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21 posts from April 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010

Target Bosh, Take Hedo, Too

Well, that certainly didn't take long. Heat_Raptors_Bosh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Miami, this would very much make sense.

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

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

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wade-ing For The Moment

Despite being around this Heat team practically every day of almost every week of nearly every month over Wade-Face the past four years, there's still an awful lot I don't know.

My guess is as good as any. My opinion, depending on the subject, is as strong as the next. But I can't tell you what Dwyane Wade is going to do this summer. I have no clue whether Pat Riley and Micky Arison are going to deliver the free agent goods after sparking all of this hype and hoopla.

The best I can do is offer something we in this business pass on as an educated guess. Don't let any of us fool you.

But one thing I do know is this: There are times when stories and information you share with me have far greater impact than what I try to offer you in this space. I received a wonderful letter from a huge Boston Celtics fan this afternoon about Dwyane Wade, who has a major decision to make this summer.

But it was a small decision that Wade made recently that impacted an entire family:

Mr Wallace,
At the end of game 5 against the Miami Heat, as Dwayne Wade walked off the court, he  Dwade-1_edit gave my 10 year old son his jersey.  It was an act of true sportsmanship and showed that D Wade has a true respect for the fans and the game.  About 20-25 people were standing at the runway in the Boston Garden in disbelief that he took his jersey off and gave it to a 10 year old boy who was wearing a Kevin Garnett jersey - especially after losing game 5 of the playoff series.  What a moment for my son and the fans of Boston to see how a future hall of famer graciously handled losing.
It was truly an exciting time that my son will never forget and I would greatly appreciate if you knew of any way my son and me could thank Dwayne Wade for his generosity.
Thank you.


Eric Morrow

Windham, NH

Mr. Morrow, you just did.

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

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Game 5 Breakdown: Celtics 96, Heat 86

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEXT UP: Exit Interviews - Wednesday, AmericanAirlines Arena

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

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Game 4 Breakdown: Heat 101, Celtics 92

Where there's a will, there's a Wade. Game4-main

And there was no doubt about it. It was in Dwyane Wade's will that the Heat lives to fight at least another day in the playoffs.

Setting all kind of franchise playoff records, Wade scored a season-high 46 points, including 30 in the second half, to spark the Heat to a 101-92 victory over the Celtics at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat staved off elimination and pulled to within 3-1 in the best-of-7 series.

Miami squandered all of an 18-point lead in the first half and ended up using a 25-7 run of its own to rally back in the fourth quarter to overcome the Celtics and force Game 5 in Boston on Tuesday.

Before the game, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra challenged his team to reveal its character. The Heat showed that it was in no mood to get swept this time and relive the feelings fans felt three years ago when the Chicago Bulls completed that four-game sweep in Miami.

There's another fight in this feisty Heat team.

"We got one down," guard Mario Chalmers said. "Now, we've got three more to go."

D. WADE'S DOINGS: What didn't Wade do? Perhaps sell concessions. Maybe sweep the floor and lock the gym up after the game. Then again, with his postgame workout habits, there's a good chance Wade crept back into AmericanAirlines Arena to take a few more shots. He was that hot. Why stop at 46 points? Wade set franchise playoff records for points (46), points in a half (30 in the second) and field goals made (16) on the way to delivering another of his magical postseason performances. Whatever happened to that dehydration he was supposed to be battling after Game 3? He showed no signs of that Sunday. He was simply on fire. Wade was 16 of 24 from the field, 5 of 7 from three-point range and 9 of 14 from the line. At one point late in the third quarter, he went on a streak and scored 11 consecutive Heat points. That set the tone for Miami to pull ahead by as many as 11 points late in the fourth. This, is what it's going to take from Wade in Game 5 on Tuesday to bring this series back to Miami on Thursday.

TURNING POINT: After trailing by seven late in the third quarter, Miami used a 25-7 run that began in the third and carried it to an 11-point lead in the fourth. That was enough cushion, barely, to hold off the Game4-Second Celtics. Wade wasn't a one-man show during that stretch. He got a significant boost from a group of reserves that included Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem, Dorell Wright and Joel Anthony. Still, I'd argue that Michael Beasley's putback to extend the lead to 98-92 with 1:27 left might have been as big as any single bucket of the game.

