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31 posts from April 2009

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sounds Like Fightin' Words

First off, we apologize for the technical problems with the blog the past few days. We're doing some renovations and should have the tweaks worked out in short order.

But on to the matters that really matter.

Count me among those who thought it was lame for some Heat players and coaches to complain that Josh Dunks Josh Smith was trying to embarrass Miami with his botched, between-the-legs dunk attempt in the final minutes of the Hawks Game 5 victory.

If anyone should be embarrassed, it should be Smith for being a knucklehead and missing the dunk.

If anyone else should be embarrassed, it should be the Heat for giving up on the play and allowing Smith to measure his steps starting at halfcourt to set up the attempt.

The Heat should be embarrassed for not getting back on defense to prevent the attempted highlight.

It should be embarrassed for having no one even bother to get back to prevent Joe Johnson from snagging the offensive rebound after Smith embarrassed himself.

It should be embarrassed for allowing Johnson to show his teammate how it's done the respectful way a few possessions later, when he got his own breakaway dunk, with no Heat player within 10 feet of him as he swooped in for a traditional dunk.

The bottom line is that Smith has been dunking on the Heat all series. Yes, that final dunk had a Ricky Davis-ish sort of quality to it, when it comes to classless showboating.

That said, I have no problem with a player going for the exclamation point to a pivotal victory in front of his own fans. If you've got those kind of hops, you use them.

Jamario Moon would have gone showtime in the same situation if the Heat were at home. So would Michael Beasley or even Dwyane Wade - to an extent.

So would it have been less offensive had Smith settled for simply a windmill 360?

As Udonis Haslem put it Thursday: "We should be embarrassed by a lot that happened before that."

Now, on to more important stuff (You get a bonus blog since I haven't posted in a while).

With his team facing playoff elimination heading into Game 6 Friday against Atlanta, Dwyane Wade came out a day early, firing on all cylinders.

He didn't discriminate in his attempt to motivate. He was in rare interview form. It was part comedy, part anger, part resentment, part praise, part desperation. But it as all designed to get his team in the right mindset if it plans to extend its playoff life.

It was also designed to ruffle a few feathers in Hawks-ville.

So here's Wade, unplugged, from Thursday's media session. Wade Headhurt

(On Hawks radio broadcaster Steve Holman, who berated Wade throughout Wednesday's broadcast and referred to the Heat as a bunch of "street thugs") WADE: "Us? That's why he don't work in Miami. That's why he works in Atlanta - to make them feel good."

(On Jamaal "Big Cat" Magloire stepping in to defend Wade after the hard foul from Solomon Jones) WADE: "That's Big Cat. I know if I go down to the beach and eat right now, and somebody comes to mess with me, Big Cat is going to come out of nowhere. I loved him from Day 1 when we signed him. He's been that force we needed."

(On how he's dealing with soreness in his head, back and shoulder) WADE: "I'm feeling better. I'm at the point where whatever is bothering me, it doesn't really matter at this point. I'm moving on from my injuries."

Mario West (On Hawks guard Mario West celebrating after he forced Wade to miss a shot at the halftime buzzer) WADE: "His celebration for his one stop? What is this game coming to? One thing I go back to is something my high school coach always told me. Act like you've done something before. He used to hate when I used to dunk and pound my chest all the time. Win lose or draw, you have to be classy. There are some unprofessional things that (the Hawks) have to take care of. On the court, you show emotion, and that's great. But celebrating after one stop? That's funny."

(More on Hawks guard Mario West, because Wade was on a roll) WADE: "I don't know what it was a sign of. I was laughing after the fact because I've never seen that before. Tony Allen did that the other night when he stopped Ben Gordon from hitting a shot to win the game. That's what you do. But we're not here to point out every little thing they do. Who cares?"

(On his flagrant foul on Mo Evans in Game 5 that was rescinded by the league Thursday) WADE: "If anybody knows basketball and looks at the play, they'll know I didn't even come close to trying to hurt him. I'm not that guy. I'll take a hard foul. But that one, I went straight for the ball. At that time in the game, in one instant, I'm not understanding why they called it. But looking back, I can see why they called it because they thought the game was getting out of hand. But (Atlanta) got two free throws and the ball for something that didn't happen. That hurt our momentum."

(On the officiating and series becoming a physical slugfest) WADE: "Each game has been different. Some games, they let you go, they let you fight. Some games, if you breathe on a guy, it's a foul. We have to go in and play and don't worry about what the call is going to be."

