Friday, April 15, 2016

Armed with a mouthful of veneers and a new smile, Goran Dragic may finally give a mouth guard a try

Goran Dragic made a quick visit to his dentist's office on Thursday.

And by quick I mean he didn't have to wait long. 

His dentist already had the replacement made for the tooth Dragic lost in Detroit Tuesday night. 

Why? Because it's the same tooth he's lost before.

"Last time I was there they took my color and matched it with the other teeth," Dragic said. "So they already had them ready to go. They knew I was coming. Doc said you make my job easier because your tooth is already gone."

The Heat's starting point guard said he's lost about five teeth playing basketball. In all, he says the six front teeth in his mouth have all been replaced with porcelain veneers. 

"It's always a big deal the first time you lose one because those are my real teeth. When you lose one it hurts. You say 'Oh my God.' But I've been so many times to the dentist I'm already used to it," Dragic said. "So, it's another day in the park. You go and buzzzzz. Now, it's veneers."

Dragic went through practice Friday in preparation for Game 1 of the playoffs with a mouth guard.

Unlike others he's had in the past, Dragic said this one is thinner. So, he may actually use it in a game. He said the bigger mouth guards don't allow him to breathe right.

Said Dragic: "I want to look good man when I smile on TV."

Monday, March 28, 2016

Goran Dragic (fever) out for Heat Monday vs. Nets

The Heat will be without starting point guard Goran Dragic tonight against the visiting Brooklyn Nets.

"He started to get a fever last night," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He feels a little bit better but not much."

Asked who he was going to start in Dragic's place, Spoelstra sarcastically answered: "I'm going to go through my depth chart of point guards and I'm going to go with my next one."

Of course, there's not much selection beyond Dragic. Rookie combo guard Josh Richardson is the only other healthy point guard available.

Spoelstra will obviously have to play Dwyane Wade at the point some and use other players like forward Josh McRoberts in a ball-handling type role.

"We have enough for tonight," Spoelstra said. "We have a lot of guys that can do multiple things and you can't understate that. We feel we have enough to cover the ball handling and it might come from a different way than the point guard position."

Dragic has played in every game since he came back from a strained calf muscle on Jan. 29 and hes really thrived since the All-Star break.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

How Goran Dragic tried to dunk, lost the ball in midair and settled for a layup because of a flat tire

Goran Dragic went for it. 

With 9:35 to play in Saturday night's blowout of the Cavaliers, he stole the ball from Matthew Dellavedova and had the basket all to himself. Dragic, who hasn't dunked all season, measured his steps for a throwdown. But alas, midair, he came up short and settled for a layup.

Afterward, Dragic had a good laugh.

""I was thinking to dunk it and I just didn't get it," Dragic said. "It was a flat tire. I was relieved when I saw the ball went in.

"Everybody [on the bench] stoop up. They thought I was going to dunk it."

Will we ever see a Dragic dunk?

"I think it's possible," rookie Josh Richardson said. "He gets a lot of fast breaks because of great anticipation. He had a flat tire. It happens to the best of us. I remember it happened to me against LSU last year. It isn't fun."

At least Goran has a good attitude about it.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Where is Hassan Whiteside improving the most? Knowing when to take his jumper and setting screens

Hassan Whiteside's numbers since the All-Star break are an eye-opening.

He's averaged 21.7 points and an NBA-leading 18 rebounds and 3.3 blocks over a three-game stretch. His 60-plus points and 50-plus rebounds in three games off the bench is something that hasn't been done in the NBA since Charles Barkley did it back in 1986.

But those are just numbers.

Where has Whiteside made his most strides as a player? At least two places, Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic said Friday, knowing when to take his jump shot and establishing a better connection with his point guard. 

After Dragic assisted Whiteside on only 22 baskets before the All-Star break (they played 39 games together), the two have already hooked up for six Dragic to Whiteside assists since the break.

"We're finally getting some chemistry and it feels good," Dragic said. "We were joking around the other day that we're going slow. Every game it's one lob and hopefully by the end of the season we get two or three lobs a game. That would be awesome."

