Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Stuff about tonight's game vs. Bobcats

TONIGHT'S GAME: Heat (19-6) at Charlotte Bobcats (7-20).

TIME: 7 p.m.

WHERE: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte.

TV: Sun Sports (Eric Reid, Tony Fiorentino, Jason Jackson)

Radio: AM 790/104.3 FM & The Heat Radio Network (Mike Inglis)

Spanish Radio: WAQI 710AM (José Pañeda)

SERIES: Miami leads 21-10. The Heat has won eight consecutive games against the Bobcats since March 9, 2010, and won the three meetings last season by an average of 21.0 points. Four of the Heat’s five victories during its winning streak are by double digits.

SCOUTING REPORT: Following its Christmas Day win over Oklahoma City in a rematch of last year’s Finals, the Heat opens a four-game road trip that will be played over six days. The Heat will try to sweep a set of back-to-back games for the first time this season and improve upon its 5-4 road mark that includes a 1-2 mark against Eastern Conference foes. The Heat is 3-0 on the second night of a back-to-back so far this season.

The Bobcats have lost 15 consecutive games following a 7-5 start. Charlotte has the third-worst record in the East ahead of Cleveland (6-23) and Washington (3-22). The Bobcats, however, are catching the Heat on a short turnaround and will try to pull off an upset similar to the Wizards’ 105-101 win over Miami Dec. 4 at Washington.

The Heat, which enters the game half a game ahead of the Knicks (20-8) for the conference’s top spot, is outscoring its opponents by an average of 15.6 points during its five-game winning streak. Although its three-game streak of making at least 10 three-pointers came to an end against the Thunder, the Heat still made 8 threes in 28 attempts. The Bobcats are allowing a league-worst 105.0 points this season. Charlotte was giving up 99.6 points during its first 12 games, but has allowed 109.4 since. Kemba Walker has been a bright spot averaging 18.3 points, but injuries to key players such as Ben Gordon and Gerald Henderson have been disruptive.

Following his 29-point performances against the Thunder, LeBron James has scored at least 20 points in the Heat's first 25 games of the season. James' personal streak dates back to end of last season. James has scored at least 20 points in 30 straight regular-season games. Including the playoffs, he has scored at least 20 points in 46 games. His 30th consecutive 20-plus point game set a new franchise record.

The Heat continues to play great defense during the winning streak, forcing an average of 17.4 turnovers. The Heat has held its last eight opponents under 100 points.

Dwyane Wade has been a factor on defense and efficient, shooting 59.8 percent (61 of 102) over the past seven games.


Chris Bosh returned to the lineup against the Thunder after missing the Jazz game with the flu. He's been especially good against the Bobcats during his career. Bosh is averaging 24.0 points per game against Charlotte lifetime – his best against any opponent.


Sunday, November 04, 2012

Saturday, October 06, 2012

VIDEO: Miami Heat interviews following Saturday's practice

Hey everybody,

I went to the Heat's final practice before opening the preseason Sunday against the Hawks.

Here are interviews with Erik Spoelstra, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Each talked about starting the preseason Sunday against the Hawks and a little bit about the team's upcoming trip to China.


Andre Fernandez


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Five Must-See Heat Games

Chances are, if you haven't locked down tickets to Heat games by now, you're probably going to be on the Celtics Heat Wade outside looking in.

The demand is that great. The expectations are even greater. And one thing that Dwyane Wade said a month ago, sitting at that press conference alongside new teammates Chris Bosh and LeBron James, resonates as sharply now as it did when he uttered the words on July 9.

"So thank us now," Wade said in a shout-out to the Heat's upcoming opponents this season. "Because every place is going to sell out when we come to town."

For those detractors out there, hate on the Heat all you want. But you still want to hear every word that comes out of these guys' mouths.

Rail on their egos and confidence. But your rear end will most likely be planted in a seat in front of the TV set when Miami's three dozen national TV games are broadcast. In a lot of ways, this Miami Heat team has become one of the most polarizing elements in sports and is nestled right in there with the Dallas Cowboys, Barry Bonds, Michael Vick, Mike Tyson and Brett Favre.

You either love to root against them. Or you live to root for them.

But you can't - or won't - stop watching.

