Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Heat players lose $8 million in salary with first missed paychecks

So, Heat fans, anyone out there having trouble paying the bills lately? Is the rent TOO DAMN HIGH!?! Check out these numbers.

Players missed their first paychecks on Tuesday. Here's a breakdown of how much each player lost, based on the commonly used contractual formula that each player is paid 1/110th of their total contract each game. These figures include the eight preseason games that were never played and the regular season's first six games. (Players are paid per game. And, obviously, we can debate the merits of these numbers all day based on a new CBA, prorated salaries and everything else. But, you get the point: It's a lot of money.)

Total 2011-12 contract: $16,022,500 Miami-heat-dancers-2
Per game: $145,659.09
First paycheck: $2,039,227.27

Total 2011-12 contract: $16,022,500
Per game: $145,659.09
First paycheck: $2,039,227.27

Total 2011-12 contract: $15,512,000
Per game: $141,018.18
First paycheck: $1,974,254.54

Total 2011-12 contract: $5,400,000
Per game: $49,090.90
First paycheck: $687,272.72

Total 2011-12 contract: $3,780,000 Heat_natalia_natalie_odaymis
Per game: $34,363.63
First paycheck: $481,090.90

Total 2011-12 contract: $3,600,000
Per game: $32,727.27
First paycheck: $458,181.81

Total 2011-12 contract: $1,399,507
Per game: $12,722.79
First paycheck: $178,119.07

MARIO CHALMERS (Restricted free agent/team option)
Total 2011-12 contract: $1,091,100
Per game: $9,919.09
First paycheck: $138,867.27

Total 2011-12 contract: $788,872
Per game: $7,171.56
First paycheck: $100,401.89

Total amount in lost wages: $8,096,642.74

Also, the Heat's dancers (pictured) are losing money.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Breakfast leftovers

It's human nature to base your feelings about a team on the last thing you've seen from that team. But there are a couple of reasons not to assume you'll see Wednesday night's version of the Heat against the Celtics.

First, every series takes on an identity of its own. You can't assume the Heat will play the same way against the Celtics as it did against Philly. Nor can you assume that the Celtics, who played against the defenseless Knicks, are as good as they looked in that series.

There's a real good chance the Heat was playing the toughest opponent of the top seeds in the East. The Knicks were clearly the worst. The Pacers looked good by sticking with the Bulls, but the Sixers were the most disciplined team, had a terrific defensive game plan and had a few legitimate scoring threats.

Mario celebrate Second, the Heat we saw in that Game 5 against the Sixers just doesn't show up very often. The 30 three-point attempts wasn't so much the Heat just giving in to the Sixers defensive game plan. It just happened that Mario Chalmers was confident in his shot, and it was one of those games where both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade decided to jack up a few to see if they were feeling it. Toss in James Jones' threes and the fact that Eddie House played a handful of minutes, next thing you know you're up to 30 three-pointers (not to mention that one Chris Bosh threw up late in the shot clock).

Against the Celtics for the season, the Heat averaged 17.5 threes a game. The problem was the Heat only hit 28.6 percent of those shots against Boston. To counter that, the Heat did get to the free throw line almost 29 free throws a game against the C's in the regular season, which would indicate that Miami can get to the rim against this defense.

Here's the problem when it comes to Boston. The Celtics execute so well offensively that they attempt less threes but at a much better rate. The Celtics shot 15 threes a game in four games against Miami, hitting a ridiculous 45 percent against the Heat. That more than made up for the fact the C's got to the line six less times a game than Miami.

Two players the Heat hasn't really unleashed on the Celtics are Joel Anthony and Chalmers. Anthony averaged about 20 minutes against Boston, which is about 10 less than he's playing these days. And Anthony is just a different player now than he was earlier in the season. I mean, he not only looked to shoot the game's most important shot, but then he made the two free throws after he was fouled Wednesday.  Ray allen

And Chalmers only had one game against Boston where he played more than 13 minutes. And that was just 20 minutes on April 10. Chalmers can be, at the very least, disruptive against Rajon Rondo and the Celtics offense. He probably should stay away from guarding Ray Allen because Chalmers has a tendency of either getting caught up in screens or just trying to cheat around them and getting burned. But he can play center field well (play off Rondo while bothering the rest of the Celtics players), which is what the Heat will ask of anyone that's guarding Rondo.