Dragic, who was critical of Whiteside's screen setting earlier in the season, said Whiteside has improved in that area too.

"He's reading the situation right now, especially the way the defense is playing," Dragic said. "If they're forcing me down, he's changing the angle of the screen and it's much easier for me. It's open lanes and I can do my stuff."

After making only 36.5 percent of his jump shots (35 of 96) before the break, Whiteside is 9 of 17 (52.9%) in his first three games since the break. Sure, that's not a large sample size. But where Wade said Whiteside is improving is when he takes those shots. 

"Last year, it was 'Oh my God he's taking it.' Then he started hitting it," Wade said. "So, now, it's all about [when in the shot clock] to take it. That's the one thing we've been working on. If we come down the court with 18 seconds left and you throw it to him to him because he's open and he shoots it, that may not be the one. But you run your offense, you get it around, do different things, get it back to him and there's seven seconds left that could be the one. We all know he has great touch to shoot."

Friday, February 19, 2016

Wade a game-time decision Friday for shorthanded Heat; Dragic ready to 'be more myself, more attack mode'

ATLANTA -- Dwyane Wade went through shoot around Friday morning at Georgia Tech's practice facility, coach Erik Spoelstra said, but remains a game-time decision for tonight's game against the Atlanta Hawks.

Wade, whom the Heat said would meet with the media pregame, said Thursday in Miami he was dealing with soreness in his knee. 

"Going through practice today, behind my knee got a little sore," Wade said Thursday. "So [Thursday's practice] has just been more precaution, not try to make it flare up even more. Do a lot of treatment today, and hopefully be fine tomorrow."

The Heat are already without leading scorer Chris Bosh (blood clot) and center Hassan Whiteside, who is serving a one-game suspension. Right before Thursday's 3 p.m. trade deadline, Miami shipped off newly acquired point guard Brian Roberts to Portland and forward Jarnell Stokes to New Orleans in order to get under the luxury tax threshold. Stokes was already released by the Pelicans Friday morning.

So, the Heat (29-24) are essentially down to 10 available players tonight against the Hawks. Being shorthanded, Spoelstra said, is something the Heat got used to anyway in the first half when Goran Dragic and others were out.

"We feel we have a chance regardless of CB and Hassan being out," he said. "That's what we've been dealing with anyway for the last six weeks. We've found ways to win games on the road with guys missing. It's more about your mentality of really showing a collective grit."


If Wade, Miami's second-leading scorer (18.7 points per game) doesn't play Friday, a heavy burden figures to fall on Dragic to score more than he has all season. It already was going to be that way anyway with Bosh out. 

Dragic, averaging just 12.2 points per game (down from 16.6 he averaged last year after being acquired from Phoenix), said Friday he's ready to be more aggressive on the offensive end. 

"Coach wants me to push the ball, try to score more," he said. "It's not only me. It's everybody. [Luol Deng], Gerald [Green]. Bosh gave us 20 points a game, nine rebounds and I don't know how many assists. We need to make it up and just be ourselves, play our game and play good defense like we did in the first 50 games, and now try to find open shots for other guys."

Dragic said he knew the number of his shot attempts were going to go down this season with Bosh back in the lineup (the two never played together last year after Bosh was hospitalized with clots in his lungs). But, Dragic also admitted the offensive system with Bosh, him and Wade was "different than what I expected."

"Of course, when you look my shots went down, my numbers went down. But like I said, I was not worried about that because we were winning," Dragic said. "Of course you need to make everybody happy -- especially CB, D-Wade -- everybody needs to get involved. I was expecting that. I didn't come here to average 25, 20 points a game. I came here just to be in games. Of course now when CB is out, I need to step in and try to be more myself and score."

Dragic has scored 20 points or more only three times this season: in wins over the Magic and Suns and in a loss at home to the Wizards. He's taken at least 10 shots in 32 of his 44 games, but his overall field goal attempts (10.6 per game) were down before the All-Star break compared to last year in the second half when he played with the Heat and Bosh was out (12.4 shots per game).

