« September 2009 | Main | November 2009 »

25 posts from October 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Postgame Breakdown: Heat 96, Pacers 83

INDIANAPOLIS - Jermaine O'Neal told everyone all summer long that he would get back to this level of Heat-Pacers-O'Neal performance at his position. Now, he's starting to show it.

The talk-the-talk campaign is starting to become the walk-the-walk tour for O'Neal, who became the first player in Heat history to start a season with consecutive games of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. The same man who provided so much misery for the Heat as a member of the Pacers inflicted a bit against his former team in Friday's 96-83 victory at Conseco Fieldhouse.

With the victory, the Heat opens the season 2-0 for the first time since the 2004-05 season. O'Neal finished his second straight game with 22 points and 12 rebounds to provide the inside threat to Dwyane Wade's perimeter dominance. Michael Beasley and Udonis Haslem continued to do their two-headed thing at the power forward position.

Yes, these two victories came against New York and Indiana. But the Heat is showing it is capable of beating teams it is supposed to beat. And that's a good sign to start the season for this team.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: It was one of those games when you looked up and realized that Wade had 16 points in the first half and it seemed like he didn't even break a sweat. The guy's game is that smooth already this season. He had perhaps the most effortless 32-point performance I have seen from him in four seasons covering the team. That's how silky smooth Wade was at times Friday. He was 9 of 19 from the field and 14 of 19 from the free-throw line. He also had four assists, three steals, three rebounds and block in 35 minutes. Most importantly, he had plenty of help for the second time in as many games.

Heat-Pacers-Wadeshoot TURNING POINT: The Heat used a 16-4 spurt early in the third quarter to build a 17-point lead. Miami outscored the Pacers 30-16 in the period, with Jermaine O'Neal doing majority of the damage. The Pacers shot just 30 percent from the field in the quarter.

WINNING EDGE: The Heat played its best, defensively, at the start of the game and in the third quarter. Both times the team exited the locker room, it proceeded to hold the Pacers to only 16 points in the ensuing quarter. That's an example of the Heat opening with a solid game plan and then making adjustments during halftime. It also didn't hurt that the normally streak-shooting Pacers never got too hot.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: Midway through the first quarter, Udonis Haslem cut through the lane as the trailer on a fast-break and flushed a nasty dunk over Pacers big man Solomon Jones. Perhaps it was a bit of payback for last season's playoff loss to the Hawks. Jones signed with the Pacers in the offseason. But back to the dunk. You rarely see that kind of above-the-rim explosion from Haslem, who is playing with a chip-on-the-shoulder edge coming off the bench. "I'm still a pretty good athlete, you know," Haslem said. "It's been a while since I was able to run the break in that position and catch the ball with full head of steam." It was a rewarding game for Haslem, who finished with a double-double on the same day his mother had another successful round of surgery to treat cancer.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: There were plenty. But you have to look no further than O'Neal. The last time Heat_Pacers_Beasley-hustle Dwyane Wade had an O'Neal playing this well, the Heat was headed for a championship run. Wade is simply happy with the two-game sample he's seen from Jermaine. O'Neal scored 13 of his 22 points in the third quarter, when the Heat pushed its lead to 17 points. He finished 7 of 13 from the field, 11 of 12 from the line, in 32 minutes. The best sign from O'Neal is that he's now snatching rebounds in traffic.

NEXT UP: Bulls at Heat, Sunday 6 p.m. - 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.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Heat's fourth quarter

Oh no! The Knicks have cut the lead to less than 30!

Gallinari loves to shoot threes, huh?

Wade might have the "quietest" 23 points I have seen in awhile.

Is there anyone left in the stands? I bet I can finish counting before the game ends. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 .........

All over. Didn't finish counting the fans. Final score, Heat 115, Knicks 93.

Heat's third quarter

It's impressive that the Heat has a double-digit lead without Wade going on a scoring binge. Jermaine O'Neal in double figures is a good sign.

The lead is up to 18 - 71-53 Heat.

Heat is shooting nearly 60% from the game and O'Neal has a double-double (in points and rebounds).  He had just eight double-doubles all of last season.

So if the Heat takes a 30-point lead do we continue blogging? Why not.

Heat's second quarter

The Knicks have missed 16 of their past 19 shots, yet trail by two points.

Still can't shake the Knicks Bench (Cook and Haslem) is playing well.

Heat can't stop David Lee tonight. He has 15 points (6-of-7 shooting) and 5 rebounds.

Heat is 14 of 17 from the field this quarter and finish the half up 56-47.

Heat's first quarter

The World Series started before the Heat game. Who would have thought?

Jermaine O'Neal might look better in the first two minutes than he did all last year.

