Tag:Dwyane Wade
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 11, 2010 1:20 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2010 3:19 pm

Heat Stroke: You will pay to see the Heat play

Breaking News: Heat will make NBA ungodly amounts of money this year. Posted by Matt Moore

Mike Wallace, now of ESPN, commented Friday night in Kansas City for the Heat's sellout crowd (the first professional basketball game in KC's Sprint Center to actually feel like it sold out) that the Heat could be the NBA's stimulus package, with the way they're drawing people . Based on the enormous amount of attention the team is getting and a report today from the Wall Street Journal , that joke could be much closer to the truth than we suspect.

The WSJ today reports that ticket prices for the Heat are up across the land by as much as ...wait for it... 72% from the rest of the league. That's just stunning, I don't care how expected it was. That 72% increase is for the Celtics, though, arguably their biggest rival. But what's interesting is how widespread the increases are. The second biggest increase is in Cleveland, where the price is over $127 per ticket, versus the season average of $74.51.

Just so we're clear on this, the owner that has consistently disrespected James for what he feels is betrayal, and who played to the fans' heart strings, that owner will be making a considerable profit from James' appearance in Cleveland, and apparently demand is high enough to justify it. This is the great thing about sports. We feign outright disgust while still paying for that which disgusts us.

Meanwhile, the same effect happens with Toronto, where the price rises over $54 to see Chris Bosh not play defense for someone else, and even in cities who weren't burned by this summer. Rockets prices are up over $40, and Sixers prices are up over $52 Bucks. That's quite a steep increase in the middle of an economic downturn, regardless of when the recession ended. It's yet another sign of what the more rational among us tried to say this whole time. People can badmouth the Heat all they want, they are great for the league. Not good, great. Every team is going to profit significantly on those nights when the Triad Circus comes to town, and there's no denying they want those dollars.

If Dan Gilbert was really so outraged on behalf of the city over James' betrayal, he'd drop ticket prices for that game so that the fans could get afford to come see the man who broke their hearts and tell him how they feel. I'm still stunned the league is putting this on national television (which we'll get to another time), but the draw is obvious. Heck, just look at the ticket prices. Meanwhile, the Heat are going to put the NBA on the map in a way not even the recent Celtics-Lakers rivalry has been able to. This is going to be a peak season for the NBA in attention and revenue. Just a shame the peak comes right before the lockout fall.

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 8, 2010 4:04 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2010 5:50 pm

Brooks thinks the Thunder are coming along nicely

Thunder coach expects difficulty in managing frontcourt versatility, praises Westbrook's leadership growth.
Posted by Matt Moore

Scott Brooks simultaneously has an extremely difficult and conveniently easy gig right now. He's got a top club in the NBA's Western Conference, but operating with a young roster in a small market, expectations aren't through the roof. He's got a high volume of frontcourt depth, but he's got to figure out how to manage all the rotations and minutes. And he's got guys that love to play together. There's really no downside to that.

At practice Friday morning before OKC's preseason game versus the Heat, Brooks talked about that frontcourt depth. Cole Aldrich, the eleventh overall pick (acquired in a trade with the Hornets that also netted Mo Peterson) will get the start tonight in KC, less than an hour from KU where he made his bones in college. The Thunder this year have worlds of depth down low, with Aldrich joining Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison (another KU alum), and Nenad Krstic with Byron Mullens mopping up the excess. Brooks says the depth is a good thing to have, but a challenge for the staff.
"I like the depth we've got at all five spots. It makes it challenging for the coach, but it's better. You'd rather have that than have to bleed every minute of the starting five. I feel very confident that our guys off the bench whoever they may be will come in and do well. I like the frontcourt. We've have a lot of different style of players. Serge brings his game, and then on down the line: Cole, Nenad, and Jeff, with Byron and D.J. It's my job to figure out how to mesh it all together."
Brooks also spoke about Russell Westbrook and the leadership skills he took from his work this summer with Team USA:
"Any time you're around a great group of athletes like he was with Team USA, it's going to help your game and your leadership. Coach K's a terrific coach, and you learn something from every coach you have. Russell's leadership skills have improved every year. I think as a point guard you want that. It's hard to lead a team as a rookie. The only one I can remember is Magic. But Russell's done a great job in developing his leadership skills."
Westbrook will get his chances to show the offensive leadership tonight against a Heat team that will start Mario Chalmers (another former Jayhawk) and Mike Miller, filling in for an injured Dywane Wade.
Posted on: October 7, 2010 2:49 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2010 2:49 pm

Wade won't need an MRI on the hamstring

Posted by Royce Young

Mike Wallace of the Miami Herald reports that Dwyane Wade won't need an MRI on his strained right hamstring and coach Erik Spoelstra says Wade is out at least a week.

This is one of those if-it-was-any-other-player-it's-not-news type of things, I think. But with everyone so anxious about the Miami Trio and seeing them work together, Wade's injury caused quite a scare. Because I don't think a lot of us even considered the possibility that one of them could get hurt. And what a bummer it would be if one got hurt before the season even started.

Strained hamstrings aren't anything that require much more than a little rest. Wade shouldn't have any lingering effects or nagging pain that bugs him the rest of the season. It was just a little tight to start with and he played on it. Now if there's a setback then things start getting a little tricky.

I would imagine Wade might be held out or at least extremely limited for the rest of the preseason. We're all eager to see the new Heat play together, even if it is preseason, but Spoelstra and Pat Riley are thinking about bigger things.