WINNING/LOSING EDGE: The Heat turned the tide on the Celtics this time. Miami outrebounded Boston 43-35 and also scored 28 points off 16 Celtics turnovers. This time, Miami was the team capitalizing off the miscues instead of committing them.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: As strange as it sounds, Miami could be up 3-1 in this series. The Heat should at least be 2-2. But it just couldn't handle the prosperity of a 14-point second-half lead in Game 1. It also lost on a buzzer-beater at home in Game 3. Miami had had its opportunities in this series. The Game 1 loss in Boston might ultimately come back to haunt the Heat in this series. That single game changed the course of this series. One half of bad basketball, in a sense. The Heat faces a tremendous uphill climb against these Celtics, who are deeper, more experiences and have been mentally stronger to this point. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Miami can steal Game 5 in Boston. Do that, and history is within its grasp, as unlikely as it seems, with the series coming back to Miami for Game 6. At the end of the day, Miami is in this position because it squandered a couple of opportunities along the way. But credit the Heat for fighting through adversity and avoiding what would have been an embarrassing sweep on its home court.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Quentin Richardson did his thing on both ends of the court when he got his Game4-Q minutes. His start was huge. He scored 20 points, the second-high playoff total of his career. He knocked down four three-pointers to tie his postseason career high. Most importantly, he scored the first eight points of the game for Miami en route to a 13-point first quarter, his highest scoring quarter since he joined the Heat. His seven made field goals also tied his postseason career high. Richardson's mouth has made a bigger impact on this series than his game. He started to change that with Sunday's performance. Richardson emerged from Sunday's game with a split on the ring finger of his left hand. The team called it a hand contusion. Richardson said the injury wouldn't keep him out of Game 5.

NEXT UP: Heat at Boston Celtics, 7 p.m. Tuesday - TD Garden.

(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, April 24, 2010

Playing the Percentages

If the Heat can't find a way to stave off playoff elimination in Game 4 on Sunday, the Boston Celtics will New Wade advance to the second round of the playoffs and commence the offseason of all offseason in Miami.

For those in attendance at AmericanAirlines Arena on Sunday, you might want to keep a copy of the game program. By Sunday evening, it could very well become a souvenir.

Down 0-3 to the Celtics, this could very well be the last stand for this version of the Miami Heat. There will be plenty of offseason changes. So why put off the inevitable. Let's play the percentages now.

No, not those. We already know that no team in NBA history has come back from an 0-3 deficit to win a playoff series. I'm talking about playing the other percentages - the ones with far greater value. The return-of-the-roster percentages.

It's an unscientific take, one based more on common sense and dollars-and-cents.

RAFER ALSTON - 0%: A desperate reach for mid-season point guard depth had disastrous results. Skip quit on the Heat long before Miami had a chance to dispose of him.

JOEL ANTHONY - 90%: Not sure there's much of a market for Joel should he opt out his contract. The Heat would welcome back the shot-blocking franchise-made prospect as relatively cheap labor.

CARLOS ARROYO - 50%: Arroyo has two things going for him here. Owner Micky Arison is fond of him and his Hispanic ties, and he'd be open to taking a reserve role at a spot the Heat will certainly look to upgrade.

MICHAEL BEASLEY - 55%: If trading Michael Beasley opens the door to land Amare, Bosh, LeBron or BeasleyDraft even an unrestricted free agent such as Rudy Gay, Pat Riley will cut bait and make it happen. Otherwise, with Beasley still on his rookie-scale deal, it'll be cheaper to keep him and give him one last shot to shine here.

MARIO CHALMERS - 40%: After two years in the league and two years of so-called development, Rio still doesn't have a natural position. I can't see Miami bringing Rio and Arroyo back as backups. Chalmers has another year on his deal. But it's a low-cost expense.

DAEQUAN COOK - 18%: His time is up here. The former 3-point champion has run out shots at a rotation role. Look for Cook to be packaged with another player or draft picks to create cap space.

YAKHOUBA DIAWARA - 2%: Nice guy. Great attitude. His contract is up. Never became the defensive stopper/perimeter shooter off the bench Riley envisioned.

KENNY HASBROUCK - 10%: His chances to stick took a big hit when that DUI emerged from February, weeks before he was signed by the team as a developmental project. Hasbrouck better have a hell of a summer in his quest for the third PG spot.

UDONIS HASLEM - 67%: Projections of additional cap space cleared the way for Haslem to be brought Haslem Upset back. It might take a while, because he certainly wants to see his value around the league. There's mutual respect there, even though both sides will look into upgrades.