Chalmers has seven of the Heat's first 13 points. 13-12 Heat with 7:06 left.

Words you haven't seen often: Strong start for Darko Milicic.

Heat leads 22-20 with 2:50 remaining.

I'm not sure if it's strong Heat defense or putrid Knicks shooting at this point.

Heat leads 27-23 after the first quarter.

Heat's opening night

Don't tell Timmy. There will be a Run TMC reunion tonight when they retire Tim Hardaway's number. Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin, former teammates of Hardaway's at Golden State, will be in attendance.

The Heat will play a man short tonight as backup center Jamaal Magloire begins serving his two-game suspension for the Oct. 5  altercation with Pistons forward Jonas Jerebko.

The Tim Hardaway montage was a great reminder of what an exciting player he was.

So we find out at 7:39 p.m. that it's Tim Hardaway Day? He only gets 4.5 hours of a day?

I don't know if they ever played "Nobody does it better" in Chicago when Hardaway was growing up.

Feels like an Oscar speech, doesn't it?

Pregame is over. On to the game.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Heat Rotation Shakeup Delivered?

If this holds true, Erik Spoelstra has delivered the best curve ball this side of A.J. Burnett. Haslem Upset  

Apparently, Michael Beasley will be in the starting lineup as most expected. But it won't come at small forward, barring a last-minute adjustment. Beasley's starting job will come at the expense of Heat veteran Udonis Haslem.

In other words, the future is now for the Miami Heat. At least as far as the power forward job is concerned. Haslem said he will be asked to come off the bench this season, a role he hasn't played since the end of his rookie season six years ago.

Beasley is in, as part of a lineup shakeup that will have Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade in the backcourt and Quentin Richardson and Beasley at the forward spots. Jermaine O'Neal will be at center.

"I've been the ultimate team player and I made the ultimate sacrifice throughout my career," Haslem said Tuesday as the Heat continued to prepare for Wednesday's season opener against New York. "This is just another situation where I've been asked to do it again. I didn't make that call, so that's nothing I'm going to worry about."

Spoelstra still hasn't fessed up about his starting lineup. He refused to do so again Tuesday. Richardson has started four games during the preseason, including three at small forward. Beasley has split his time equally between the two forward spots.

UD-BeasleyHaving said that, this still comes as a bit of a surprise. And I wouldn't be shocked if this lineup lasts all of about a week or two into the season. Having said that, Beasley has proved he should be a starter. The shocker comes in Quentin moving ahead of the field so quickly.

It appears to be a move made to bolster the perimeter defense at the expense of interior defense. Haslem is also dealing with a groin injury that has kept him off the court since Sunday. Perhaps the injury played a part. But it didn't sound like this was a short-term solution, considering the way Haslem spoke Tuesday.

He was polite. But he was also a bit agitated. If you saw this coming, go ahead and buy a Powerball ticket. This one was a bit more difficult to see from here, because of all of the talk about Heat culture and work ethic and defense and doing things the right way. Haslem was all of those things. But Beasley is the future - at least as far as the eye can see for now.

This is not to say Haslem can't thrive in a prominent role off the bench entering the final season of his contract. Quentin-standalone This is about truly seeing what Beasley can do. Can he be a superstar starting power forward in this league? It's the same thing, on a smaller level, that Pat Riley wants to see out of Mario Chalmers.

The difference is that Riley came right out over the summer and proclaimed Chalmers the starter and said he wouldn't bring in anyone to start ahead of him. We never heard such definitive talk about the Beasley plan. But the way this all played out, you'd have to believe this was the plan all along for both.

Haslem didn't necessarily do anything to lose his starting power forward job. Quentin Richardson wasn't over-the-top convincing during the preseason that he's the starter at small forward. Q-Rich has been solid. He can shoot, defend and make plays off the dribble. That skill set may have given him an overall advantage at this spot. Maybe there wasn't as much confidence in Beasley at small forward after all.

If this holds true, the Heat essentially chose Quentin Richardson over Udonis Haslem.

So here we are. Let's see where this goes. Let's see if Spoelstra and Riley have a change-up, too. 

(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, October 26, 2009

Rolling the Rotation Dice

Apparently, coach Erik Spoelstra finds a bit of joy in keeping everyone in suspense regarding what he SPO-Coach insists will be a nine-man playing rotation this season.

Of course, Dwyane Wade, Jermaine O'Neal and Mario Chalmers aren't sweating as starters. Udonis Haslem probably isn't either. And Michael Beasley is all but in at small forward, barring a last-minute adjustment due to an injury or some form of indecency.

