Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Bovada tabs Heat betting line for wins at 34 1/2

WASHINGTON -- Now that everyone knows Chris Bosh's career with the Miami Heat is probably over, oddsmakers are pretty much burying the franchise's chances this season.

The Bovada.lv offshore sports book on Tuesday set the over-under betting line on Miami's win total for this coming season at 34 1/2 games. Last week the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook tabbed Miami at the 36 1/2 wins (tied for third-fewest in the Eastern Conference).

Only the Brooklyn Nets (20 1/2), Los Angeles Lakers (24 1/2), Phoenix Suns (30) and Sacramento Kings (34) are projected to produce fewer wins than the Heat and Milwaukee Bucks, who are also projected to win 34 1/2 games with forward Khris Middleton expected to be out until March. The Philadelphia 76ers were off the board due to Ben Simmons' foot injury.

The last time the Heat, last year's No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, won fewer than 35 games was when they went 15-67 in 2007-08 (Pat Riley's final season as coach). Under Riley's leadership as coach and as team president, the Heat has only finished with a losing record three times since 1995.

What does coach Erik Spoelstra like about this team, which must replace Dwyane Wade, Bosh, Luol Deng and Joe Johnson among others? 

"I do like the competitiveness of guys," he said. "Guys are really coming to work and getting after it, getting after each other. We've also gotten to that point that we better play somebody else soon. This group has a good energy and approach every day. So, I do like that."

OVER/UNDER WIN TOTAL BETTING LINES (BOVADA.LV)
Golden State Warriors (66 1/2)
San Antonio Spurs (58 1/2)
Cleveland Cavaliers (56 1/2)
Los Angeles Clippers (53 1/2)
Boston Celtics (52 1/2)
Toronto Raptors (50 1/2)
Utah Jazz (49)
Detroit Pistons (45 1/2)
Portland Trailblazers (45 1/2)
Indiana Pacers (44 1/2)
Houston Rockets (44)
Atlanta Hawks (43 1/2)
Oklahoma City Thunder (43 1/2)
Charlotte Hornets (42 1/2)
Memphis Grizzlies (42 1/2)
Washington Wizards (42 1/2)
Minnesota Timberwolves (40 1/2)
Chicago Bulls (38 1/2)
Dallas Mavericks (38 1/2)
New York Knicks (38 1/2)
Orlando Magic (37 1/2)
Denver Nuggets (37)
New Orleans Pelicans (37)
Miami Heat (34 1/2)
Milwaukee Bucks (34 1/2)
Sacramento Kings (34)
Phoenix Suns (30)
Los Angeles Lakers (24 1/2)
Brooklyn Nets (20 1/2)
Philadelphia 76ers (Off the board)

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. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Could Luol Deng give the Heat a discount this summer? Maybe

He's sort of become the forgotten man.

Luol DengLuol Deng, once tabbed by Pat Riley as one of the most important free agent signings in Heat history, has sort of fallen to third in the pecking order behind Dwyane Wade and Hassan Whiteside when it comes to free agents Heat fans would like to see the team keep. 

But his value in the second half of Miami's season can't be denied. With Chris Bosh out, Deng slid over from small forward to power forward and became a big part of the Heat's 19-10 second half surge.

In Miami's fast-paced offense, which finished fifth in scoring after the All-Star break, Deng was as valuable a sparkplug as any. He averaged 15.2 points, 8.1 rebounds and led Miami in plus/minus (+144). Then, in the first round against the Hornets, he and Wade led the Heat in scoring at 19.0 points per game before struggling some against the Raptors.

With only $40 million in salary cap space, the Heat probably won't have enough money to keep Deng around and give Wade and Whiteside sizeable contracts.

The truth is, Deng turned out be a pretty good bargain at $10 million this season.

So do the Heat have any realistic shot at getting a discount from Deng to stay here? Well, maybe after hearing him talk on Tuesday. 

 "It was great. I always say I enjoyed it," Deng said of his two-year stint with the Heat. "You learn so much. You go through different paths in your life obviously. I'm really appreciative of this. Not only did I enjoy playing basketball on the court, but off the court it's an amazing city. So much to do. People have been great. People are very supportive. The fans are just unbelievable. Everywhere you go people really love the Heat and appreciate everything you do.

"Here people notice how hard you play and how hard you work. For me, it's always been who I am. Just go out there and it never really mattered to me what my numbers looked like. What always mattered to me was to be able to do what I could do out there and play as hard as I can. I felt like people kind of noticed that here. So, I really enjoyed it."

