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14 posts from March 2015

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Strong words from Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on Heat coach Erik Spoelstra

Count Spurs coach Gregg Popovich among those impressed with how Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has juggled and managed the Heat's season after losing LeBron James to Cleveland then reorganizing the team multiple times due to season-ending injuries.

"It should be common knowledge by now that he's an excellent coach," Popovich said. "He knows what wins and what loses. He's comfortable in his own skin. He teaches well, he's going to make fair demands on whoever is available. he's earned the respect of his players over the years and turned into a fine coach. He's not a young guy learning anymore. He's a helluva fine coach."

The Heat used its 30th different starting lineup of the season on Tuesday against the Spurs.

Updated starting lineups and injuries for tonight's game between the Heat and San Antonio Spurs…

SPURS (47-26) AT HEAT (34-39)

First, my story today on Udonis Haslem, who has helped keep the Heat together through a rough week of injuries.

When/Where: 8 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami

TV/Radio: TNT/FM 104.3, AM 790 and WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Series: Spurs lead 36-18. This is the second and final game between the two teams this season. Heat lost to the Spurs 98-85 on Feb.06 in San Antonio. The Spurs have won five of their last six games.

Line: Opened at Spurs by 6 1/2. Spurs now favored by 7.

Injuries: Hassan Whiteside (right-hand laceration) and Chris Andersen (left calf contusion) are game-time decisions. Both players warmed up with the intention to play. Michael Beasley (right elbow contusion) also is a game-time decision. Luol Deng (left knee contusion), Udonis Haslem (flu) and Shabazz Napier (hip) are out. Josh McRoberts (right meniscus surgery) and Chris Bosh (blood clot) are also both out.

Analysis: The Heat has won five in a row at home eight of its last nine games at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat is 15-12 all-time against the Spurs in Miami, but injuries throughout the Heat's roster gives San Antonio the edge. The Spurs are sixth in the Western Conference and trail the Los Angeles Clippers by one game in the loss column. With coach Gregg Popovich looking to move up the standings in the final three weeks of the season, don't expect the Spurs to rest any starters tonight against the Heat. The Spurs have won 13 of their last 16 games. Kawhi Leonard led the team with 25 points and 10 rebounds in the Spurs' most recent victory, a 103-89 blowout of the Grizzlies. In March, the Spurs lead the league in points per game (111.6) and field-goal percentage (.503) in 14 games.

Starting lineups
Heat: Jame Ennis, Henry Walker, Chris Andersen, Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic
Spurs: Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Tiago Splitter, Danny Green and Tony Parker


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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Lineups, line and pregame analysis for tonight's game between the Heat and Pistons

PISTONS (28-44) AT HEAT (33-39)

Story on the Heat's conundrum: Should Dwyane Wade rest his knee today or go for an important win amid the Heat's playoff race?

When/Where: 6 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena

TV/Radio: Sun Sports/FM 104.3, AM 790 and WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Line: Heat by three. Opened at Heat by 2 1/2.

Series: Heat leads all-time series 50-45. This is the second of three games this season between the Heat and Pistons. Pistons won the first game 108-91 on Feb.3 in Auburn Hills, Mich. The teams play against in Auburn Hills on April 4 to complete the season series.

Injuries: Chris Bosh (blood clot), Josh McRoberts (right meniscus surgery), Chris Andersen (left calf contusion) and Hassan Whiteside (right hand laceration) are out for the Heat. Shabazz Napier (right hip pain) is out as well. Dwyane Wade (left knee contusion) is a game-time decision. For the Pistons, Brandon Jennings (ruptured Achilles tendon) is out. Greg Monroe (right knee strain) is questionable.

Analysis: The Heat has won four in a row at home and is 7-1 at home in March. Wade and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra likely are viewing this game as a must-win scenario, considering the Heat plays the Spurs on Tuesday before leaving for a difficult three-game road trip. The Pistons have won four in a row and five of their last six. The winning streak has included victories against the Grizzlies, Bulls, Celtics and Raptors. Detroit is getting some exceptional guard play from Reggie Jackson, who had a triple-double (26-11-10) in just 32 minutes on Friday in a victory against the Magic. Jackson is averaging 21.2 points, 11.8 assists and 6.8 rebounds in his last six games.

