Thursday, June 16, 2016

Heat lifer Udonis Haslem pulling for friend LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers

Udonis Haslem has been watching the NBA Finals with a rooting interest. 

He wants his buddies LeBron James and James Jones -- former Heat teammates -- to win the NBA title.

LeBorn-UDThat might sound like blasphemy to diehard Heat fans still hung up on the fact James jilted the Heat to return to Cleveland and play hometown hero. But not to Haslem, who obviously still maintains a close relationship with his former Heat teammates.

"I would love to see those guys get a ring," Haslem said Thursday after signing autographs and posing for pictures at one of the Heat's local youth basketball camps at South Broward High School. "If they lose, it's no sweat off my back. But if they win -- obviously with the relationship I have with them -- I'd be very happy for them."

The Cavs entered Game 6 of the NBA Finals Thursday night trailing the Warriors 3-2 in the series. But Haslem said he felt good about Cleveland's chances of pushing the series to at least seven games.

"I've been watching a little bit," Haslem said of the Finals. "Cleveland played great [in Game 5]. LeBron played great. Kyrie [Irving] played great. That's the kind of performance they needed to stay alive. I think they've got a chance tonight. I think they've found something with kind of sliding Richard Jefferson into that starting lineup a little bit. That's kind of worked out well for them. Even with Draymond [Green] in the game I still think its probably their best lineup to start the game with. I think Kevin Love will get going. If he gets going that only makes them more dangerous. But I think they win tonight and I think they push it to seven.

"I wasn't saying that earlier, but I'm singing a different tune now."

Back in March, LeBron paid Haslem quite the compliment when he said the Cavaliers lacked an enforcer like Haslem, who obviously helped James win two titles with the Heat.

Haslem, who turned 36 last week, will become a free agent on July 1. He said last month during the Heat's playoff run he felt like he could have played more minutes than he did this season and was frustrated by his lack of playing time.

Haslem reiterated Thursday he feels like he can give a team "10 to 15 to 20 minutes" a game if needed and that he's in good enough shape to play at least another two seasons. 

At his end of the season press conference last month, team president Pat Riley referred to Haslem as "a forever guy" with the Heat along with Dwyane Wade and Alonzo Mourning.

Still, could you imagine if Haslem left the Heat to join LeBron in Cleveland? I'm not sure how Riley and Heat nation would swallow that one. 

Or, maybe Haslem knows something we don't. Maybe if the Cavs win, LeBron will come back to Miami. 

Or, maybe he's just being a good friend. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Dwyane Wade says NBA's Last Two Minute reports are 'pointless'

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Dwyane Wade wouldn’t mind seeing the NBA’s Last Two Minute reports go away –- and it has nothing to do with the NBA saying officials were correct when they didn’t call Cody Zeller or Courtney Lee for fouls on Wade in the final seconds of the Heat’s Game 5 loss to the Hornets.

For Wade, partial transparency is not enough transparency and the 12-time All-Star said the league needs to be upfront about how games are called differently early compared to the pressure packed moments of the fourth quarter and overtime.

“Those last two minute [reports] are pointless – it does nothing for us and it does nothing for any other team,” Wade said after the Heat’s workout prior to Game 6.  “Go through the whole game and break it down, I it would help the refs and this league continue to grow. But those last two minute [reports] – that’s not a good thing. That's not a good light shining on the game.”

Former Heat teammate LeBron James agreed with Wade Friday telling reporters in Cleveland that the league’s Last Two Minute reports “change absolutely nothing” and “sends a bad message to our fans of thinking the game is only won in the last two minutes.”

Shortly after Wednesday’s 90-88 loss at home, Wade, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and Wade’s wife Gabrielle Union were adamant a foul should have been called after Wade drove toward the basket and drew contact from both Zeller and Lee before losing the ball.

The NBA ruled Thursday that Zeller maintained legal guarding position because he jumped vertically to defend Wade’s shot and that Lee made contact with the ball during Wade’s upward shooting motion, which thus made his minor arm contact with Wade after that incidental.

Wade said he watched Thursday’s Game 6 between the Celtics and Hawks and saw plenty of examples early in the game when similar plays happened and fouls were called. Wade’s point is that the NBA needs to acknowledge that games are called differently late, something that he personally has no problem with.

