Posted on: October 22, 2010 7:18 pm

Miami will not be taking their talents to Tampa

Preseason Magic-Heat game cancelled due to slippery floor. Grease from Pat Riley's free agent tactics not confirmed as agent. Posted by Matt Moore

A preseason game between the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic was cancelled tonight according to a league press release. Apparently a cleaning agent used on the floor left is slippery, too slippery to play on. Both Magic and Heat players complained about the floor this morning, with Stan Van Gundy saying the floor was not in suitable condition to play on. Officials at the arena insisted it would be ready, but then the NBA cancelled it all together, considering three of their most marketable stars and Vince Carter would be on the floor tonight.

The best thing about this game being cancelled, beyond it being one more painful preseason game to have to get through, is the fact that the Magic-Heat rivalry will have to be postponed until they meet in the regular season. Dwight Howard flat out does not like this team and has been very pointed in his criticisms of LeBron James.

The NBA went ahead and said the game would not be rescheduled. The bad news in all this is that with time spent on cleaning, preparations, concessions, staffing, logistics, and overall operating costs, there's a chance someone in Tampa could lose a job over this. And that's a shame because the NBA only cancelled because it's a preseason game and it doesn't hurt them to cancel it. But I wouldn't be expecting any preseason games back in Tampa without some serious hand-wringing next year.

You know, if there is a next year.

Posted on: October 11, 2010 4:16 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2010 4:21 pm

Heat are all business as team develops

Heat locker room far from playful, players speak of "sacrifice" often as preseason ramps up towards regular season start.
Posted by Matt Moore

It's preseason. Which means that anything that occurs needs to be taken with a grain of salt the size of softball. But there was an overriding feeling you could take from the Heat locker room last Friday, their second preseason game in Kansas City against the Oklahoma City Thunder. If what we're seeing in preseason is any indication, things will not be the same as they were in Cleveland.

Oh, James will still be there. He'll still be torching defenses that are literally powerless to stop him, whipping passes to teammates who now might actually catch and finish off of them. And the egocentricity will still be there. Of that you can be sure. In Kansas City, James' locker room was closest to the door at the furthest edge, not atypical for an NBA starter. Dwyane Wade, out with a hamstring injury, occupied the other end of the bracket. But it was James, only speaking to reporters for a precious few minutes (it is just a preseason game in KC, after all) who loomed. His gear spread out, occasionally shouting rap lyrics as he listened to those gold Dre headphones.

The biggest difference between this Heat locker room and what we saw in Cleveland, though, may be in attitude. The Cavs were consistently discussed as being very loose, very easy going, always joking. The bench famously danced to their opponents' misfortune . Many found it disrespectful, some found it unprofessional. It's possible that the Heat could turn into the same happy go-lucky bunch when they get to know one another better, when there aren't kids scrapping for a final roster spot on a team that could net them a championship their first year in. But there was a very clear sense of the tone of the Heat both in the locker room and on the floor, best summed up by Udonis Haslem before the game.

"From Day 1," Haslem said, "when everyone started to make sacrifices to be a part of this, we understood what it's all about. It's all about business, and everyone coming together for a common goal, to try and win a championship."

That much was clear, even in a preseason game in a non-NBA city. The players aren't robots, it's not a taciturn feel to them when they're on the floor or in the back. Dwyane Wade hung Udonis Haslem's shirt and jeans from a ceiling fan after the game for crying out loud (another indication it is still very much Wade's locker room, despite LeBron's looming presence). Business is probably the most outstanding theme from the sense you take away from this team. Despite the distractions, despite the egos, despite "The Decision," this team focused on executing business. It may have been all fun and games over the summer or in previous years, but the backlash has forged in this team a determination mentally that's been apparent in their brief time on the court. Chris Bosh, after the Heat victory in which he scored 23 points, primarily from the attention drawn by LeBron, also spoke to the level of intensity that's already present with the Heat.

"It is all business," Bosh said. "Everything we do is professional. We handle everything in a professional manner. We practice extremely hard. We work hard in the weight room, in the training room, to prepare us the right way to play. That's the nature of the Heat organization. I think everyone has accepted it and we have that in the back of our minds every time, that we have a lot of expectations on us. And in order to fulfill those expectations we're going to have to work hard and be professional and make sure we get something done and make progress every day."