Starting lineup: Luol Deng, Henry Walker, Udonis Haslem, Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic

Starting lineup: Caron Butler, Anthony Tolliver, Andre Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Reggie Jackson.


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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Morning update on Dwyane Wade's troublesome left knee

Dwyane Wade was scheduled to meet with doctors on Saturday morning and determine the best course of action to treat his ailing left knee amid the Heat's playoff race.

Under normal circumstances, Wade likely would have fluid drained from his left knee and then rest for a few games, but that might not be an option for the veteran superstar now that center Hassan Whiteside is out with a badly lacerated right hand. The shorthanded Heat is facing a difficult schedule this week while clinging to the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference standings. The Heat is just one game ahead of the Celtics in the loss column.

Wade began feeling some discomfort in his knee before the Heat's four-game road trip. He then sat out Wednesday's victory against the Boston Celtics. Wade played just 21 minutes on Friday in the Heat's blowout loss to the Hawks.

"I just tried to give my teammates something, but hopefully I’ll be better Sunday when I go back to Miami, see my doctors and see what they want to do," Wade said. "I had a lot of fluid, and so in a perfect world I would love to get some fluid out."

The Heat plays the Pistons on Sunday at AmericanAirlines Arena, and then the Spurs on Tuesday before a three-game road trip to Cleveland, Detroit and Indiana.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Hassan Whiteside could miss significant time with hand injury

Hassan Whiteside offered a close look at his injured hand before Friday's road game against the Atlanta Hawks and it didn't look pretty.

Whiteside split his right hand between his forefinger and ring finger during the Heat's game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday. It's a significant injury and could sideline him for several games, or perhaps longer. Whiteside cut his hand on the rim and the wound required 10 stitches. The laceration split the webbing between his fingers.

There is no timetable for Whiteside's return, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the team's center likely would be back for the playoffs. The injury currently is too painful for Whiteside to catch a basketball, according to Spoelstra.

"It needs to heal a little more before we take the next step," Spoelstra said.

An early look at tonight's game between the Heat and Atlanta Hawks…

HAWKS (54-17) AT HEAT (33-38)

When/Where: 7:30 p.m., Philips Arena, Atlanta

TV/Radio: Sun Sports/FM 104.3, AM 790 and WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Line: Hawks by nine. Opened at Hawks by 13.

Series: Heat leads all-time series 57-45. This is the final game of the season between the two division opponents. Heat is 0-3 this season against the Hawks.

Injuries: Hassan Whiteside (right hand laceration), Chris Bosh (blood clot) and Josh McRoberts (right meniscus surgery) are out for the Heat. Dwyane Wade (left knee contusion) and Chris Andersen (left calf contusion) are questionable. For the Hawks, Jeff Teague (left ankle sprain) and Mike Scott (left toe sprain) are out. Pero Antic (sore trap muscle) is questionable.

Early analysis: Udonis Haslem and Goran Dragic carried the Heat to an important victory on Wednesday against the Boston Celtics. The Heat is now two games ahead of the Celtics in the loss column with 11 games left of the regular season. With Whiteside out tonight and Andersen and Wade both questionable, the Heat once again will need some production from the bench to have a chance. It's the end of a four-game road trip for the Heat, but the Hawks are dealing with their own injuries while cruising towards the playoffs. Atlanta lost three in a row before Wednesday's victory against the Magic.


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Friday, March 20, 2015

A few important notes before tonight’s game between the Heat and Denver Nuggets…

NUGGETS (26-43) AT HEAT (31-36)

When/Where: 7:30 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena

TV/Radio: Sun Sports/FM 104.3, AM 790 and WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Line: Heat by 7 1/2. Opened at 6.

Series: Heat leads 28-27. Nuggets won 102-82 in Denver on Dec.10.