“[There's] a lot that happens in the game that can affect even those last two minutes,” Wade said. “A player’s actions or something that happens [in the game] can affect those last two minutes or why something was or wasn't [called] right. If there's something I've done earlier in the game maybe there's a reason I didn't get that [call] late in the game. Who knows. I just don't think two minutes is a real indication. That's just my personal opinion."

The Heat voiced concerns about the officiating after Game 4 and Game 5 and center Hassan Whiteside accused the Hornets of flopping on drives to the basket after Game 4.

Still, Wade said the Heat can’t blame the officiating for their struggles in the series.

“It's easy to Monday morning quarterback. We can all do that in life with different people,” Wade said. “I mean there's a lot of times I go back and I look and say [the refs] were right. Sometimes I go back and say they were wrong. But I've never been a player who has cared to [call the league] to complain. It does nothing for us, for this team.

“At the end of the day we all get frustrated. In the moment you're frustrated… but [the refs] had nothing to do with the ball bouncing to Courtney Lee the last two games. So, there’s certain things about the game you can't put on one call. You can’t say ‘If they would have called that we would have won.’ "

Wade’s wife had suggested after Wednesday’s game that officials who make mistakes should be fined and their records of missed calls made public.

After the NBA’s two minute report from Game 5 was released late Thursday afternoon, the NBA referees official Twitter account included Union when it sent out the following message: “The referees are not always right, but on this call we were.”

Wade said the fact the officials included his wife in their statement was “pretty good.”

“She's pretty popular,” Wade said. “That means she got her point across – whatever she was trying to get across. She did good."

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Heat has a solid Big 2 in Bosh and Wade in the 4th quarter, but finding a third option would help

Wedneday's 98-90 loss to the Knicks was one of those rare instances this season when the Miami Heat wasn't within real striking distance of an opponent late.

I say that because of the Heat's 14 losses, nine have involved them either leading by no more than five points or trailing by no more than five points with under five minutes to play. The NBA refers to those scenarios as clutch situations or games decided late.

And the Heat, thus far, are 11-9 in clutch situations. That 55% win percentage ranks 12th in the league. That also means Miami is 10-5 when there is no real drama late in the fourth.

Last year, Miami was 23-17 in clutch situations (57.5 percent, 9th) and 14-28 otherwise. In LeBron James' last season in Miami, the Heat were 24-19 in clutch situations (55.8 percent, 9th) and 30-9 otherwise. 

Unsurprisingly, the last three NBA champions -- Golden State (23-8), San Antonio (22-8) and Miami (32-8) -- had the best regular season winning percentages in clutch situations the seasons they won it all.

Now that I've gotten all that out of the way, it brings me to the point of this blog entry -- taking a closer look at what the Heat does in the fourth quarter and in winning time. 

While powerhouses like the Spurs (12 games with clutch situations) and Warriors (13) and bottom-feeders like the 76ers (14) and Lakers (15) don't have many nail-biting finishes, the majority of games in the NBA for just about everyone do include some form of fourth quarter drama.

And the Heat almost always turn to their Big 2 -- Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade -- to guide them through those moments. Bosh usually handles the early part of the fourth quarter with the bulk of the bench on the court with him. Then, Wade comes in and gets the ball down the stretch.

While some may question coach Erik Spoelstra's decision-making in those situations, the numbers after 35 games suggest he's doing the right thing by going to Bosh and Wade. After all, the Heat as a team have the second-highest fourth quarter field goal percentage in the NBA (46.4%) behind only the Spurs (50.3%). 

Bosh (48.7%) ranks seventh in the league among players averaging at least 3.5 shots in the fourth quarter (10 fourth quarters played minimum) and is tied for 12th in points scored (6.1). That fourth quarter shooting percentage is better than LeBron (48.2%), Kevin Durant (47.6%) and Paul George (46.4%). Wade, meanwhile, ranks 19th (42.4%) in fourth quarter field goal percentage and is 31st in fourth quarter points (5.0).