If you include significantly better shooting performances from Wade in this series than he had against Boston in the regular season -- and a possible appearance from Udonis Haslem, and you're looking at a matchup that should be nothing like the regular season games between these two teams.

Still say the Heat win it in seven games.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Feeling sweepy

I understand that Thaddeus Young might be the Sixers' most explosive player -- at least of the ones that are completely healthy -- and Evan Turner is a rookie with plenty of potential, but the fact that the two of those bench players outscored the Philadelphia starters by a score of 33-29 shows you how well the Heat defense played Monday night.

Still, there are a couple things the Heat could do better if it wants to make this an easy sweep in Philadelphia.

The three-point shooting could be better. And strangely enough, the Heat shoots significantly better from distance on the road (.384 on the road to .355 at home). A fairly big part of that is LeBron James, who shot .373 from distance on the road compared to .279 at home.

The other part is containing Young. At some point, either Lou Williams or Andre Iguodala or Jrue Holiday will have at the very least a big scoring half, if not an entire game. If you combine that with another big performance from Young, then you could get yourself in trouble. Maybe that means Joel Anthony spends more time on Young from the moment he gets in the game.

Now for the saddest part about this series, and no, it isn't Spencer Hawes. For the second straight game, Mike Miller played just three minutes because of that sore left thumb, which is every bit as bad as the right one was that required surgery.

The chances of Mike's thumb getting better with just a week's rest is obviously pretty slim, but at this point shouldn't he just be shut down until the second round? It certainly can't help that he's taking a beating, even if it is just for three minutes at a time, in a series that the Heat can win easily. We saw Eddie House play in the fourth quarter Monday, and against a team that features a small guard in Williams and a shooting specialist in Jodie Meeks -- both of whom House can guard -- it wouldn't be the worst idea to toss him out there for a few minutes and keep Miller from possibly hurting himself even more.

(Also... a brief moment of silence in remembrance of the career of Jason Williams, who annonced his retirement Monday. Who can forget his highlight reel passes and crossovers with the Kings, or how he turned his career around by quarterbacking the Heat to a title? All hail White Hot Chocolate. Or should it be Hot White Chocolate? Actually, that sounds delicious.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fun in a foreign land

Good time for Eddie House to get hot, in the game he knew he'd get huge minutes.

That career-high 35 points might not be enough to convince Erik Spoelstra to get him into games come the playoffs, but it does go to show you that he's a great option to have. No one's sure if Mike Miller or James Jones can stay healthy for the entire playoffs, so House doing that is a good confidence boost heading into the postseason. Jones fist

Jamaal Magloire's 19 rebounds was kinda fun, too, but probably most important is that James Jones  continued his red-hot shooting. After hitting 4 of 6 from three in Toronto, James is now 18 of his last 28 from distance (64.3 percent) over his last eight games. After that extended slump mid-season, this monster recovery has to bode well for Miami

In case you missed it, the Heat's playoff schedule for the first round goes like this:

Game 1, Saturday 3:30pm in Miami

Game 2, Monday 7pm in Miami

Game 3, Thursday TBD in Philadelphia

Game 4, Sunday 1pm in Philadelphia

* Game 5, Wednesday TBD in Miami

* Game 6, Friday TBD in Philadelphia

* Game 7, Sunday, May 1 TBD in Miami

*(if necessary)



Sunday, April 03, 2011

Welcome-back Sunday

Seemed like everybody was coming back to action on Sunday. Mike Miller was back in action, which was promising because there seemed to be some concern surrounding his knee injury. Mario Chalmers came back a little earlier than expected from his sprained knee. And even in Boston, Shaquille O'Neal came back, at least temporarily, for the Celtics. Miller point

Against the Nets, Chalmers played significant minutes, and Eddie House went back to playing none. Guessing that's going to be Erik Spoelstra's full-time plan for Mario, leaving Mike Bibby as the starter, which makes sense given that he's shooting almost 50 percent from three and committing less than a turnover a game since coming to Miami.

