Friday, October 21, 2016

Bovada's prop bets for the Miami Heat

Miami Heat Regular Season Player Props                   

Will Chris Bosh play a game in the NBA during the 2016-2017 Regular Season?

Yes      +350     (7/2)

No        -600     (1/6)

2016-2017 Regular Season - Total Points - Goran Dragic         

Over/Under                   17.5                    

2016-2017 Regular Season - Total Assists - Goran Dragic        

Over/Under                   5.5       

2016-2017 Regular Season - Total Points - Hassan Whiteside

Over/Under                   17                 

2016-2017 Regular Season - Total Rebounds - Hassan Whiteside

Over/Under                   12.5

2016-2017 Regular Season - Total Blocks – Hassan Whiteside             

Over/Under                   3.4

2016-2017 Regular Season - Total Points - Dion Waiters

Over/Under                   11.5        

2016-2017 Regular Season - Total Points – Justise Winslow

Over/Under                   10.5

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Hassan Whiteside to miss Tuesday's game vs. Magic after the death of his great grandmother

Hassan Whiteside will not play Tuesday night against the Orlando Magic and has returned home to North Carolina to be with his family following the death of his great grandmother. 

Hassan Whiteside"He's going through some tough times. But we're there for him," teammate Goran Dragic said Monday. "I can't wait to see him back."

Whiteside will rejoin the Heat on Thursday when the team plays at Charlotte, coach Erik Spoelstra said. 

Miami will also likely be without forwards Justise Winslow (back) and Luke Babbitt (groin) when it faces the Magic at 7:30 p.m. AmericanAirlines Arena Tuesday.

Spoelstra said Winslow would be a game-time decision and that Babbitt would get the night off for precautionary reasons after going through shoot-around on Tuesday. Winslow is the only Heat player that has started all five games this preseason.

"If it was his decision he would play," Spoelstra said of Babbitt. "But we want to give it another night."

Spoelstra said he feels like he's seen enough of the Heat through it's first five preseason games to not have to worry so much about studying rotations and instead can put health and well-being at the forefront of concerns.

Miami opens the season Oct. 26 in Orlando and wraps up the preseason with back-to-back games Thursday at Charlotte and at home Friday against the Philadelphia 76ers.  

"I think we're still going to move forward with the plan that we've had," Spoelstra said. "It also depends on who is available. I'd like to get guys as many reps to build that continuity. But I don't I feel like I need to have an official dress rehearsal. I just want to continue to have us look at things and move forward. Three games will be good for us."

Monday, October 10, 2016

Observations from Monday night's scrimmage

The Heat wrapped up their annual Red, White & Pink scrimmage to raise money for the Miami Cancer Institute with the Red enjoying a 66-62 victory. 

Some news, notes and thoughts:

> Guard Dion Waiters sat out the game with some back soreness and is questionable to play in Tuesday's third preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets.

"He's been doing treatment all day," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He just has a slightly sore back. If he was really pressed to go he probably could have. We just want to make sure he doesn't make it worse. So, we'll just see how he feels tomorrow."

> Veteran point guard Beno Udrih, who went through a full contact practice for the first time in two weeks on Monday, looked good running the Heat's offense. He had five assists in the third quarter alone and finished with 8 points, 7 assists and 3 turnovers. As long as he stays healthy there's a reason for Spoelstra and the Heat to keep him on the roster. 

"He's crafty. He's a veteran, experienced point guard," Spoelstra said. "So when you're dealing with new players and some young players that's is an important skill set to bring to the table. He can get your team organized. He doesn't feel pressure. He tends to make the right plays at the right time and gets the ball where it needs to go. He's the kind of guy, he's played 13 years and the pace that he plays he can be out two weeks and then all of a sudden throw him in there and he's lost a step. It's the pace he plays."

> Center Hassan Whiteside once again lead the Heat in scoring (16), rebounds (11) and blocks (3) and showed lots of energy.

"He's been coming out with a great energy," Spoelstra said. "I really like seeing that. He's doing it on both ends of the court for two games in a row and in camp for two weeks. He's been as fast as anybody and he's been able to sustain that for whatever minutes we play him. I've been taking him out just to get in the rotations. I haven't taken him out for anything close to fatigue."