(On calling out rookies Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers - or not) WADE: "Tomorrow is going to   show a lot - to see if our guys really feel it. If it seems like I'm calling them out, I'm not calling them out. Mike and Mario  But I want to see our young guys play like it's Game 6 of the playoffs. If Rio (Chalmers) says he won a national championship (at Kansas), well, I want to see him play like it. I want to see Michael (No. 2 overall draft pick), play like it. It's not about making shots. It's about your intensity, your focus."

(On his approach to an elimination game. Should he come out swinging or defer early?) WADE: "It's a tough position to be in. I don't want to come out and shoot my team out of it or shoot us into it. I want it to be a total team effort. I'm not the kind of guy that feels like I have to do everything. Success comes from team success. Hopefully, we can go out and play our normal game."

(On things getting testy between the teams) WADE: "It was one of those games, one of those playoff series. It's just about, do we have the team to come back and fight as much as (Atlanta's) going to fight? Zaza Pachulia is knocking people out. It's as simple as that. ZaZa I'm not telling my teammates to knock him out. But when he comes down the paint, just make sure he feels us. We're not a team that's playing dirty. We're the team that wants to play smarter and protect ourselves as well."

(And one more good dig at Mario West, just for good measure) WADE: "First off, I have nothing simmering with Mario. He's not been a factor in the series. (He's) irrelevant to me. I have nothing brewing with him at all."

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dwyane Wade Injured, Returns to Game 5 @ Atlanta

Wade ATLANTA -- Dwyane Wade left Wednesday's game between the Heat and the Hawks after landing hard on the floor after colliding with Atlanta forward Josh Smith.

He's back in the game now, returning with 10:26 left in the second quarter.

Wade showed he's OK by driving to the hoop on his first possession, getting tangled up with Solomon Jones at the basket. Ref Dick Bavetta made sure one of the NBA's biggest stars didn't get himself in too much trouble by wrapping him up and keeping DW out of harms way.

Sure David Stern, who is in the house, enjoyed seeing that.

Here's how Wade got hurt:

Smith and Wade collided when fighting for a loose ball and Wade -- who has been slowed by back spasms as it was -- went sprawling and landed on his already hurting back.

Wade stayed on the floor while play went on around him, writhing in pain. The team's medical staff went out to midcourt to work on him as he was obviously in a lot of pain.

After a few minutes, Wade stood up to applause from most in the building, holding his head and apparently wiping away blood.

He's been in the locker room for more than 10 minutes now.

Updates as they come.

-- George Richards

LIVE! Game 5: Miami Heat 91 @ Atlanta Hawks 106 (FINAL) -- ATL Leads Series 3-2 ... Dwyane Wade INJURED, RETURNS ... Marvin Williams OUT

Wade2 ATLANTA -- George Richards here, ready to give you another evening of LIVE! Heat.

The last time I was in this arena, the Florida Panthers season all but came to an end.

That could happen to the Heat as well.

The Hawks got a big win in Miami on Monday night and are now trying to take control of this opening round series tonight against the Heat.

If Miami loses, it's in trouble; sure, the Heat have a Game 6 at the Arena on Friday night, but it would have to win this thing in a Game 7 here in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon. That won't be easy. So a win here is critical for both teams.

(If there is a Game 7, it will be on ABC on Sunday @ 1 p.m. Check local listings. Speaking of that, former Channel 10 sports guy Chuck Dowdle is walking around the arena. Dude has become an institution in ATL. Of course, that just shows how old I am. I remember him calling UM games back when Howard was the head coach. But I, once again, digress)...

-- Dwyane Wade says he's playing tonight, and came into the arena sporting a trenchcoat. He must be cold. Not me. I walked to the arena from my hotel and it has to be 85 out there. Felt nice though. Good walk.

Wade is in the starting lineup despite his back spasms. Coach Erik Spoelstra says he took treatment and rest throughout the afternoon so he should be good to go. If Wade was to go out, seems like Spoels has a plan, one that includes moving the ball around more to create some offense.

But if No. 3 isn't in there, good luck with that.

-- The Hawks will be without Marvin Williams for a third straight game because of a wrist injury suffered here in Game 2 last week.

-- Check back throughout the night. Not going to be much on the play-by-play (did way too much of that on Monday and these basketball guys score a lot quicker than the hockey guys) but more of what's going on down on the floor.

