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17 posts from January 2011

Monday, January 31, 2011

Highlight game

There wasn't much to gain in this game against the Cavaliers on Monday. There was more danger, in fact, as James Jones was saying before the game, because the Cavs were a mostly young group that would play hard throughout.

So it's almost not surprising that the Heat let an early 19-point lead dwindle to three points in the third quarter. But it didn't take long at all for that to grow back to 20 and then 30, giving the Heat starters time to rest in the fourth quarter. Wade hand

Looks like Dwyane Wade's wrist is feeling OK. He had an impressive stretch in the second quarter, during which he hit a three-pointer on his way to 26 first-half points.

Wade and LeBron James continue to build a great chemistry, with probably the best highlight of the game coming when James collapsed the Cavs zone only to find a cutting Wade for a nasty baseline dunk.

The Cavs weren't a very big team, but the Heat's rebounding was still impressive, with Mike Miller fighting for a handful of rebounds on his way to 11, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas tipping his way to a season-best 14 boards.

It's quite clear the plan is to keep this rotation for the rest of the season, with Miller, Eddie House and Jones taking the perimeter minutes off the bench.

The only change-up that can occur down the road is when the Heat can't afford to go small at the four spot. That could mean minutes for Juwan Howard, and ideally, a healthy Udonis Haslem.

The Heat can probably afford to stay small when the reserves are in Thursday against the Magic, because outside of Dwight Howard and Brandon Bass, the Magic don't have much size inside. In fact, Ryan Anderson has been playing backup power forward and center at times.

That should be a great game to watch, and the Heat should be rested and prepared following a day off Tuesday and a full practice Wednesday

(well, a couple of those Wade finishes were worth remembering).the

What's Durant's deal?

Breaking down Kevin Durant's misguided anger.

"I was talking to my teammate and (Chris Bosh) decided he wanted to put his two cents into it."

Durant angry Well, you were talking to your teammate while right next to Bosh, and you were essentially saying "next time, dunk it on him," which in any basketball game, whether it be at the park or in an NBA arena, will draw a reaction. So Bosh was just doing what anybody else would probably do in that situation.

"I am a quiet, laid-back guy, but I'm not going to let nobody talk trash to me."

Again, many would consider what you said talking trash, so it could easily be argued that you began the trash talk. Bosh has never been one to get into it with guys without being solicited.

"He's on a good team now, so he thinks he can talk a little bit."

Huh? Too much wrong with that sentence to even make sense of it. Think Bosh really felt empowered by his team's record, and that's why he defended himself in that moment? Think he would've just kept walking if he was still with the Raptors?  Bosh o

"There are a lot of fake tough guys in this league and he's one of them."

There are a handful of fake tough guys in the NBA, not a lot. But even if there were, Chris Bosh is on that list??? Really?!?!?

Bosh is a lot of things. He's professional. He's articulate. He's a good shooter. He's interesting to watch when he's gently backpedaling down the court after a made basket. But he's certainly not fake tough. Because to be fake tough, you actually have to put on a tough act. And Bosh doesn't do the looking tough thing. He normally just goes about his business, occasionally dropping a loud scream when he dunks on someone. But fake tough? That's semi-ridiculous.

"I'm no punk... Like I said, he's not one of those guys I look at and say he has a rep for talking back to guys or getting into it. He's a nice guy. I'm not going to let that type of person say something to me like that."

So, hypothetically speaking then, if a guy who has a reputation for talking trash, a guy who's not so nice, walked by and said the exact same thing to you, you'd allow it to happen without a retort? In that scenario, you would allow yourself to be punked? But a nice guy isn't allowed to speak to you without you getting in his face and then ripping him to the media? That makes a whole lot of sense, especially since you yourself are among the nicest guys in the league, so you should know that it probably takes just the right comment for a nice guy to respond the way Bosh did.

This was one of the most senseless outbursts I've ever heard, and it's surprising that it came from someone like Durant. But then again, if he's going to take a verbal swipe at someone, it should probably be at someone like Bosh, because Bosh is probably too much of a pro to keep something silly as this going.

It will be interesting, though, if these two are on the Olympic team together next summer.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Welcome back

It didn't take long for the Heat to resemble the team that won 13 straight road games now that Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were back on the court together.