JAMES JONES - 20%: Much like with Diawara, Riley is going to have to admit he made a mistake here. The Heat have to look into buying out Jones and creating about $2.5 million in the transaction. Perhaps Jones even re-signs for the vet's minimum late in the summer to stay with his hometown team. Maybe not.

JAMAAL MAGLOIRE - 63%: The league will be short on available centers. With Bosh or Stoudemire in a featured role at power forward, Anthony's shot-blocking, Magloire's rebounding and banging and their minimum salary slots might have to be enough.

JERMAINE O'NEAL - 5%: A mutual parting will be best for both. Despite his struggles in the playoffs, J.O. will benefit from a light crop of free agent centers, where his competition on the market doesn't extend beyond Shaq, Big Z, Brendan Haywood and Brad Miller. Even at mid-level prices, the Heat won't bite.

SHAVLIK RANDOLPH - 58%: A low-budget big man with some NBA experience. His chances increase if the Heat isn't forced to take back filler in some sort of summer blockbuster trade.

QUENTIN RICHARDSON - 15%: Richardson served his purpose. No other team would have given him a starting job. And he delivered at times when the Heat had nowhere else to turn. His contract is up, and unless he takes a massive, massive pay cut, he's gone - unless his guy Dwyane Wade says otherwise.

DWYANE WADE: - 99.3%: Despite the 50-50 act he's playing by publicly leaving his options open and doing everything but outright committing to the Heat, Wade will be back. But Riley better be aggressive in getting Bosh or Stoudemire here in a hurry. Riley won the public power play last summer. Wade is in total control this time around.

DORELL WRIGHT: 20%: Say what you will about Dorell, but he's 24 years old coming off his most productive season and would only be looking for a slight raise on that near $3 million salary. Yet, that SPO-Coaching will be too steep for the Heat, unless Miami slips to free-agency Plans D, E or F.

COACH ERIK SPOELSTRA: 89%: Unless LeBron James demands Riley return to the bench, or owner Micky Arison starts asking questions or Spoelstra senses uneasiness in the front-office and steps aside, he will be back next season. Still, the last time Riley had this much on the line, Stan Van Gundy suddenly felt homesick. In other words, Spoelstra is safe.

(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.)

Game 3 Breakdown: Celtics 100, Heat 98

For the Heat, it became painfully obvious Friday night. Game3-Main1

Boston is just better. Much better. Some teams simply have your number. That number reached 15 for Boston, as in 14 victories the last 15 times it faced the Heat.

Paul Pierce delivered a dagger as time expired in Friday's 100-98 victory to take a commanding 3-0 lead over the Heat in the best-of-7 first-round series that could very well be over on Sunday.

It's a case of Boston having too much firepower, too many options and too much mental toughness to withstand anything the Heat has thrown their way this season.

Miami fought this time. But it wasn't enough. The Heat ran out of gas at the finish and Wade lost his legs. Now, the Heat is in an overwhelming position. No team in NBA history has come back from an 0-3 deficit to win a series.

At this point, if Miami can somehow avoid being swept, it would be a major accomplishment. Pierce had 32 points, Ray Allen added 25, Rajon Rondo chipped in 17 points and eight assists and Kevin Garnett returned from suspension to deliver 16 points and eight rebounds.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Question his decision to pull up for that long jumper with 13 seconds left in a tie game. But Wade was trying to make one last shot to get the Heat over the hump. He didn't have the legs to do it. Wade missed that jumper and then was overwhelmed by a severe cramp in his left calf, the same calf he strained a few months back. He was ailing for the final four minutes of the fourth quarter. He was basically playing on one leg. Still, Wade pushed the Heat with 34 points, eight assists, five rebounds, two steals and two blocks. He was 14 of 26 from the field, but 3 of 11 from three-point range. He settled for that jumper one too many times. But it's hard to question Wade's shot selection, because he's made too many difficult ones to rescue the Heat. Wade insists he'll have enough left to play Sunday. But there was a defeated look in his eyes as well as those of his teammates.

TURNING POINT: There were plenty of twists and turns in this one. In fact, there were 14 ties and 14 lead changes. Then, Paul Pierce got the ball at the top of the key, waited for 10 of the final 11 seconds to tick Game3-Main off the clock and then launched his three over Dorell Wright. Swish. Game. And, barring a miracle, series. The question, at the time, was whether Miami should have fouled to force Boston to reset with as little time as possible. But ask yourself this: How much would that have really mattered the way Boston has played?