Spirit FIRST QUARTER -- FIRST QUARTER -- FIRST QUARTER

-- D-Wade in the starting lineup, getting ready to start this thing. Fans here were given white t-shirts, so don't adjust your TV sets.

--Al Horford picks up his first foul of the night, just 24 seconds into the game. Jermaine O'Neal misses his first, makes his second. Unlike all of Monday night, the Heat have a lead. Of course, it's only 1-0. But it's something.

--The Heat looked to be trying to play without D-Wade early on, the Heat star not even touching the ball until he took an inbound pass with 8:28 left in the quarter. DW worked the ball in and took a shot from the top of the key; it rimmed out.

--DW now on the scoreboard, sank 1 of 2 FTs with 6:35 left in the first...MIA 9-6..

--D-Wade just collided with Josh Smith fighting for a loose ball and hit the ground hard -- and landed on his already hurting back. Wade stayed on the floor while play went on around him, writhing in pain; he is still down. The team's medical staff is out there at midcourt. Wade is in obvious pain.

He just stood up to applause from most in the building, holding his head. Looks like he may have taken a shot to the noggin. He's headed into the locker room now.

-- Daequan Cook came in for DW, but nothing so far out of Miami since Wade went to the locker room.

Jermaine O'Neal is saving the Heat right now, scoring four points since Wade went down. He has 10 going into the second quarter. DW is still in the locker room.

SECOND QUARTER -- SECOND QUARTER -- SECOND QUARTER

-- Dwyane Wade is back in the game..returned to the court with 10:26 left in the half and is fouled..he and Solomon Jones push and shove, Dick Bavetta all but smothers Wade from getting into any trouble as tempers flare. Funny stuff...

More importantly, Wade is back. Heat down four...

--Wade just hit one of two FTs; techs handed out to three players.

-- Wade just went after Mo Evans on a dunk, the two landing in a heap. Wade bounced right back up though; Evans OK as well. Both landed awful hard.

Wade assessed a flagrant foul. ATL gets possession back with Evans at the line (he hit one of two)...and then Hawks pick up two more. Bad call on the flagrant; DW was definitely going for the ball.

--Not looking good for the Heat; only guys on the floor now who can score are O'Neal and Beasley...Wade hasn''t hit a shot and is 2-of-4 from the line...\James Jones playing good D though, just took a textbook charge...

--Wade just hit his first FG of the night, a long b-line shot with 3:38 left in the second...

--Now Horford is hurt after being fouled by Jones while going hard at the hoop...OK., he's up...he missed the first FT, makes the second...Heat getting run tonight...down 20 with 2:32 left in the first half...

-- When DWade gets six points in a half, this is what you get: a Heat blowout. Miami is just getting beat up here in ATL and look ready to get home. There are 24 more minutes left, and Miami can still make a run. But it's going to take a lot of DWade and he doesn't look able right now. Very stiff. Just missed a 3-pointer at the end of the half, a shot he probably makes another day. But not this one.

Will be back in the third...

THIRD QUARTER -- THIRD QUARTER -- THIRD QUARTER

--OK, D-Wade looks pretty good here to start the second half....

DW has made all three shots he took, and he looks crisp and refreshed. Good for him. Anyway, he has six points in the first 1:56 of the third period -- matching his entire input during the opening half.

-- Wade just missed his first shot of the half, now 5-of-6 shooting in the third....Heat cut deficit to 14 a few times, but have yet to come any closer. ATL now leads by 18 with 5:47 left in the third...

--Well, they're back to 14...

--Jermaine just picked up his fifth foul with 2:33 left in the third...thats not good...Beasley is in now...

--Heat are going into the fourth quarter down 15...

FOURTH QUARTER -- FOURTH QUARTER -- FOURTH QUARTER

--OK kids, Heaters are down 19 with 8:16 left. Think I'm going to concentrate on my other work for now. If I don't return, you know what happened. Blowout city, baby.

Will return to this Bat Channel by Saturday morning at the very least.

See you at Game 6. Wear black.

It may be time for the Heat's 2008-09 funeral. 

Drive careful everyone....

Monday, April 27, 2009

LIVE! Atlanta Hawks 81 @ Miami Heat 71 (FINAL) ... Game 4 (TIED 2-2) ... HEAT Ends First Half on 19-2 Run, Not Enough...

Seikaly All set to do this again here in Miami, the Heat about to take on the Atlanta Hawks in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

We're about 25 minutes away from tip-off and will be on LIVE! throughout tonight's game -- well, as LIVE! as my aircard will allow me to be.