The only duos who rank higher than Bosh and Wade in shooting percentage when it comes to high volume shots in the fourth quarter are New Orleans' Anthony Davis (55.9%) and Tyreke Evans (50.8%) and Oklahoma City's (47.6%) and Russell Westbrook (43.2%).

Wade's real value is in clutch situations. 

In terms of clutch shot attempts, he's taken the 10th most (46) of any player in the league. A total of 50 players have taken at least 25 shots of those clutch shots. Wade ranks 11th in that group in field goal percentage (45.7%) ahead of James (45.5%), Durant (44.0%), Stephen Curry (43.6%) and Westbrook (42.1%). Bosh, meanwhile, is tied for 42nd in that group at (29.0%).

Because of Bosh's struggles in those tight, late-game situations, the Heat's field goal percentage in the clutch (42.9%) ranks 12th. 

And that's ultimately where things get interesting for the Heat in my eyes. If they don't have a sizable lead down the stretch of games and play great defense, it's usually Wade or bust. 

That said, it's not like anybody else besides Bosh or Wade get much of a chance to do anything with the ball in the fourth quarter. In clutch situations this season, Wade and Bosh have combined take 64.7 percent (77 of 119 shot attempts) of the shots. 

During the first three quarters of game, Wade and Bosh combine to take 35.6% of Miami's shots (755 of 2,119). In the fourth quarter and overtime, Bosh and Wade ramp it up to 41.2% of the team's shots. 

But it's not just that those two ramp up their shot attempts. Fellow starters Goran Dragic, Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside also disappear on the offensive end late in games. 

Dragic, Whiteside and Deng combine to take 40 percent of the Heat's shots through the first three quarters. After that, they take only 15.5 percent of the shots combined (Dragic goes from 17.8 percent of the shots to 6 percent; Whiteside from 12.1 to 4.9; Deng from 10.1 to 4.6).

Part of that is because Gerald Green, Tyler Johnson and Justise Winslow play a lot more in the fourth quarter. And those three usually defer to Wade and Bosh. 

But at some point, wouldn't it behoove Spoelstra and the Heat to try and develop a consistent, reliable third scoring option late in games? After all, that's essentially what Bosh was when LeBron was here. And that's why the Heat was so special.

Dragic, making $85 million, would seem the most logical option. He is shooting 45 percent from the field in the fourth quarter including 42.9 percent from three (6 of 14). But he's only attempted the sixth-most shots on the team (40) in the final period and he's only shot the ball four times total in the clutch. 

Those are some eye-opening numbers.

Here are some more involving the Heat in the fourth quarter and in the clutch:

** Fourth quarter plus/minus: Deng ranks last on the Heat at minus 25. The other noteables: Bosh (+83), Winslow (+62), Johnson (+36), Beno Udrih (+30), Green (+24), Josh McRoberts (+22), Dragic (+22), Wade (+13), Whiteside (+8).

** Fourth quarter minutes: Bosh (301), Winslow (274), Green (248), Johnson (218), Wade (189), Dragic (187), Udrih (151), Whiteside (138), Deng (124), McRoberts (100).

** Fourth quarter shots taken and field goal percentage: Bosh (150, 48.7%), Wade (118, 42.4%), Green (87, 43.7%), Winslow (64, 42.2%), Johnson (62, 53.2%), Dragic (40, 45%), Whiteside (33, 81.8%), Udrih (29, 41.4%), Deng (27, 37.0%)

** Fourth quarter points per game: Bosh 6.1, Wade 5.0, Green 3.8, Johnson 3.5, Whiteside 2.7, Dragic 2.3, Winslow 2.3, Deng 1.5, McRoberts 1.4, Udrih 1.2. 

** Clutch situations plus/minus: Green (+31), Wade (+27), Bosh (+21), Dragic (+18), Winslow (+4), Udrih (+4), Deng (+2), Johnson (0), Whiteside (-2).

** Clutch situations minutes: Wade (68), Bosh (64), Dragic (64), Green (41), Winslow (40), Whiteside (31), Deng (27), Johnson (24), Udrih (9)

** Clutch situation shots taken and field goal percentage: Wade (46, 45.7%), Bosh (31, 29.0%), Whiteside (9, 88.9%), Johnson (9, 44.4%), Green (8, 37.5%), Winslow (8, 37.5%), Dragic (4, 25%), Deng (4, 50%).