"Now I can be more myself, more attack mode and try to score," Dragic said of what he'll have to give the Heat with Bosh out. "Like I said, just play, be loose and try to help the team. Before it was different. We had CB. He's an All-Star, D-Wade. There were so many players who could score. We had a system so we had to play like that."

Dragic insists he can play in that system with Wade and Bosh and be effective. He also said he felt like strides were being made as the Heat was nearing the All-Star break. 

> Spoelstra offered no health updates on Bosh, who was in Boston meeting with doctors Thursday.

> What did Spoelstra think of the Heat's moves to shed salary before the trade deadline and get under the luxury tax threshold instead of adding pieces for a playoff run? 

"In terms of the business side of basketball, considering everything, the moves we made yesterday were organizationally responsible," he said. "Those absolutely were responsible to make. That doesn't mean any of those moves are easy. But, considering everything right now, flexibility is very important to us and we have that flexibility."

> With Miami shorthanded in the frontcourt is Amar'e Stoudemire ready to play 40 minutes Friday?

"Man, I haven't played 40 minutes in forever," he said. "I don't know if I've got it in me. We'll see."

Stoudemire hasn't played more than 30 minutes in a game since he was with the Knicks back on Dec. 18, 2014.

Since joining the Heat's starting lineup on Jan. 22, he's averaged 7.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 19.6 minutes in those 10 starts. He hasn't played more than 25 minutes, 36 seconds he gave the Heat in Chicago Jan. 25.


Monday, February 15, 2016

What makes sense and what doesn't when it comes to trade speculation and the Heat

The NBA trade deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m. and the rumor mill involving the Heat began spinning a little harder Monday.

First, New York Daily News NBA writer Frank Isola reported that Dwight Howard could be moved by Thursday's trade deadline and that Miami was talking with the Rockets about a deal that would include center Hassan Whiteside

Then, later in the afternoon, Houston-based radio reporter Adam Spolane said the Hawks were also are involved in the Heat/Rockets discussions and Miami had discussed sending Goran Dragic as part of that deal, with Al Horford and Jeff Teague coming to Miami. 

All of that made for great radio and lots of fun on Twitter and on ESPN's NBA trade machine.

But does any of it make any sense?

Here are a few things you need to remember first before you dive headfirst into all Heat trade chatter:

> Even though Heat president Pat Riley, 70, told TNT last week he wants to win now and he's "getting too old to win down the road," the Heat are $20.2 million over the salary cap, $5.6 million over the luxury tax threshold (Miami is trying to avoid becoming a repeat tax offender) and don't have much in the way of assets that could net them a significant weapon in return unless Miami is willing to part ways with Luol Deng (he's a free agent in 2016-17), Dragic (he's due another $70.2 million over the next four seasons) or rookie Justise Winslow.

> Although Miami is willing to listen to offers for everyone except All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, parting with Winslow at this point would be mortgaging the future again. The Heat has already traded three first round picks (2016 to Philadelphia; 2018 and 2021 to Phoenix) and four second round picks (2016 and 2020 to Boston; 2017 to Atlanta; 2019 to Minnesota) and doesn't have much in the way of young talent outside of Winslow.

> Center Hassan Whiteside, meanwhile, while an intriguing prospect for any team to take a shot on, is making only $981,000. Not only would the Heat need to include other players in the trade to make it work under the salary cap financially, but those other teams could be asked by the Heat to take on a bad contract -- like Josh McRoberts (who is due $11.7 million combined over the next two seasons) -- to complete the deal. Most teams probably won't be willing to do that.

Further complicating a Whiteside trade, any team that acquires him from the Heat would still deal with the same financial contstraints Miami would if it kept him. Because Whiteside doesn't have full Bird rights, any team that tries to sign him next year when he becomes a free agent has try and fit him under their salary cap. If Whiteside had Bird Rights, the team that had him could go over the cap to keep him. So, essentially, whatever team trades for Whiteside has to know ahead of time they've got the money to resign him and -- perhaps even bigger than that -- that they trust his previous mishaps on the court aren't going to be long-term problems.


Now, aside from all that, the Heat, sitting fifth in the Eastern Conference at 29-24, are at a bit of a crossroads.

