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11 posts from May 2014

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Video recap of Game 6 with Greg Cote (plus a special guest) (plus other stuff)


Heat team notes from Game 6: 

— It was the largest margin of victory in a closeout game in postseason franchise history at 25 points. The previous largest margin was a 23-point closeout victory last postseason in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pacers.

—Heat is the the third franchise to reach four consecutive NBA Finals, joining the Boston Celtics, who went to 10 straight NBA Finals (1957-66) and are also the most recent team to reach four straight (1984-87). The Los Angeles Lakers (coached by Pat Riley) also made four straight Finals appearance (1982-85).

— It's the fourth time in franchise history (five opportunities) the Heat has clinched the Eastern Conference Finals at home (2011 at Chicago). The Heat has won its four Eastern Conference Finals series-clinching games here at the AmericanAirlines Arena by an average of 19.5 points (78 points/4).

— With the win, the Heat is 12-3 this postseason, tying for the fewest games to reach the NBA Finals in franchise history (also took 15 games in 2011 postseason). 

Since the league adopted a seven-game first round in 2003, only the 2003 New Jersey Nets and the             2013 San Antonio Spurs made the NBA Finals in fewer games (14 games each).

— This is the 15th series-clinching win at home for the Heat (two at Miami Arena and 13 at the AmericanAirlines Arena). The Heat has  clinched eight postseason series at home since 2012 (three in 2012, three in 2013 two in 2014).

— The Heat set a postseason franchise record with their 11th consecutive home playoff win (8-0 this postseason). The victory is the 68th postseason win for the Heat here at the AmericanAirlines Arena (68-19) and Miami is 38-7 at home since the 2011 postseason

— Friday's game is the 200th postseason game in franchise history and the 82nd since the 2011 postseason, most by a team over any four-year postseason stretch since the Detroit Pistons from 2004 through 2007.

— Including the regular seasons, the Heat and Pacers have played 30 games (11 regular season and 19 postseason) over the last three seasons. Miami has won 18 and the Pacers have won 12.

— The Heat led the Pacers, 60-34, at the half. The 26-point halftime lead is the largest in the postseason by the Heat in franchise history (200 games) and is its sixth postseason lead of at least 20 points in the postseason. The Heat's 36-point second quarter is its highest scoring quarter this postseason.


Friday, May 30, 2014

Birdman recovering from thigh bruise, but maybe not fast enough to play in Game 6

Chris Andersen is recovering from his thigh bruise, but maybe not fast enough to play on Friday night.

Andersen was held out of the Heat's shootaround this morning and will be a game-time decision for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. Tipoff is at 8:30 p.m. (ESPN). On Wednesday, Birdman said he was improving and no longer walked with a limp.

“It’s mobility,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said on Wednesday. “He doesn’t have much of it right now. It is getting a little bit better, but he doesn’t have a whole lot of mobility.”

A painful contusion has limited Andersen's mobility since Game 3. He finished Game 3, a victory for the Heat, but hasn't played since. He was replaced in the rotation by Rashard Lewis in Games 4 and 5. Lewis scored 18 points, going 6 of 9 from three-point range, in Game 5.

Andersen is shooting 63.4 percent in the playoffs (26 of 41), and, per 36 minutes, he is averaging 11.7 points and 11.6 rebounds in postseason. Defensively, Andersen has been a force in the paint for the Heat during the postseason, limiting opposing frontcourt players to under 35 percent shooting in the playoffs. Since joining the team, Andersen has been the perfect complement to LeBron James offensively while also allowing Chris Bosh to move to the perimeter.

—The Heat was initially favored by six points in Game 6, but the betting line moved to Heat by eight by Friday afternoon.

—The Heat attempted 34 free throws in Game 4, but just eight in Game 5. Officials for Game 6: Scott Foster, Mike Callahan and Jason Phillips.

— Bosh has been quote factory for reporters the last two days. On Thursday, he declared Game 6 was the Heat's Game 7. At Friday morning's shootaround, Bosh said, "I'm not talking about Lance Stephenson the rest of the playoffs."

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thought he was weird in Game 5? Lance Stephenson will be in full bloom on Friday, even if that means his value on the free-agent market is withering on the vine

First, in the spirit of all things bizarre, here's the latest feature story on Birdman's cat-fishing scandal. Nice work by writer Flinder Boyd.

And now about Game 6 ... 

So much weirdness, but Lance Stephenson sticks out. I'm sure you've seen the video by now. At one point during the game, the Pacers' excitable guard tried annoying LeBron James by blowing in his ear.