Bosh said he got over the excitement of playing with Wade and James in training camp. "Once it was business as usual" it was "natural." You have to wonder that in the middle of all the rumored "glorification" of the free agents, if this was the real secret of Pat Riley's success, explaining that his approach is to be professional and reach your goals. Instead of discussions about earning a billion dollars, or playing in this or that city, Riley's approach paid off and so far, it seems to have taken hold. The word sacrifice is spoken often by the Heat, from role players all the way up to the superstars. It's odd to hear it from them after a summer of so many people calling them selfish for leaving their respective teams. But they're very much dedicated to at least talking about it. Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said that all three of the Triad superstars came in knowing the sacrifice they were going to have to make. Whether that will translate to the floor and locker room is another question that can only be answered by the grind of the regular season, but it can't be denied that the idea is on their mind. And for now, the team itself hasn't allowed many outside influences to start creeping in.

Two people I talked to close to the situation said that as of yet, James' entourage haven't become integrated with the Heat's organization. They are present, but not overt as some feared they would be. Then again, this is October 11th, not February or April, and things are very much different now than how they will be then. The challenge for the Heat will be to keep themselves invested in that business approach, in the intensity Haslem spoke of, while not grinding themselves into nothing. Maybe simply pulling pranks on teammates like Wade's tilt-a-whirl of Haslem's jeans will keep the team loose enough while it focuses on taking its energy out on the critics who doubt them.

One way or another, this season is setting itself up to reveal a lot not only about LeBron James and his legacy, but about this group of professionals the Heat have surrounded the Triad with. One thing's for sure, with all the hype, talent, attention, criticism and expectations they'll face this year, and despite what they may tell reporters, it won't be business as usual.

Posted on: October 9, 2010 2:31 am
Edited on: October 9, 2010 2:40 am

Udonis Haslem: Heat office linebacker

Heat forward ready to the dirty work on the Heat, just as he always has, despite the critics.
Posted by Matt Moore.

Udonis Haslem has a championship ring. He's a seven year veteran of the NBA, has a great per-minute average (11.7 points, 10.4 rebounds per 36 ) and is the consummate worker. But when people talk about the Heat, the biggest criticisms are of whether they'll be able to defend the post or rebound. This despite Haslem's 16.9 rebounding rate (percentage of all available rebounds collected) which was good enough for eleventh among qualifying power forwards.

In the post? According to Synergy Sports , he held opponents to a 39.2 FG% in the post, good for tenth among players with his number of possessions. That's really good, if you're not great with numbers. Haslem is a tremendous rebounder and low-post defender. And yet the critics remain. Haslem, for one, isn't frustrated by it.

"I'm used to it you know because I always fly under the radar. It's unfortunate because some of those people making those calls are supposed to be experts, but if they were experts, they would know what you know. But my job is not to impress those guys, it's to make this team better. As long as the guys in this organization and the guys I step on the floor with know my importance, that's all that matters."
It's Haslem's understated way that's allowed him to prosper with the Heat his entire career. Despite not having exceptional size or athleticism, Haslem is a productive member of the team, a vital component. As Chris Bosh put it after the Heat's win:

"He just has a great knack for the ball, I don't know how he does it. He does a good job of putting a body on his man and going and get it. Just looking at him lets me know how I need to improve on my rebounding. Just the fact that he knows how to play and that support off the bench, he pushes everybody else, and it's helping us a lot."
That's certainly true. Haslem poured in 17 points, 9 rebounds, and a plus/minus of 15 in 21 minutes Friday, flummoxing the young Thunder frontcourt as he showed off that "knack" time and time again. He worked with Chris Bosh, switching off on the toughest defensive assignments, and was constantly in position. It's this strength of Haslem, the in-between plays, the little things, that make him what could be the X-Factor for the Heat this season, the player that pushes them through when starpower is constrained.

A perfect example was Friday against an amped Thunder team that lead for most of the first quarter. Then Haslem entered and all of a sudden the rim was no longer built with a welcome mat, the rotations were tighter, the defensive communication, much better. After the game, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra described Haslem not as the kind of pure-energy element, but as the basketball version of football's defensive leaders.