While Wade, 34, and Bosh, who turns 32 on March 24, have played at an All-Star level to this point, they are aging. And now Bosh, who was sidelined by blood clots in his lung after the All-Star Break last season, has been sidelined again by a right calf strain, the same injury that essentially started his blood clot troubles last year.

Even with both of them healthy, it's clear this Miami team doesn't have enough three-point shooting (32.3%, 28th in league) or offense (96.0 points per game, 29th in NBA) on the roster to make a serious, deep run in the playoffs.

So Riley could opt to make a small trade and net a three-point shooter like Omri Casspi of the Kings (likely for someone like the injured Tyler Johnson) and hope that Miami somehow catches fire in the playoffs.

Then, the Heat, who have only six players signed and $48 million tied down for next season (Bosh, Dragic, McRoberts, Winslow, Jarnell Stokes and Josh Richardson), wait until free agency this summer when the salary cap expands by roughly $19-20 million, resign Wade (he told our Barry Jackson last week he wants to come back to the Heat) and make a run at a few of the top unrestricted free agents.

Those are: Kevin Durant, DeMar DeRozan, Al Horford, Pau Gasol, Nicolas Batum, Mike Conley or (gulp) Rajon Rondo.

But if Riley can't sit idle and feels he has to swing for the fences to give Wade and Bosh a real chance this season he could opt to make one of those trades reported earlier today.

Here's why those deals could make some sense and why they don't:


If the Heat trades Whiteside to the Rockets for Howard ($22.3 million this season), they'll obviously have to include either Deng (making $10.1 million this season and a free agent in 2016) or Dragic (he's in the first year of a five-year, $85 million deal) and someone else like Chris Andersen ($5 million this year) or Josh McRoberts (due $11.7 million combined over next two seasons) to make it work financially. The Rockets might also ask for Winslow in order to take on McRoberts.

The pluses: Riley could probably rid himself of McRoberts' contract (he's signed through 2017-18) and do away with any more worries about Whiteside (some would say a win for the Heat) while also teaming Bosh and Wade up with a better offensive center for a playoff run. Howard (due $23.7 million in 2016-17) could then opt out after this season, become a free agent, and that's only going to put Miami further under the cap to make a hard run at Durant.

The minuses: Howard, 30, is on the decline. If Miami trades Dragic to get the deal done they put themselves in the same spot they were in before acquiring him -- needing a point guard in free agency. They'll also have to depend on Beno Udrih to guide them through the playoffs. The Rockets don't have any point guards to send Miami back in a trade that would fit under the cap. Patrick Beverley is making $6.4 million and Ty Lawson is making $12.4. If the trade involves Deng, it makes more sense for Miami, but doesn't seem to be a great fit for Houston.


The trade that seemingly makes more sense for everyone involved is the one that sends Horford and Teague to the Heat, Howard, an Atlanta native, to the Hawks and Dragic, Whiteside and Andersen to the Rockets.

The pluses: The Heat get an All-Star in Horford, who could team up very well with Bosh in the frontcourt and would probably resign with the Heat in the off-season. The cheaper Teague (he's due $8 million this year and next) replaces Dragic, who hasn't necessarily clicked in this Heat offense. Miami has more money under the cap next season and flexibility in the future.

The minuses: None really except you are admitting the Dragic deal didn't work and are minus two first round picks for it. In the end, the Hawks seem to be losing out more than anybody. They are getting something for Horford who they could lose in free agency, but are giving up a quality starting NBA point guard and strengthening and helping a division rival. That last part is what doesn't really make sense here. Howard could opt out of his contract and sign in Atlanta anyway and replace Horford and the Hawks could keep Teague or use him in another trade to net something more.

Friday, January 29, 2016

On verge of comeback, Goran Dragic's next challenge is to rekindle his chemistry with Dwyane Wade

After the Heat lost at Toronto last Friday, Dwyane Wade told Goran Dragic he probably missed him more than his own wife did. 

The Heat had lost five of its previous six games to that point without its starting point guard and was averaging only 84.7 points per game (10 fewer than anybody else in the NBA) and 18.2 turnovers per game (most in the league). And Wade himself had been ailing, the result of sore shoulders. 