That's one reason why almost every story in every NBA city across the nation written about the schedule's release yesterday was led by the date that particular team gets to either host or face the Miami Heat.

"So thank us now," reminds Wade.

I've already circled five games before the turn of the calendar year that are either "Must See" if you can get there, or "Can't Miss" if you have to settle for a seat in front of the tube. They are ranked only by when they appear on the schedule.

No. 1 - Oct. 26 at Boston: Why? Because it's the season opener alone makes this a magical event for the start of the Wade, Bosh and James administration. But add in multiple other subplots, and this becomes arguably the second-most hyped season opener in franchise history. The only other opener that's in this discussion for the Heat was its first-ever game played at the start of its 1988 season. Now, there's the battle of the Big 3s, the O'Neals' factor (Shaq and Jermaine) and the fact that Miami gets a chance to face the team that dumped Dwyane Wade out of the playoffs in the first round last season.

No. 2 - Oct. 29 vs Orlando: Anytime you get players from one team bickering publicly with the Howard-UD coach and general manager of another team - and those teams happen to be in the same state - you know there's a little something extra here. If the Heat-Magic matchup wasn't truly a rivalry before (Orlando has won 14 of the last 17), clearly it is now. No doubt about it. Otis Smith and Stan Van Gundy sort of called out LeBron for his decision to bolt Cleveland. LeBron and Wade let it be known that they couldn't wait to get back on the court to provide an answer. Toss in Dwight Howard's stated refusal to answer questions about the Heat, J.J. Redick's side comments last month and Jeff Van Gundy's set-them-up-to-fail praise last week, and you know there will be a winner-take-all feel to every game they play.

No. 3. - Dec. 2 at Cleveland: LeBron has tried to go the extra mile - literally, with that Akron charity Bike-a-thon event last week - to make amends with northeast Ohio for his decision to leave the Cavaliers hanging high and dry. But no amount of goodwill can erase the fact that much of the state remains scorned behind his move to Miami. Count on extra security being on hand at this one. Count on an entire arena letting loose all of the venom it can muster to voice displeasure for James. And you can also probably count on the Heat going out there and handing the inferior Cavs a 20-point beating - on the second night of a back-to-back set, no less.

No. 4 - Dec. 17 at New York: After essentially tanking two seasons and tearing their roster to shreds just for the chance to land LeBron, the Knicks welcome the player they so desperately coveted and face the team that drove a dagger into their free agency plans. Pat Riley gets the last laugh after all against the Knicks, right? It will be a media zoo when this game takes place. James and Wade have had some of their better games against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Expect an Ali-Frazier type atmosphere at the Garden, although this basketball battle will hardly live up to that epic prize fight from the early 1970s. This could turn out to be one of the highest-scoring games of the 2010-11 season.

No. 5 - Dec. 25 at Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe. LeBron. Dwyane. The three best players in the game.  Lakers-Heat-Main Enough said. Although Boston and Orlando would argue otherwise, this could very well be a preview of the 2011 NBA Finals. This is the matchup the world wants to see. The NBA truly delivers a gift on Christmas with this game. How badly did the league want to feature this game on this date? It's the second game of a two-game trip for the Heat, which plays at Phoenix two days earlier. Miami is never sent that far to play fewer than four or five games. Can Miami's star power match L.A.'s championship experience and swagger? Can the Heat's dynamic wings offset the Lakers' massive size up front?

So much intrigue. So many questions. We'll learn a  lot about this team over the first two full months of the season.

Buckle up. It's going to be a crazy ride.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blog Breakdown: Hawks 92, Heat 87

JACKSONVILLE - So the Heat didn't exactly end the preseason with a bang. Instead, there were a few Hawks_Heat_Basketball_FLJR4 familiar breakdowns that caught up with Miami in Thursday's 92-87 loss to the Hawks at Veteran's Memorial Arena.

After a 2-5 finish to the preseason, it's now on to the games that actually count in the standings. The Heat is far from a finished product. But there are signs of progress from a few players who could be key in the rotation. Daequan Cook continues to shine, having led the Heat in scoring for the third time this preseason, this time finishing with 20 points.

Carlos Arroyo is getting far more comfortable with the offense. He led the team with six assists in 27 minutes, an effort that helped to offset Mario Chalmers' 1 of 9 shooting night. If there is a significant concern with this team - and there are a few of them - they begin with the Heat's inability to consistently defend the perimeter. The Hawks shot 57.1 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range. They benefited from those kind of numbers on the way to eliminating the Heat in seven games during last season's playoffs.