"(Udonis) has obviously a toughness and intensity to the way he plays, but a real intelligence defensively. He helps guys out, can make the proper rotations, he makes a lot of things look easy. But it takes a real savvy veteran player to be able to anchor that. I look at him as a linebacker, really making good plays and anchoring the defense."
There will continue to be questions about Haslem, due to his lack of length and the way the Celtics were able to so thoroughly flummox him last season in the playoffs. But that was on a team with limited offensive weapons, something the Heat no longer suffer with. Bosh will knock down the mid-range jumpers, James will do what he does, Miller will stretch the defense from the perimeter, and oh, yeah, there's that Wade guy.

Haslem doesn't think he'll just be called upon for cleanup. He says he understands he'll have to hit from all over the floor and to be ready offensively when called upon.

"There will be shots all over with this team. I have to be comfortable shooting the ball from everywhere. Top of the key, elbow, baseline, whatever the defense gives us. "

But for every bucket he pulls in, the real questions will surround the defense, and if it's getting the job done. Haslem says the key for the good defense the Heat have shown in the first games of preseason will be maintaining the intensity they've had so far.

"You've got to bring that intensity every night. You know, it's easy come out with intensity with the home crowd, and in training camp against each other every day. When we finally get a chance to go against other people, it's easy to have that intensity in those moments."
The NBA is a grind, especially the regular season. The reason so many good teams fall by the wayside during the regular season is because they can't bring it night after night after night, something that Haslem says the Heat are focused on.

"It's going to be tough, but the bottom line is we have to have that mental toughness to go out and play hard every night. Every night's not going to be a good night, our body's not going to feel bad every night. Some nights you're going to be mentally tired. But we have to go out and get after it every night."

There's a lot of newness to the Heat. Players are still figuring things out, trying to understand what goes on night in and night out with one another on the floor. But even with the newer players that have joined the team, Haslem seems to think the changes won't be that severe.

"All these guys are veterans, so we've played together at one time or another. We have great respect for what everyone brings to the table."
It's becoming more clear as this Heat team begins to take shape that as much as the Big 3 will pave the way for the Heat's prosperity, it may be players like Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem that help see them through struggles. Doing the dirty work, making the tough smart plays.

Just like a linebacker.

Posted on: October 6, 2010 1:35 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2010 1:36 pm

Jonas Jerebko suffers torn Achilles

Pistons forward to miss up to five months with Achilles injury.
Posted by Matt Moore

Lost in the insignificant hamstring injury of Dwyane Wade was the fact that Jonas Jerebko went down in a nasty collision last night and immediately went to the locker room. The initial diagnosis was an achilles strain. Turns out that was pre-tests, because today Pistons radio is reporting Jerebko tore his Achilles tendon , and will miss at least three months , with some estimates as great as five months .

This would be the same Pistons team that was hoping to shake off the injury woes of last year. They also lost Terrico White to a broken foot . The big issue here is that the Pistons were looking to possibly move Tayshaun Prince who Jerebko has backed up at small forward, and aren't exactly deep in the frontcourt, with Greg Monroe and Ben Wallace their only real options outside of Jason Maxiell at this point. Beyond that, Jerebko made a name for himself as last year as an extremely solid young player with good effort, instincts, and energy. Losing him is going to be a significant blow to the team, just hours after it was announced they'd been sold.

Guess the luck carries over in the paperwork.

Posted on: October 6, 2010 1:22 am
Edited on: October 6, 2010 9:41 am

Wade may be "a couple of weeks"

Triad star says he may be out " a couple of weeks."
Posted by Matt Moore

So Dwyane Wade strained a hamstring after only 3 minutes in Tuesday night's preseason opener. It's no biggie, but after the game, Wade went ahead and gave a timetable for his return. As in, he will not be bouncing back immediately; it is preseason, after all. The Palm Beach Post blog Heat Zone first reported Wade's comment:

Wade said that he would see how what he called a “hamstring pull” responded to treatment… in about a week.

“In a couple of weeks, I’ll be back and running,” Wade said.