First, a bit of news: The Heat will be without Jamario Moon because of his groin injury, one aggravated Saturday night.

''He wants to get out there and play,'' coach Erik Spoelstra said. ''He's ready to take shots, if anything, to get out there and play, but we're going to be very judicious and make sure we have his health first and foremost in our thoughts. We will go from there. He will continue to be evaluated every day.''

On the Hawks side of the floor, Marvin Williams is out for a second straight night with an injured wrist. Williams being out the other night was really beneficial to the Heat.

''He's not going to play tonight, he's not well enough to,'' Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. ''He had the cast on at shootaround. What we are going to do is rest him tonight and tomorrow and see how he feels on Wednesday.''

So that's your pregame update. Will have more as the night progresses. Come on back and visit, ya hear?

GAME ON -- GAME ON -- GAME ON

-- Heat didn't look too hot early on, first possession wasted by running out the shot clock, then watching the Hawks run off to a 6-1 lead.

Miami's working it back in, but is struggling from the free throw line.

Al 'Tito' Horford has two fouls, though, in the opening four minutes. So that should help Miami inside as Jermain O'Neal just showed by driving in and taking a D-Wade pass for two. That cuts the ATL lead to three.

Neither team looks all that hot. But they both look better than the Marlins do right now. In case you haven't heard, Mets lead that one 6-1.

-- Indians/Red Sox scoreless...

-- Just got word from Pete 'Pete' Pelegrin that Shawn Marion is here sitting behind the basket; Frank Haith too. Pete's on the lookout for one Isiah Thomas. And Turtle Thomas.

-- Heat have yet to held the lead here tonight and we're closing in on the second quarter...

-- Stat of the Night So Far: D-Wade has 1 point...

-- Michael Beasley just missed a dunk; ouch...

-- Josh Smith just missed a FT, but still has eight points...

--- Wade just hit his first field goal.

Heat look pretty sloppy as the first period ends, although Wade finishes it with a dunk to pull the Heat within seven. Still haven't had the lead yet. Anyway, back with the second. Going to get some pop (that means soda in Miami).

SECOND QUARTER -- SECOND QUARTER -- SECOND QUARTER

-- Things aren't looking good for a Heat team that couldn't hit water if it stepped outside the arena. Miami is shooting an ugly 23.5 percent as we speak (8 mins left second) and ATL is doing a touch better, close to 50 percent.

Not a pretty game on either side of it...

-- D-Wade shooting 2-of-9 from the floor.

-- 2 of 10...

-- At least the Heat is hitting its free throws: now 13 of 17. Only thing keeping Miami in this game...

-- Jermaine O'Neal just hit Miami's fifth -- yup FIFTH -- field goal of the night...and we're late in the second quarter...this offense looks like the Panthers ... or Dolphins, pre-Wildcat...

-- Miami is stinking this joint out...D-Wade just hit a pair of FTs ...JO leads team with nine...ATL has two players in double digits...

--Things may be changing here - Haslem just took an offensive foul then Jones drained Miami's first 3 as he was fouled. Jones hit the FT, then Miami got a TO (not Terrell Owens). Timeout, ATL -- Heat have cut deficit to 13 with 2:26 left before the half...

-- James Jones just hit a 3 -- and was fouled; he hit the FT...Miami is back in this one kids...down nine...

--Give it up for the Gator: Udonis inside makes it a 7-point game..

-- Mario Chalmers just stopped the progression with a foul...Murray hits both, back to nine...

-- D-Wade spot-up 3-pointer...Heaters definitely have life...

-- Haslem dunk with 20.9...it's a 4-point game...holy schniekies...

-- Miami ends the half on a 19-2 run...you have to be kidding me...Heat now shooting 35.7 percent from the floor, on 10-of-28 shooting...

HERE'S HOW THE END OF THE SECOND WENT:

Miami down 44-23, 3:47 left -- Wade 2 FTs; Jones 2 FTs; Jones 3, with FT; Jones hits another 3, then the FT; Haslem inside; -- ATL gets 2 FTs from Murray -- then, Wade hits a 3; Haslem dunk is the final points of the half.

Exciting, exciting stuff here in the MIA...

Back with the third...

THIRD QUARTER -- THIRD QUARTER -- THIRD QUARTER

-- James Jones cuts to three, hits FT on defensive three-seconds...

--Bibby just hit a 3 for ATL, the first ATL field goal since 3:47 left in second...

-- Miami has yet to score on a field goal this half...