 I don't think Stephenson succeeded in annoying James, but the pestering isn't going to subside after James' poor game. James had five fouls in his first 13 minutes on the court and finished with just seven points, a career playoff low.

"Just playing ball," Stephenson said after the game.

"Buffoonery," Ray Allen called it.

Whatever is was, expect more of it on Friday. Yes, Stephenson's special brand of trash talk will be in full bloom for Game 6 even if that means his value on the free-agent market is withering on the vine with every eccentric outburst.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Breakdown of the Eastern Conference finals by position; plus coaching edge; plus series prediction


The Heat has the edge here based on Dwyane Wade’s current health and playoff experience. Even with the emergence of Paul George this season, Wade is still arguably the second best player in this series next to LeBron James. Wade scored 28 points in the Heat’s closeout game of the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and carried the defending back-to-back champions in the first half of Game 5. Wade’s 20 points kept the Heat within striking distance. It’s hard to imagine one of the Pacers’ guards taking over a game the way Wade still can. Heat starting point guard Mario Chalmers is off to another impressive postseason. Chalmers flawlessly guided the Heat’s offense through a potentially problematic second round and he’s averaging three more assists than turnovers per game in the playoffs (4.1 to 1.1). Chalmers has had the two biggest assists of the playoffs for the Heat. His dime in Game 4 set up Chris Bosh’s game winning three-pointer and his assist on Ray Allen’s three-pointer in Game 5 clinched the series. The Pacers will counter with Lance Stephenson, a triple-double threat who has the potential cause the Heat problems, but can also meltdown at times during big games. Pacer point guard George Hill has been a liability at times.


LeBron James and Chris Bosh give the Heat the edge at forward, but Pacers power forward David West and small forward Paul George are the strength of Indiana’s team. James is averaging 30 points in the playoffs while also contributing 7.1 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game. The large majority of James’ field goals through the first two rounds were at the rim, and he’ll put an emphasis on working inside against the Pacers as well. James is 47 of 58 (81 percent) on shots at the rim through his first nine playoff games. Countering James at small forward is George, the Pacers best player who received MVP consideration at the beginning of the season. George’s production fell off after the All-Star break, and he is shooting 43.1 percent from the field this postseason. George has been effective on corner three-pointers, shooting 52.6 percent (10 of 18). West is the Pacers’ emotional core and his mid-range jumper and consistent defense cannot be discounted in this series. West is 44 of 87 on mid-range shots. Chris Bosh could have a significant impact on the series if he can consistently pull his defender out of the paint to create driving lanes for James and Wade. Bosh is shooting 48.6 percent (17 of 35) on three-pointers and 51 percent overall. He’s 8 of 11 on corner three-pointers. 


The Heat gets the edge based on Udonis Haslem’s championship experience, and the simple fact that Roy Hibbert has been terribly inconsistent this postseason. Hibbert is averaging just 4.5 rebounds in the playoffs and his minutes have been reduced to about 25 per game. If Hibbert’s downward trend continues, Haslem could conceivably outrebound the Pacers 7-2 center in the Eastern Conference finals. Such a notion would have been patently ridiculous before the All-Star break. Haslem will be well rested for this series, and that edge shouldn’t be discounted. He sat out the entire series against the Brooklyn Nets and allowed the Heat coach Erik Spoelstra to play the best matchup possible. In a close series, Haslem’s toughness could be a key. 


Another edge for the Heat in a series that’s beginning to feel one-sided. Ray Allen, the Heat’s Sixth Man, is a future Hall of Famer and the NBA’s all-time leader in three-pointers. He enters the Eastern Conference finals on the heels of a series-clinching corner three-pointer against the Nets. Allen is fourth in scoring for the Heat in the playoffs with 78 points. Chris Andersen would be the best player on the Pacers’ bench. He has been a difference maker against the Pacers in the past and his role with the Heat has only gotten larger since then. Through the first two rounds, the Heat has received contributions from six reserves. Only Michael Beasley, Greg Oden and Toney Douglas have yet to contribute. Beasley and Oden were the Heat’s offseason additions and Douglas is an emergency option if Wade’s knee soreness returns. The Pacers’ Sixth Man is guard C.J. Watson (6.5 p.p.g.). Forward Luis Scola is also averaged 6.5 points per game. Evan Turner, who the Pacers acquired during the season, is averaging 13.3 minutes per game.