As for Shaq, he went out after a few minutes against the Pistons in Boston, and it didn't look good. He was running, stumbled, then looked back to see if he tripped over something. There was nothing there. He then limped off the court, into the tunnel, where he collapsed onto the team trainer. It looked like an Achilles injury, but the Celtics broadcast called it a strained calf. It looked way more serious than that. Even if it is a "strain," the chances of him coming back in good shape for the playoffs appear slim. And that would leave Jermaine O'Neal as the only healthy center they have (btw, the Heat hasn't gotten the best of the Tory Murphy-Mike Bibby decisions so far). Jermaine looks out of shape, and that team won't be the same without something better in the middle. It'll be a Glen Davis-Kevin Garnett-heavy frontcourt should those circumstances stay the same. More offense, but less defense.

As for the Heat, it's encouraging to see the team really attacking the basket, especially LeBron James, who isn't settling for jumpers much of late. He certainly wasn't against the Nets. And it appears James Jones has found his stroke again, which can make for a deadly combo when he and Bibby are on the floor together.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Chalmers update

As expected, MRI showed that Mario Chalmers has a right knee sprain and nothing more serious.

Problem with that is, a sprained knee isn't a very specific diagnosis. It doesn't tell you which ligament is injured, and it doesn't say how bad the sprain, which is essentially a partial tear. Mario hand

Either way, the Heat says Chalmers is out for a couple weeks and should be back for the playoffs. Chalmers says he wants to be back before the playoffs.

Chalmers had a pair of scoreless games against the Thunder and Hawks before injuring his knee against the Nuggets. But before that, Chalmers had gone 7 of 11 three-point range during the Heat's three-game win streak against the Lakers, Grizzlies and Spurs.

But it's safe to say that he'll be rusty again after the two weeks off, and it'll be around playoff time, so it's going to be tough for him to get back into the rotation as a regular contributor.

That puts a lot of responsibility on Mike Bibby, who handled it against Denver, making four threes in 34 minutes. Safe to say the Heat will go big in the backcourt when Bibby sits, with Mike Miller taking on some ball-handling duties, and possibly Eddie House getting minutes.

That could be a good thing for Miller, because he can get more involved in offense rather than wait on the perimeter. Miller can initiate a pick-and-roll quite well. It's actually an under-utilized aspect of his game, and of the Heat offense. It would be a good option to go to in these final weeks of the season.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Late, LONG, Heat-Magic breakdown

OK, so I purposely waited until the day after to analyze this Heat collapse. The reason being, I spent the entire second half with my head buried in the computer trying to finish a column that needed to be completed before the game was over (I apologize to anyone who read that print version, by the way).

So while I was still looking up at the game on occasion, it was hard to actually detail what was going so wrong.

The good news is, it allowed me to sit at home and dissect the second half on DVR. It was telling. Very telling. And it will be no fun at all pointing fingers at Dwyane Wade, Erik Spoelstra and LeBron James. But it’s inevitable.

(Also, fair warning. This isn’t really a blog entry. It’s a long, long, Bill-Simmons-column long entry, but not nearly as funny. So either take time to read it, or read it in spurts.)

Starting the third quarter with an 18-point lead, you can already tell the Heat is in cruise mode. Because rather than start the half with exactly what worked in the first half, the guys switch it up and run action for Chris Bosh. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Bosh actually got four points in three possessions out of it. It’s just an obvious change in approach. When you’ve already lost big leads at home this year, you’d like to see Wade and James stretch the lead to 30 by being ultra-aggressive just like they were to start the game. But, no, the signs start early…

Possible worst-case-scenario, the Heat goes up 24 in the opening minutes of the half. Cruise mode suddenly went into idle mode.