Even though the Heat has started six different lineups in seven preseason games, coach Erik Spoelstra insists he's closing in on an eight or nine-man rotation. He just won't say who's in and who's out because he hasn't told his players about their roles just yet.

But figure on the backcourt of Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade, with Michael Beasley and Udonis Haslem at the forward spots and Jermaine O'Neal at center. Beyond that, I'm pretty confident that Cook and Joel Anthony are the first two off the bench. That gets you to a seven-man rotation. The final one or two spots are a bit difficult to figure. James Jones seemed to be a lock at one point, but then Quentin Richardson starting getting the starts over the past few games. And then there's Carlos Arroyo, who should be a lock. But that would depend on how much time Wade wants to spend at point guard.

So with five days remaining before Wednesday's opener against New York, the Heat essentially has three guys battling for the final two spots in the primary rotation. How will it shake out? Your guess is as good as mine at this point. It's one area where Spoelstra is truly unpredictable.

D. WADE'S DOINGS: Coming off a 35-point outing Wednesday, Wade had a rather pedestrian 13 points, five assists and three steals in 29 minutes. His shot was off (3 of 11), but this was more about seeing how his legs and conditioning level would be, playing a back-to-back set. As was apparent Wednesday, Wade is in mid-season form. He just has to get one or two more teammates to that level as well. Cook, Beasley and Haslem are there. Two more would be huge for this team.

TURNING POINT: After the Heat pulled to within 63-60, the Hawks responded with a 9-0 run to retake control of the game. Joe Johnson made a few jumpers and that was that. Offseason pickup Jamal Crawford also added to the damage with 12 points and 3 assists off the bench. Keep in mind that Johnson is a free agent at the end of the season, just like Wade. The two spent a considerable amount of time talking to one another outside the locker rooms when the teams arrived at the arena. A potential Wade-Johnson-Beasley 1-2-3 punch wouldn't be a bad combination at all. Not saying. Just saying.

LOSING EDGE: It was an awful shooting night from the start for the Heat, which missed 12 of its first 13 shots and closed the game shooting only 36.8 percent from the field. Miami was only 26.9 from 3-point range. Just when it appeared the Heat was getting its offense in gear, the transmission slipped Thursday.

HEAD SCRATCHER: There were plenty from which to pick. There was the comedy from Wade, who was frustrated with an early non-call from the replacement refs. Wade went to the scorer's table and asked: "Can I get a rule book ... so I can show them." There were also several times when Carlos Arroyo, who arrived last week, had to slow down the offense to show Dorell Wright, who has been here for five years, Cook-Preseason where to go. Inconsistency is still haunting Wright. Another head scratcher came at the end of the first half, when Mario Chalmers fouled Marvin Williams as he was attempting a half-court shot at the buzzer. Williams went to the line and made all three free throws to put Atlanta ahead 44-31 at the break.

KEY CONTRIBUTION: Daequan Cook continues to do everything he can to earn a solid rotation role this season. He led the Heat in scoring for the third time this preseason. He was 8 of 15 from the field, including 4 of 8 from 3-point range. Cook has been making more plays off the dribble and is no longer simply a spot-up shooter. He had four turnovers Thursday, but you can live with a few aggressive mistakes if he continues to improve at his rate. Cook (pictured right) even joked after the game that he might challenge Jason Terry and Lamar Odom for Sixth Man of the Year honors this season. We'll see. But he's on the right track after two inconsistent seasons in the league.

NEXT UP: Season Opener - Heat vs. New York Knicks, 7: 30 Wednesday (AmericanAirlines Arena)

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Carlos, Comebacks & SuperCoolBeas

Clearing out the mind and notebook as the flight to Wednesday’s Heat-Thunder preseason game reaches cruising altitude. Consider it the misdirection exhibition tour.


After the game in Tulsa against Oklahoma City, the Heat heads to Kansas City to play New Orleans. Go figure. Still trying to figure out how last preseason offered a trip to Paris and London and this year counters with Tulsa and Kansas City. Again, go figure.