> Tyler Johnson had 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting and was more aggressive at shooting guard than he had been in his first two preseason games.

> Briante Weber turned in one of the more interesting stat lines with four points, 10 rebounds, six assists and one turnover. 

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Heat's first starting five has a surprise in it

WASHINGTON -- When the Heat decided to match the Brooklyn Nets' four-year, $50 million offer sheet to Tyler Johnson it raised a few eyebrows with the fan base.

A few more eyebrows were raised Tuesday night when we learned about 45 minutes before the Heat's preseason opener against the Wizards that Johnson -- and not Dion Waiters -- would be starting in the back court alongside point guard Goran Dragic.

The Heat's first starting five this preseason: Dragic, Johnson, Justise Winslow, Luke Babbitt and Hassan Whiteside

Babbitt starting is no surprise considering how much coach Erik Spoelstra has talked him up during camp, saying he wants the career 40.3 percent three-point shooter to feel like he always has the green light.

But Johnson is a little surprising. He is a career 37.8 percent three-point shooter -- so maybe that's Spoelstra's angle with this, get a pair of his best three-point shooters on the floor together.

Still, as much as the Heat refer to Johnson as a combo guard, the franchise has also been emphasizing to him how much they need him to develop his point guard skills. But one preseason game in at least, he'll be sharing the starting backcourt duties with Dragic. 

"I think it's big especially for this team," Johnson said pregame Tuesday of his need to develop his point guard skills. "That role's so wide open right now I know that it's something I've got to improve on. But I want to do it. It's just another challenge for me in my career."

Asked specifically pregame what his preferred approach would be to the backup point guard position -- whether it would be playing natural point guards Briante Weber or Beno Udrih -- or going with one of his combo guards, Spoelstra said: "Well, we do like the versatility of our group.

"Guys can play multiple positions," Spoelstra said. "Now those lines are becoming more gray every year. And with this lineup and this team that rings true as well. If you ask the guys, different guys are bringing it up. Different guys are getting us into offense. Different guys are playing on the wing or under the basket. So, it changes. All those guys will be available. I'll probably work Tyler some minutes there. But, Dion has been handling the ball quite a bit as well. That's what I mean, those lines are gray. Obviously for more traditional point guard play, that will come from Beno and Briante."

We'll be watching closely to see how this first preseason game plays out.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Will the Heat's first projected starting lineup be the same on opening night in Orlando? Maybe

WASHINGTON -- The Heat will open the preseason here at the Verizon Center Tuesday night and although coach Erik Spoelstra hasn't disclosed who will be starting against the Wizards, the team's media relations department released a projected starting lineup in its game notes.

Dion WaitersAs expected, point guard Goran Dragic, forward Justise Winslow and center Hassan Whiteside were in that group. The other two projected starters: guard Dion Waiters and forward Derrick Williams.

Waiters has started 110 games in his four-year career and unless he and Dragic struggle to mesh this preseason he's probably the guy who will be in the Heat's starting backcourt when Miami opens the regular season Oct. 26. Or, at least until Josh Richardson recovers from the sprained MCL in his right knee and pushes Waiters to get into the starting lineup.

While Wayne Ellington will get his shot to impress, he has to prove he can defend better than he has in the past. Opponents shot 3.5 percent better than they normally did last season when Ellington was guarding them. Waiters held the players he guarded to minus 0.5 percent below their season average. 

As for Williams, an athletic, former No. 2 overall pick who has started 101 games in his career, he's fighting for a position that ultimately seems wide open with three-point specialist Luke Babbitt (38 career starts) and defensive-minded James Johnson (140 career starts) the other real contenders. Basically, all three together equal what Chris Bosh gave the Heat in one player.

Now, Spoelstra has to decide which of those three and the elements they bring, mesh the best with the starting unit. Then, he's got to figure out if and how he can still get something worthwhile out of the other guys if they are coming off the bench. It won't be easy especially since Josh McRoberts, who could also be in the mix to start, is still recovering from a setback with his broken right foot back in May. 

"It's going to be different things with different guys," Spoelstra answered Monday when asked he's ultimately looking for in a starting power forward.