The next two, according to the view from here, would be guard Daequan Cook and center Joel Anthony as offensive and defensive specialists, respectively. The last two would almost have to be Carlos Arroyo and James Jones. Arroyo would take those first-half and early third-quarter minutes that would become available if Chalmers is either ineffective or in foul trouble. In other words, those minutes Wade would prefer not to chase around smaller and quicker opposing guards until crunch time in the fourth quarter

Jones seems logical because, well, the Heat thought enough of him to sign him to a slightly-less-than-mid-level deal a year ago. He also has worked as hard or harder than anyone on the roster this summer, which isn't lost on the coaching staff despite his limited preseason role. The Heat has to make this Jones situation work. He's got a significant partial guarantee on the next couple of years on his contract even if the Heat decides he's not the answer.

Quentin-standalone That would leave Quentin Richardson (pictured below left), Yakhouba Diawara and Jamaal Magloire on the outside looking in, as well as plenty of evenings on the inactive list for Dorell Wright, Chris Quinn and Shavlik Randolph.

Spoelstra said there is at least one certainty in the who's-in-who's-out rotation predicament. "It won't be fair," he said. "Guys who probably deserve to play and have a role will have to be patient. At some point in the season, I know that depth is going to help us."

On Wednesday, we'll start to see how well the pieces fit after a preseason of disjointed lineups. Or, we'll start to find out if this will be a season-long collection of moving parts.

(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.)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Beasley+Boat+Beer=Bad Mix

Unfortunately, this is what you get when you no longer receive the benefit of the doubt.Beasley Intro

Heat forward Michael Beasley learned a hard lesson Saturday, if things actually played out the way the team, Beasley and others caught up in Beer Boat Gate say they did. Beasley again found himself in the middle of a controversy that had nothing to do with whether he should start at power forward ahead of Udonis Haslem or slightly out of position at small forward.

There was another camera. There was Beasley. There was a naughty substance that happened to find itself sitting on a table with Beasley in the vicinity. And, of course, there was the Internet, which was used to spread this potential cocktail of disaster across the world faster than Beasley can release a jump shot.

This latest incident could be easily dismissed. Beasley was aboard a chartered fishing trip after an Oct. 10 practice he had no desire to be on, but was encouraged to go by his counselor from that drug rehab stay in Houston. Instead of casting, Beasley found a soft spot for napping. It just so happened to be the wrong spot, a place where there was a table with a bunch of open beer bottles resting nearby as well.

Say cheese. Flash. It was that easy to put Beasley in another uncomfortable spot. TMZ.com did what TMZ.com does. And it ran a story with all kinds of not-so-subtle suggestions about how Beasley was drifting into temptation again. Needless to say that Beasley remains in the league's substance abuse program for missteps dating to weeks after the 2008 draft, when he was caught in a New York hotel room with women amid the smell of marijuana.

The kid has no more wiggle room when it comes to off-the-court stumbles. If he fails, he falls into a potential 5-game suspension. So that made this current situation a bit tough to fathom - even for Beasley.

Beasley is one of the most likable and approachable guys in the Heat locker room. He's got an easy smile, and infectious laugh and a hilarious jab or two to deliver to any teammate or team employee at any given second. No one is off limits. He's still very much a 20-year-old kid having fun at an age when life is supposed to be all about fun.

Except, he's a high-profile professional athlete with a checkered not-so-distant past now. So even if Beasley did absolutely nothing wrong in this latest boat photo flap other than fall asleep on the wrong couch, he's a victim of circumstances his previous actions helped to create.

It's unfortunate. But it's true. The thing about Beasley is that he's not going to let this incident send him into a shell. He loves to go out. He lives right around the corner from AmericanAirlines Arena. And he's never met a stranger. So if you've got a camera phone and Beasley is nearby, he'd welcome the company.

Beasley-playfulCoach "If you're not doing anything wrong, you shouldn't have to worry about (anything)," Beasley said Saturday. "I don't mind taking a picture with someone. A few seconds to me could make their whole day."

That's fine. But aren't you concerned about perception at this point? Don't you fear being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time after everything that's gone on? Can you even take that chance?

"I don't think you should have to be aware (of your surroundings at all times)," said Beasley, who is still underage when it comes to alcohol. "That's like going into a bar and telling them to shut down the bar just because you're near me. I think that's part of growing up and being mature."

Beasley admitted that he never drinks and that he doesn't smoke. At least not anymore. He's been sober, BeasleyDraft he says, "since 8-6-09." That was right around the time of his initial stay in Houston as part of the drug treatment program. He then violated a rule and had to check into an in-patient facility.

But that's behind Beasley now. And that boat has sailed. At least that's the case until the next camera phone flashes. Then, he'll have to go through all of this again. Beasley may well have earned a starting job this season. But it'll be a while before he earns the benefit of the doubt in matters off the court. Innocent or not.