So fans on the Heat's miniature tour of the country, including a Friday stop in Kansas City can go ahead and simmer on those plans of a first glimpse at the Triad. It will have to be the dynamic duo of James and Bosh for now, if in fact those two decide to go in the other preseason games.

Wade's making the right call, naturally. There's zero reason for him to rush coming back. The team certainly needs to establish chemistry, flow, and its principles. But even if they rushed to prepare themselves for the season opener in Boston, no one will credit them until May. That has to be their focus, playing for June. Everything else is secondary. And from what we saw in the preseason opener, they're well on their way regardless.

(HT: SBNation.com )
Posted on: October 5, 2010 10:59 pm
Edited on: October 5, 2010 11:01 pm

Highlight Factory: Notes on Heat preseason debut

Heat win hugely important game that does not count in standings against mediocre squad. LeBron James is good at basketball.
Posted by Matt Moore and Royce Young

Some thoughts from your F&R staff after the Heat's 105-89 win over the Pistons to open the Miami Triad era. Dwyane Wade left the game in the first quarter with a strained hamstring and did not return.

Royce Young: One thing mildly interesting: With Carlos Arroyo on the court, he typically ran the offense but when Mario Chalmers was in the game, LeBron seemed to control things a bit more. I don't know if this was by design or coincidental, but it seems the Heat are set on letting LeBron operate much in the same way he did in Cleveland. Now this (preseason) game isn't the best indicator because Dwyane Wade only played a few minutes and really all it turned into was the Cavaliers with Chris Bosh, but still, the usage of the point guard was minimal.

Matt Moore: Interesting that you mention that, because I thought the offense flowed a lot better with Chalmers in the game. He wasn't dictating the ball by bringing it to the timeline or setting things on the perimeter as much, but Chalmers was a through-point for the offense, and his shot looked much cleaner than Arroyo's. It's not just that this team can operate with James or Wade at point, but they may actually need to.

RY: Chalmers handled his duties pretty well though. Ten points, seven assists and just one turnover in 19 minutes. And he's coming back off a light ankle sprain. He'll be seeing more like 25-30 minutes this season but if that type of box score becomes semi-consistent, this team will be pretty awesome.

MM: Much better than I was expecting. Arroyo on the other hand was dreadful, even with a better line (4 of 6) than Chalmers. He just seemed like such an athletic downgrade from Chalmers. Then again, it's preseason, which is what I like to call "Marioworld."

RY: If you're even a casual fan of the NBA, it was hard not to be a little star-struck watching Wade, LeBron and Bosh all on the court at the same time. It was kind of surreal. Everyone has their feelings about this Miami team but even if you're on the side that absolutely despises it with every fiber of your being, watching Dwyane Wade try and follow a missed LeBron layup was something else. I wonder how long it's going to take for this newness to wear off and we can all start watching them just as a basketball team. I kind of think it might not really happen this season.

MM: It definitely had that All-Star feel to it. I kept waiting for Usher to break out at halftime. Bosh I thought was the weirdest part. He's doing what Chris Webber called "the dirty work" by cleaning up misses (and man is he going to get a ton of points that way this season). This is a premier offensive player in the league, and he's essentially playing the Anderson Varejao role. Of course, Bosh's line was great (20 points, 6 boards), but he had significant trouble with both the double-team and setting up in the block. He looked much more comfortable face-up on the wing, which isn't surprising if you've done your homework, but betrays what he's supposed to be for the Heat, which is the man down low. I would have liked to see more pick and roll with LeBron from them tonight, as well as more high-post work from Bosh.

RY: The DNP's for the Heat: Eddie House, Kenny Hasbrouck, Juwan Howard, Jamaal Magloire, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Mickell Gladness and Da'Sean Butler. Probably not too much to read into there because the notable ones (House, Howard, Magloire and Ilgauskas) are old veterans and are probably being limited in preseason.

MM: I thought more interesting was that Patrick Beverly got as much time as he did (a good nine minutes) as well as Dexter Pittman. The Heat are obviously still giving the youngsters a look in preseason.