-- OK, James Jones with a J...7:55 left in the third...

--Jones just hit a big 3 with the clock winding down...couldn't get the handle on the ball off a D-Wade pass. Then he did. Bang.

-- Horford just picked up fourth foul.

-- Jermaine 'Shaq' O'Neal just got Miami's last four points...

-- Flip 'Bill' Murray just hit a big 3 for the Thrashers...

--Wade picks up his fourth foul late in the third, Zaza to the line with 29.7 left in the third...he hits one of two...

-- Wade stays in, hits J...Joel Anthony picks up foul, Murray at the line again with 1.4 left...he hits both..and we're heading to the fourth...

Stay tuned..

FOURTH QUARTER -- FOURTH QUARTER -- FOURTH QUARTER

-- Working now, so posts are going to definitely be fewer...don't think too many will mind considering the game is on two different TV stations and radio...

But I'll be back, eh...

--Wade is heating up it so appears...he better for Miami's sake...

And that's it kids. Going to ATL tied up. See you in Atlanta. Looking forward to a cold Pepsi.

-- George Richards

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday with the Hawks

Hawk

Just got finished with Hawks practice at the Miami arena, Atlanta hoping to bounce back after a Game 3 disaster against the Heat.

Atlanta was in here early today, trying to get through the cobwebs and get its game back on track. Hey, they Hawks aren't out of it by any stretch.

Remember how the Heat looked after Game 1?

A lot of people around here didn't think Miami would win a single game in this series. Atlanta can pull in home court advantage once again with a win Monday night.

Coach Mike Woodson says Marvin Williams didn't shoot on Sunday and will be a game-time decision on Monday. Williams says his injured wrist is still real sore and he is struggling with range of motion. He says he debated playing on Saturday night, but the team doctors and trainers seriously suggested against it.

Woodson says it's a severe sprain, suffered when Williams fell during Game 2 in Atlanta. He added that the MRI is negative, so if Williams thinks he can go, he's good.

ATL coach Mike Woodson --

-- On his team's mindset:

''One thing is we have to get our mental approach together. I saw a bunch of head hanging last night, after the game, during the game. We're down 2-1, but if we win tomorrow the series shifts our way. It's a long series still. I don't want our guys to feel like they don't have a shot to get to the next round.''

Woodson -- What they did today:

''We had an opportunity to come out and work on some things offensively and watched the tape from last night. It wasn't real pretty. We had one good quarter, the third. I thought we played Atlanta Hawk basketball. Then we had the stretch where we went from 22-12 to pull within one. I felt good about that stretch. And that was about it.''

-- What did Jermaine O'Neal do for the Heat on Saturday?

''We doubled him early in the first game and we were very successful in terms of rotations and getting to shooters. Now, the past few games, they've made quite a few 3s, so thats made our defense non-aggressive. I don't like that. We played well in the first game, well enough to convert in Game 2 and 3 and we didn't do that. J.O. Had his way. He's making shots now and our bigs are getting frustrated. He's making shots where he's fading away from the bucket.

-- On his team's mindset entering Game 3:

''I think we were ready to play. Even when they made that run, we weathered the storm so you have to feel good about that. It's still a long series. It was 1-1 going into last night and it takes four to get into the next round. If you've experienced any kind of playoff basketball, you know anything can happen in a playoff series. If we come back and are able to win tomorrow, then the whole thing shifts our way. Then we can go back home and figure out if we can sustain it. That's what playoff basketball is all about.''

-- On bouncing back

''Our team has been committed all year long, so I'm not ready to put them out to pasture so fast. They have been committed. We've had some tough times and some tough games, stretches where we didn't play well. And we bounced back. We haven't played well the past few games. We have to find what we're made of. Until we're eliminated I'm going to keep fighting and I'm going to push them to keep fighting.

''Again, when we won the first game, I'm sure they were down after that. They had to be thinking we had to win three more to get to the next round. I'm thinking the same thing. I have to get these guys thinking the right way. The last two games, we've been kind of punched out a little bit. We have to rebound.

-- On veteran leadership:

''They'll meet today and try to figure out some things amongst them. For me, from a coaching standpoint, this is not the time for me to scream and yell and curse guys out. We're right where we need to be. We just have to figure out tomorrow night's game.''

-- Miami's supporting cast:

''When you have O'Neal, who has been a six or seven-time All-Star, and Haslem who has played championship basketball, they have veteran guys who have been through the battles. My guys haven't been battle tested. This is something new for our team. When I came into the series I thought we could make it to the next round. I want them to think that too. This series is a long way from being over if we take care of business tomorrow.''