** Clutch situation points scored: Wade 56, Bosh 30, Whiteside 17, Green 17, Dragic 10, Johnson 9, Winslow 9, Deng 9.

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.


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


Saturday, May 12, 2012

LeBron's image got a facelift on Saturday

I don't know if it was a product of his new publicist or just more evidence that he's maturing (maybe a combination), but LeBron James offered a wonderfully candid and poignant speech upon accepting his third MVP Award today. My initial reaction: Nothing is stopping this guy this season.

Here's a link to my story, which includes comments from LeBron's mother, Gloria James. On the eve of Mother's Day, LeBron paid a touching tribute to his mom.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Expect LeBron on Carmelo in a late-game scenario

Don't expect Heat coach Erik Spoelstra to leave anything to chance on Wednesday if Game 5 is close in the fourth quarter.

Spoelstra used Shane Battier on Anthony in the fourth quarter in Game 4 but on Tuesday didn't rule out shifting LeBron James to Anthony in a late-game scenario in Game 5.

“LeBron will have an impact defensively in the fourth quarter if it’s close," Spoelstra said. "There’s no doubt about that.”

Friday, March 23, 2012

LeBron James, Heat show support in wake of Martin death

DETROIT -- The death of Trayvon Martin of Sanford has grabbed the emotions of LeBron James and his teammates. On Friday, James posted this touching picture on his Twitter account, capturing the collective sorrow of so many.


In addition to the photo, James wrote a series of Twitter hashtags to express his feelings: #WeAreTrayvonMartin #Hoodies #Stereotyped #WeWantJustice


Monday, February 20, 2012

LeBron James on pace to win MVP Award

Family interests and obligations pulled me away from the blog for a week but I'm back and, wouldn't you know it, LeBron James was once again named Eastern Conference Player of the Week by the NBA. James has now been named P.O.W. four times this season.

The summary:

The Heat went 4-0 last week with James averaging 27.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.0 steals per game. James was .623 from the field, .902 from the foul line and .500 from three-point range.

The particulars:

--On Feb. 14, James scored 35 points and had eight rebounds and six assists against the Bucks.
--On Feb. 14, James had 23 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and four steals against the Pacers.
--On Sunday, James had 25 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists against the Magic.

At this rate, James should be the clear frontrunner to win his third MVP Award. Strong cases can be made for Clippers guard Chris Paul and Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant, but James' body of work speaks for itself. The Heat is off to its best start in franchise history and James carried the team at the beginning of the season while Dwyane Wade was recovering from various injuries.

Statistically, James is enjoying the most efficient season of his NBA career. He's shooting .548 from the field compared to .482 for his career. James is ranked second in the league in scoring (27.9 points per game) behind Kobe Bryant (29.0 ppg) but Bryant has attempted 173 more shots than James. James is ranked first the NBA in field-goal percentage among non-centers and seventh overall.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Final game of back-to-back-to-back will be most difficult

MILWAUKEE -- The Heat seems to always runs into trouble in Indianapolis but Tuesday's game against the Pacers will be doubly difficult. It's the Heat's third game of its back-to-back-to-back and the legs will be tired despite the Heat's blowout victories against the Hawks and Bucks.

The Heat wants Tuesday's game badly. Both Erik Spoelstra and LeBron James pointed out on Monday night that the only teams to have swept their back-to-back-to-backs are the Thunder and the Bulls. Miami wants to be in that exclusive club, so expect maximum effort.

LeBron James scored 15 points in the first half on Monday and then had 16 points in the third quarter to close out the game. He's shooting 54.7 percent from the field this season, which is second in the NBA among non-centers. Steve Nash is shooting 56.2 percent.

James isn't the only Heat starter ranked among league leaders in field-goal percentage. Mario Chalmers is ranked third in the league in field-goal percentage among players who have attempted a three-pointer. That's right: Steve Nash, LeBron James and Mario Chalmers. Without question this is the best season of Chalmers' career. Chalmers is shooting 47.1 percent from three-point range, which ranks sixth in the NBA.




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