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.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Mario Chalmers probable for Wizards

WASHINGTON -- Expect point guard Mario Chalmers to be back in the starting lineup on Friday night against the Wizards barring any major setbacks between the morning's shoot around and the Heat's pregame warmups later Friday afternoon.

Chalmers missed Wednesday's game against the Magic due to a sore left hand and the Heat's offense and defense suffered considerably. Chalmers is shooting 50.3 percent from the field, 46.4 percent from three-point range and 81 percent from the free-throw line. All things considered, those are the best set of averages on the team.


Monday, January 09, 2012

Wade, Chalmers sit out practice

SAN FRANCISCO -- The good news out of Heat practice today was that Mike Miller and Eddy Curry participated in the team's first full-contact practice of the season. The bad news was that Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers did not.

Wade (bruised foot) and Chalmers (sore shoulder) are both questionable for Tuesday's game against Golden State. Chalmers seems more likely to play than Wade, who said he was "day-to-day and hour-to-hour."

--Wade said his injury has been a little difficult to diagnose. He said it could a bruise, minor plantar fasciitis or a combination of the two.

--Wade didn't know if he would be able to play against the Clippers. Seems doubtful.

--Miller said he felt good after practice and that he's ready to play but the team is going to hold him out a little longer. He's not playing on Tuesday.

--Curry joked that he hasn't "felt this good since high school."

--After practice, LeBron James put in extra work on his post game with Wade throwing James passes with his back to the basket. Mickell Gladness, Dexter Pittman and Chris Bosh joined with James giving pointers to Gladness and Pittman.

--Keith Askins was excited about tonight's BCS national championship.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Heat 118, Magic 85: What's burning?

So, pretty much the only thing to be gleaned from Sunday's preseason opener was the obvious fact that Dwight Howard is going to play like garbage until he's traded. That said, here are three things to consider going into the Heat's final game of the preseason.

1. Is Joel Anthony the answer? Anthony started on Sunday but registered four fouls in seven minutes of action. Those were his only stats other than a turnover.

2. Mario Chalmers had a great game a few days after rookie point guard Norris Cole scored 21 points in the Heat's scrimmage. Coincidence or is Cole pushing Chalmers?

3. Any thoughts on Dexter Pittman are welcome. He had six points in 13 minutes and wasn't afraid to stand up to Dwight Howard after the two become tangled under the basket. Pittman seems pretty tough but he's also out of shape. He's listed at 285 pounds but he appears to be well over that.


Friday, December 09, 2011

Does the Heat have enough without mid-level center?

So, camp begins today and the Heat struck out on signing a center with its full mid-level exception. Sam Dalembert didn't take the bait and the Heat wasn't in a position to trade for a big name like Nene.

Instead, the Heat is taking a flyer on center Eddy Curry, hoping the once overweight big man is ready to take his career seriously. Is it enough? Remember, team president Pat Riley indicated last season that it was the Heat's top priority to sign a center with its mid-level exception.

It appears Riley did the best he could with the limited resources at his disposal. The addition of Shane Battier provides a top-notch defender to the mix and that could be important come playoff time. For example, if the Heat meets the Bulls in the playoffs again, Battier could guard Bulls forward Loul Deng, which would allow LeBron James or Dwyane Wade to conserve energy.

A retrospective example: If the Heat had a defender like Battier in last season's Finals, things might have turned out differently. Instead, James couldn't keep up with Jason Terry and, conversely, James didn't have enough left in the tank to close out the series.

At least, that's one guess as to what happened to James in The Finals.

Of course, free agency is far from over and the Heat could potentially still reel in a quality center willingly to take less money to chase a championship. Options are limited at this point, though.

The Heat's other area of need heading into free agency was the point guard position. All signs point to Mario Chalmers resigning with the Heat, but if a larger offer sheet than his qualifying number is placed in front of Chalmers, there is a very real chance he would take it. The Heat would then have to match the offer or, worse case scenario, go searching for a starting point guard at the start of camp. Carlos Arroyo, anyone? (According to the latest speculation, the Knicks are interested in Arroyo.)

Expect it to be worked out by Friday afternoon when practice begins. If Chalmers is absent, that means another team has offered him a contract and the Heat would have three days to match it.

As for the original question: Does the Heat have enough without a mid-level center? I'd say yes. For me, this free-agency period isn't nearly as important to the Heat as some would like you to believe. Give me Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh and I like my chances.


Thursday, December 01, 2011

Chris Bosh has muscles and other things you won't believe (or maybe you will)

When I first walked into the Heat's practice gym on Thursday, I was immediately surprised by how much muscle Chris Bosh has stacked on his frame. No, seriously, the guy looks pretty jacked. I mean, he's not Karl Malone or Charles Oakley or anything, but there's no question Bosh dedicated himself this offseason amid all the other responsibilities he had on his plate (getting married and being a newlywed and now he's expecting his second child, so it goes).

An aside: Bosh wouldn't say how much weight he's gained or even how much he bench presses. He did tell me that what he used to bench was "pretty heavy" and now it's "really heavy." Those Georgia Tech guys. Always so precise about their measurements.

