I'd rather keep Beasley than let him walk for a reunion with either Earl Barron or Jermaine O'Neal. And I'm with you on the Boozer, Johnson pairing, although you'd then certainly need a center presence, which, I guess, would bring J.O. into the equation again.

Q: Great work Mike. Look into your crystal ball and tell me who you see Lebron, Bosh, Stoudemire, J.Johnson, and Boozer signing with?

Answered 06/17/10 14:31:32 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: Not sure I can afford crystal in this economy. But I'll look into the knockoff I got from the Opa-Locka flea market last week and tell you that ... LeBron will be back in Cleveland. Stoudemire will be in Miami or Chicago. Bosh will be in Chicago or Miami. Joe Johnson will be in New York. And Boozer will join Johnson in New York. But don't put too much stock in that ball. It was $2 bucks and doesn't have a return policy.

Q: Is Ricky Williams Smoking Ganja again? Or, just Mr. Ross? They both are predicting the Dolphins are going to the Super Bowl next season. Do you think the Dolphins are capable of playing in the Super Bowl next season?

Answered 06/17/10 14:28:24 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: You've reached the wrong Q&A. Press "0" for Jeff Darlington, Dolphins beat writer.

Q: Hi Michael, if Lebron and Wade team up and say Bosh decides to go for LAL who would be a better choice Boozer, Amare (most like not since he wants max contract) and I think Scola is available? Tnx.

Answered 06/17/10 14:27:13 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: In that scenario, I'd have to go with Boozer because he'd be cheaper and plus he's a better spot-up shooter than Amare. Playing alongside attack-the-basket players such as LeBron and Wade would create plenty of open looks for kick-out, mid-range jumpers. That's Boozer's game, in addition to his rebounding.

Q: hey mike when july 1 is here how long do u think it will take before the fireworks begin and in your expert opinion what do u think is a realistic scenario for the heat also if we can't build the team with sign and trade and we have to sign free agent directly which will prevent us to go over the 56 millions cap this year isn't it better to keep beasley for one more years and see how it works around 2 stars and then go all out in the next free agency when mr arisson will be able to go over the cap and finish to build a championship team cause i don't know how much over the lakers and celtics are but it doesn't looks like u can make it to the final round with a cheap salary team by the way when was the last time that a team won the champs and stayed under salary cap rule if it ever happen ? thank you for your time

Answered 06/17/10 14:25:37 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I really wish I had the answers. But I don't. I have educated and slightly-informed opinions. But Pat Riley is better than just about anyone in the league at keeping things close to the vest, despite being in on just about every available player. My guess is that Miami will end up with either Bosh or Stoudemire, make a strong play for Gay, look for a veteran pg in a trade, use at least two of its four draft picks to fill out roster spots and convince a proven league vet or two to come on board for a shot to contend in the East and unseat Boston and a weakened Orlando/Cleveland/Atlanta for a shot at the Finals.

Q: Just read somewhere that not only is Amare here but Rudy Gay is here with him working out this summer. Can you envision the Heat signing Amare and sign-and-trading Beasley/Cook for Gay? I think Gay, Wade, and Amare would be a great core if the Heat cannot land LBJ/Bosh.

Answered 06/17/10 14:22:56 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: That certainly would be the most explosive 2, 3, 4 trio in the league in my opinion. But I'm not sure the Grizzlies will allow Gay to walk this summer. If Gay doesn't want to be there, which I'm told he doesn't and wants out, he might have to take the one-year qualifying offer and then wait for unrestricted free agency next year - or a trade at the Feb. deadline.

Q: Good day mate! At least Amare was honest that he is NOT signing any contract that is not a maximum deal. 1st question is do you think he deserves one? Because I don't think so, I'd rather have Boozer if Amare's asking for a max. 2nd question is do you believe what these max-contract deserving FA's (LbJ, Bosh, etc.) whenever they say that winning is the most important thing and getting that max isn't that important to them? Do you really believe they would sign anything under the max?

Answered 06/17/10 14:20:30 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I don't think any of the top five free agents (LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Stoudemire, Dirk) is signing for anything less than the max. I think there are only about 7 max slots available throughout the league at this point. Boozer, Johnson, Gay - those guys might have to settle for less than the max, even though there might be money out there.