WINNING/LOSING EDGE: The Heat had another game in which careless mistakes cost it dearly. The Heat, which finished the season ranked fourth in the league in limiting turnovers, had 18 on Friday that led to 24 points for the Celtics. Through three games in this series, Miami has committed 55 turnovers that has led to a combined 77 points for the Celtics.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: What started off as a concern has become an outright disappearing act for the Heat. Jermaine O'Neal has become milk carton material. He's missing. He's lost. He's fallen and can't get up. O'Neal benched for the duration of the fourth quarter, and is in the midst of the worst three-game stretch of his career. O'Neal is 5 of 31 in this series. You expected the Heat to lose the battle at point guard. You expected Dwyane Wade to do enough, with a small contribution from Quentin Richardson or Dorell Wright, to offset Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. But you knew this series was going to be determined by the team that won the power forward/center matchup. Kevin Garnett, Glen Davis and Kendrick Perkins have thoroughly dominated Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem and Jermaine O'Neal. Simple as that. Haslem and Beasley have at least shown a pulse in this series. O'Neal, for whatever reason, has been next to comatose. And it was all good with J.O. just a few weeks ago. Perhaps those knee and ankle injuries took more out of him than anyone thought.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Dorell Wright and Michael Beasley combined for 31 points on 11 of 15 shooting WRIGHT_DORELL from the field in the loss. Miami needed this type of production from those guys earlier in this series. For the first time, Beasley stepped up and did his part. Also for the first time, Wright led a nice all-around effort from the Heat's bench. Still, it wasn't enough. When this is over, Miami will look back and realize it lost this series in Game 1. Miami had everything going its way in that game through most of the first three quarters. And then the collapse began. But Wright and Beasley played Friday like a pair of young, athletic and talented forwards who would make it tough for anyone to give up on those guys too soon. The problem is these type of performances haven't come often enough for either one of them this season. 

NEXT UP: Boston Celtics at Heat, Sunday 1 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.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Heat Secret Weapon: Childs' Play

Every now and then, the schedule, the wife or just plain common sense forces us to take a break from the intensity of covering this beat and realize how blessed we truly are in this job.

Thursday was one of those days. It was "Take Your Kid to Work" day. So not only did I step backWorker for hea_2t and watch in amazement as my boys, Charlesson and Kori (pictured right) take over the weekly Heat Q&A online chat, they also wanted a piece of the blog. 

Full disclosure: Charlesson (left) is a Celtics fan. Kori (right) likes the Heat, but has a beef right now because he doesn't think it's fair that Daequan Cook can't get into the game. And Heat staffer Nick (above middle) couldn't give Kori the answers he demanded.

For the hard-core fans looking for a nuts-and-bolts blog that examines yet another facet of this Heat-Celtics series that resumes with Game 3 Friday, check back after the game for the usual breakdown.

But today was about giving thanks. And giving back. First, the thanks. I'm giving a shout out to the Heat's Charlesson-Kori-Wade media relations staff - Tim, Rob, Nick and Mike - for giving several of us media types the opportunity to take our kids to practice Thursday. It was a joy to see how the room was filled with reporters and their kids.

It wasn't necessarily a Martin Luther King Jr. moment. But my boys and Ira Winderman's boy shook hands in harmony, caring nothing at all about the newspaper competition their dopes for dads endure daily to bring you Heat news and analysis.

ESPN's Mark Jones brought his beautiful family. And so did members of the Heat TV staff. And the players seemed to soak up the extra attention. I had never seen Dwyane Wade, Jamaal Magloire or Jermaine O'Neal so happy to see a pack of reporters. 

Or maybe it was the kids. This I know for certain: If the Heat wins Game 3 on Friday, at least a Two men k&c_2 few cub reporter sources I know are going to take credit and demand to quit school and cover this team on a full-time basis.

Now, to the giving back. Charlesson, 14, was geared up from the moment he knew he'd be skipping school for the chance to cover the Heat for a day.

"While we were still on the road (going to practice) thoughts came out of my head out of nowhere as if I were an author," Charlesson wrote in his one-page report about the day's doings. "One of the things I was thinking about was how my reaction would be once I stepped foot in the same room as the Miami Heat players."

Charlesson immediately went into photographer mode with his cell phone to provide the pictures for this blog.