But it's not like it's not important for the Heat to play together in exhibition games. This is a brand new team with almost an entirely new roster. They need to play together. In the first outing, it basically transformed into a Cavs team with Chris Bosh. LeBron ran the show and was the man. So until Wade gets back, we won't really know how they're going to work together. And neither will the Heat.
Posted on: October 7, 2010 12:54 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2010 12:56 pm

Video: The Heat watch people shoot stuff

Posted by Royce Young

If you have your training camp at a military base, you should expect that there will be some kind of crossover between the military and basketball.

Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra wanted to have training camp at Hurlburt Field and Eglin Air Force Base to limit distractions, limit media and also serve as a motivational tool for the team. They'd have a chance to interact with soldiers, hear stories and gather a little extra sense of perspective and purpose in playing basketball.

And they might get to watch some people shoot some stuff too.

The video is simple. Members of the Heat sit back and watch military people put on a demonstration of high-grade weaponry. Judging by the reactions, the players clearly loved it, but not only that, outings like this is what helps build that all important togetherness and chemistry.

People forget that this is an entirely new team. Yes, Chris Bosh, LeBron and Dwyane Wade all know each other and are friends, but outside of some international ball, they haven't been teammates. Good coaches use different tactics to build kinship among teammates and this was one strategy.

But even more than that, I found it very cool to see the team interacting with the servicemen and women, with Wade even signing one of the shards of glass from the car that was shot to pieces. It's funny how things work like this. The point of the event was to get the team out together doing something and to take advantage of the fact their camp was at a miliary installation. It may have seemed like a fun trip for the Heat, but really what they created was a memory for the miliatary folks that got to show their heroes what they do on a daily basis.

Via Early Termination Option
Posted on: October 6, 2010 9:40 am
Edited on: October 6, 2010 9:47 am

Shootaround 10.6.10: Get Pumped!

Posted by Royce Young
  • A website has compiled a big list of team slogans for all the major sports and it's pretty obvious the NBA has some pretty terrible ones. "Get Pumped!" and "CommITment Engergizes" just aren't doing much for me. Check out the whole list. It's fascinating.
  • Linda Robertson of The Miami Herald: "The announcement was ominous: Dwyane Wade, strained right hamstring. Will not return. That is, the linchpin and soul of the new Miami Heat would not return for Tuesday's preseason opener against the Detroit Pistons. When he will return is unknown. Hamstrings are the recalcitrant divas of the muscle set, and often require extra coddling, stroking and pleading to attain cooperation. Wade could very well be good as new in a couple of weeks, but the sight of him limping off the AmericanAirlines Arena court barely three minutes into the game elicited a murmur from the festive crowd. Panic? No. Concern? Yes. Here, on the first night of the anticipated odyssey to an NBA championship, the Heat and its fans got a glimpse of the dreaded disaster scenario. What if one of the Big Three goes down with an injury? What if Wade, LeBron James or Chris Bosh winds up on the bench wearing a suit and tie?"
  • The Cavaliers played a preseason game last night too. Remember them? Bob Finnan of the News-Herald: "Their chance for a championship might have dimmed, but basketball is not dead at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavaliers kicked off their new era of basketball without LeBron James on Tuesday in an 87-72 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats in the preseason opener for both teams. 'It's home,' Cavs forward Jamario Moon said. 'It's never strange to go home. We were anxious to get in here and show people basketball is still alive in Cleveland.'"
  • Everyone was focused on what was going on in Miami last night, but did you know DeMarcus Cousins was awesome in his debut? Cousins put up 16 points and 16 rebounds in the Kings' win.
  • Truth About It on John Wall's debut: "Why, beyond statistics, Wall was worth drafting first overall. I hear DeMarcus Cousins had a nice night. And perhaps something he did sparked some energy in his team at some point. But overall, without the consistency and the label PG next to his name in the stat book, Cousins doesn’t come close to doing what Wall is able to do with his energy, effort, and passion for the game that’s absolutely contagious to his teammates."
Posted on: October 6, 2010 1:51 am
Edited on: October 6, 2010 9:41 am

Heat Stroke: Heat-Knicks to go 3D

ESPN plans to broadcast Heat game on ESPN 3D, take overhyped team into overhyped technology scope.
Posted by Matt Moore

Just in case you haven't had enough of the Miami Heat in two dimensions, you'll be able to get them in the third for the first time. The New York Times reports that ESPN will broadcast the first 3D NBA game on December 17th , between the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat. The network will air the game on their newest venture, ESPN 3D, not to be confused with ESPN 3, their online component, or ESPN 8: The Ocho . From the Times :
Steve Hellmuth, the N.B.A.’s executive vice president for operations and technology, acknowledged that these experiments produced mixed results. He said producers were still determining how best to shoot games in a way that maximized the advantages of the medium. For basketball, Hellmuth said, this would probably mean fewer of the high, wide shots common in standard broadcasts, and more shots from the “low-slash position,” captured from a camera at the corner of the baseline
Oh, so the game will actually have its own look and feel. Neat. We're pretty excited about this. In fact, we've already put together a list of things we're excited to see in 3D for the first time in this game:
  • Carlos Arroyo's strange, carney hands. We think they'll look like tentacles, only not quite Rondo-esque.
  • Dwyane Wade's various sleeves, braces, and wraps. It'll feel like we're so close we can actually smell the hospital.
  • Amar'e Stoudemire's dunks, which we're pretty sure in 3D could actually give viewers PTSD.
  • Mike Miller's hands. After all, maybe in 3D we'll see what's wrong with them that he keeps passing instead of shooting.
  • Mike D'Antoni's mustache. It'll get us ready to eventually see it in the fourth dimension where it belongs, amid the cosmos.
  • Chris Bosh's defense. Maybe it'll seem more real that way.
  • LeBron James' ego. We're hoping the third dimension actually brings it into the physical dimension and it looks like a shadow player playing behind him.
  • Gallinari, because really, what's better than a 3D rooster?
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