THE ARROYO-AL TREATMENT: There was a slice of it after Tuesday’s practice, when new Heat Carlos Arroyo guard Carlos Arroyo had what amounted to his own personal media day The Puerto Rico native and former FIU standout signed with the Heat on Monday.


TV, radio and newspaper reporters from Spanish media outlets engulfed Arroyo after Tuesday’s practice. Considering the market, there was a genuine excitement and interest. Arroyo is believed to be the first native Spanish-speaking player in Heat history. And who said his signing with the Heat wouldn’t have an impact on and off the court?


“It’s been great,” Arroyo said of the reaction. “It’s an honor to be here and to be home.”


BEASLEY’S WIN-WIN-WIN SITUATION: Count forward Michael Beasley among Heat players Beasley Interview who believe Arroyo is just the sort of addition second-year starting point guard Mario Chalmers needed. With a savvy, proven veteran to contend with in practice every day, Chalmers gets a taste of what Beasley goes through with Udonis Haslem.


“Some of the guys who have been in here – not to downgrade guys, but – (Chalmers) has been a landslide better than them,” Beasley said of a group that has consisted of Chris Quinn, Marcus Banks, Shaun Livingston, Luther Head and current camp hopeful John Lucas. “Carlos can do it all. (Chalmers) not only has somebody to go head to head against, but somebody to look up to and to learn from.”


WADE AND SEE: Dwyane Wade acknowledged Tuesday that his current rib strain is near the same spot as the injury he sustained during the 2004-05 season that lingered into the playoffs. But Wade said this recent ailment pales in comparison to the anguish he felt four years ago.


“If it was that bad, I wouldn’t even be out here,” Wade said after practice. “I wouldn’t even be trying to play.” Wade worked out extensively the past two days, with a focus on conditioning. He essentially wore a “yellow jersey” in scrimmage sessions, meaning he was completely off limits for contact. Wade said he would consider wearing protective padding around his rib cage if he plays this week. From the sounds of Tuesday’s practice, Wade, at best, might appear in one game and skip the other.


SPARRING SESSION: Jermaine O’Neal said he expects to play the back-to-back set against the Thunder and Hornets after he missed the previous two games with a bruised foot. O'NEAL_JERMAINE


There is absolutely nothing he could face in those games more demanding and brutal than the low-post sparring sessions he’s had after practice against assistant coach Keith Askins. Make that Askins and two huge, thick “bash pads” Askins basically used as weapons to pound on O’Neal as he practiced low-post scoring moves. O’Neal managed to hold his own at times, but Askins did little to hurt his reputation as “Kick Ass-kins.”


“It’s a different kind of conditioning in here,” O’Neal said. “I look forward to getting back on the court and getting my timing and everything back.”


FUNNY EXCHANGE: Beasley, if nothing else, is still providing the comic relief. Before Sunday’s game against San Antonio, Beasley and Yakhouba Diawara had a hilarious exchange. Beasley picked on Diawara because of his deep French accent. Diawara, a Pepperdine grad, shot back: “I’m an educated man. Put Pepperdine against wherever you went, college dropout. Did you even stay long enough to major?”


Beasley, who spent one season at Kansas State before leaving to become the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 draft, didn’t hesitate. “Yeah, I had a major. My major was Bucketology. You don’t know about that. I mastered in getting buckets.”


(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @ To post a question or join our live Heat chat each Thursday from 1-2 p.m., click here.)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Back off 'Bron-'Bron

So, he didn't speak.

Yes, it would have been nice if LeBron James stepped up to the podium after the Cavs were eliminated James-general the other night by Orlando in Game 6.

Yes, most of us hacks could have used a good quote from the so-called King to complete the copy we all wrote to sum up one of the better six-game playoff series the league has put on in recent years.

And yes, LeBron probably should have taken a few seconds to at least waive in Dwight Howard's direction to acknowledge their mutual respect as their teams headed off opposite ends of the court.

I was there. And again, I find myself in the minority when it comes to the backlash aimed at 'Bron-'Bron. Had Cleveland won Game 6 to force a Game 7 back on their homecourt, James certainly would have gone up to the podium and accepted all of the questions about how he kept his team alive.

Instead, he left Mo Williams to deliver the eulogy on the Cavs' disappointing finish to a solid season. While the move wasn't cool, it also hasn't been worth all of the condemning he's taken the last 24 hours. The fact of the matter is that James owed us in the media nothing, really.