But fast forward a week, and the Heat and Wade are no longer struggling. Miami has won two in a row. And with backup point guard Beno Udrih healthy again and running the point, Miami has averaged 95.5 points (the Heat was averaging 97.1 before Dragic was hurt) and only 12 turnovers a game (less than 13.7 it averaged before Dragic was hurt).

Wade, meanwhile, has been on a tear. He's averaged 25.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.3 steals and shot 50.8 percent of the field over his last three games, the kind of numbers that prove that even at 34 he's still capable of playing at an elite level and worthy of the starting nod he received from fans for the All-Star Game.

So what's going to happen when Dragic likely returns Friday in Milwaukee? The Heat are hoping for more of the good stuff.

"It’ll be a good little jolt of energy," Wade said after Thursday's practice. "But nothing guarantees us anything."

That wasn't a shot at Dragic at all. It was really just honesty from Wade about the state of inconsistency this Heat team has shown throughout the season even when its fully healthy.

You might remember the first month and half to two months of the season when Wade and Dragic never really seemed to be on the same page offensively. Before Christmas, the Heat's starting backcourt was a collective minus-4 on the court together (the sixth best two-man lineup on the team) and the Heat put up only 48.9 points and 10 assists in the 24 minutes they averaged together.

But in the 11 games Wade and Dragic played together beginning with the Christmas Day win over the Pelicans, Wade and Dragic were a collective plus-12 and the Heat averaged 55.1 points and 11.5 assists in the 27.4 minutes they averaged on the court together. So, Wade and Dragic were not only playing better together, but coach Erik Spoelstra was keeping them on the court together more too.

Now the question becomes: Can Wade and Dragic rekindle that recent chemistry again? And, can Dragic get back into the comfort zone he was in collectively with his teammates? 

“We’ve got to start from scratch. Not totally from scratch, but kind of from scratch," Chris Bosh said of the Heat's rhythm with Dragic at the point. "He’s going to have to get his feet back under him, but things are going to work. I’ve said that since the beginning of the season. I truly believe that this team is going to be a very good team, if not a great team. That part’s on us. But it’s there for us."

Spoelstra agrees.

"Right when Goran went down, that was the most [comfortable] he had been playing," he said. "The two of those guys getting on the same page, that was probably the best it’s been. But it took a lot of work to get to that point, and I think they’ll get that back quickly.”

Dragic, who has been focused on his conditioning over the last two full practices he's participated in, said Thursday he expects to jump back in and run the offense just fine. He says he's been "going through the motions" on the sideline even when he hasn't been playing. And he said he's learned from his mistakes earlier in the season. When the time calls for it, Dragic said he knows he has to be aggressive.

“I think my main problem early in the season was that I was trying to get everybody involved and I didn’t play my game," Dragic said. "As soon as I figured out those things – that I can be myself in this offense and play with my teammates – then the offense was great. I still believe that I’m not going to have any problems coming back. I know the team, I know how D-Wade is playing. I don’t see any problems.”

With Dragic out, Wade certainly got to play with the ball in his hands more.

When Dragic was running the point through Jan. 11, Wade was averaging 57.5 touches, 3.7 minutes of possession and 18.5 points per game to Dragic's 80.8 touches, 6.4 minutes of possession and 12.3 points per game. With Dragic out, Wade's touches increased to 66 touches per game (Udrih averaged 75.5), 4.9 minutes of possession (Udrih was 5.5) and 19.5 points per game.

Will Wade be able to slip back into that mode where he's touching the ball less again?  As long as he doesn't have to run the point -- as he had to at times with Dragic and Udrih out -- Wade seems fine with it. Plus, he'll get to rest a little more with the added depth in the backcourt. 

"It’s going to be great," Wade said. "We get to have our starting point guard back. Who doesn’t want that? He’s someone who can play and score 16-20 points a game when things are right. So I look forward to him coming back out there and getting in the groove.”

