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Heat back to work after week in China; Some stuff that needs attention

The Heat returns to practice today at AmericanAirlines Arena after Monday's off day and a week in China. Training camp is at its halfway point, so it's time to really start buckling down. For the team, the goodwill tour to China felt more like a weeklong vacation during the middle of camp rather than what's normally the toughest week of camp. That could be problematic.

For example, today's practice will probably be a little sluggish. At least one player (LeBron), and I suspect quite a few more, were awake at odd hours last night because of jetlag. LeBron tweeted he was awake around 4:30 a.m. I know, because I was awake, too.

Amid tired eyes and fatigued bodies, the Heat has a few important things to work on this week before it plays host to the Pistons on Thursday.

1. Conditioning
While the Chinese reporters gave him plenty of grief about his missed dunks in Beijing and Shanghai, Dwyane Wade actually looked pretty good in his return. Still, he only played eight minutes on Sunday. Wade's focus this week will be building strength in his legs. The same goes for others, including Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, Joel Anthony, Mario Chalmers and James Jones, all of whom did not play in China.

2. Interior defense
Chris Bosh and Co. defended the paint well in the Heat's first game against the Clippers but, in the second game, the Clippers adjusted and DeAndre Jordan dominated the middle in the first half. Jordan had 18 points, going 8 of 8 from the field. Blake Griffin had a double-double (13 and 10) and the Clippers outrebounded the Heat 49-36. Now, you can probably take that performance by the Heat with a grain of salt. The Heat was already on the plane back home before the game even started and Los Angeles wanted to split in China. Still, coach Erik Spoelstra will use the video to emphasis an area of concern.

3. The final roster spot
If Terrel Harris truly has a roster spot locked down, that means only one roster spot remains open. Here's my logic on Harris. Aside from his shoe deal with Peak, Harris has plenty going for him. For one, he played well over the summer in the Heat's summer league, but, most importantly, he filled in nicely last season when Wade missed games. Defensively, Harris would again be a good insurance policy this season if Wade misses games due to injury or just sits out games to rest his body for the playoffs.

Dexter Pittman has a guaranteed contract, so he's safe. Plus, he'll be wearing Peaks this season, too. That leaves one spot. More than likely, the Heat will award the last seat on the bench to a big. Right now, it seems like a two-man competition between Mickell Gladness and Josh Harrellson. Gladness played well in the Heat's first game against the Clippers and Harrellson shined in the second game. Gladness worked out in Miami the entire offseason and Harrellson has worked extremely hard since moving to Miami. He's lost about 20 pounds over the last eight weeks.

So, what does the Heat covet most with its final roster spot, interior defense or interior scoring? Gladness is the shot blocker and Harrellson is the shot maker. Gladness had a plus/minus of plus-11 in the first game against the Clippers and Harrelson had a plus-13 in the second game. It's a tough call.

A few people have emailed more or sent me Twitter messages about Rodney Carney. While Carney has played well, numbers are against him. The Heat has plenty of wing players and Carney would likely never play.




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