As long as he spoke with his teammates, which he presumably did, and acknowledged his coaches, which we were told he did, then what else should we demand from a man at his most depressed moment? To know if he's going to opt out of his contract 10 minutes after his season ended? To know how he feels about the speculation he's headed to New York? To know what he plans to do with that puppet in his image that Nike no longer has any use for?

Some of us who do what we do need to get over ourselves. His silence is being as overplayed and over-analyzed as anything he's done on the court this series.

James-shame It's a shame that James put himself in a position to be questioned about his sore-loser reaction after he provided one of the most remarkable playoff series performances we've seen in some time. His play was a six-game thrill ride that ended abruptly because Orlando was the better team.

James did all of his talking on the court for six games - nearly averaging a triple-double and single-handedly keeping his team alive against the Magic.

And when it was all said and done, who really needed to explain themselves more, James or his teammates and coach? I guess that's why I felt James was wrong for his approach, but not totally offended or disgusted like some seem to be.

It was time Mo Williams faced the music after his mouth put an even larger target on the Cavs' back. Mike Brown certainly had some 'splainin' to do for his lack of innovation and adjustments.

To try to read into LeBron's actions and emotions after the game is probably like trying to guard him on a fastbreak. Impossible. Maybe even something with a worse success rate than impossible.

It doesn't mean he can't win a title in Cleveland. Hell, if you can get to the Conference finals, you're not far from taking the next step.

It doesn't mean he doesn't fit well with his teammates. This was the same supporting cast that helped James-sandwiched Cleveland win 66 games and post the best home record in the league.

And those who suggest that James is better off in New York should have their heads examined. Or their basketball-debating privileges revoked. Because they're either from the Big Apple, have a rooting interest for teams in the Big Apple, or perhaps just had a big apple cracked over their heads.

Yes, James punked out at the podium.

The one thing James did wrong all series had nothing to do with his performance on the court. That, however, spoke volumes.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sounds Like Fightin' Words

First off, we apologize for the technical problems with the blog the past few days. We're doing some renovations and should have the tweaks worked out in short order.

But on to the matters that really matter.

Count me among those who thought it was lame for some Heat players and coaches to complain that Josh Dunks Josh Smith was trying to embarrass Miami with his botched, between-the-legs dunk attempt in the final minutes of the Hawks Game 5 victory.

If anyone should be embarrassed, it should be Smith for being a knucklehead and missing the dunk.

If anyone else should be embarrassed, it should be the Heat for giving up on the play and allowing Smith to measure his steps starting at halfcourt to set up the attempt.

The Heat should be embarrassed for not getting back on defense to prevent the attempted highlight.

It should be embarrassed for having no one even bother to get back to prevent Joe Johnson from snagging the offensive rebound after Smith embarrassed himself.

It should be embarrassed for allowing Johnson to show his teammate how it's done the respectful way a few possessions later, when he got his own breakaway dunk, with no Heat player within 10 feet of him as he swooped in for a traditional dunk.

The bottom line is that Smith has been dunking on the Heat all series. Yes, that final dunk had a Ricky Davis-ish sort of quality to it, when it comes to classless showboating.

That said, I have no problem with a player going for the exclamation point to a pivotal victory in front of his own fans. If you've got those kind of hops, you use them.

Jamario Moon would have gone showtime in the same situation if the Heat were at home. So would Michael Beasley or even Dwyane Wade - to an extent.

So would it have been less offensive had Smith settled for simply a windmill 360?

As Udonis Haslem put it Thursday: "We should be embarrassed by a lot that happened before that."

Now, on to more important stuff (You get a bonus blog since I haven't posted in a while).

With his team facing playoff elimination heading into Game 6 Friday against Atlanta, Dwyane Wade came out a day early, firing on all cylinders.

He didn't discriminate in his attempt to motivate. He was in rare interview form. It was part comedy, part anger, part resentment, part praise, part desperation. But it as all designed to get his team in the right mindset if it plans to extend its playoff life.

It was also designed to ruffle a few feathers in Hawks-ville.