Josh Smith on the Hawks --

-- On Jermaine O'Neal:

''That was like the old Jermaine O'Neal, the Jermaine O'Neal of his prime. He's definitely the X-factor for the Miami Heat. If he keeps playing the way he has been, it's going to be tough to beat them. We have to put our hard hats on and zone in so he doesn't get off to the quick start like he did last game.''

Joshsmith -- How much did you expect from O'Neal coming in?

''I didn't know. All season long he's been up and down. I knew he was capable of doing stuff like last night, but I didn't know what he would bring to the table in the postseason. But big players step up in big times. He's doing that.''

-- Turning it around:

''We beat them pretty bad in Game 1, and they beat us pretty bad in Game 3. So we're even. We just have to look at ourselves as individuals and as teammates and come together with a solution. There has to be a philosophy where we have each other's back. In Game 2 it was a hostile environment in Atlanta, it was just them and the crowd. They played together and everything clicked. They had fun. We have to do the same thing.

''Our backs are against the wall. What are we made of? Are we going to fold and let them win, or do we step up and show them this is going to be a series and turn it around?

-- More coming up after Miami Heat practice at Miami arena. Check back later today....

-- George Richards



In Case You're Counting ...

The Heat is using its first-round playoff series against the Hawks to rewrite the franchise's playoff record book.

Wade at Hawks In three games, Miami has already set or tied almost a dozen playoff records on the way to taking a 2-1 series lead against the Hawks into Game 4 on Monday.

Among those new team or individual highs/lows are:

- the fewest points scored in a postseason game (64 in Game 1)

- the most three-pointers made (15 in Game 2)

- playoff career high in three-pointers made (Dwyane Wade, 6 - Daequan Cook, 6 in Game 2)

- most blocks in a playoff game (12 in Game 3)

- best free-throw shooting percentage (1.000 in Game 3, 19 of 19)

- fewest points allowed in a first half (Hawks had 29 in first half of Game 3)

- most rebounds in a quarter (Udonis Haslem, 9, in Game 3)

I'm almost sure that I'm missing a few. It's been that kind of series for the Heat so far. After getting blown out in Game 1, Miami has come back to rout the Hawks in each of the last two games. In the process, the Heat has grabbed homecourt advantage away from the Hawks and can put this series away with wins at AmericanAirlines Arena in Games 4 and 6.

Perhaps Jermaine O'Neal said it best after coming off his most productive game in a Heat uniform (22 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks in the Game 3 win).

"Winning (Game 2) in Atlanta doesn't mean nothing if we don't take care of business Monday as well," O'Neal said after Saturday's game. "And we understand that."

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Heat? It Is On ... FINAL: MIAMI 107, Atlanta 78 ... Jamario Moon OUT

Heatgame3 It's early on here in Miami, but the classic Glenn Frey tune 'The Heat Is On' is already playing at the AAA.

The Heat are indeed on; The Hawks look hungover.

Miami leads 13-4 with 5:49 left in the opening period, but look pretty darned good. If you didn't see the Dwyane Wade dunk over Josh Smith (well it wasn't so much over since Smith ran the other way), well you will. Classic SportsCenter stuff. Heaters are spreading things out, with four players scoring so far.

Make that 15-4; Udonis Haslem just dunked for his fourth points of the night.

Um, 18-4. Mario Chalmers just drained a trey.

-- Looks like the Hawks found some chaser. Also looks like the Heat were drinking something other than Gatorade during the timeouts. Atlanta is right back in this thing, and went on a 7-0 run with DWade on the bench. There's 8:53 left in the second, Atlanta is down three at 22-19...

-- Strong, strong, strong finish for the Heaters in the second quarter.

DWade is money once more, his 3 in the closing minutes of the half coming with one second left on the shot clock. Those were the final points of the half.

Wade is having a strong game, and things have turned around since he came back in. Wade has 19 points -- four coming off phenominal dunks. The first one was in the first, the second came off a nice feed from Jermaine O'Neal.

Speaking of O'Neal, the former Pacer is having a strong night as well. He hit a nice jumper over Zaza Pachulia with 1:36 left to make it 44-29. Then he fed DWade for the dunk with 53.4 seconds left in the half.

Miami looks like they have turned things around and the Hawks don't have much of an answer. But this is the NBA, after all, so stay tuned.