Q: It seems as if Bosh to Miami is gaining some steam since he and D-Wade had dinner together. At the end of free agency, do you think Wade convinces Bosh and Johnson to join the Heat? If they do, would be a be top 2 team in the east?

Answered 06/17/10 14:17:21 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I'm not sure I'd go that far just because they had dinner together. Heck, Wade attended a tennis tournament with Star Jones a couple years back, but that didn't mean they kicked off a commitment. I believe the Heat would face more competition and difficulties getting Bosh than they would Stoudemire. As far as Johnson is concerned, it's just a matter of how much he's willing to win and at what cost in terms of a less-than-max salary from Miami.

Q: So the New York Times published a article saying that Ray Allen wants to come to miami. It says that he knows Chris Bosh will sign too. So all the cap space for Ray Allen, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade? Is it really worth it to spend it on them? What would be the line up? Would dwayne wade switch to point guard?

Answered 06/17/10 14:14:31 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: It was the New York Daily News that published the rumor as part of a weekly NBA gossip column. Here's a tip. Only believe 1 percent of half of the rumors you hear about NBA free agency.

Q: will stoudemire go with the heat

Answered 06/17/10 14:12:12 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: The fact that Amare is here now working out, has established an offseason residence here and went as far as to get those MRIs at a clinic that just happened to service other Heat players certainly leads one to believe that something is in the works come July 1.

Q: trade Beasley,Jones,Cook with #1 pick to the pacers for Roy Hibbert and T J Ford. Then trade Ford to the warriors for Correy Maggette. Sign Steve Blake as the point guard. Starting 5: Blake,Wade,Maggette,Bosh,Hibbert bench: Chalmers,Raja Bell,Henry,Haslem,Jerome Jordan,Joel Anthony,other draft picks Or Trade Beasley,Jones,Cook and #1 pick to the hornets for Darren Collison and Okafor. Resign Wright. Starting 5: Collison,Wade,D Wright,Bosh,Okafor bench:Chalmers,Raja Bell,Henry,Haslem,Jerome Jordan,Joel Anthony,other draft picks Mike..

Answered 06/17/10 14:10:43 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: There you go. Spin again.

Q: Hi Pat-riley! i know that you have been busy to try to improve our team this summer. but my point view is : whoever at the power foward ,rudy gay at small forward,wade,whoever at the point guard or mario charmers and the center spot draft pick or O'Neil. reserve at the bench wright,haslem,patrick,draft pick at center,richardson,beasley or another draft pick.

Answered 06/17/10 14:09:45 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: You've got the wrong email if you're trying to reach Pat with another roster request. Try priley@whyinhellwouldItaketheseemailsfromfans.com

Q: Hey Mike, another question, is there any chance or way that Riley can bring Ricky Rubio here? I tend to think that he's not going to play in Minnesota and Minnesota is not going crazy for him, so can Riley work out a trade? If so, can he get him out of his European contract to get him here? I guess I'm asking if a) can this be done, and b) do you think it is a good PG option? Rubio looks like he's got good vision, can get the ball in the post and has a nice shot/range if Wade kicks out to him. What do you think?

Answered 06/17/10 14:07:22 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I won't be sold on Rubio until I see him getting it done in the NBA, against superior athleticism and quickness on a night in and night out basis. That's not to disrespect what he's doing overseas, but I need to see more than a few highlights. I believe Riley would rather go with a more proven vet at the point guard position. Even though J-Will and Payton drove Riley crazy with their attitudes and actions at times, there was a trust factor there that hasn't existed at that position since the championship team disbanded.

Q: After resigning Wade and Bosh trade Beasley,Cook,Jones to hornets for Collison and Okafor. Keep Collison and seeing as the pacers are interested in Okafor trade Okafor for Hibbert and Troy Murphy. Imagine having Murphy to backup Bosh. starting 5:Collison,Wade,D Wright,Bosh,Hibbert bench:Chalmers,Raja Bell,Gordan Hayward,Murphy,Jerome Jordan,Joel Anthony,other draft picks Mike...

Answered 06/17/10 14:04:39 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: I like. I like. But the question you have to ask is this: why would New Orleans need Beasley, Cook and Jones when they have David West, James Posey and Peja filling those exact same roles already?