So here's Wade, unplugged, from Thursday's media session. Wade Headhurt

(On Hawks radio broadcaster Steve Holman, who berated Wade throughout Wednesday's broadcast and referred to the Heat as a bunch of "street thugs") WADE: "Us? That's why he don't work in Miami. That's why he works in Atlanta - to make them feel good."

(On Jamaal "Big Cat" Magloire stepping in to defend Wade after the hard foul from Solomon Jones) WADE: "That's Big Cat. I know if I go down to the beach and eat right now, and somebody comes to mess with me, Big Cat is going to come out of nowhere. I loved him from Day 1 when we signed him. He's been that force we needed."

(On how he's dealing with soreness in his head, back and shoulder) WADE: "I'm feeling better. I'm at the point where whatever is bothering me, it doesn't really matter at this point. I'm moving on from my injuries."

Mario West (On Hawks guard Mario West celebrating after he forced Wade to miss a shot at the halftime buzzer) WADE: "His celebration for his one stop? What is this game coming to? One thing I go back to is something my high school coach always told me. Act like you've done something before. He used to hate when I used to dunk and pound my chest all the time. Win lose or draw, you have to be classy. There are some unprofessional things that (the Hawks) have to take care of. On the court, you show emotion, and that's great. But celebrating after one stop? That's funny."

(More on Hawks guard Mario West, because Wade was on a roll) WADE: "I don't know what it was a sign of. I was laughing after the fact because I've never seen that before. Tony Allen did that the other night when he stopped Ben Gordon from hitting a shot to win the game. That's what you do. But we're not here to point out every little thing they do. Who cares?"

(On his flagrant foul on Mo Evans in Game 5 that was rescinded by the league Thursday) WADE: "If anybody knows basketball and looks at the play, they'll know I didn't even come close to trying to hurt him. I'm not that guy. I'll take a hard foul. But that one, I went straight for the ball. At that time in the game, in one instant, I'm not understanding why they called it. But looking back, I can see why they called it because they thought the game was getting out of hand. But (Atlanta) got two free throws and the ball for something that didn't happen. That hurt our momentum."

(On the officiating and series becoming a physical slugfest) WADE: "Each game has been different. Some games, they let you go, they let you fight. Some games, if you breathe on a guy, it's a foul. We have to go in and play and don't worry about what the call is going to be."

(On calling out rookies Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers - or not) WADE: "Tomorrow is going to   show a lot - to see if our guys really feel it. If it seems like I'm calling them out, I'm not calling them out. Mike and Mario  But I want to see our young guys play like it's Game 6 of the playoffs. If Rio (Chalmers) says he won a national championship (at Kansas), well, I want to see him play like it. I want to see Michael (No. 2 overall draft pick), play like it. It's not about making shots. It's about your intensity, your focus."

(On his approach to an elimination game. Should he come out swinging or defer early?) WADE: "It's a tough position to be in. I don't want to come out and shoot my team out of it or shoot us into it. I want it to be a total team effort. I'm not the kind of guy that feels like I have to do everything. Success comes from team success. Hopefully, we can go out and play our normal game."

(On things getting testy between the teams) WADE: "It was one of those games, one of those playoff series. It's just about, do we have the team to come back and fight as much as (Atlanta's) going to fight? Zaza Pachulia is knocking people out. It's as simple as that. ZaZa I'm not telling my teammates to knock him out. But when he comes down the paint, just make sure he feels us. We're not a team that's playing dirty. We're the team that wants to play smarter and protect ourselves as well."

(And one more good dig at Mario West, just for good measure) WADE: "First off, I have nothing simmering with Mario. He's not been a factor in the series. (He's) irrelevant to me. I have nothing brewing with him at all."

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @

Saturday, April 25, 2009

U Don't Doubt Udonis, Do U?

If Udonis Haslem can accept it, everyone else probably should as well.

The Heat's gritty, tough, never-back-down, clutch power forward knows that he no longer has exclusive rights to the power forward position in the Heat's rotation. UD-Beasley

He knows rookie Michael Beasley is just as important to the team's overall success - behind Dwyane Wade, of course - as just about anyone else on the team.

Haslem accepts that there's now a legitimate 1-2 punch at the position, where he's started for the past several seasons. But therein lies Haslem's humility and leadership as a co-captain on the team.

Read more about Haslem's key role in the playoffs here, in today's story written by George Richards, our hockey writer who is helping out on the Heat beat through the rest of the playoffs.