Could that influence his future? 

"Definitely," Deng said. "Like I said I enjoyed it here. I enjoyed every bit of it. So going forward obviously I would love to be here. It's something that we will sit down and discuss. I can't really say one bad thing about being here. I enjoyed my time. The one thing that I know about here is that it's an organization that wants to win and an organization that will support the players and what they do whether its on the court or off the court. My foundation got a lot of support, things I want to do in life. It's a lot more than just basketball here."

Is Deng at a point in his career philosophically where winning and staying with an organization are at least equal with financial considerations?

"Definitely," he said. "At the end of the day, I try to play the best that I can play, be the best player I can be and hear what everyone has to say and listen to teams. But for me, it's always about being comfortable, being in an organization and around people that really appreciate the things that I do. I think the financial part is what you discuss when you go into that room. There's a lot of teams out there that can offer you a lot of money, but the feel might not be the same and vice-versa. There could be teams that can't give you what the other team can, but they have a lot of other things they can support you with.

"I've been in this situation before when I came here. I remember choosing here and it wasn't really the financial [part that drew me]. It was really the fact I wanted to be comfortable and be somewhere where what I do is appreciated."

Of course, Deng says that now. But there are teams out there that would probably pay the 31-year-old veteran good coin to do what he does and to play in a system that might be better suited for him.

Remember, Deng wasn't involved in the Heat's offense when it was running through Chris Bosh and Wade in the first half of the season. All Deng pretty much did was stand in the corner and wait for the ball to find him.

If Bosh returns and plays again and Deng resigns with Miami, Deng would probably have to go back to that corner and play the small forward spot again.

In the end, Bosh's future with the Heat could ultimately be what makes Deng a real possibility of returning or not. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Takeaways from Heat-Bucks

MILWAUKEE -- The Heat blew a fourth quarter lead and lost a game it shouldn't have Wednesday. It dropped Miami 1 1/2 games back of the Boston Celtics for third place in the Eastern Conference and left the Heat just a game up on the Atlants Hawks for fourth place. 

There's plenty more to digest from the Heat's sixth loss to the Bucks in their last seven meetings:

1. Coach Erik Spoelstra yanked Hassan Whiteside out in the first half and had a talk with him on the Heat bench

Anytime the coach feels the need to pull a player and have a talk with him on the bench in the middle of the game it raises eyebrows. And that becomes a bigger deal when it involves a coach whose had words with that same player before.

In this case, though, what Spoelstra and Whiteside had to discuss took only 47 seconds to iron out and probably had to do with Whiteside not doing what he was supposed to do on the defensive end. Otherwise, if it was a bigger deal, Whiteside probably would not have gone right back into the game.

He finished the first half with 19 points, seven rebounds and two blocks and although he returned in the second half a couple minutes later than he normally does neither Whiteside nor Spoelstra seemed to make a big deal about it.

"We didn't have a conflict. We had a conversation," Whiteside said. "It wasn't a conflict between me and Spo. 

"I'm just here to play," Whiteside later said. "Whatever he says I just try to go out there and do it and try to play to the best of my abilities. I try to rebound and block shots and dunk on people. I just try to be the best Hassan Whiteside I can be on the court."

2. Josh Richardson is continuing to make quite the impression

The Heat's second round pick finished with 14 points, two assists, two steals and a block in 24 minutes off the bench and had plenty of highlights.

    • He stopped a 4-on-1 Bucks break by blocking a shot near the basket and it turned into a fast break for the Heat that ended with a Whiteside dunk.
    • He made three of his four three-point attempts including a clutch three-pointer in the third quarter with Jarryd Bayless in his face when the Heat badly needed it (Richardson is now 8 for his last 14 on three-point attempts).
    • And, he had this ridiculous dunk...

Whiteside had the best quote from anybody on the Richardson dunk: "It was amazing. I was really surprised by it. I know he can jump, but the way he took off. I had the best view in the house besides Greg [Monroe]."

Said Richardson of the dunk: "I don't know. I just saw a lane. I took it."

3.  Are the Heat relying too much on its fast-paced offense to bail them out and not playing as hard on defense anymore? 

Spoelstra kind of insinuated that and his rookies backed him up.