"When Luke is there, he's spacing the floor and I want to him have an absolute green light. Like some of the guys we've had here in the past I don't want him to think about ever hesitating behind the three-point line. Even if he's taking some bad ones I want him to have that green light.

"But Derrick [Williams] has a different skill set. He can knock down threes. But he's an aggressive player that's really effective in the paint. James [Johnson] brings a different dynamic when he's there in terms of his ability to playmake, similar to the way Justise does. They do different things and we want to try to maximize those strengths and be OK with guys playing different roles in that position. They don't have to look the same."

For what it's worth, Spoelstra said he has some idea of the 10 players he thinks will be in the Heat's rotation. But I think health and how guys mesh with one another over these eight preseason games will ultimately determine who those 10 really are. Spoelstra has said on multiple occasions he's happy the Heat are playing the NBA maximum eight preseason games so he can get a good look at this team and evaluate his choices.

While Spoelstra wants to see the Heat remain competitive this preseason, winning will take a back seat to finding the lineup combinations and rotations. After all, that's what the preseason is for. 

Ultimately, you probably won't see much of the rookies this preseason except on nights Miami plays back-to-backs. The Heat only have two of those situations: Oct. 14 and 15 when the Heat visit the Spurs and then play the T'Wolves in Louisville, Ky. and then Oct. 20 and 21 when Miami wraps up the preseason at Charlotte and then at home against the 76ers.

"I don't anticipate I'll play guys over 20 minutes," Spoelstra said Monday of the Heat's preseason opener. "We'll have to evaluate and get guys in there. I also won't be able to play everybody. That's pretty obvious as well. How I work that out, I'm not totally sure yet."


As for the starting back court, until Richardson returns to full health and competes, the job is likely Waiters' to lose.

What does Spoelstra like about a Waiters-Dragic backcourt?

"You have two ball-handlers, two guys that can attack in the paint," he said. "They both can spread the floor for the other guy. They're both very capable three-point shooters. So, I do like that dynamic. Each can handle on the pick and roll and we can put a lot of pressure on the defense with those two guys."

Dragic told me Saturday before the Heat left the Bahamas that he feels like he and Waiters mesh well, but that both need to learn to communicate better as the preseason moves on.

"He can shoot the ball. He can space. He plays pick-and-rolls and sometimes that's good," Dragic said of Waiters. "It takes pressure off me a little bit. There's another playmaker on the court too. I already played like that before [in Phoenix] with [Eric] Bledsoe."

Is that who Waiters reminds you of?

"Yes," Dragic answered. "Better shooter though."

> What is Dragic looking for in the preseason opener?

"Just to get organized. We know what to run on a miss and on a make. I feel like when we're communicating and echoing the calls then it's much easier," he said Monday. "Our spacing is much better and then it's really easy to play because the ball is moving and I think the most important thing is going to be that tomorrow."

> Expect Winslow to be all over the court at different positions.He won't just line up at small forward or power forward. He could run the point at times, line up at center like he did in the playoffs and even play some shooting guard.

"That's not realistic for him," Spoelstra said when asked if Winslow would concentrate on just one position this preseason. "And he's better in those kind of situations where you challenge him to do more things and use more of his versatility."

> Here's some video of Winslow today working on his three-point shot. The hitch in his shot is noticeably gone.

FYI, Winslow has been the last to leave the court at almost every practice I've been at. And I haven't missed one. 

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Heat wrap up camp in the Bahamas, look ahead to start of preseason on Tuesday

NASSAU, BAHAMAS -- Some quick notes off the team's final day of camp in the Bahamas: 

> Saturday’s final practice at the Atlantis Paradise Resort ended with point guard Goran Dragic (knee soreness) and center Hassan Whiteside (left knee soreness) not participating in contact drills.

Neither issue is of serious concern to coach Erik Spoelstra.

Whiteside, who also worked off to the side on Friday, and Dragic, who said he was just sore from having played a lot this summer with the Slovenian national team, both expect to play in the Heat’s preseason opener on Tuesday at Washington.

"I'm looking forward to it," Whiteside said. "I'm pretty sure I'll be there the first game against the Wizards. Just get out there and get it started, get in front of the Heat fans and let's get this thing started."