ALeqM5jEgXVXzTxiZE5NcGCmBN78ipH3sQ They couldn't keep Kevin Durant off the foul line, but other than that, it was impressive defense by the Heat, keeping the Thunder to 40.5 percent and forcing Durant and Russell Westbrook to a combined 14 of 42 (33.3 percent) from the field. After last season, when Erik Spoelstra was pulling his hair out trying to find a way to defend Durant, it helps to have LeBron on your side. He seems to take defending Durant personally, and he worked extremely hard throughout that game.

Offensively, Bosh's performance was most significant. He came back earlier than expected and looked very comfortable. It was surprising to see how aggressive he was in the early minutes. Almost as surprising as his ability to play 36 strong minutes despite Spoelstra saying before the game that he'd monitor or limit his minutes.

It probably wouldn't have been a close game if the Heat didn't commit 21 turnovers, which led to 32 Thunder points. Some of that came from just slippery hands, while a couple of them came from horrible calls. That offensive foul on LeBron with 2:19 left was a terrible call. And if it wasn't for instant replay, the refs would've botched that last out-of-bounds call after Wade missed a free throw and given the Thunder a chance to tie with a three.

But the most important aspect of this game, just like the last game against Detroit, was the ability to finish off a close contest. This time it didn't involve as much pinpoint execution, as was the case against the Pistons. But it included a huge offensive rebound from Mike Miller.

Miller was part of the crunch-time lineup (and Mario Chalmers was not), and one of the benefits of having him there and using a big backcourt is just that, rebounding. Miller is a great rebounder for his position, and when he grabbed that Wade miss, the ball eventually found Eddie House for that game-winning three-pointer.

That improves the Heat to 3-8 in games decided by five points or less, and it's doubtful the team will struggle much in those situations as the season continues -- especially if Bosh is there to anchor the offense when necessary.

As for Chalmers, he seems to have had less of an impact since becoming a starter. He had the strong game against the Raptors, but in the three games since he has had eight assists, four turnovers, shot 5 of 15 from the field, 2 of 10 from three-point range and against the Thunder there were at least two times where he unnecessarily went for a steal that resulted in an easy basket for OKC.

But he only played 23 minutes, while Miller played 29 and House played 12. As long as Chalmers plays inconsistently, he'll continue to lose minutes to those guys.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Wade out again

Dwyane Wade isn't playing against the Pistons. Not because of the headaches, but because of a sprained right wrist. He went through shootaround, but spoke to doctors afterward and was told he shouldn't play.

It happened in Thursday's game against the Knicks -- that same game where he hit 13 straight shots -- and he's officially day-to-day.

On a more positive note, Chris Bosh isn't necessarily ruled out for Sunday's game against the Thunder. He trained hard on it Friday, and the team will have a much better idea Saturday as to his availability.

Pick your problem

The way this Heat-Knicks game ended, it sets up for numerous complaints, with plenty of people to blame. So here's a list of what would appear to be among the issues...

1) LeBron James in the post. He talks about playing in the post as if it's something he doesn't mind and can do with ease when necessary. But then you watch him play the way he played against the Knicks, and you wonder if he's ever going to be very comfortable down there.

2) Late game execution. This probably should be the biggest concern for this team, period. The Heat's now 1-8 in games decided by five points or less, and this is exactly how playoffs games are going to play out. The offense against the Knicks, specifically, slowed to a crawl, with either LeBron or Dwyane Wade going one-on-one. Pretty sure that's not how Erik Spoelstra would hope the play turns out, but whoever's at fault, it needs to be addressed. That's where that whole "trust" issue becomes most apparent.

3) The rotation. It's understandable that the Heat needed to go small against the Knicks, therefore either LeBron or James Jones were considered power forwards throughout the game, which opened up room in the backcourt for either Carlos Arroyo or Eddie House. But truthfully, 11 guys is way too many. That's where a lot of the confusion came in that led to 17 turnovers. Yes, they're starting a stretch of four games in five nights, but Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Juwan Howard and either Arroyo or House didn't really need to play. That still would've left a nice eight-man rotation. Wade knicks

4) The bench. Eight points. All from Joel Anthony, who was essentially a starter. It's tough to blame the players coming off the bench, because it's not like they're getting great shots, but somehow they need to get more involved.