More updates as my air card allows.

-- Updating with 7:27 left in the third: Jamario Moon has left the game and will not return. The team is calling it an abdominal strain, so it could be his groin acting up again. Moon played five minutes tonight, 1-for-1 shooting with two turnovers and a blocked shot.

Heat lead 62-41....

-- OK, not a whole lot of drama in the fourth quarter, although Browns quarterback Brady Quinn* got to come in to close things out. He didn't even throw a pick!

Heat are back here at the Miami arena on Monday night, faceoff at 8 p.m. Will have more updates on here tomorrow from Miami/Atlanta practices, and I'm sure Michael Wallace has more coming postgame.

Drive careful everyone.

(*) Yes, I know that was Chris Quinn. But they're both from Notre Dame. And the Browns really need some success, no matter where it comes from.

-- George 'Three Periods' Richards

Miami Heat Pregame: Atlanta Hawks @ Miami Heat, Tonight, 6:30

Heatdancers Not much to report out of Miami Heat gameday, although there is a little news out of Hawks camp.

First, Jamario Moon took part in the shootaround and coach Erik Spoelstra said he was getting treatment and would play tonight. Mark Blount is back, but is inactive.

On the Hawks front, the ATL will be without forward Marvin Williams because of a wrist injury. That could cause some serious matchup problems for the visitors from Peachtree Street (Avenue, Drive, Boulevard, Place, etc.)

Says coach Mike Woodson: ''It happened in Game 2 and just didn't get any better so we're going to hold him back tonight and see how it goes.''

In hockey, Williams' injury might be called an 'upper body injury.' But when he stands up and his arm drops below his waist, it becomes a 'lower body injury.'

Williams will be replaced in the starting lineup by Mo Evans...

The Heat dancers are warming up outside the media room, so time for me to go. Updates throughout the night, right here at Miami Heat Central.

-- Been a while since I've been to a Heat game, but they have advertising hanging from the rafters? Really? Don't let Michael Yormark see that.

-- George Richards

U Don't Doubt Udonis, Do U?

If Udonis Haslem can accept it, everyone else probably should as well.

The Heat's gritty, tough, never-back-down, clutch power forward knows that he no longer has exclusive rights to the power forward position in the Heat's rotation. UD-Beasley

He knows rookie Michael Beasley is just as important to the team's overall success - behind Dwyane Wade, of course - as just about anyone else on the team.

Haslem accepts that there's now a legitimate 1-2 punch at the position, where he's started for the past several seasons. But therein lies Haslem's humility and leadership as a co-captain on the team.

Read more about Haslem's key role in the playoffs here, in today's story written by George Richards, our hockey writer who is helping out on the Heat beat through the rest of the playoffs.

Haslem enters Game 3 against the Hawks later today in position to move up on several of the franchise's career lists in the record book.

Haslem needs one more field goal to tie Jamal Mashburn (159) for fifth on the Heat's all-time playoff list.

He needs one more offensive rebound to pass Shaquille O'Neal for second place, and 27 more to tie Alonzo Mourning (137) for the all-time lead.

He needs one more double-figure scoring game to move into a tie for seventh place on the playoff list, and one more start to tie Mourning for second in the playoffs.

UD Blood Simply put: the man has put in work with little to no fanfare. He's bled for this franchise. He's carried the rebounding load this season on a really bad back. And he's fine with that.

Say what you will about Haslem's days being numbered in Miami as a starter at the position. He knows his place. He knows the franchise appreciates his efforts.

Yes, with Haslem entering the final season of his contract, Beasley appears to be the present at the position. He might not even be the most talented player on the team at his position. But there's no question that he's the heart and soul of the team.

So don't write UD off just yet.  

Then again, go ahead and do it. It's been done before.

Yet, here he stands. Again and again and again.

The day when Haslem is no longer a key member of this franchise or highly appreciated by the fans is a day a lot of folks might soon come to regret.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ twitter.com/wallacesports)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Back in the MIA: Home Is Where the Heat Is ... Saturday's Game 3 -- Atlanta Hawks @ Miami Heat, 6:30

Heatmiami George Richards here, your faithful hockey writer moving over the hardwood.

Kind of strange for me to be covering a playoff team to be quite honest, but hey, the Panthers came close this time around.

Don't worry, there won't be any hockey talk here. If you want that, I got a cool website for you.

That said, anyone catch that Carolina-New Jersey game last night? What a series. I think Carolina ...