Q: Hi Michael, hope u'r welle this week, as usual, under the florida sun... i have two questions for you today... first one : what choice would you do if you were in charge in the organisation, for the draft(choices which for you, would have the best sense)? second question: admitting bosh wants to come and Pat riley wants bosh to wear a heat jersey... it looks like a S&T is not so easy to do... so what is your thought about a three or four team deal to get every one happy?thanks for all...and take care. "bonjour de la france!"

Answered 06/17/10 14:03:07 by Miami Heat Beat Reporter

A: If I'm Miami, I simply take the best player available, regardless of position, with the NO. 18 pick. The Heat has needs at every position, considering only two players are under guaranteed contract right now moving forward. Depth was an issue with this team the past few seasons. Having said that, I'd go with a Big with the first-round pick, either Whiteside or solomon kid from Florida State.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/qna/forum/heat_chat/index.html#ixzz0r8XucaC1

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Feeling Better 'Bout Heat?

Feeling a bit better about the Miami Heat these days? Celtics Heat Wade

You probably should. Judging by the way the Eastern Conference playoffs are playing out, there's plenty of reason to feel a bit better than you did when the Heat's season crashed and burned in Boston three weeks ago.

That same Celtics team that pushed past the Heat with a 4-1 series victory has since caused the so-called King's collapse in Cleveland and has the Magic in the midst of a disappearing act via a 2-0 deficit in the conference finals.

Now while it's still a bit too soon to jump to any conclusions, it's OK to leap to an assumption.

So here's one: the Heat probably isn't as far away from competing with the conference's elite in the East as it seemed not so long ago.

Boston's run through the playoffs - after finishing the second half of the season with a .500 record - has proved at least two things so far.

One, only a Kevin Garnett knee injury last season will have prevented the Celtics from making three straight trips to the NBA Finals when it's all said and done this season.

And two, Dwyane Tyrone Wade Jr. is the single greatest player the Celtics have faced over the past three seasons. And that includes the 2008 team that defeated Kobe Bryant in the Finals and the 2010 squad that humbled and humiliated two-time league MVP LeBron James in the previous round.

No, there are no moral victories when it comes to basketball at this level. You either have the talent, teamwork, coaching and execution to get it done. Or you don't.

And clearly, the Heat didn't have enough of those elements to get it done during its first-round series loss to Boston this season. But when factoring in how things have played out since then, there should be a bit more appreciation and perspective when it comes to what Wade is, has been and should continue to be.

He might never win an MVP. But it should be obvious that he is the hardest-working man in the NBA.

You could roll out a number of "ifs" in the aftermath of Miami's postseason demise.

If Jermaine O'Neal could have given the Heat more in the postseason than 1.1 point per million earned.

If Michael Beasley could have produced at the same rate during games as he pouted afterward.

Game5-second If Quentin Richardson's biggest contribution was something other than using his face to punch the heck out of Kevin Garnett's elbow to land that suspension for K.G.

If coach Erik Spoelstra would have just kept Yakhouba Diawara on the bench in that final regular season game. Instead Khoubs was allowed to express his frustration with the rotation by banking in that three-pointer that doomed the Heat into a first-round series against Boston instead of Atlanta.

If, if, if.

But you know what they ultimately say about "ifs." If if was a fifth of your favorite adult beverage, we'd all blow three times the legal limit if stopped on the drive home.

But here's one "if" that should be a sobering reality.

If Wade had just a bit more help - not even a major roster makeover around him, just a bit more help - what might have become of the Heat in that first-round series against clearly the best team in the East?

Perhaps the Heat would have held onto that 14-point third-quarter lead in Game 1 at Boston and returned home with a 1-1 series split.

Perhaps Wade would have relied more on a trusted and proven sidekick down the stretch in Game 3 instead of trying to do everything on a bad leg that eventually gave out moments before Paul Pierce's buzzer-beating jumper.

You saw what Wade was able to do in Game 4. So right there, not even two full quarters of basketball were the difference between the Heat being up 3-1 to being down by that much against the Boston bullies.

As it is, Wade averaged 33 points - his second-highest average in any postseason series, and shot his best playoff percentage against any opponent in the Boston series.

What I'm saying is, in hindsight, Miami played these Celtics as good - if not better - than any team they've faced so far in these playoffs.

So think about that as the Heat moves forward into this offseason makeover process.