Kids-Los Meanwhile, Kori, 10, took my recorder and did the dirty work of fighting into the crowd to get quotes from Dwyane Wade, Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers for the story that will appear in Friday's paper about the Heat's need to step up its game at the point guard position.

Kori's take?

"As I interviewed, I got information on how Dwyane Wade feels the next game will be. He says, 'We all know that I'll be handling the ball a lot, but the team needs to mix it up."

Then, Kori approached Michael Beasley.

"Michael Beasley said, 'There is definitely something I can do better to help the team win."

Kids-Beas After practice, I took the boys to lunch and we pored through some of the questions on the Heat Q&A on the Miami Herald's website. They took turns giving their answers. And that's when they really took over.

"There were some wild questions on short notice that had to be answered," Kori wrote in his report. "I noticed that lots of these questions were on Michael Beasley and Erik Spoelstra (coach) being traded or fired. After this was finished, I finally got a chance to take a break."

I cover this team every day and still learned plenty on Thursday. Two things that stood out?

1. I'm blessed to have a great job Kids-JO

2. I might be out of work soon if these kids keep this up, considering they'll work right now for only Gatorade and video games.

(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, April 21, 2010

Game 2 Breakdown: Celtics 106, Heat 77

BOSTON - Okay, so now what? Playoffs-Main

With this best-of-7 series shifting to Miami for the next two games, the Heat clearly has two choices at this point. Fight and get into this series.

Or fold and head into free agency.

With the way things went down in Tuesday's 106-77 loss to the Celtics at TD Garden in Game 2, I'm not sure too many folks out there would be too offended if Miami took the latter choice. But that hasn't been the Heat all season. There is a bit of pride with this team, even if it didn't show up Tuesday night.

Miami is now down 0-2 in this first-round series. It has only rallied from that type of playoff deficit one time in franchise history. And that was in the 2006 Finals to defeat the Dallas Mavericks.

But those Mavericks were fragile. These Celtics are serious. The elbow that got Kevin Garnett suspended for Game 2 had nothing on the blow Boston delivered in the second quarter Tuesday. A 21-0 spurt was the difference in this game. It was over by the half.

And now, the Heat is halfway out of this playoff series.

"In both games, there was a point of really being tested," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "And in both games, we failed that mental test."

So what now?

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Dwyane Wade begged for help from his teammates between Games 1 and 2. They didn't deliver. As it has been pretty much all season against Boston, there was plenty from Wade and very little from anyone else. Wade got off to a slow start, but had 29 points on 11 of 18 shooting from the field for the second consecutive game. His supporting cast? It was a collective 18 of 58 from the field. Boston is just fine with that sort of trade-off. If things continue down this path, all this series is going to prove is just how much help Wade needs in free agency to get back into serious contention in the East. Michael Beasley let Wade down with another sub-par performance. Jermaine O'Neal has yet to show up in the playoffs. Carlos Arroyo and Mario Chalmers can't penetrate, and that's a problem when they're both point guards. Quentin Richardson's mouth was quiet Tuesday. So was his game. Something's gotta give so Wade can get some help. Or else, the Heat is gone from the postseason.

TURNING POINT: The Heat was up 29-25 with 10:10 left in the second quarter. Then, boom. Michael  Playoffs-Ray Finley nailed a three-pointer and opened the floodgates. Finley's trey sparked a 21-0 run that pushed the Celtics ahead 46-29. Amazingly, with all of that net-splashing, the Heat managed to remain in its drought. Four Celtics players contributed to the run that ran the Heat out of Boston.