"We just didn't bring enough from a competitive, defensive standpoint," Spoelstra said. "We had pockets of the game where we competed. We did things we were capable of. That's a unique basketball team and their ability to attack and get to the paint. We had a lot of breakdowns defensively and it's not enough.

"You just figure -- we say this all the time -- we score 108 points [that should be enough]. Look, our identity has not changed. We're not a team that's just trying to outscore you and come in here and see if we can put more points on the board and win that way. On the road it's got to be tough, it's got to be gritty. We have to get multiple stops without fouling. You do have to credit Milwaukee. They were aggressive. They were the more aggressive team for most of the night. They really put a lot pressure on you with dribble penetration, coming at you different ways. They're relentless. They don't stop attacking. So, it has to be every possession."

The Bucks took 37 free throws in the game, the most allowed by the Heat this season. Miami gives up the third fewest free throws in the NBA per game (20.7). Was that officiating? Was that the Heat being lazy on defense and not getting to the spots as fast they need to? Spoelstra will go over that in film study Thursday in Chicago.

But you can't argue against this stat: since the All-Star break, the Heat is giving up 101.4 points per game (9th fewest in league). That's not bad, but still a drop off from where the Heat was before the break when it was giving up 96.3 points per game (2nd fewest).

"Some games [since the break] we've gotten away with just outscoring people," rookie Justise Winslow said. "But down the stretch, especially in the playoffs, the defense has to do a better job of showing up and making it tougher on teams. Like I said, we've gotten away with just outscoring a couple teams and relying on our talent. But we'll get back to the defensive floor. I'm not too worried about it."

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Don't get it twisted, the Heat can shoot (in front of the 3-point line) and are just shooting more now

The Miami Heat had the best shooting night in franchise history Tuesday against the then-No. 1 field goal percentage defense in the NBA.

Yes, the Bulls are no longer the dominant defensive team they were under Tom Thibodeau and were short their two best defenders in Jimmy Butler and Joakim Noah.

But Chicago, which fell from first in the league (43.2% opp. field goal percentage) to second behind the Spurs after the Heat lit them up for 129 points Tuesday, is still no pushover. And that only makes what the Heat accomplished even that more special.

Here's a look at where the Heat took and made its shots against the Bulls in its record 67.5 percent shooting night. 

Shotchart_1456928696059

Now, any team in the NBA can have one great shooting night.

For example, the only team to shoot better than the Heat in a game in the last 18 years were the 1998 Los Angeles Clippers, who shot 69.3 percent against the Toronto Raptors on March 13, 1998 in a 152-120 blowout.

You remember those loaded Clippers, don't you? That scary lineup of Darrick Martin, Lamond Murray, Rodney Rodgers, Isaac Austin and Eric Piatowski. They finished 17-65 and shot 43.8 percent for the season.

Well, this Heat team might be a little more talented than those Clippers. The impressive shooting performance Miami had Tuesday night wasn't an abberation. 

Even before the Heat went wild against the Bulls, Miami was already the 7th best shooting team in the league (46.0%).

Now, tied for 5th (46.3%) in the league after Tuesday, Heat fans really shouldn't be surprised why the team looks and feels like its playing a lot better.

All coach Erik Spoelstra and the Heat have done is speed up the pace of the offense and take more shots. That's why the Heat is scoring more.

Sure, if you look at the stats, the Heat still rank 28th in the league in scoring (97.5 per game). But since the All-Star break, Miami is averaging 108.3 points per game (9th in the league) and 88.3 field goal per attempts game (9th in league).

Before the break, Miami was averaging an NBA-worst 79.5 shots per game and just 96 points per game (29th).

So, it's pretty simple: if you can already shoot and just starting shooting more you score more.

Playing fast isn't something Spoelstra wasn't already asking his team to do earlier in the season. It's just that now -- minus Chris Bosh -- his players are actually listening to him and doing it.

This isn't an indictment on Bosh. But his disappearance after the All-Star break forced Luol Deng to move to the power forward spot, forced Goran Dragic to make his teammates get out and run with him, and forced the team to accept an 'everyone gets involved in the offense' approach.

So, the Heat, essentially has figured out after the break that it has a pretty good collection of players who know how to finish around the basket and a few who can knock down a midrange jumper (even Hassan Whiteside). They also figured out that when a defense doesn't have time to get back and set itself up in the halfcourt that only helps an offense execute better.

So, Spoelstra, who spent the first half of the season yelling at Dragic and others to push the pace, finally has believers in what he's been preaching.