Injuries: Chris Bosh Bosh (blood clot) and Josh McRoberts (right meniscus surgery) are out for the Heat.


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— Dwyane Wade has scored at least 25 points in seven consecutive games. Earlier this week, Wade scored 32 against both Cleveland and Portland and the led the Heat to important back-to-back victories at home. Wade's career record for consecutive games with at least 25 points is nine.

— The Heat is 6-1 at home in March and the team can win three consecutive games tonight for the first time since the first week of the season. One big factor for the turnaround has been stability in the starting lineup ever since Goran Dragic returned from his back injury.

“Stability helps a lot,” Wade said. “Even going into these last games, if we can have a consistent starting lineup, when you’re used to playing with guys, you get to know tendencies and all these different things and small things like that help. With Goran being back at the point, it helps because I know what he likes and what he likes to do, and I know what I can do.”

— Wade is averaging 7.2 points in the fourth quarter this season. It's the highest average in the NBA. LeBron James is second at 7.0 points followed by Isaiah Thomas (6.6) and Carmelo Anthony (6.5).

Read more here: http://blogs.herald.com/miami_heat/#storylink=cpy

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A few important notes before tonight’s game between the Heat and Trail Blazers…

When/Where: 7:30 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena

TV/Radio: Sun Sports/FM 104.3, AM 790 and WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Line: Trail Blazers by 2 1/2. Opened at 3. Heat has won five of last six at home. Trail Blazers have been in Miami since Monday night.

Series: Heat leads 34-18. Trail Blazers won 102-82 in Portland on Dec.10.

Of note: Chris Bosh Bosh (blood clot) and Josh McRoberts (right meniscus surgery) are out for the Heat. Wesley Matthews (torn ACL) is out for Portland.

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— A victory tonight would be monumentally important for the Heat. Think about it, when was the last time the Heat actually defeated two projected playoff opponents in consecutive games? The answer is way back on Jan.23 and 25 when the Heat knocked off the Pacers at home and then the Bulls on the road.

— Dwyane Wade is averaging 28.7 points in his last six games. He's shooting 54.4 percent over that stretch. It's the first time Wade has scored at least 25 points in six consecutive games since Dec.2-11, 2005.

— Goran Dragic is shooting 50.4 percent from the field this season. Dragic and Wade are combining to shoot 49.2 percent from the field this season. It's the highest combined shooting percentage from a starting backcourt in the NBA this season.

Read more here: http://blogs.herald.com/miami_heat/#storyl=cp

Monday, March 16, 2015

A few important notes before tonight’s game between the Heat and Cavaliers…


When/Where: 8 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena

TV/Radio: Sun Sports and ESPN/FM 104.3, AM 790 and WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Line: Cavaliers by 5 1/2.

Series: Heat leads 56-40.

Streaks: Heat has won eight straight in Miami.

Of note: Chris Bosh Bosh (blood clot) and Josh McRoberts (right meniscus surgery) are out for the Heat. LeBron James (knee) is probable for the Cavaliers. Anderson Varejao (left Achilles tendon rupture) is out.


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The Heat likely will begin tonight's game against the Cavaliers looking to get Hassan Whiteside involved offensively. Facing a difficult stretch of games over the next two weeks, the Heat needs the most out of Whiteside in order to make the playoffs. Other than that rough week for Whiteside that included two ejections, he has been arguably one of the best players in the NBA since the end of January. It only makes sense that the Heat try to get Whiteside more involved in the offensive game plan during this playoff push. Some things to consider as the Heat considers moving toward more of a Whiteside-based offense...


The Heat appears to be pushing Whiteside for most improved player in the NBA this season. They have a good argument. Whiteside averaged just 1.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and 0.79 blocks while shooting 44.4 percent from the field during his first stint in the NBA. This season, Whiteside is averaging 10.9 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.39 blocks while shooting 69.2 percent. The averages for rebounds, blocks and field-goal percentage are highs for the team.