And that's unfortunate. Especially in cases when he's clean.

(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, October 22, 2009

Blog Breakdown: Hawks 92, Heat 87

JACKSONVILLE - So the Heat didn't exactly end the preseason with a bang. Instead, there were a few Hawks_Heat_Basketball_FLJR4 familiar breakdowns that caught up with Miami in Thursday's 92-87 loss to the Hawks at Veteran's Memorial Arena.

After a 2-5 finish to the preseason, it's now on to the games that actually count in the standings. The Heat is far from a finished product. But there are signs of progress from a few players who could be key in the rotation. Daequan Cook continues to shine, having led the Heat in scoring for the third time this preseason, this time finishing with 20 points.

Carlos Arroyo is getting far more comfortable with the offense. He led the team with six assists in 27 minutes, an effort that helped to offset Mario Chalmers' 1 of 9 shooting night. If there is a significant concern with this team - and there are a few of them - they begin with the Heat's inability to consistently defend the perimeter. The Hawks shot 57.1 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range. They benefited from those kind of numbers on the way to eliminating the Heat in seven games during last season's playoffs.

Even though the Heat has started six different lineups in seven preseason games, coach Erik Spoelstra insists he's closing in on an eight or nine-man rotation. He just won't say who's in and who's out because he hasn't told his players about their roles just yet.

But figure on the backcourt of Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade, with Michael Beasley and Udonis Haslem at the forward spots and Jermaine O'Neal at center. Beyond that, I'm pretty confident that Cook and Joel Anthony are the first two off the bench. That gets you to a seven-man rotation. The final one or two spots are a bit difficult to figure. James Jones seemed to be a lock at one point, but then Quentin Richardson starting getting the starts over the past few games. And then there's Carlos Arroyo, who should be a lock. But that would depend on how much time Wade wants to spend at point guard.

So with five days remaining before Wednesday's opener against New York, the Heat essentially has three guys battling for the final two spots in the primary rotation. How will it shake out? Your guess is as good as mine at this point. It's one area where Spoelstra is truly unpredictable.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Coming off a 35-point outing Wednesday, Wade had a rather pedestrian 13 points, five assists and three steals in 29 minutes. His shot was off (3 of 11), but this was more about seeing how his legs and conditioning level would be, playing a back-to-back set. As was apparent Wednesday, Wade is in mid-season form. He just has to get one or two more teammates to that level as well. Cook, Beasley and Haslem are there. Two more would be huge for this team.

TURNING POINT: After the Heat pulled to within 63-60, the Hawks responded with a 9-0 run to retake control of the game. Joe Johnson made a few jumpers and that was that. Offseason pickup Jamal Crawford also added to the damage with 12 points and 3 assists off the bench. Keep in mind that Johnson is a free agent at the end of the season, just like Wade. The two spent a considerable amount of time talking to one another outside the locker rooms when the teams arrived at the arena. A potential Wade-Johnson-Beasley 1-2-3 punch wouldn't be a bad combination at all. Not saying. Just saying.

LOSING EDGE: It was an awful shooting night from the start for the Heat, which missed 12 of its first 13 shots and closed the game shooting only 36.8 percent from the field. Miami was only 26.9 from 3-point range. Just when it appeared the Heat was getting its offense in gear, the transmission slipped Thursday.

HEAD SCRATCHER: There were plenty from which to pick. There was the comedy from Wade, who was frustrated with an early non-call from the replacement refs. Wade went to the scorer's table and asked: "Can I get a rule book ... so I can show them." There were also several times when Carlos Arroyo, who arrived last week, had to slow down the offense to show Dorell Wright, who has been here for five years, Cook-Preseason where to go. Inconsistency is still haunting Wright. Another head scratcher came at the end of the first half, when Mario Chalmers fouled Marvin Williams as he was attempting a half-court shot at the buzzer. Williams went to the line and made all three free throws to put Atlanta ahead 44-31 at the break.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Daequan Cook continues to do everything he can to earn a solid rotation role this season. He led the Heat in scoring for the third time this preseason. He was 8 of 15 from the field, including 4 of 8 from 3-point range. Cook has been making more plays off the dribble and is no longer simply a spot-up shooter. He had four turnovers Thursday, but you can live with a few aggressive mistakes if he continues to improve at his rate. Cook (pictured right) even joked after the game that he might challenge Jason Terry and Lamar Odom for Sixth Man of the Year honors this season. We'll see. But he's on the right track after two inconsistent seasons in the league.

NEXT UP: Season Opener - Heat vs. New York Knicks, 7: 30 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.)



Powered by TypePad