Haslem enters Game 3 against the Hawks later today in position to move up on several of the franchise's career lists in the record book.

Haslem needs one more field goal to tie Jamal Mashburn (159) for fifth on the Heat's all-time playoff list.

He needs one more offensive rebound to pass Shaquille O'Neal for second place, and 27 more to tie Alonzo Mourning (137) for the all-time lead.

He needs one more double-figure scoring game to move into a tie for seventh place on the playoff list, and one more start to tie Mourning for second in the playoffs.

UD Blood Simply put: the man has put in work with little to no fanfare. He's bled for this franchise. He's carried the rebounding load this season on a really bad back. And he's fine with that.

Say what you will about Haslem's days being numbered in Miami as a starter at the position. He knows his place. He knows the franchise appreciates his efforts.

Yes, with Haslem entering the final season of his contract, Beasley appears to be the present at the position. He might not even be the most talented player on the team at his position. But there's no question that he's the heart and soul of the team.

So don't write UD off just yet.  

Then again, go ahead and do it. It's been done before.

Yet, here he stands. Again and again and again.

The day when Haslem is no longer a key member of this franchise or highly appreciated by the fans is a day a lot of folks might soon come to regret.

(For live news, notes and updates on the Heat, follow me on Twitter @

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Planes, Trains and (Taxi) Automobiles

Now that the Heat has been safely transported back to Miami having secured homecourt advantage with a 1-1 Wade-Hawks playoff series split in Atlanta, I'm now wondering which method of transportation was the biggest key to Wednesday's stunning Game 2 victory.

Let's start with the plane.

On a night when there was no lack of motivation around the team - from coach Erik Spoelstra's Tupac-style challenge to his team's pride on the locker room game board, to Dwyane Wade telling joking teammates to "shut up and get focused" - perhaps the biggest boost came from Alonzo Mourning.

It was Mourning who boarded a flight from Miami to Atlanta with the sole purpose of delivering a message to Wade in the team's hotel before the game. Zo apparently went to Wade's room for a heart-to-heart. Wade-ZO The miracle in the equation, considering Zo's gift for gab once he gets going, is that Wade made it out of there in time for the game.

"I told D. Wade I could be on the golf course right now, but I didn't like what I saw in Game 1," Mourning said in TNT and Sun Sports interviews during the Game 2 broadcasts. "The team feeds off his energy, regardless. He's proven to be a great defensive player, and he needs to show that."

Then, there's the train.

Somehow, Wade managed to leave the hotel super early to get to Philips Arena to work out several hours before the game. Wade has done this before after he's had a bad game. And while a 19-point playoff effort might be worth celebrating for anyone else on the roster, it was a sub-par Game 1 offering from Mr. No. 3.

But Wade managed to get to the arena in time to beat the afternoon train that passes through the loading dock area outside the bowels of Philips Arena. That same train would hold up more than a few cars attempting to get to the arena later in the day.

Perhaps Wade might have turned around and headed back to the hotel had he been stuck in traffic to long. Then, that three-point shooting display he put on (6 of 10) en route to Wednesday's 33-point outburst might never have happened.

Which brings us to the automobile.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra added more intrigue to what might become a legendary Wade story on Thursday, when he revealed that Wade and sidekick Daequan Cook took a taxi to get to the arena early to work on their shooting before Game 2. It resulted in both of them setting playoff career highs by Taxi making 6 treys on a night when the Heat set a franchise playoff record by making 15 overall. It was also the first time in playoff history that two players on the same team each made at least six threes in the same game.

Just imagine Wade hopping in a taxi in downtown Atlanta and telling the driver to take him to the arena - and the driver actually getting him there in one piece without taking him the scenic route.

Shouldn't he have ended up on a backstreet in Bankhead?

That's how it probably would have played out in New York, had the Heat played the Knicks.

Wade wouldn't dare step into a cab in Dallas, where his photo is still on Most Wanted Lists for that assault he committed against the Mavericks three years ago in the Finals.

That might tell you something about Atlanta as a sports town.  

Thanks to a credible cabbie, an inspired Alonzo and a timely train, it was just meant to be Wade's night against the Hawks. 

It might just prove to be the tipping point in the series. 

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