As long as Wade re-signs as expected, Miami might not be a home run (Wade, plus two max free agents)  Riley-Lookingup away from getting back to a championship level.

Even if Pat Riley were to swing and miss at a free-agent priority or two (LeBron and Bosh or Amare), he could still hit a double (Felton/Bosh or Boozer/Johnson) and essentially erase the gap between the Heat and the so-called upper-echelon in the East.

Looking back about three weeks ago, you simply felt for Miami.

But looking forward, considering what's transpired since, there's reason to feel a bit better about the Heat.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Target Bosh, Take Hedo, Too

Well, that certainly didn't take long. Heat_Raptors_Bosh

Still two months away from the official start of free agency, there's significant early chatter already underway if the latest ESPN insider report is to be believed. At the very least, it's believable.

There has long been a league-wide consensus building that Chris Bosh is the most likely top-tier free agent to change addresses this summer. If that holds true, Toronto would be more than wise to hitch last summer's big move - or mistake - in Hedo Turkoglu to potential sign-and-trade scenarios for Bosh.

Turkoglu still has four seasons and some $43 million remaining on the contract he signed last season with the Raptors, who held high hopes that Hedo would be the complementary piece Bosh needed to get Toronto back in contention in the East.

Instead, after a decent first half, they completed the biggest collapse of any team in playoff position when they dropped from fifth to ninth in the standings - and out of the playoffs. The Raptors literally blew up in Bosh's face this season.

So here's the question Heat president Pat Riley might soon have to ponder. Clearly, Bosh is the Heat's top free agent target (I still consider LeBron James as a free agent pipe dream, although dreams do come true). But would Miami be willing to take on Turkoglu if it meant acquiring Bosh?

Of course Riley would. The question is does Miami have enough pieces to outbid other suitors the Raptors would line up for such a deal. Houston was mentioned in ESPN's report, with some sort of deal built around big man Jordan Hill that would expand to include the likes of Shane Battier, Luis Scola or another wing.

Miami would have to get a third team involved that is either under the cap or would be willing to take on Jermaine O'Neal as part of the sign-and-trade deal. And O'Neal, a veteran who can still produce when healthy, would fit well in Houston, which would need a backup or insurance for Yao Ming moving forward.

So the Heat would essentially send out O'Neal (to Houston) and Michael Beasley, Daequan Cook and James Jones to Toronto. And the Heat could sweeten the deal by giving Toronto back that conditional first-round pick Miami acquired in the O'Neal trade last year. And the Heat also has a spare Canadian to throw in, too (Joel Anthony or Jamaal Magloire).

Toronto would get back expiring contracts, significant cap space and a chance to start over. That's far more than it would get if Bosh simply bolted to Miami on his own, which he clearly could do if he didn't like any of the Raptors other potential trade partners.

Turkoglu And remember, Turkoglu was one of the three top 2009 free agents Riley floated the mid-level offer to last summer in long-shot hopes one would bite and take less money to play alongside Dwyane Wade. The other two were Lamar Odom and Ron Artest.

So that would leave the Heat with a 2-3-4 trio of Wade, Turkoglu and Bosh. And did we mention that Wade and Bosh have the same agent? On top of every thing else, doing this deal (and another smaller one) by sign-and-trade would also give the Heat the ability to exceed the salary cap to resign a few of its own free agents and also use of the mid-level exception to pursue a point guard or center.

The Heat managed to win 47 games this season with Wade working with much less. A Miami Big 3 of Wade, Hedo and Bosh would place the newcomers in their proper roles. For all of Bosh's talent, he's very much Nowitzki-like in the fact that he's better served as a No. 2 option instead of having to carry a team.

And that also pushes Hedo back to the third-option role that made him the league's most improved player while with Orlando. There were near disastrous results when he was upgraded to the No. 2 in Toronto.

This free agency makeover doesn't have to be a long, drawn-out process after all. It could be as simple as Bosh (plus Hedo) and Bang. Over. 

For Miami, this would very much make sense.

The question is, will all parties involved make it happen?

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Game 5 Breakdown: Celtics 96, Heat 86

BOSTON - On to the offseason, which is the season that really mattered most in the Heat's quest to Game5-main contend.

The Celtics commenced that rebuilding process for Miami with a 96-86 victory over the Heat to take the first-round series 4-1. Boston moves on to make perhaps one last run at a championship with its current unit.