It was most visible on the defensive end. Wade in particular helped turn this big lead into a small lead real quickly.

After going up 24, he gets caught up in a screen, eventually his man, Jason Richardson, hits a wide-open three-pointer. Wade-magic

Next Heat possession, Wade misses a couple free throws – a disturbing trend because his bad FT-shooting games always seem to come back and cost the Heat.

A Heat possession later, Bosh gets ball in the post, no movement other than a late cut by Mario Chalmers. Wade and LeBron just standing and watching from the edges. Bosh misses tough turnaround.

Next possession, again, just standing and watching from LeBron and Wade, leaving Bosh for a long jumper that doesn’t go. Still up 21.

Next possession, yet again, LeBron at top of the circle without the ball and not moving, Dwyane in the corner and not moving, ends up in long Chalmers jumper with 16 seconds left on the shot clock.

 At this point, you’re starting to notice a couple of things. First, Chalmers is practically begging to be benched. The one thing he did decently well before starting was hitting threes. He’s missing badly these days.

Second, and possibly most important, is that whole crutch theory that “everybody makes a run in the NBA” is just that, a crutch.

There’s a reason teams make runs. Because you’re allowing them to.

The Magic’s run was extreme, and it was because the Heat was playing extremely lazy. Here you thought LeBron  was “re-FOCUSED,” according to his Wednesday tweet. Apparently that only lasts one half.

 After LeBron hit Bosh in the head with a bullet pass (as if he wasn’t struggling enough to see the basket straight), the Heat’s next possession was a one-dribble fadeaway for Wade from the left corner with 16 seconds left on the shot clock. Bad shot. Bad result, made worse after Wade’s man, J-Rich, gets a fastbreak bucket as a result.

All the while, the Heat still has a comfortable lead, so it’s apparently not registering that these possessions are costly and horrible.

A few possessions later, more proof that the mentality has changed from the first half. On a pick-and-roll play between Wade and Bosh, the Magic switch, leaving Wade with the ball against Brandon Bass. Rather than try to take him (TAKE HIM!!!), Wade tries to pass to Bosh, who has a smaller man on him, but he’s posting up at TOP OF THE THREE-POINT CIRCLE! Why try to force a pass there rather than be aggressive and go yourself, Dwyane? The pass was bad, and it resulted in a turnover.

Spo confused And it didn’t stop there for Wade. Very next Magic possession, he lingers in the lane as Dwight Howard is driving to the rim on the opposite side of the baseline. Bosh was already there to double Howard at the rim. Wade was doing nothing to bother or deter Howard. It just looked like he was going to actually help, when all he did was leave J-Rich open for an uncontested three. Lead down to 75-61.

The lead stayed at 14 for a spell, but the end of the third quarter is where the Magic made another push.

The Heat blitz a pick-and-roll hard, J-Rich is open for a three. 80-69.

Mike Bibby airball (he can’t be blamed for any of this, because it’s unfair he even has to play), Jameer Nelson free throws, and suddenly it’s a nine-point game.

At the quarter buzzer, James Jones missed a three-pointer. Can’t really expect that make, of course, but it gives us an excuse to look at his recent shooting numbers in contests that don’t involve a rack of basketballs.

Since the beginning of February, Jones, who does have a hip issue, has shot 8 of 28 from three. That’s 28.6 percent. That’s not good. But he also hasn’t had but two games where he played more than 15 minutes. Seven of those 13 games he has played eight minutes or less. Not a great opportunity to get into a rhythm. In every game that he has hit three three-pointers or more, he’s played at least 16 minutes, and most of them he’s played at least 20. Cutting those minutes in half doesn’t leave Jones much time to contribute. You almost have to commit to playing him double-figure minutes or don’t play him at all.