"The only thing I don't want to see us do is walk the ball up the court," Spoelstra responded when asked last night if the Heat can be this type of up-and-down paced team the rest of the season. "So whatever that leads to..."

"There were a couple times [Tuesday night] Goran walked it up and I said to him, screamed at him. 'No you be you. Make them run with you. Let's get this ball up court,' " Spoelstra said before delving deeper into his offensive philosophy.

"Even if it's in the halfcourt and we're getting into a set, I want to execute it with time on the clock," he continued. "We want to put constant pressure on the defense, be able to attack and do it while they’re -- hopefully more time than not -- on their heels. If we face someone when a defense gets totally set and they're waiting for us -- even with great spacing -- our execution would have to be at another level, which we're getting to. But I want to play with pace and make sure guys are getting to their spots and sharing the ball.”

Sounds simple enough doesn't it?

Even if the Heat don't have great three-point shooting (they are dead last at 31.9%), this approach of taking high percentage 2-point shots and being able to convert at a higher rate than many other teams in the league can be a successful formula if the Heat continue to play a high level of defense. 

After all, there's only one Steph Curry in the league and only so many Warriors and Spurs to go around.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Heat has a solid Big 2 in Bosh and Wade in the 4th quarter, but finding a third option would help

Wedneday's 98-90 loss to the Knicks was one of those rare instances this season when the Miami Heat wasn't within real striking distance of an opponent late.

I say that because of the Heat's 14 losses, nine have involved them either leading by no more than five points or trailing by no more than five points with under five minutes to play. The NBA refers to those scenarios as clutch situations or games decided late.

And the Heat, thus far, are 11-9 in clutch situations. That 55% win percentage ranks 12th in the league. That also means Miami is 10-5 when there is no real drama late in the fourth.

Last year, Miami was 23-17 in clutch situations (57.5 percent, 9th) and 14-28 otherwise. In LeBron James' last season in Miami, the Heat were 24-19 in clutch situations (55.8 percent, 9th) and 30-9 otherwise. 

Unsurprisingly, the last three NBA champions -- Golden State (23-8), San Antonio (22-8) and Miami (32-8) -- had the best regular season winning percentages in clutch situations the seasons they won it all.

Now that I've gotten all that out of the way, it brings me to the point of this blog entry -- taking a closer look at what the Heat does in the fourth quarter and in winning time. 

While powerhouses like the Spurs (12 games with clutch situations) and Warriors (13) and bottom-feeders like the 76ers (14) and Lakers (15) don't have many nail-biting finishes, the majority of games in the NBA for just about everyone do include some form of fourth quarter drama.

And the Heat almost always turn to their Big 2 -- Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade -- to guide them through those moments. Bosh usually handles the early part of the fourth quarter with the bulk of the bench on the court with him. Then, Wade comes in and gets the ball down the stretch.

While some may question coach Erik Spoelstra's decision-making in those situations, the numbers after 35 games suggest he's doing the right thing by going to Bosh and Wade. After all, the Heat as a team have the second-highest fourth quarter field goal percentage in the NBA (46.4%) behind only the Spurs (50.3%). 

Bosh (48.7%) ranks seventh in the league among players averaging at least 3.5 shots in the fourth quarter (10 fourth quarters played minimum) and is tied for 12th in points scored (6.1). That fourth quarter shooting percentage is better than LeBron (48.2%), Kevin Durant (47.6%) and Paul George (46.4%). Wade, meanwhile, ranks 19th (42.4%) in fourth quarter field goal percentage and is 31st in fourth quarter points (5.0).

The only duos who rank higher than Bosh and Wade in shooting percentage when it comes to high volume shots in the fourth quarter are New Orleans' Anthony Davis (55.9%) and Tyreke Evans (50.8%) and Oklahoma City's (47.6%) and Russell Westbrook (43.2%).

Wade's real value is in clutch situations. 

In terms of clutch shot attempts, he's taken the 10th most (46) of any player in the league. A total of 50 players have taken at least 25 shots of those clutch shots. Wade ranks 11th in that group in field goal percentage (45.7%) ahead of James (45.5%), Durant (44.0%), Stephen Curry (43.6%) and Westbrook (42.1%). Bosh, meanwhile, is tied for 42nd in that group at (29.0%).

Because of Bosh's struggles in those tight, late-game situations, the Heat's field goal percentage in the clutch (42.9%) ranks 12th. 