The soreness for Whiteside is not in the same knee he severely sprained during the playoffs.

"It feels a lot better," he said of his left knee. "I just wanted to be careful with the contact. I worked out. I feel a lot better."

> Guard Josh Richardson, who sprained his MCL on Sept. 9 after he landed awkwardly following a dunk during a team workout, said he made some progress with his knee during camp but is still experiencing pain with certain movements.

The Heat still hope he will be ready for the season opener Oct. 26.

"I think I've made a lot of progress actually," Richardson said. "Before this week I just started walking and stuff. I never really got to get on the court at all. So this week I got to do a little court walk, start shooting some. Just being able to be mobile with my team has been great for me mentally."

Richardson said he will likely wear a leg brace to start the season.

> Spoelstra said he’s not sure who will start in Tuesday’s preseason opener just yet.

“I'll chew on that all the way until [Tuesday],” he said. “I'm going to have to learn a lot. Actually, I'm thankful we have eight preseason games. We're going to need these games to evaluate and continue to get ready.”

> Friday night the entire team got together for a barbecue on the beach and some bonding time.

"It helps when you go away,” Spoelstra said. “Going back to when Pat was coaching, you always like to get away and just have more opportunities that are unscripted [for bonding]. It has to be organic. You can't force it upon a group. It just happens very naturally here. Like I said it was a great environment to be here and the bus rides, all the meals we had together. The team barbecue last night was fun."

Dragic said he learned how to play dominoes at the barbecue. He might even be willing to head down to Calle Ocho now in Miami and take on some grand champions at Domino Park. 

"It was great," he said. "We finished practice and had a good meeting. After that it was relaxing and having fun. The fellas, they teached me how to play Dominoes and it was fun. Something new, but at the same time you can talk with those guys and ask them questions and get to know them."

How is the bonding going with Dion Waiters in the backcourt?

"Great. I just I think we still need a little bit more time," Dragic said. "From his part, he needs to be more communicating. But he's an unbelievable player. We've already seen what he can do. Even in this training camp he's explosive. He can get other people involved. He can create his own shot. So, it's going to be easy. We just need to talk so we can be on the same page."

Friday, September 30, 2016

Whiteside sits out Friday's practice with sore left knee

NASSAU, BAHAMAS -- Hassan Whiteside took Friday morning's practice off to rest his sore left knee, but he expects to be back on the court with his teammates on Saturday.

Hassan WhitesideThe Heat's newly signed $98 million center said the soreness is not in the same knee he injured in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Toronto Raptors, which forced him to sit out the rest of the playoffs.

"My knee is just sore," Whiteside said. "I was just going to rest it. I'm just resting it."

"It's a totally different thing [than the injury in the playoffs]. We've been going so hard and it's been awhile since I played on a consistent basis like this. It's not a big deal."

Whiteside sprained the MCL in his right knee last May and did not have surgery. The Heat brought him along cautiously in summer workouts.  

"It's more about being smart on the fourth day of camp," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "I anticipate he should be going tomorrow. He was able to do quite a bit on the side. I don't think he'll want to do that workout again."

Whiteside said he spent a lot of time lifting weights on Friday and still building up a good sweat.

"It wasn't really a day off," he said.

Whiteside missed one game last season with a sore right knee, one game with right tendinitis and six games with a strained left hip. In his first season with the Heat, he missed one game with a left toe injury, one with a sprained right ankle and two games with a right hand laceration. 

He hasn't injured his left knee since the 2010-11 season -- his rookie year -- when he was with the Sacramento Kings. Whiteside missed the final 37 games of the season after suffering a partial patellar tendon tear in his knee that season.

The Heat on Friday went with Willie Reed, James Johnson and several undersized wings at center in practice, Spoelstra said.

"We're pretty deep at that position," Spoelstra said of the center spot. "And we'll have [Josh McRoberts there] when he's able to step back in the fold. But if we have to go deeper we want to develop different layers with our versatility. We showed that last year when Justise [Winslow] played some minutes there."

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Hassan Whiteside: "I'm a great passer. I just have to show you all."