Fourth quarter, more one-or-no pass offense for Heat. Bibby to Bosh for a one-dribble pull-up, miss. Wade another pair of missed free throws, Wade another tough fadeaway from the corner, this one over an outstretched Howard, another miss. Wade 0 of 3 for the half at this point. That rebound leads to an open three for J-Rich, who would’ve been Wade’s man if he didn’t have to start from the baseline when recovering on defense.

Finally, on the next Heat possession they get back to multiple pick-and-rolls. But on the second one, Mike Miller misses Bosh when he’s open, and instead hits him after the defense recovers. The resulted is a contested two for Bosh that misses.

Then more laziness. Wade gets a steal, hits Miller for an open three that misses, but Wade doesn’t recover defensively, J-Rich hits another three. It’s not 82-79 Miami, and there doesn’t seem to be any plan on the Heat’s part to turn things around.

To this point in the collapse, it seems Wade can take most of the blame. Bad offense, bad defense, just plain bad. But Spo can’t be left out of the blame game. He has had plenty of opportunity to watch what’s happening and change it. There were too many “plays” where the Largest Two were either standing and watching or not being aggressive. It’s OK for a coach to tell his guys to be aggressive. It’s OK to demand that they “drive the ball.” You hear it all the time from coaches. Didn’t see or hear much of that from Spo on Thursday.

Just after a timeout, LeBron missed a wide-open three. Granted, it was open, but LeBron also had a lane to drive into, and had he done it, he very likely would’ve found an open Bosh underneath the basket because the Magic bigs were contemplating whether to run out on James and had lost contact with Bosh.

A quick, hibachi-like three from Gilbert Arenas, and suddenly this bad boy is tied at 82-82.

But nothing changes on the Heat’s offensive end. Wade waits in the corner because catching a pass, faking, then missing an out-of-rhythm baseline jumper.

As a result, J-Rich leaks out, forces Bibby to cover him. He backs down Bibby and then finds an open Ryan Anderson for a layup. Magic lead. Game officially a disaster right now. Even if Heat comes back to eek out a win.

More awfulness. Bibby misses a three on another possession where LeBron neven stepped inside the three-point circle.

Then Bibby doubles Howard, Wade is so late rotating to Arenas that you’d think he was just hit in the head with a LeBron James bullet pass. Magic up five.

Two more plays that make you want to never see Chalmers on the floor of a non-blowout ever again.

He commits a ridiculous offensive foul on an attempted screen. It was clearly a foul. One that Chalmers thought he might get away with, but it was entirely unnecessary.

Very next play, he can’t come close to sticking to Nelson on a screen-roll, Nelson splits Chalmers and Bosh for a runner.

That’s an 18-0 run. That’s the type of run that you’d never think the Heat would be on the wrong side of. Not when you have free-throw machines like Wade and LeBron. But unfortunately, teams don’t tend to foul guys who stand around the three-point line most of the time.

The Heat try to turn on the switch, but the Magic is already humming, mostly on defense. Wade gets doubled in the post. Turnover. Heat moving the ball to find an open shot, Erick Dampier parks in the lane for a three-second violation. Chalmers decides he wants a whole possession to himself, never passes the ball, drives to the lane and tries to get a foul call on Howard, who slaps the shot out of bounds. LeBron and Dwyane? Yeah, they’re parked outside the three-point line the whole time.

Bosh finally hits a driving layup, but one possession later, Chalmers continues his horrendousisosity (new word) but bricking another open three.

You have to ask yourself at this point why he’s in there. His mistakes are plentiful offensively, his defense is non-existent. That’s a Spo choice that’s questionable.

The Magic manage to maintain a seven-point lead, 93-86, and Wade’s answer is to launch a three-pointer from the top with 14 seconds on the shot clock. He hasn’t made a field goal or a free throw in the period at this point. Horrible shot. Again, LeBron parked in the corner the whole possession.

Another missed Chalmers three, but Heat get fortunate rebound and Wade finds Dampier for an and-one bucket.