And that's ultimately where things get interesting for the Heat in my eyes. If they don't have a sizable lead down the stretch of games and play great defense, it's usually Wade or bust. 

That said, it's not like anybody else besides Bosh or Wade get much of a chance to do anything with the ball in the fourth quarter. In clutch situations this season, Wade and Bosh have combined take 64.7 percent (77 of 119 shot attempts) of the shots. 

During the first three quarters of game, Wade and Bosh combine to take 35.6% of Miami's shots (755 of 2,119). In the fourth quarter and overtime, Bosh and Wade ramp it up to 41.2% of the team's shots. 

But it's not just that those two ramp up their shot attempts. Fellow starters Goran Dragic, Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside also disappear on the offensive end late in games. 

Dragic, Whiteside and Deng combine to take 40 percent of the Heat's shots through the first three quarters. After that, they take only 15.5 percent of the shots combined (Dragic goes from 17.8 percent of the shots to 6 percent; Whiteside from 12.1 to 4.9; Deng from 10.1 to 4.6).

Part of that is because Gerald Green, Tyler Johnson and Justise Winslow play a lot more in the fourth quarter. And those three usually defer to Wade and Bosh. 

But at some point, wouldn't it behoove Spoelstra and the Heat to try and develop a consistent, reliable third scoring option late in games? After all, that's essentially what Bosh was when LeBron was here. And that's why the Heat was so special.

Dragic, making $85 million, would seem the most logical option. He is shooting 45 percent from the field in the fourth quarter including 42.9 percent from three (6 of 14). But he's only attempted the sixth-most shots on the team (40) in the final period and he's only shot the ball four times total in the clutch. 

Those are some eye-opening numbers.

Here are some more involving the Heat in the fourth quarter and in the clutch:

** Fourth quarter plus/minus: Deng ranks last on the Heat at minus 25. The other noteables: Bosh (+83), Winslow (+62), Johnson (+36), Beno Udrih (+30), Green (+24), Josh McRoberts (+22), Dragic (+22), Wade (+13), Whiteside (+8).

** Fourth quarter minutes: Bosh (301), Winslow (274), Green (248), Johnson (218), Wade (189), Dragic (187), Udrih (151), Whiteside (138), Deng (124), McRoberts (100).

** Fourth quarter shots taken and field goal percentage: Bosh (150, 48.7%), Wade (118, 42.4%), Green (87, 43.7%), Winslow (64, 42.2%), Johnson (62, 53.2%), Dragic (40, 45%), Whiteside (33, 81.8%), Udrih (29, 41.4%), Deng (27, 37.0%)

** Fourth quarter points per game: Bosh 6.1, Wade 5.0, Green 3.8, Johnson 3.5, Whiteside 2.7, Dragic 2.3, Winslow 2.3, Deng 1.5, McRoberts 1.4, Udrih 1.2. 

** Clutch situations plus/minus: Green (+31), Wade (+27), Bosh (+21), Dragic (+18), Winslow (+4), Udrih (+4), Deng (+2), Johnson (0), Whiteside (-2).

** Clutch situations minutes: Wade (68), Bosh (64), Dragic (64), Green (41), Winslow (40), Whiteside (31), Deng (27), Johnson (24), Udrih (9)

** Clutch situation shots taken and field goal percentage: Wade (46, 45.7%), Bosh (31, 29.0%), Whiteside (9, 88.9%), Johnson (9, 44.4%), Green (8, 37.5%), Winslow (8, 37.5%), Dragic (4, 25%), Deng (4, 50%).

** Clutch situation points scored: Wade 56, Bosh 30, Whiteside 17, Green 17, Dragic 10, Johnson 9, Winslow 9, Deng 9.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Stuff about tonight's game vs. Bobcats

TONIGHT'S GAME: Heat (19-6) at Charlotte Bobcats (7-20).

TIME: 7 p.m.

WHERE: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte.

TV: Sun Sports (Eric Reid, Tony Fiorentino, Jason Jackson)

Radio: AM 790/104.3 FM & The Heat Radio Network (Mike Inglis)

Spanish Radio: WAQI 710AM (José Pañeda)

SERIES: Miami leads 21-10. The Heat has won eight consecutive games against the Bobcats since March 9, 2010, and won the three meetings last season by an average of 21.0 points. Four of the Heat’s five victories during its winning streak are by double digits.