NASSAU, BAHAMAS -- There were times sitting court side last season when you could hear Hassan Whiteside pleading with the official scorer's table to credit him with an assist.

Hassan WhitesideThere was a reason. 

Among the 69 centers in the league to play in at least 50 games last season, Whiteside tied for 61st with 29 total assists in 73 games. That of course was an improvement over the six assists he posted in 48 games his first season with the Heat. 

With Miami entering a new era with Dwyane Wade now in Chicago and Chris Bosh unlikely to play for the franchise again, Whiteside is going to find the ball in his hands a lot more this coming season on more than just alley-oops.

And in order for the Heat's offense to work, he's going to have to be better than he's been at finding open shooters. Otherwise, he could find himself being suffocated by double-teams in the paint or just flat out ineffective when opposing teams collapse on him.

"He's been working at it," coach Erik Spoelstra said Thursday of Whiteside's post and paint passing game.

"Now we're trying to get him in spots where he can see the defense out in front of him and be aware of when help defense may come. I think that's his next evolution. It's not just who you are dealing with, but the next defender. And we've been working at that. He knows it's something he has to work on."

After spending the first day of camp Tuesday focused on defense and then most of Wednesday on "pace and space," Spoelstra on Thursday turned the Heat's focus to installing the team's offense.

Armed with more established long-distance shooters this season with veterans Luke Babbitt and Wayne Ellington joining Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson on the roster, there are likely going to be times when Whiteside could be the Heat's only true post presence on the floor, where he's essentially playing like Dwight Howard used to in Orlando with four wings on the floor. 

Whiteside, who spent most of his summer training with Heat assistant Juwan Howard, said he's ready to handle whatever is thrown his way.

"If guys are open I'm going to give it to them," Whiteside said Thursday. "I think it's really more so play-making and about my usage rate, how many times I touch the ball in that situation. So, I should have a lot more assists."

"I'm a great passer," Whiteside continued. "I just have to show you all. Most of the time [last season] I was just the guy dunking the ball. I was giving people assists instead of giving out assists."

Whiteside ranked 32nd last season in touches (40.5 per game) among the 69 centers with at least 50 games played. But he also ranked fourth in paint touches (6.0) and fifth in post touches (7.0).

"We feel that it's something that's developed for every player," Spoeltra said of the ability for players to find open shooters. "When you're a pick-and-roll player and first get the ball handed to you, you think it's always for you. But there's different layers to it -- spacing and options when it's defended a certain way, and that's no different when a guy is in the post.

"You have to know where your spacing is," Spoelstra continued. "Often times in pick-and-rolls or in the post, the ball will find energy and if guys are getting to their spots early and with speed, the ball sees it and that's no different with Hassan."

Is Whiteside making strides? "Yes," Spoelstra said. "We're working on it quite a bit."

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Notes and quotes from Tuesday's Heat practice in the Bahamas

NASSAU, BAHAMAS -- The Heat's first practice of the season took place here Tuesday morning inside a ballroom turned basketball court and as so many Miami fans have come accustomed to hearing Josh McRoberts was a non-participant. 

Coach Erik Spoelstra said McRoberts, who was on a stationary bike, injured his foot and ankle about five weeks ago.

McRoberts, who has a chance to make an impact this season with Chris Bosh out and Miami in dire need of help at power forward, has missed 88 games in his first two seasons with the Heat because of various injuries.

"He's actually rehabbing well," Spoelstra said. "So, he'll be doing more and more this week. [Undrafted rookie forward] Stephan [Jankovich] also has a sprained ankle. But he was able to participate probably the first half hour of practice. We'll monitor both of them as the week goes on. [Josh Richardson] is doing a little bit."

Richardson, who sprained his MCL coming down after a dunk during a team workout three weeks ago, said he spent nearly all of Tuesday's practice on a stationary bike. 

"Today I rode the bike for the first time," Richardson said. "I did some band work, balance work. I was on the court with the guys talking and helping out. But I couldn't really like run or anything like that."

Richardson said he can't tell if there is any pain in his knee because he really hasn't "tried anything yet."

He said he has no timetable for when he will start practicing for real. It's clear Spoelstra wants to be cautious with him.