"I say it’s probably a 50-pound difference — 60- to 70-pound difference," Bosh said. "No, I’m serious. I’m not joking."

Yes, before you ask, Bosh says he'll play center if need be.

So, reporters watched Bosh, Udonis Haslem and James Jones shoot jumpers for about 20 minutes and then came the day's big shocker. Mike Miller is hurt again. This time, he had hernia surgery. If you're counting, that's four surgeries for Miller since he arrived in Miami last year (two thumbs, a shoulder and now hernia). I caught up with Mike on the phone and he obviously was down about the injury but was also refreshingly upbeat at the same time.

The kneejerk reaction to Miller's injury is to assume he's gone -- that the Heat will use its amnesty exception to free itself of Miller's contract. I'm going to avoid jumping to conclusions for now. I'm fairly confident that no one else will do the same but Haslem seemed hopeful that Miller could be an important part of the team despite the recent setback.

Still, there was a lingering feeling that Miller's days might be numbered.

As for Haslem, he had a little fun with reporters (me and Mike Wallace) when we asked him about trade rumors. Haslem played dumb and asked what rumors were swirling around the league. I told him that there's a rumor that could send him to Denver in a package deal for Nene. Haslem's response was spot on:

"If I was going to go to Denver, they should have let me go last year. [WILD LAUGHTER] I could have got the extra $14 million. [DORKY REPORTERS LAUGHING AWKWARDLY] I should have just signed that last year and got the extra $14 million. You know, then sending me now for $14 million less. Now I feel cheated. That’s all. [MORE LAUGHS] I don’t pay attention to it. I didn’t know until you guys just told me." 

Seriously, does anyone really believe that the Heat is going to deal UD one year after Dwyane Wade and LeBron James both took less money to keep him? If UD was dealt, fans would feel betrayed and so would the players. Not going to happen.

Still, UD defended his value to the team.

"I haven’t heard [the rumors] here and I haven’t heard it from my agent but the bottom line is I make this team better. So, it’s up to the people upstairs to make those decisions. I make this team better. The decisions that are being made, I can’t control that. But the bottom line is, I make this team better.

"The decisions that’s being made, I can’t control those.  I can’t control the rumors, I can’t control anything. I make the team better and whatever decisions bounce around, I only worry about what you can control. The rumors, can’t control. The trades, you can’t control. What you can control is how hard you work to get back from injury like I had to do. When I came back from injury, what I brought to the team. What we did to get through the Chicago series. That’s all I can control. I can’t control anything else."

UD makes a good case for himself. But, the way I see it, he's understating his true worth. UD brings team chemistry, toughness and familiarity to the team that cannot be measured in a box score. (Ahh, but let me stop before I start sounding like a coach.)

That chemistry was apparent when Haslem talked about Miller. UD clearly was upset about Miller's latest injury. (They're good friends, you know.) In hindsight, it made for an interesting shootaround, considering Jones could be one of the free agents the Heat picks up if it waives Miller. (Of course, everyone loves Jones, too.) Jones said he's open to returning to the Heat.

Dexter Pittman arrived at the practice facility after Jones, Haslem and Bosh were finished. The big center might have put on a few pounds since last season but not much. He'll lose it by the time the season begins. The Heat's coaches told Pittman before the lockout that he would play a more important role in his second season in the league. (He didn't really play a role last year. He was in Siberia or some cold place playing in the D-League.)

We'll be back at the arena on Friday. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are back in town after the flag-football fun, so we'll see if they show up.

Oh, Mario Chalmers worked out in Las Vegas on Thursday. No word yet on when he's returning to Miami. Also, Juwan Howard worked out Thursday but declined to speak with reporters. The Warden was also in the house.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Chalmers organizes exhibition in Alaska; Wade might not play

Mario Chalmers has organized an exhibition basketball game to be played in his native Anchorage, Alaska, on Dec. 1.

48_chalmersmarioIn other words, MARIO CHALMERS has organized, arguably, the most logistically challenging exhibition game of this long offseason. Congrats to him. I mean, never mind getting to Alaska. Being there this time of year is miserable. The low tonight in Anchorage is two degrees.

Chalmers has commitments from some of his buddies around the league and Carlos Boozer (the other Alaskan). No doubt a good time will be had by all when Chalmers gets together with Michael Beasley,  Daequan Cook and James Harden.

Chris Bosh and Dexter Pittman will play in the game but Dwyane Wade told Chalmers he might not make it because of his responsibility as a parent. Sounds like a good excuse to me to get out of going to Alaska in December.

On Thursday, Wade did say that he might consider playing overseas if the season is lost. (He said this in August as well.) I seriously doubt Wade will ever play in a league overseas but I'm assuming he'll be bringing his boys if he does so.


PICTURED: Sources confirm that this Heat dancer will not be playing overseas or going to Alaska.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Leftover Riley

Some nuggets from Pat Riley's press conference Wednesday morning that weren't included in the story for the paper...