RY: For a player like Udonis Haslem who is near automatic on an open 12-foot baseline jumper, LeBron is going to be incredible for him. Haslem was very good finishing with 14-13 and hit 6-9 from the field. More than likely, Haslem will become the rock on the Miami bench and in some games may prove to be that difference maker on the second unit instead of Mike Miller or Eddie House, who most think needs to step up.

MM: Z lived off of drive and kicks from LeBron for years, but Haslem is more athletic and has a closer range (Z has to have space to allow time to set up his shot at his age). I think Haslem's got a ton of potential to be the difference maker for this team on both sides of the ball. The best thing about him is he's reliable. Well, except for last year against the Celtics. That'll be a storyline down the road.

RY: Joel Anthony is set as the Heat's starting 5 right now and here was his line: 20 minutes, zero points, one rebound, two blocks, 0-0 from the field and four fouls. When you're Joel Anthony on the roster built like this, you better get used to lines like that.

MM: I almost feel like Dexter Pittman's 8 points, 4 fouls, 2 rebound performance was better. The effort was there from Pittman which is what the team needs. Anthony's not going to fill up the point totals, but he better get to rebounding and fast. This team absolutely must dominate the glass if they want to get where they're going, because they're not flush with elite size.

RY:  Granted, just one preseason game so it's way too early to start crowning this team, but that didn't stop me from thinking about 25 times, "Dang, this team is good." Wade only played three minutes so that's not a big taste of what it will be like, but with LeBron cooking there's just no stopping them. I think while we all questioned how Wade and LeBron would co-exist this summer we kind of forgot what an unselfish and great passer LeBron is. Yes, LeBron needs the ball in his hands just like Wade, but at the same time, LeBron is such a creator that you can picture them working fabulously together.

MM: How about that jab-step dribble and jump-whip pass to Bosh for the dunk in the first quarter? That's the kind of stuff you're going to see a lot. I think a lot of people put too much emphasis on one game of LeBron's career (Game 5) and forgot that this really is the best player in the NBA. He's still able to get to the rim whenever he wants. Having Bosh is good for him because he can finally trust the guy to get it done. The Wade-James experiment is still in testing phase with Wade's injury, but it's a matter of how it will work, not if. This is a preseason game, so there's going to be heavy limitations from what we can take away from it. But if you're a hoophead, you watched this team and it struck you. We have a new powerhouse in the NBA and teams better get ready to contend with them.

I will say this in closing. The chemistry on court seemed good, but there was a concern. Bosh seemed a bit awkward and out of place early on when he wasn't just given the ball in ISO to work. That's going to come in time, but right now, it's something they need to work on. And if you noticed, James took a hard hit on his right elbow in the first, grimaced, cursed, then missed two free throws (finished 0-3 from the line). I'm not convinced the elbow is better. I am convinced the Heat are going to be not only good, but interesting to watch develop this year. As overhyped as they may be.

Posted on: October 4, 2010 4:54 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2010 5:16 pm

Aussie Aussie Aussie! Bogut cleared to play!

Bucks center cleared to play in preseason games.
Posted by Matt Moore

Andrew Bogut has been cleared to play in preseason games , which is pretty neat for them. Bogut's been all over the place in terms of predicting how he's coming along, and he's pretty set to avoid long-term injury, so this may not be set. But having Bogut back will help a ton in terms of Skiles trying to set rotations considering the number of changes the Bucks brought in.

It'll be interesting to see how the injury restricts Bogut. Using Synergy Sports , we see that Bogut only shot 43% in the post last year, and only drew fouls 5% of the time. He was much better in the pick and roll (shooting 70%) and in offensive rebounding situations (57%). But pick and roll requires more coordination with the mitts, and offensive rebounds are of course more physical. So the question will be how Bogut can react to the delicate nature of his wrist while he recovers from one of the grossest falls of all time.

Meanwhile, he does need to get floor time, because Brandon Jennings is still very much a work in progress. Working on Jennings' shot selection will be greatly improved if he learns to go to the big fella, and often. There are some new egos on the squad with Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden, so Bogut's presence is needed to establish the alpha dogs on the team. So his being on board from the get go has to boost the Bucks' chances of not only holding onto their playoff spot but improving on it.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com