In addition to those numbers, Whiteside became the first person in NBA history to record a triple-double with blocks in less than 25 minutes on Jan.25 against the Chicago Bulls. He also has had four 20-rebound games this season, which is already second-most in franchise history. Whiteside has had 12 double-doubles in his last 19 games, averaging 14.0 points, 13.5 points and 2.74 blocks.

A closer look at Whiteside's numbers using advanced statistics reveals where some of his percentages rank historically. According to basketballreference.com, Whiteside currently is second in NBA history in block percentage. Block percentage is a measure of the percentage of offensive two-point field goals a defensive player blocks while he is on the court. Manute Bol holds the all-time NBA block-percentage record at 10.2. Whiteside is second at 9.3 As for this season, Whiteside ranks fifth in Player Efficiency Rating (PER) in the league. Whiteside has a PER of 26.79, which trails only Anthony Davis (31.67), Russell Westbrook (29.81), Stephen Curry (27.84) and Kevin Durant (27.79).

Bulls guard Jimmy Butler is considered the frontrunner for the Most Improved Player award, but Butler is currently out with an injury.

Friday, March 13, 2015

A few important notes before tonight’s game between the Heat and Raptors…

HEAT (29-35) AT RAPTORS (38-26)

When/Where: 7:30 p.m., Air Canada Centre

TV/Radio: Sun Sports/FM 104.3, AM 790 and WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Line: Raptors by 5.

Series: Heat leads 48-21.

Of note: Hassan Whiteside is back from his one-game suspension and expected to start at center with Udonis Haslem at power forward. Josh McRoberts (right meniscus surgery) and Chris Bosh (blood clot) are out for the Heat. Luol Deng (calf) is probable.


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The Heat made it official and signed Henry Walker for the rest of the season before tonight’s game in Toronto. Pulled up from the Heat’s D-League affiliate, Walker joined the team on a 10-day contract on Feb.21 amid a complete roster makeover. Chris Bosh had just been diagnosed with a blood clot in his lung, the Heat had just traded away several players for the Dragic brothers, and Wade was returning from a hamstring injury.

Walker was an immediate asset during that chaotic time thanks to his previous experience in the NBA and his familiarity with the Heat’s system after playing for the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Walker signed his second 10-day contract with the Heat on March 3.

“I’m just thankful that the organization trusts me enough to extend me for the rest of the year, and I’m just ready to keep working and proving that I belong,” Walker said.

Walker was a volume shooter during his first games with the Heat, but since then has contributed on both ends of the court and filled voids in various ways while other players recovered from injuries. Most recently, Walker started four consecutive games for the Heat. He is projected to come off the bench against the Raptors.


Hassan Whiteside returns to the starting lineup against the Raptors after serving a one-game suspension. The Heat’s center was ejected twice in a week before the NBA suspended him against the Nets without pay. Whiteside watched Wednesday’s game at his apartment.

“It hurt,” Whiteside said. “It felt weird just watching the guys on TV, but I’m glad that we won. I was just at home and cheering.”

The 7-foot center said he was “really excited” to rejoin his teammates for the trip to Toronto. He said the reason for his rash of ejections and technical fouls last week was related to off-the-court issues.

“I guess I really had a lot going on in my personal life,” Whiteside said. “I don’t want to really speak on it, but it won’t happen again.”

Dwyane Wade’s message to Whiteside was simple, play defense and get rebounds.

“He has to do a job and take care of the boards and protect the basket,” Wade said.

The Heat is hopeful Whiteside’s judgment during games improves. After all, the Heat needs the talented center if it hopes to make a run in the playoffs.

“We made our message,” Spoelstra said. “We talked to him enough over the last three days. So, he’s back in the mix and we’re all ready to move forward.”


Expect another big offensive game Dwyane Wade tonight. The Heat’s shooting guard has scored at least 25 points in each of his last four games. He had 28 points and nine assists on Wednesday against the Nets. Spoelstra emphasized that Wade’s defense and leadership are just as important to the Heat right now as his offense.

“He cannot be a one-way player to make this happen for us,” Spoelstra said.



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