Nothing against Dampier, but he was the best player in the Heat’s fourth quarter. Once again, Erick Dampier was the Heat’s best player in the fourth quarter of a big game. Disturbing sentence. Dampier

Finally, Chalmers is on the bench, but Nelson gets past Wade just as easy, collapses the defense and this time it’s Quentin Richardson who nails the open three. 96-89.

Heat’s answer? Bosh drives into double team searching for foul. No call. No call deserved. Wade never steps inside three-point line.

Finally, a big shot. Miller with a three, 96-92.

But it’s followed by, arguably, the biggest play of the game.

Now, in a game of huge plays and equally horrible possessions, it’s hard to pinpoint one as critical. But this one was.

Miller grabbed a steal and throws just a horrible pass over Wade and toward Q-Rich in the open court.

As much as this game wasn’t Miller’s fault, by any stretch, that was the biggest failure down the stretch. That would’ve been at least two points for Wade, who had a retreating Richardson between him and the basket. It would’ve made it a two or one point game with 1:30 left.

Thanks to Dampier – again – who hits a couple free throws, the Heat’s within two and on defense. If Miller’s turnover was the most crucial play down the stretch, this was easily the most insane.

For starters, it’s frustrating to watch when the Heat just spent the previous 20 minutes or so playing like lazy dogs. Had they played with anything close to this kind of effort in the second half, it never would’ve gotten to this point.

Q-Rich misses the dagger three. Howard muscles Dampier and positions himself perfectly in front of the basket. He didn’t get the rebound, but he reached back and got a hand on it, forcing Wade to tip the ball almost out of bounds. Wade dives over the bench to save it in, but it gets to Howard, who finds Anderson on the baseline. LeBron comes in for a clean swat. But because Bosh bumped into the massive Howard, Bosh was face down on the floor rather than chasing down that loose ball, so Howard gets it first.

This is a perfect example of why Howard’s ridiculous physique is good for way more than magazine covers and ESPN The Body issues. He made two gigantic, game-saving plays just by being a beast.

LeBron then gets called for a foul on Nelson, but it might have been an anticipation call by the refs, who figured he’d be fouling in that spot with the Heat down and barely a differential between shot and game clock. It didn’t look like LeBron actually fouled, though.

Heat goes for two on next possession. Not a bad choice, but it did take way too long. Wade got bailed out a bit on the foul call, but he made both with 9.6 seconds left.

Inbound play after timeout makes no sense. Howard’s on the floor. Why bother keeping a guy even close to him. You want him to catch the ball. Instead, LeBron completely ignores J.J. Redick after he floats into the backcourt. Why? You want anyone else catching it other than him, but LeBron just chose to stay in the frontcourt. Complete brain fart. Redick makes two free throws, Heat trails by three.

Now for that last possession.

Let’s start with LeBron’s postgame claim that the Magic must’ve scouted the Heat and known that they like to throw the ball in the corner in that spot.

That sounds like a shot at the coach. But watch the play again.

The Magic didn’t “know” anything. They didn’t even switch on the screen from LeBron for Wade, the way people immediately after the game suggested. It was just good defense. It wasn’t a very difficult play to defend, either. Pretty simple screen. J-Rich got a little help from Q-Rich, then just recovered in time to force Miller to throw it elsewhere.

As for Bosh, that action was well designed at the top of the circle. He screened for a curling Bibby, who returned the favor and screened an unsuspecting Howard. Bosh was wide open. Brick.

Here’s the problem with that. Why is Bosh even there? That same action probably gets James Jones wide open. He’s the guy who should be there – Eddie House’s height might have made him a less ideal candidate, plus he hadn’t played a single minute. But Bosh?

Granted, the Magic probably would’ve countered by taking Hwoard out of the game, but Bosh has ended up with that shot far more often than he should have this season. He made a couple, but if you play the percentages, you figure he’s due to miss even more. This was one of them.