WINNING/LOSING EDGE: The Celtics not only pounded the Heat on the boards for a 50-33 edge, Boston outscored Miami 22-10 from the free-throw line. The Heat also shot a painful 38 percent from the field. You know it's bad when Sheldon Williams, Ray Allen, Glen Davis and Michael Finley are working you over during the most critical stages of the game.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: Before the game, Wade was asked whether Garnett's absence might have opened the door for Beasley to have a breakout performance in the playoffs. Wade cut to the chase. HePlayoffs-BigBaby said that sort of door has always been open. "Mike's just gotta walk through it." It's one thing to get schooled by Garnett. It's another to allow Big Baby Davis - or the Ticket Stub, as Davis called himself Tuesday - to put up an All-Star effort against you. It's easy to pull for Beasley. I'd like to see the kid succeed, and we're not even supposed to have much of a rooting interest at all for people we cover. But reporters are human, too. And Mike is from my hometown. I know his people. And this is not a shot at Davis, who has worked his way into earning a steady NBA role in Haslem-like fashion. But you're talking about the No. 2 overall pick here struggling and getting beat up and down the court by a second-round pick in Davis, who also has outworked Haslem in this series. This was a time when Beasley really needed to step up and really didn't. He talked about the arguing and fighting that took place on the court with teammates over blown defensive assignments. O'Neal hasn't been himself in a month. As it stands now, the Heat has big men who won't stop shooting jumpers. Boston has post players who are aggressive and attacking in the post. That's gotta change for the Heat to get back into this series. And change quickly.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Let's pass on this distinction for this game. There were no key contributions. Wade Playoff-Bench was a one-man show for the  most part. Everyone else in Heat uniforms had much in common with the 18,624 fans in attendance. They were all spectators. Spoelstra called the showing an "embarrassment." Wade said the team "sucked" defensively. As playoff lows go, it doesn't get much worse than this for the Heat. The good news: Tuesday was just one loss. The Heat is down 0-2. Boston held serve. The Heat has a chance to regroup at home.

NEXT UP: Boston Celtics at Heat, 7 p.m. Friday - 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.)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

KG's Elbow & Self-Inflicted Wounds

It might not prove to be the blow that changes the course of this series. Kevin Garnett

But Kevin Garnett's elbow to Quentin Richardson's chin may very well provide the shot in the arm Miami needed to draw even in this series. Or else it would be another opportunity missed against the Celtics.

Garnett was suspended by the league for Game 2 for elbowing Richardson during a scrum at the end of Boston's 85-76 victory in Game 1 Saturday at TD Garden. Richardson was hit with a $25,000 fine for his role in instigating the altercation that eventually led to players from both teams jawing and shoving.

The incident happened with 40 seconds left in the game, at a time when the Celtics were poking out their chests to celebrate their comeback from a 14-point deficit to dismiss the Heat.

But KG's blow wasn't the biggest one the Heat absorbed in Game 1. Miami's self-inflicted wounds did far more damage and cost the Heat a legitimate chance to seize control of this series and steal homecourt advantage right off the bat.

On a day designed for the Heat to move forward and prepare for Game 2 on Tuesday, several Miami players were still stung Sunday by the one that got away in Game 1. Miami's 22 turnovers that led to 38 Boston points contributed to the Heat squandering that double-digit lead.

For the third time in four losses to Boston this season, prosperity proved to be too painful for the Heat. Miami led in the fourth quarter on the way to three of those four losses. And Saturday's was the worst yet.

"You definitely want to take one of these games here at their place," Heat forward Udonis Haslem said after Sunday's practice at Emerson College. "But you don't know if you're going to get too many more chances like we had last night. You don't know if you're going to get up 14 points against the Celtics again. Definitely, it was a missed opportunity."

So what does the Heat have to do to finish off the Celtics for a change?

Heat-Celtics-Garnett "If I knew that answer, our record wouldn't be what it is," Wade said of losing 12 of the last 13 overall against the Celtics. "It's a lot of things we did wrong. We had a lot of turnovers. A lot of guys weren't aggressive. I though we relied on me too much to get in the paint when they weren't allowing me."

Having said that, the Heat knows that it shouldn't require too many adjustments to turn things around in Game 2.

"We controlled the game, for the most part," center Jermaine O'Neal said.

Limit mistakes, knock down an open shot every now and then and block out the emotional B.S. Boston loves to bait teams into are about the only adjustments Miami needs.

And, of course, finish.

"You can talk about a lot of things," Heat coach Erik Spoelsta said, referring to the latest late-game breakdowns. "But we never had a chance to win a game like that. At some point, they'll turn the pressure up Tuesday night. And we have to respond."

The Heat won't have to fool around with Garnett's madness in Game 2. In fact, they won't have to see him again until the series shifts to Miami for Game 3 on Friday. That should be a big bonus.

Unless, of course, Miami finds a way to drive itself crazy again down the stretch.

(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.)

Postgame Breakdown: Celtics 85, Heat 76

BOSTON - There are essentially only two things that matter from the opening game of this playoff series Playoff-Main between the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics.

Boston bullied the Heat to snatch an 85-76 victory after coming back from a 14-point deficit. And the Celtics also took advantage of an opportunity to try to punk the Heat in the process late in the game.