Pacers coach Frank Vogel either deserves a lot of blame for his team’s meltdowns, or a lot of credit for holding everything together. We’re going to praise Vogel here instead of criticize. The Pacers’ embattled coach has never had much in which to work with offensively, but he’s back in the Eastern Conference finals with a team playing arguably the best defense in the playoffs. That’s not a minor detail, especially considering the apparent strife inside the Pacers’ locker room of delicate personalities in prominent roles. Still, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra gets the edge here based on his team’s brilliant preparation for the playoffs. Everyone was healthy and poised for an upswing in the postseason and that form has served the Heat well. Miami is 8-1 in the playoffs, Wade is healthy and the team remains committed to Spoelstra’s vision despite some lineup shifts that have sent proud veterans to the bench.



The Pacers worked hard for the Eastern Conference’s No.1 seed in playoffs and the home-court advantage that went along with it. Now it’s time to see if that strategy paid off. Since the offseason, the Pacers have said publicly that they would have won last season’s Eastern Conference finals had Game 7 been played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Now the Pacers just have to keep the series going long enough to reach that payoff. Indiana only lost six games at home during the regular season, but all that “Gold Swagger” has lost its luster in the playoffs. The Pacers have lost four of seven games at home in the first two rounds. Meanwhile, the Heat has made it look easy, and gets the edge here based on a few factors. For starters, the Heat is well rested and supremely confident entering this series. Meanwhile, the Pacers were nearly upset in the first round by the Atlanta Hawks, their best player, George, felt compelled to post fishing pictures with his good buddy Hibbert on Twitter to squelch a salacious rumor and center Andrew Bynum was a bust at best and a cancer at worst. In addition to confidence, the Heat has better leaders, a more professional locker room and, well, LeBron. Heat in 5.

Friday, May 16, 2014

STORY: The Heat didn't shy away from the obvious on Friday. They don't like the Pacers.

It’s the playoff series the Heat has waited nearly seven long months to begin.

And there is no need to fake it or shy away from the obvious. The Heat and Pacers do not like each other. The teams are meeting for the second-straight year in the Eastern Conference Finals, and the two rivals have swapped victories since Game 1 of the 2013 East Finals.

Over the past few years, the Heat and Pacers have developed a healthy dislike, and on Friday the Heat’s players acknowledged the disdain that will be carried into this best-of-7 series. The Eastern Conference Finals begin on Sunday in Indiana. Game 2 is on Tuesday at Indianapolis’ Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

“We expect it to be just as competitive,” Heat center Udonis Haslem said. “More competitive than last year, more competitive than anything in the regular season. We’re talking about two teams that have grown to not really like each other over the last couple years.”

After sitting out the Heat’s series against the Brooklyn Nets, Haslem will be inserted into the starting lineup against Indiana to matchup with the Pacers frontcourt of power forward David West and center Roy Hibbert. Haslem started the Heat’s first series of the playoffs against Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson before stepping aside for Shane Battier to start against the Nets.

“I got to work him,” Haslem said of Hibbert. “I got to make everything tough. I can’t give him anything easy. I’ve got to be ahead of every play. I got to be mentally and physically on top of it and it’s got to be a grind.”

Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade, healthy for this series after dealing with knee pain last year, said the bad blood between the Heat and Pacers works to the Heat’s advantage.

“We’re not a young team where dislike should get in the way of us winning basketball games,” Wade said. “That’s when you’re younger and you’re coming up. That’s how Boston had us, where there was a dislike for them and mentally it got us off our games. We learned from that and we learned from them.

“No matter what goes on in the games, the chippiness, the back and forth, that’s part of the game, but you got to keep your head in it and continue to move forward.”

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Here's your Eastern Conference finals schedule

Game 1 - Sun  May 18 Miami at Indiana                   3:30PM  ABC/R

Game 2 - Tue  May 20 Miami at Indiana                   8:30PM  ESPN/R

Game 3 - Sat  May 24 Indiana at Miami                    8:30PM  ESPN/R

Game 4 – Mon  May 26 Indiana at Miami                   8:30PM ESPN/R

Game 5 * Wed  May 28 Miami at Indiana                  8:30PM  ESPN/R

Game 6 * Fri  May 30 Indiana at Miami                    8:30PM  ESPN/R

Game 7 * Sun  June 1 Miami at Indiana                    8:30PM  ESPN/R

Monday, May 12, 2014

Pregame video report from Barclays Center for Game 4 of #Heat and #Nets second-round playoff series

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Courtside pregame video from Barclays Center. Talking Ray Allen and other keys to Game 3 of #Heat vs. #Nets.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Talking adjustments, hard fouls and third-quarter dominance in #Heat vs. #Nets Game 2 video preview

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Video of me and The Hornet, @flasportbuzz himself, talking #Heat and #Nets after Game 1



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