The Heat moves on to the makeover that should surround Wade with the kind of star-studded help he needed but failed to get during this first-round series. One thing is clear after Wade delivered another amazing game only to watch in go down the drain: The Heat better get this man some help quickly this summer.

That's two seasons of Wade's prime now that he won't get back - last year's MVP candidacy that ended in a 43-win season and a first-round exit in the playoffs, and this year's 47-win campaign that was closed out thoroughly by the Celtics. If you saw nothing else this series, you witnessed just how much a supporting cast can mean to a team.

What if Wade had a shooter like Ray Allen? What if he had a swingman - even one past his prime - like Paul Pierce who can take over the scoring load for a quarter or two to relieve Wade of such heavy lifting?

Boston surrounded Pierce with Allen and Garnett two years ago - while Pierce still had some productive seasons left. At 28, Wade is going to need that kind of roster boost to take capitalize on his prime.

With 13 free agents on the roster, there will certainly be massive change this summer for Miami. Now, it's Pat Riley's turn to do the heavy lifting. That process started with Tuesday night's loss. It continues with Wednesday morning's exit interviews.

And then comes the real recruiting work to put that $24 million in salary cap space to work.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Wade capped a remarkable series by scoring 31 points, dishing 10 assists and grabbing eight boards in 46 minutes. He showed the league - and all of its pending free agents - what it would be like to play with him in what amounted into a silent recruiting pitch. Make no mistake: Boston might not be what it was two years ago, but it remains one of the best defensive teams in the league. The Celtics threw two defenders at Wade when he had the ball and even when he didn't. They dared the refs to call defensive three seconds on every possession. Still, Wade managed to do enough to rally the Heat from that 21-point deficit to four. But Wade clearly expended all he had in the comeback. At a time when he needed a lift from teammates. There wasn't enough help beyond Mario Chalmers. Wade closed the series averaging 33.2 points, 6.8 assists and 5.6 rebounds on 56.4 percent shooting.

TURNING POINT: That came when the Heat sliced a 21-point lead to four early in the fourth quarter. But Game5-second Glen "Big Baby, Ticket Stub" Davis answered by converting a three-point play on a spinning layup and free throw with 9:29 left to push the lead to 79-72. The Heat didn't get any closer.

WINNING/LOSING EDGE: The Celtics' balance offset the Heat's one-man band. Beyond that, Boston shot 58.3 percent from three-point (7 of 12) range compared with 25 percent from the Heat (5 of 20). The Celtics also outscored Miami 12-2 in fastbreak/transition points.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: After seeing how this series played out, who should be invited back for next season? Jermaine O'Neal came up small at a time when the Heat needed him the most. Udonis Haslem couldn't hit a shot or free throw for most of the series, although he was aggressive on the boards. Neither Carlos Arroyo or Mario Chalmers offered much in the way of resistance to Rajon Rondo. Michael Beasley was outplayed by Glen Davis, not to mention Kevin Garnett. Four of Miami's five starters are free agents. The fifth - Beasley - might be the first one out of town, depending on what the Heat can fetch for him. There were times when you simply had to feel for Wade, who kept swinging and swinging and swinging. And while Pierce could look to Ray and  Ray could find Garnett and Garnett got relief from Rondo, there was really nowhere else for Wade to turn when he needed someone to take over for a spell. Credit the Heat for fighting hard. Pat Riley got what he wanted out of this team, an improved record from last season and a return trip to the playoffs. Beyond that, this was all about the summer of 2010. Well now it's here.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Mario Chalmers was the only other Heat player to score in double figures. His Game5-Rio 20-point contribution was his playoff career high. He was 6 of 13 from the field, 3 of 8 on threes, 5 of 6 from the free-throw line. Chalmers got 14 of those points in the second half, as the Heat battled back from that 21-point deficit. Everyone else was severely limited. Haslem, who had been playing through one sore ankle, injured the other Tuesday. Quentin Richardson aggravated his bruised left hand and had little left out there. Jermaine O'Neal was consistent in his lack of contribution. Beasley was benched after a rough first half that saw miss all three of his field goals, commit three turnovers and struggle defensively. So, in other words, Chalmers wins by default here. 

NEXT UP: Exit Interviews - Wednesday, AmericanAirlines Arena

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports. To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)


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