Longtime NBA writer Rick Braun attended Thursday's practice in Milwaukee and provided the quotes for this blog. Braun will be covering Friday's game for The Miami Herald.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Source: MRI reveals Goran Dragic has a mild calf strain, not a bad one

LOS ANGELES -- The news regarding Goran Dragic's badly strained left calf might have been a little exaggerated. 

A source said Dragic's MRI results Thursday in Miami revealed a Grade 1 mild calf strain and not the bad strain Dragic told reporters he thought he had after being examined in Los Angeles Tuesday. The news of Dragic's MRI results were first reported by Yahoo! and later confirmed by The Miami Herald.

Dragic will miss at least a week, the source said, before being reevaluated. So, that means Dragic, who missed Wednesday's 104-90 loss to the Clippers, probably won't play Tuesday at home against the Bucks or Wednesday night in Washington when the Heat begins another five-game road trip.

Last season, Chris Bosh had a mild calf strain and missed two weeks and a total of eight games.

The Heat (22-17) sorely missed Dragic in Wednesday's loss, committing a season-high 24 turnovers.

"We kind of took for granted how much Goran actually does getting guys in the right spots," said Tyler Johnson, who along with Beno Udrih split the point guard duties with Dragic out. "Playing hard for me isn't the problem it's getting everybody else organized. On my end, I did a poor job of that. Nobody knows what we're running and we're trying to beat a good team like that, whose won nine straight, it's not going to happen. I have to look at myself. I got extended minutes with Goran being out. Obviously we were out of sync, but it starts with the point guard."

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Can the Heat survive without Goran Dragic? Dwyane Wade isn't sure

LOS ANGELES -- Goran Dragic will be taking a flight home sometime today to get both an MRI and treatment on his badly strained left calf and the Miami Heat nor Dragic are sure how long he'll be out. 

So, can the Heat survive if its starting point guard is out for a significant amount of time? 

“I don't know. I really don't,” Dwyane Wade said. “We'll see man. I think we'll be fine. We're going to miss what he brings especially in transition and in attack. Hopefully what the other guys bring -- it's not going to be Goran -- but its effective enough and it helps our team."

Wade is coming of a season-high 11 assists in Monday’s loss. So, he can do plenty of facilitating. But the Heat will miss Dragic’s scoring ability for sure.

“I play the game the same,” Wade said when asked if he’ll try and fill in for the loss of Dragic’s offense playmaking and scoring. “Some nights I come out really facilitate. Some nights I come out and really attack. Some nights I do both at the same time. I think its moreso going to be on Beno and how he approaches the game and what he feels he needs to do to get guys going, but also be aggressive because he can score the basketball. We need that position to be able to score as well. It will be more so on those guys than myself or Chris [Bosh]."

As it stands, it looks like veteran Beno Udrih will replace Dragic in the starting lineup with second-year combo guard Tyler Johnson coming off the bench and playing more minutes.

After struggling through November (10.6 points, 4.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds), Dragic had begun to find his footing more in the Heat’s offense. Over his last 15 games, he’s scored in double figures in all but three of those games and averaged 14.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and five assists.

“Everyone deals with injuries, but it’s unfortunate,” Wade said. "I think Goran was starting to figure it out a little bit more what he needs to do, what's expected of him, figuring out the Eastern Conference.

"Like I said the other day, I was excited coming on this Western Conference trip because this is his backyard. To not have him these next couple games it's going to be a little different. But that's why Tyler Johnson is here and Beno [Udrih]. They're going to do a good job of stepping up and filling in."

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

So what did the Heat get out of a hard-fought loss to the defending champion Warriors? A little perspective

LOS ANGELES -- Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh haven't forgotten what it's like to be the NBA's measuring stick. It wasn't long ago that opponents were coming after them hard because they were the defending champions or the best team in the league.

So, after Monday night's hard fought 111-103 loss to the Warriors, a game in which Golden State never really could put Miami away until very late, naturally, there was a little time to sit back and analyze what 48 good minutes against the best team meant. 

The good: the Heat (22-16) knows if they can show up focused and play like they did against a team that is 36-2 the way they did, they really can compete at the game's highest level and beat most other teams in the league. 