What can you say about that finaBosh jl wide-open three from LeBron? He missed it. All that “closer” talk is nonsense. Guys make and they miss in those situations. He missed. Whatever. Even if he had made it and the Heat recovered to win in overtime, it would’ve masked the multitude of problems that were so evident in this game.

  There were some talk after the game that Wade needs to be the guy who plays aggressively in those close-game situations, and that as much as the “who’s team is it?” debate is silly, maybe in those situations there needs to be a clear distinction as to who is the primary guy.

That’s entirely untrue. It doesn’t take a guy taking over late. It takes guys NOT slacking off in the middle of the game. That way you avoid those situations altogether. This isn’t a late-game issue. This is an all-game issue. Picking your spots doesn’t mean playing with no effort in certain stretches and taking horrible shots time and again. Might as well be on the bench.

If the Heat doesn’t turn into a bunch of bickering children as a result of this, it might help them down the road. But this game is on, in order, Wade, Spoelstra and LeBron. There’s no sugarcoating this – especially when you watch it a second time.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ummm.... Hmmm

Really? 1 for 18? Really?!?

There aren't many games where a single player can take the blame for a loss, but this might just be one of them. No, the Heat wasn't perfect. Far from it. The littany of mistakes, which we'll get into momentarily, though, were only made more magnified because Chris Bosh was as off as any player of his magnitude has been in decades. Decades.

If you've ever been in that spot, it's such a head game. You're a shooter, so you normally want to be open. But when you've missed that many open ones, you almost are dreading catching the ball and finding yourself open. Because you know the right thing to do is to shoot it, because you have to assume you're good enough to make the next one. But you've already thought about it more than you normally do, and at that point you've ruined it for yourself. You're almost praying a defender closes hard so you have an excuse to do something other than shoot it.

Bosh yell You could see after about 1 of 10 that Bosh was in his own head. To his defense -- very brief and weak defense as it may be -- he did get clonked in the nose early on, and he didn't exactly get many designed opportunities near the rim, which probably would've helped after about, oh, I don't know, 1 of 12, maybe?

So, there it is. A performance that might never be repeated in the NBA for the next 20 years cost the Heat a win, and yet it was still a tie game in the final minute.

Not to overstate this loss, but it only strengthened a perception across the country that Derrick Rose is becoming the runaway MVP. But, again, if Bosh makes two jumpers and the Heat wins, you're looking at Rose's line (26 points on 24 shots, five rebounds, six assists, four turnovers, zero steals and a plus-minus of minus-2 in 37 minutes) and thinking, "Eh."

Then you'd see LeBron James' line, on the road no less, (12 of 21 for 29 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two turnovers, two steals and one block and a plus-3) and you'd think, "Well, maybe he is still MVP." Or you'd even think Dwyane Wade (34 points, eight rebounds) might be ahead of Rose. But because the result allowed Rose to look like the hero with a late jumper and a dish to Luol Deng, and now there might be no way for James to recover.

Now to the list of errors down the stretch. At least the highlighted ones...

-Might as well just start with the pass Eddie House threw to Wade's back on what could've been a fast break opportunity. The turnover resulted a Deng three-point play that put the Heat down seven. That play was indicative of the Heat's play off the bench. Two points. Two.

For all the talk about the Celtics being "hurt" in that game against the Heat because they were missing a bench player, basically, the Heat didn't and won't get much slack for being without Mike Miller. Other than possibly hitting an open shot, Miller definitely would've helped the Heat on the board. The Bulls clobbered Miami in that area, 53-39.

-After falling behind 85-84, the Heat's next two shots were a James three-pointer from the corner, which wasn't even an open shot, and a Bosh 18 footer, which was open, but come on. That's possibly the spot you want him to at least try to drive and draw a foul.