I digress.

The Heat were back at work at its Miami arena today, the team in good spirits after winning Game 2 in Atlanta to tie things up. A big Game 3 on Saturday night near Bayside.

Blackback In case you haven't heard, Black is Back. So where something dark. If not, Mike Baiamonte is going to find you. And scold you. And prod you into putting on a black shirt.

You have been warned, eh (that's hockey language).

-- Erik Spoelstra on various topics ---

On the Game 3 matchup with the Hawks:
Spoel
''We just want to come out with the same focus and edge to us that we had last game. Dwayne plays well historically in these games, and at home. But we're not focusing on both these games right now. We're just looking at tomorrow night and making sure we come out with the same mindset that we did at the start of Game 2. ...

''We have to stay on edge. We were a different team. We can't relax. We can't look too far to see what happens. It's about us right now. There are still things [the Hawks] are doing extremely well. They're closing down the paint, we're not getting many chances in the paint still. Even after making all those 3s.

''The rebounds were a little deceptive. We made a lot of shots so there weren't a lot of rebounds for them to have defensively. I still think they dominated on the offensive glass. They had 21 second chance rebounds and we didn't have an answer for that.''

-- On the Heat's depth:

''We played nine guys, really, and our bench was fantastic.''

-- On playing at home:

''We play a little bit different, run a little bit more. We want to be cautious of the pace and the tempo. I think guys will be excited about playing in front of our home crowd, and that's great. We think we have one of the best atmospheres in the NBA. But our mindset has to be commitment to defense and rebounding at the start of the game and do it consistently. That's what's going to matter in this game.''

-- So, the Heat will run more?

''No, that's not something we want to do. Not slow this thing down to a snail's pace ... We don't want to get carried away. This [Atlanta] team is very good in the open floor. We want to make sure it doesn't get away from us. ... We don't play slow. We score points.''

And now, Mr. Dwyane Wade --

-- Do you ever come to the Miami arena early for to work on shooting like you did in ATL?

''I shoot the ball pretty well at home. I've never really come in that early before. Most of the things I do is stay later after the shootaround. I like to get my rest as well. I just felt I needed to over there early at that Wade time. ... I just felt I needed to [in Atlanta]. I needed to get used to their rims, the difference background when shooting.''

-- Do you still get jacked up over playing postseason games at home like you used to?

''Oh yeah. It's going to be great, a great environment. When I heard we were going to the Back in Black, I was pumped. That's where it all started for this franchise again, and for me. I was excited to go back to the beginning.''

-- What did you address today?

''Continuing to get better. We watched film and coach did a good job of breaking down the film. You would have thought we lost the game with all the clips we looked at. But it was good for this young team to see that. We did a lot of good things, but we did a lot of things we can get better at as well. They're going to continue to stay on us. We're not going to get overconfident because there's no reason to be overconfident.''

A few words from Udonis Haslem -- 

-- On the pace of Game 1 and 2:

''We've been playing at our pace all season, then we rushed things in the first game. We tried to rush it up the floor, spread the floor. In the second game we controlled the pace a lot better, but we still can do better. Fast break points are an issue.''

-- What do you expect from Dwayne in the coming games?

''I expect him to be aggressive offensively, create plays for other people. Obviously he's going to be Haslem matched up with Joe Johnson, so I expect him to take that challenge. At the same time, Atlanta's not going to let him get off. Other guys are going to have to make plays. You never know what he's going to do, and you know he has the ability to make spectacular plays somewhere in the game, whether its a shot or a block or steal or something like that. Somewhere along the line, he's going to make a play that's going to get the crowd excited.''

-- Being at home in the playoffs:

''Home court has been good to us in the past. When we won the championship we were like 11-1 or something crazy like that at home. We have to come out and do our part, come out with energy, come out aggressive. We have to take on the challenge early.''

-- On ATL's road playoff problems:

''It's a completely different situation. They have a year under their belt after last year. They are a better team, more experienced. This team has nothing to do with those teams. These are different players, different coaches. That has nothing to do with the situation we're going into tomorrow. We have to take care of business and we can't expect them to give us the game, can't expect an easy game. We have to go in here prepared to battle.''

-- For more Miami Heat/Florida Panthers news and notes, feel free to jump on the Twitter bandwagon by following myself and Heat beat writer Michael Wallace. It's fun, and it's free. To some. And thanks for your support.

http://twitter.com/wallacesports

http://twitter.com/onfrozenpond

 



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