It's on now. If there's one thing this Heat team has proved throughout the course of the season is that it responds to this type of adversity. As Dwyane Wade made it clear after the game.

"They try to bully you," Wade said. "They try to push you to the limit. We're not going to back down."

The real shame of the matter for the Heat is that it had this game won. For the third time in four meetings with the Celtics this season, Miami allowed a game it seemed to be in control of slip right through its fingers. And considering the 22 turnovers Miami committed, that might be the perfect analogy.

Put it this way. Boston doesn't need Miami's help to beat the Heat. Yet Miami assisted the Celtics anyway. I don't think Game 1 did anything to disrupt the Heat's confidence. Miami knows it is capable of beating this Celtics team. But knowing you can do it and actually getting it done are two different things.

The Celtics carry a 1-0 lead into Game 2 on Tuesday night. So expect the Heat to spend the next two days kicking itself in the rear for allowing Saturday's golden opportunity to slip away.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: There have been plenty of nights when Wade's overall play was good enough to overshadow his high-turnover outings. But this is the playoffs. That doesn't often happen at this stage of the season, when every possession is magnified, especially down the stretch. Wade had 26 points on an effIcient 11-of-18 shooting from the field. He also had eight rebounds and six assists. But the seven turnovers were crucial. This wasn't necessarily a case of Wade being reckless. His teammates let him down on numerous occasions by dropping passes or fumbling the ball away or failing to be in a spot where they should have been. On the other hand, Wade was clearly in the wrong for tossing that alley-oop well beyond Udonis Haslem's reach at one stage late in the game. Even against Boston's nagging defense, Wade was still able to get to the basket just about any time he wanted. It appears the Celtics are fine with Wade going off for big numbers. But the Heat's supporting cast must command Boston's respect.

TURNING POINT: The Celtics used a 34-10 spurt at one point, a run that started midway through third quarter once Paul Pierce found his offense. But just about every Celtics player contributed to the game-changing rally. Tony Allen was scoring, Glen Davis rebounded and kept balls alive. Boston's bench outperformed the Heat's. And then the cagey vets took over from there.

WINNING/LOSING EDGE: This one's easy. Really easy. Miami, which had been one of the best teams in the league at protecting the ball, committed 22 turnovers that led to 38 points for Boston. Nothing hurt the Heat more than its generosity Saturday night. The 22 turnovers were the most by the Heat in a game since 2008. And the 38 points surrendered off turnovers were Miami's most in the Pat Riley era with the team, which dates to 1995.

HEAD-SCRATCHER: It's going to be interesting whether the league takes any sort of punitive stance on Playoff-Fight the semi-skirmish that broke out with 40 seconds left in the game. Neither team backed down during the incident that involved Quentin Richardson, Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal, Glen Davis and several others after Pierce fell into the front row near the Heat's bench. Replay not only showed what appeared to be a right-handed shove-punch from Richardson that appeared to catch Davis, it also showed a blatant elbow thrown into the crowd as Garnett was trying to separate himself from the mix. Beyond that, you have to wonder what Richardson was thinking with some of the postgame comments he made. There was this: "(Pierce) was on the ground crying. I don't know what was going on, two (Pierce/Garnett) actresses over there, that's what they are." Referee Joe DeRosa determined that Garnett's elbow contacted Richardson and warranted the ejection. Richardson then launched into Garnett and Pierce again after the game. "I don't like them and they know it." Richardson also suggested Pierce was playing the diva role with the injury. "Sometimes he falls like he's about to be out for the season and then he gets right up. Is he taking another break like he does so many times?" Wow. And I mean, wow. I haven't heard this sort of lyrical battle since Pac took out Biggie and Bad Boy Records in Hit 'em Up. Quentin is going to be a marked man from here on out in this series. He's got the gift of gab. But he better bring his game, too.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Might as well stay with Richardson here. He was the only other Heat player in Quentin-standalone double figures. Richardson was 5 of 10 from the field, including 3 of 6 from three-point range for 15 points. he also had four rebounds, three assists and a steal in 30 minutes. But his most productive moments came during the altercation and in the post-game locker room. Wade is going to need help to offset Boston's Big 4. The Heat caught a break because Ray Allen was far less than his usual dagger-delivering self. Q is going to have to not only defend, but also knock down threes and, just as importantly, drive to the basket and try to get defenders into foul trouble. 

NEXT UP: Heat at Celtics (Game 2), Tuesday 8 p.m. - TD Garden

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



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