"We really need to be careful," Spoelstra said. "With him it's tough, he's one of those guys we don't want to fast track because he would think he's ready to play right now. We want to be smart about it."


Though the Heat is spending six days here at a resort, there's not going to be a lot time for fun, Spoelstra said. The team has practices scheduled for 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. each day. 

"They know what to expect," Spoelstra said. "And if for whatever reason that escaped them not knowing what a Miami training camp would be like then I think after the session tonight they'll realize they won't have a lot of excess energy to do other things. But it's a great environment to get to work. The views are fantastic. Even out of our meeting rooms, coming out of our meals, it's a nice environment. We wanted to give these guys that environment while we're getting things done."

Guard Dion Waiters said he was probably going to be too tired to enjoy the water slides and beaches at Atlantis.

"I'm not going to no beach," Waiters said.  "I'm tired. It's work. This is what it's about, taking care of business now so when the game comes it's easier. If we push each other like we did today we're only going to make each other better."

Still, veteran Udonis Haslem said he would like to get players together to do something fun before they leave.

"I have to find out the schedule from coach," Haslem said. 

Will he take the team down the 50-foot slide? 

"I don't know," Haslem said with a grin. That slide gives you wedgies."


Spoelstra said he was extremely happy with the collective conditioning of the team -- especially Waiters who has shed close to 12 pounds and 3 1/2 percent body fat in three weeks. 

"Guys came in extremely well conditioned," Spoelstra said. "So we were able to really get into full contact in this first practice. We didn't mess around or wait. We got right to it. We didn't feel the need to use practice to get guys in shape. Instead we were getting ready to work, which we need a lot of it. We have new faces, guys in different roles. I commend them for really spending the last seven, eight weeks putting in that time to get their bodies right.

"[Waiters] made it through this practice without a problem. We love his conditioning right now."

Said Waiters: "I feel good. I feel lighter. I have a lot of energy. I felt great."

Having Haslem around to lead the team in voluntary workouts since Aug. 1 has been huge, Spoelstra said.

"He's been tremendous," he said. "When you bring in new players and you're developing a young group you have to have veteran leadership and somebody who understands what the Miami Heat way is. We're not saying the Miami Heat way is better or worse than any other way. But at least we know and believe in a way. That brings some stability to some of the guys coming in here. They have an idea of what to expect.

"I say this a lot, but we can spend a lot of time explaining what the Miami Heat culture or what it means to put on a Miami Heat uniform. Or, we could show a picture of Udonis Haslem and they get the idea of what the culture is by his example. His voice has been tremendous. The guys respect him."

Haslem said the team "had a lot of energy" Tuesday.

"As usual, offense is a little messy. But that's what you expect the first couple days with people flying around like chickens with their heads cut off," he said. "But there was a lot of energy out there, a lot of fresh legs out there."

> Players said it was weird not seeing Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade around after so many years with the organization. But the message has been consistent from the top on down -- it's time to move on. 

"It is strange," Spoelstra said. "But, once you get on the wood and start working with this group they got the attention that they deserve from the coaching staff. It's about these 19 guys right now, investing in all of them. And preparing for 29 days from now."

Center Hassan Whiteside said it sucks not having Bosh around. He misses his friendship in the locker room. But the Heat has to move on.

"We have really talented guys," Whiteside said. "Guys that are willing to put in work everyday. We just have to move forward with what we've got. These guys are talented. So, I'm not worried." 

> What is Whiteside looking to improve on?

"Just build trust with the guys, build chemistry with the guys," he said. "Me and Goran [Dragic] had much better chemistry the second half of the season. We got like almost a whole new team. Building chemistry with the guys and showing them I'm trustworthy and vice-versa."

Friday, July 01, 2016

Hassan Whiteside announces on Snapchat he's staying with the Miami Heat

Whiteside also posted the following message on The Players' Tribune website around the same time he announced the news on Snapchat.

"I've played on eight teams since college — from Reno to Sioux Falls to Sichuan, China. I am not ready for there to be a ninth," he wrote.

"I have decided to re-sign with Miami. I just wanted to take this time to tell all the fans how much you mean to this team, and to me. Can’t wait to get back to work and try to bring another championship to Miami." #HeatNation



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