A lot of these problems will be settled when Chris Bosh comes back, but this has to be a particularly troubling loss, as well as a frustrating one for Heat fans, who probably wanted to shut Amare Stoudemire up for saying no one's afraid of the Heat. Plus, a great three quarters from Wade was completely wasted.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Point guard possibility?

It's just a thought, really, but Jason Williams just got waived from the Magic, and he only likes to play in two places (family reasons), Miami and Orlando.

Well, should the Heat even consider bringing in J-Will for another run? The Heat has already taken Carlos Arroyo out of the rotation, should they cut ties with him altogether? That would be plain cold-blooded, but it happens all the time in this business. It doesn't necessarily have to be Arroyo who's waived to make room for him. Jamaal Magloire hasn't played in a while and is, technically, the fifth center on the roster. Jwill

Williams, 35, still wants to play, according to his agent.

"This is a buyout that's been discussed for some time," Williams' agent, Dan Tobin, told the Orlando Sentinel. "It's mutually beneficial. They'll have three quality point guards instead of four and it'll give him an opportunity to play elsewhere when that opportunity presents itself. He's not retiring.

"For him, it's about playing basketball."

Want more reasons?

Well, J-Will and Mike Miller are pretty much BFFs, and I know Mike wanted badly for the Heat to sign Williams before the season started and he eventually went to the Magic. Udonis Haslem is boys with J-Will also, and Dwyane Wade already won a title with him. J-Will happens to be terrific at throwing the lob pass, knowing when to, when not to and getting it right on target. The Heat has a guy or three who enjoy the lob pass.

I'm just saying, it wouldn't be a crazy idea.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mario's the guy

We pretty much knew this after the Heat played Toronto and Mario started, but the subject of Mario Chamlers starting was talked about more at length on Monday.

A few quotes from Erik Spoelstra on the subject:

"My focus with him has always been about the details, and they’re smaller things, and really thinking the game with a high IQ, which is required at that position. To be a point guard on a championship contending team, you really have to think the position, know exactly what the coach wants, really be an extension of the head coach, and in many ways take on the personality of the head coach. He understands that from me, but it’s something that he has had to work on."

"An example that I’ve pointed out to Mario over the years is Chauncey Billups. He has a championship mind. And where he may lack the explosiveness and athleticism of some of the quick point guards of this league, Billups will beat you with his mind. Also with his skill, but his mind is what really separates him."

(On how LeBron James' tutelage can help Mario):

"LeBron is a very dedicated professional in terms of knowing the game. He has a high IQ. You cannot give him too much information. He gobbles it all up. And he spends a lot of time getting his body right, eating right, stretching, training, keeping himself in shape. All these things are great examples for Mario."


Now, this is not from the head coach, but starting Mario and Mike Miller's emergence are pretty much coming hand in hand. Mario has pretty much been playing starters type minutes (27.4 minutes a game since Dec. 10, with four games over 30 minutes), so it doesn't make sense not to start him over Carlos Arroyo if Arroyo's going to get significantly less minutes. Especially if Mario is out-performing Arroyo, which he has been.

And what that does is open up Spoelstra to allow Miller to take Arroyo's minutes, essentially, and go back to playing a big backcourt for stretches of the game (Dwyane Wade and Miller), with LeBron at the three. It's unfortunate for Arroyo, getting taken out of the rotation, but it's what the coach envisioned when the team was put together anyway, so it was almost a matter of time.

Let's see if that's how it works out.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

That's all it takes

Just one breakout game was all Mike Miller needed to feel like part of this season. There's no reason why he shouldn't be a regular contributor for the remainder of the season, and his minutes should get a significant boost, even when Dwyane Wade gets back and the team's backcourt is whoMiller shootle again.

Where those minutes will come from might have become a little more obvious after Erik Spoelstra made a lineup change on Saturday.

Starting Mario Chalmers and playing Carlos Arroyo only 13 minutes could signal a switch in approach that includes Miller and Eddie House taking away Arroyo's minutes altogether. If Spoelstra keeps playing Arroyo, it'll probably mean House's minutes go away and Arroyo, Miller and James Jones take the backup minutes at the one, two and three spots. 