SCOUTING REPORT: Following its Christmas Day win over Oklahoma City in a rematch of last year’s Finals, the Heat opens a four-game road trip that will be played over six days. The Heat will try to sweep a set of back-to-back games for the first time this season and improve upon its 5-4 road mark that includes a 1-2 mark against Eastern Conference foes. The Heat is 3-0 on the second night of a back-to-back so far this season.

The Bobcats have lost 15 consecutive games following a 7-5 start. Charlotte has the third-worst record in the East ahead of Cleveland (6-23) and Washington (3-22). The Bobcats, however, are catching the Heat on a short turnaround and will try to pull off an upset similar to the Wizards’ 105-101 win over Miami Dec. 4 at Washington.

The Heat, which enters the game half a game ahead of the Knicks (20-8) for the conference’s top spot, is outscoring its opponents by an average of 15.6 points during its five-game winning streak. Although its three-game streak of making at least 10 three-pointers came to an end against the Thunder, the Heat still made 8 threes in 28 attempts. The Bobcats are allowing a league-worst 105.0 points this season. Charlotte was giving up 99.6 points during its first 12 games, but has allowed 109.4 since. Kemba Walker has been a bright spot averaging 18.3 points, but injuries to key players such as Ben Gordon and Gerald Henderson have been disruptive.

Following his 29-point performances against the Thunder, LeBron James has scored at least 20 points in the Heat's first 25 games of the season. James' personal streak dates back to end of last season. James has scored at least 20 points in 30 straight regular-season games. Including the playoffs, he has scored at least 20 points in 46 games. His 30th consecutive 20-plus point game set a new franchise record.

The Heat continues to play great defense during the winning streak, forcing an average of 17.4 turnovers. The Heat has held its last eight opponents under 100 points.

Dwyane Wade has been a factor on defense and efficient, shooting 59.8 percent (61 of 102) over the past seven games.

BOSH VS. BOBCATS

Chris Bosh returned to the lineup against the Thunder after missing the Jazz game with the flu. He's been especially good against the Bobcats during his career. Bosh is averaging 24.0 points per game against Charlotte lifetime – his best against any opponent.

 

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Saturday, October 06, 2012

VIDEO: Miami Heat interviews following Saturday's practice

Hey everybody,

I went to the Heat's final practice before opening the preseason Sunday against the Hawks.

Here are interviews with Erik Spoelstra, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Each talked about starting the preseason Sunday against the Hawks and a little bit about the team's upcoming trip to China.

Enjoy,

Andre Fernandez

 

Friday, December 09, 2011

Does the Heat have enough without mid-level center?

So, camp begins today and the Heat struck out on signing a center with its full mid-level exception. Sam Dalembert didn't take the bait and the Heat wasn't in a position to trade for a big name like Nene.

Instead, the Heat is taking a flyer on center Eddy Curry, hoping the once overweight big man is ready to take his career seriously. Is it enough? Remember, team president Pat Riley indicated last season that it was the Heat's top priority to sign a center with its mid-level exception.

It appears Riley did the best he could with the limited resources at his disposal. The addition of Shane Battier provides a top-notch defender to the mix and that could be important come playoff time. For example, if the Heat meets the Bulls in the playoffs again, Battier could guard Bulls forward Loul Deng, which would allow LeBron James or Dwyane Wade to conserve energy.

A retrospective example: If the Heat had a defender like Battier in last season's Finals, things might have turned out differently. Instead, James couldn't keep up with Jason Terry and, conversely, James didn't have enough left in the tank to close out the series.

At least, that's one guess as to what happened to James in The Finals.

Of course, free agency is far from over and the Heat could potentially still reel in a quality center willingly to take less money to chase a championship. Options are limited at this point, though.

The Heat's other area of need heading into free agency was the point guard position. All signs point to Mario Chalmers resigning with the Heat, but if a larger offer sheet than his qualifying number is placed in front of Chalmers, there is a very real chance he would take it. The Heat would then have to match the offer or, worse case scenario, go searching for a starting point guard at the start of camp. Carlos Arroyo, anyone? (According to the latest speculation, the Knicks are interested in Arroyo.)

Expect it to be worked out by Friday afternoon when practice begins. If Chalmers is absent, that means another team has offered him a contract and the Heat would have three days to match it.

As for the original question: Does the Heat have enough without a mid-level center? I'd say yes. For me, this free-agency period isn't nearly as important to the Heat as some would like you to believe. Give me Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh and I like my chances.

-joe


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