"If we have it here, that shows us we can be in the game anywhere we play," Bosh said. "That's what's most important right now."

The bad: even when Golden State shot 7 of 23 from three-point range and below average (47.7%) from the field, the Heat still never really had a shot at the end, and Miami left wondering why they haven't had this kind of effort in games more consistently.

Mostly, though, Wade and Bosh left with a feeling of 'Remember when we were those guys, the dominant power in the league, the measuring stick?' It wasn't so much jealousy as it was an appreciation for what the Heat used to be.

"I was talking to [Andre] Iguodala at the end of the game and I told him 'Enjoy it, don't take it for granted," Wade said. "Me, Chris, UD and Bird have been there before. When it's going, it's going. Enjoy it.

Said Bosh: "Me and D was talking about it. Man, I remember that look -- just their poise on the court. They stay calm. They have the ultimate confidence in their game. And it's like, 'Damn I miss it.' It takes five guys. That's what we're working to get back to right now. Those guys just have to enjoy the ups and the downs and just enjoy the ride because one day you'll be trying to fight to get back in."

And that's really where the Heat are today at the midway point of the season. They're fighting to be a contender -- and they don't really know what they have. Some nights they show up and play their best. Other nights, they play down to their competition.

"I don't know how else to put it," Goran Dragic responded when asked if the Heat's biggest problem this season is maintaining concentration. "Every time we play against a good team we're always ready. We always play. We always focus. But then we play teams that on paper we should beat and I would not say we take it easy, but it's in our head. We relax a little bit. I think that's our problem right now."

Meanwhile, the Warriors, even when they aren't at their best, remain an almost unbeatable machine. Collectively, the Warriors starting lineup -- Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut and Brandon Rush -- were minus-five on the court in their 15 minutes together. The Heat's starting lineup of Bosh, Wade, Dragic, Justise Winslow and Luol Deng was minus 2 in 10 minutes together. So, the Heat's starters were actually a little bit better than Golden State's.

But in the end, man, those Warriors could fly and cause trouble any time Miami's defense slipped even a little. If Wade drove to the basket and hit the floor, Thompson was off and running, setting up for a shot or driving in for a layup. If Dragic argued a call that wasn't made by an official, Green or Curry were already halfway down the court, setting up for more points.

"There were a couple times when you just made one mistake and man they made us pay for it," Bosh said. "We didn't come up with one rebound and it bounces right to Klay Thompson of all guys. Now, I know they've got a lot of shooters -- but not one of those two guys. That's just how it goes. We screw up one possession with Steph and he makes you pay with a two dribble, pull up three. I mean, nobody else does that. They're just so unique, it's really tough to lock in on just one guy. You've got Draymond making plays, pushing the ball up the floor. They race up the floor. Their split action is very, very tough to guard. They get that ball moving and you kind of loose sight of your man. It's tough. It's very tough."

How tough? Bosh kept going into detail.

"Draymond gets the rebound and he's pretty much the point guard," Bosh said. "He just kind of gets it and pushes it. He's kind of fast. It's like 'Damn.' He's aggressive in that open court. Defensively, you've just got to take the first guy. But then he goes, kicks it and they're shooting that shot. You have to have urgency as soon as the ball goes up. Even Bogut. He's so unique. He challenges the shot, but before Draymond gets the rebound he's taking off. It's so unorthodox. I've never seen that before. It was a couple times where Bogut took off and he had the utmost confidence they were going to get the rebound. Goran had him. I start sprinting. By the time I notice, Steph Curry has the ball. And we both run to Steph and now he's hitting Bogut. It's crazy. Everybody can make plays. I've never seen that before."

That's when Wade cuts in: "Because nobody had the personnel."

Bosh continues: "... When everybody is 6-6 and can put the ball on the floor and shoot it and play post defense and move the ball and shoot..."

Wade jumps in again: "And you've got a 6-9 point guard."

Bosh then settles back into his seat. 

"It sucks a little bit," Bosh responded when asked if playing really well against the Warriors and still losing by eight points can be demoralizing. "You just have to know who you're playing. They're the champs."



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