Either way, it's good to see the Heat finally has in Miller an option outside the Big Three. Others have had their moments in the past, but Miller has the potential to be consistent in that role, and that will be critical down the stretch, when nagging injuries and headaches become troublesome.

This win also helps the Heat know it can win when any of the main men are out. The Raptors might have helped the Heat play this way, of course, but spreading the floor with shooters and playing either the drive-and-kick game or the inside-out game is not only a good change of pace from the pick-and-roll game, but it can be devastating if the Heat gets on a shooting role, the way it did Saturday.

If House keeps getting minutes, the combination of him, Miller and Jones should finally provide what the Heat envisioned when the team was built. Should be fun to see if the Heat matches the Knicks in three-point attempts on Thursday night in New York.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


It's far from a time to panic, especially considering the Heat has had to deal with injuries during its four-game losing streak (perhaps more disconcerting is the Heat's 1-7 record in games decided by five points or less).

But maybe this isn't a bad time to do some permanent shuffling of the rotation. Erik Spoelstra did say even before the latest winning streak ended that there was some slippage, and maybe these last two close losses reinforce that some. Spo hips

So given that he sort of hinted at potential changes on Thursday, perhaps Spoelstra will make some moves.

The concept of playing with a point guard on the floor at all times has worked for the Heat.... or has it? Maybe it's just a coincidence that the Heat went on its run when Spoelstra started using both his point guards. Maybe the fact that Dwyane Wade and LeBron James started playing together better, and that Chris Bosh started playing consistent basketball was the difference, and not so much the fact that Mario Chalmers or Carlos Arroyo were on the floor at one time or another.

So maybe it's time to try lineups that include LeBron and Wade in the backcourt together -- especially now that Mike Miller is an option and he can handle the ball when necessary and act like something of a point forward at times, getting the team into offense. Frankly, that's exactly what Arroyo does, get the team into offense, but Miller is a better offensive threat.

That's not to say Arroyo should be benched, because frankly, not many have faith in Chalmers anyway. But perhaps the seemingly abandoned idea of a Wade-LeBron backcourt for stretches of games should be re-evaluated, especially with the need to get Miller more involved over the next couple months.



Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Four better or worse

Tuesday night's loss to the Hawks meant the Heat has lost a season-worst four in a row, but does it really feel like a low point of the season?

Other than the loss to the Clippers, the losses have been, if this is allowed in sports, excusable.

Tuesday's was entirely winnable, and essentially came down to a couple poor plays on the Heat's part, but given how many drastic changes the Heat was attempting, it's understandable that there were some mistakes.

The pair of plays that probably cost the Heat the win were, first, the play where it appeared the Heat was, with 1:23 left in overtime, assuming the Hawks were calling a timeout. At least Dwyane Wade looked like he was awaiting a timeout, turned his back on the play, and Joe Johnson drove to the rim, found an open Jamal Crawford in the corner for a three-pointer than gave Atlanta an 87-84 lead.

The second play was with 23 seconds left, when Johnson fouled LeBron James on what appeared to be a shot attempt, but it was called a non-shooting foul. Now, if you watch the play again, it appeared that, yes, LeBron lost the ball on the way up, but it also appeared as if Johnson didn't notice the ball was loose and fouled LeBron to avoid a layup.

Now, I would've loved to talk to the referee about the call, because it seemed like in most cases that would be called a shooting foul. Instead, it wasn't, and LeBron ended up taking a 27-footer later in the possession that missed.

Still, given how the Heat waJoel anthonys playing lineups it has never played with all season, it's almost forgivable that the team had some hiccups along the way. I mean, Joel Anthony -- who had a remarkable game with 16 rebounds, three blocks and not a single shot or free throw attempt -- was guarding Maurice Evans down the stretch, a guy who can play the small forward or shooting guard. 

It will be interesting to see if Carlos Arroyo's days as the starter are numbered, especially since he didn't play in the second half, and Eddie House appears to have worked his way back into earning minutes.

If the team is still experimenting with rotations, though, it would've been nice to see Mike Miller play more than 10 minutes. Granted, he didn't score in the first half (he hasn't scored a single point at home this season), but it wasn't as if he was awful out there when he was playing.

Overall, though, if this is as bad as it's going to get for the Heat, at least the team can become comfortable playing small ball in the process of struggling. Because that might come in handy down the road.



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