-With the game tied at 89-89, Wade made a huge mistake by helping off Deng to try to get to Rose. Two reasons that was just a bad play. First, James was in front of Rose still, and Erick Dampier was also coming from underneath the basket to make the shot tougher. All Wade did by helping was give Rose a bail-out option. Second, the LAST thing you want to do in a tie game in the final seconds is give up a three-pointer. Even if Rose makes that shot, all you need is a deuce to tie it back up. Now that you've given up a three, you're almost forced to attempt a three on the next possession. Or at least extremely tempted to put up a three.

-Which brings us to the final poor decision of the night (just a reminder: none of these final plays matter if Bosh's historically awful 1for 18 night is just a terrible 4 for 18 night). James' rushed three-pointer, off the dribble, with a defender in his face is exactly the opposite of what this team has been preaching all season. Trust, for one. And smart choices, as well. Sure, no one other than Mario Chalmers was helping Wade and James, but at least run a play to let something open up. That was the definition of hero basketball, and it ended appropriately.

Just one loss. And if this was a playoff game, the Heat would almost be able to say to themselves "that'll never happen again in this series." But it's an agonizing loss given the stats and the now 0-5 record against your direct competition atop the Eastern Conference.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Celtics discussion points

--Dwyane Wade clearly hasn't been himself against the Celtics this season. In the first two games, he was 6 of 28 from the field, and Sunday he seemed to get frustrated quickly, and he did what he doesn't normally do, which is respond with some physical play.

Now, the shoulder to Kevin Garnett probably shouldn't have been a flagrant foul. It was either a regular foul or possibly a technical foul. And the fact that he appeared to do it in response to a hard screen Garnett set on Mike Miller, only strengthens the bond as teammates. But still, Wade usually takes out his anger in the scoring column. Against Boston, he's a tad lost.

Granted, Wade had the ball every possession against the C's in the playoffs, and Sunday he found himself standing in the corner more often than he wanted in a tight game. But he has to find a way to make Boston feel all three of the Big Three and not just one or two at a time. If there's any team that Miami needs to have all three going against, it's this one.

--It's funny how, even when you get a handful of favorable calls, it's the critical non-calls that stand out. Well, the Heat got a couple of calls in its favor in the fourth quarter. But the most crucial one went the opposite way. With the Heat down two, LeBron James drove to the goal and was fouled by Kevin Garnett on the shoulder and arm. Not a difficult call to make. Only, it would've been Garnett's sixth, so it's likely the refs were hesitant to blow the whistle.

Bosh-kg Making matters more painful for Miami, it was Garnett who hit the next basket that extended the Celtics lead to four points with 1:50 left in the game. The Celtics didn't hit another field goal after that.

--Rajon Rondo did make life difficult for LeBron, at least for a little while. He made LeBron back the ball in over halfcourt, a la Magic Johnson and, less famously, Damon Jones. And he also bothered LeBron some after the ball crossed halfcourt. But that didn't last especially long. Erik Spoelstra says it probably affected Miami for three possessions. In a one-possession game, that's enough to make a difference, but to credit Rondo as the game changer in this one is overlooking his four missed free throws and his missed jumpers and layup down the stretch that could've made the Celtics win a lot easier. Frankly, Von Wafer's 10 points in 14 minutes were almost more devastating because it came from an unexpected source. Rondo, even with the triple-double, was actually held to his season average in points and below his season average in assists and shooting percentage. And Kendrick Perkins was particularly devastating, not just with his 15 points but also with his deflections of Heat passes.

--You can't ask for a better shot than Miller's open three at the top of the key to tie the game. Miller had been out of the game for all but 16 seconds in the fourth quarter, and he did take a shot from Garnett earlier in the half. But I'm sure he'll tell you he wants that same shot every time in a close game.

For that matter, the Heat's shooters (Miller, James Jones and Eddie House) were a combined 1 of 10 from distance, with pretty much all but one House chuck being excellent shots. If the Heat hits two more of those, this game could've been quite different. Of course, the same could be said of the combined 2 of 11 that Paul Pierce and Ray Allen combined to shoot from distance.

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



Powered by TypePad