Riley said he didn't like hearing that the Heat "gave away" the Finals to Dallas, nor did he agree with the concept that the Mavericks played more like a team than Miami.

"They beat us, they took it, that's what title teams do," Riley said. "Every championship team that I've been involved with, it's fashionable to say that somebody gave something away or somebody lost something, or we coulda, woulda, shoulda. But somebody takes it, that's all there was to it. Dallas played extremely well.

"The one thing that I, as a former coach, get upset with is we were a team. I mean, it's fashionable to say that the other team was more of team than we were. That is B.S. We would have never gotten this far without really sacrificing and playing roles and those veteran players accepting rotation responsibilities up and down. We were the epitome of a team."

As for LeBron James' shortcomings in the Finals, Riley was predictably protective of his biggest star. But he acknowledged LeBron can improve his individual game.

"I think you have to take a hard look at it on film and then have a discussion with him about it and then specifically from a coaching standpoint he says, 'this is what we want you to do,'" Riley said of LeBron's play in the Finals. "But you don't have an easy answer for that right now. That's become sort of the flashpoint of this whole thing and I think it's wrong, it's absolutely wrong to lay it on him and it just started to continually compound itself."

As for improvements the Heat could make, Riley said he doesn't really anticipate his team paying to move up in the draft because, from what he hears, nobody wants those picks in the 20s because they come with salary commitments to players who aren't significantly better than anyone he can get at 31.

Riley said he believes Mario Chalmers is a starting caliber player for this team, and he would put priority on adding interior size.

"We would like to get size," he said. "We would like to get length. Joel Anthony has done an incredible job and he will get better. But we'd like to get size that we can put in there, in the middle. I don't know if you're going to get a back-to-the-basket player, but we'd like to get size and things of that nature inside that might be a little bit more athletic with great length.

"We are good enough, we have enough but we're going to continue to try to make this team better. And move forward with that, that's what our job is this summer."

Riley also said he never "really" considered moving any members of the Big Three, even early in the season when it appeared they struggled to play together, and won't consider moving them.



Friday, May 20, 2011

What Miller may mean

It's almost unfair, really, if this whole Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller thing works out for the Heat from here on out.

You're not supposed to get significantly better in the middle of the Eastern Conference Finals. And if Haslem remains part of the regular rotation and Miller contributes without being significantly affected by his thumbs, then the Heat will be better at the end of this series than it was at the start. Gators four

We all know what Haslem's role is going to be if he can handle the minutes. He's a defender, rebounder, mid-range shooter and fast-break finisher.

(Just for fun, a photo of the Florida 1998 recruiting class. UD, Miller, Teddy Dupay and LaDarius Halton)

Miller, though, we really haven't figured out yet -- at least as it pertains to this offense. In his 18 minutes in Game 2, Miller attempted only two shots but still made an impact on the game with seven rebounds, an assist, a steal and consistent effort. The longer he's out there, the more three opportunities will open up, and eventually he'll hit a few.

More importantly, though, if Miller remains a regular, he'll be part of a solid defensive lineup against the Bulls.

Primarily at the end of halves, the Bulls tend to run pick-and-rolls with Derrick Rose and either Kyle Korver or Luol Deng. The Rose-Korver screen-roll is particularly damaging -- and it's probably why they use it at ends of games -- because Korver needs little space to free up for a jumper, and we all know what Rose can do if the defense doesn't commit two guys to him.

But if the Heat has a trio of Miller, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James out there, the Heat can easily switch that pick-and-roll, taking away some of its threat. Ideally, Wade or LeBron would be on Korver and Rose, respectively, so if they switch there's no drop-off. Miller allows that to be an option because he's big enough to guard Deng. But even if Miller is part of that screen-roll defense, he can even switch on Rose, and the Heat's defense doesn't truly suffer as a result (anyone guarding Rose one-on-one would rely on help anyway).

It's an added benefit of having Miller out there, but in Game 2 his main reason for being on the floor was to keep Mario Chalmers off it. Erik Spoelstra has faith in Chalmers, and very well could go right back to him as the backup point in the first half on Sunday. But even if that's the case, he will have a short leash, with Spo ready to replace him with Miller, like he did for the second half Wednesday.

For the series, Chalmers is 4 of 8 shooting for nine points with zero assists, one rebound and six turnovers. Chicago's C.J. Watson has pretty much stifled Chalmers, forcing him into awful mistakes, and Chalmers has gotten himself into other bad spots, like when he floated across the baseline in the first half Wednesday with no one to pass it to, eventually just turning it over. Miller has had a much bigger impact in seven less minutes for the series (10 rebounds in 21 minutes).

Of course, the Bulls will adjust to both the presence of Haslem and Miller. But other than keeping a body on Haslem in the fastbreak and one on Miller when there's a rebounding opportunity, there's not much the Bulls can do to counter these two, because they get most of their production off effort or well-executed Heat offense. They won't be a surprise from here on out, but that doesn't mean they won't be able to contribute significantly -- especially if their minutes get a slight bump.





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