Tag:Heat
Posted on: September 20, 2010 12:26 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2010 1:42 pm
 

The Heat will stretch the X's and O's

Posted by Matt Moore

We knew the Heat were going to be different. That's to be expected when you import two superstars onto the same team to join another. But we're now learning that it's probably going to push even further than we expected.

Ira Winderman of the Miami Sun-Sentinel spoke with Pat Riley a few days ago and the Heat head honcho "strongly hinted" that LeBron James or Dwyane Wade would do considerable work at point guard . Erik Spoelstra then spoke with the Miami Herald and said that James and Wade would "handle the ball" a lot. Wade has been adamant that him running point wouldn't be a big differential from what he's done at the past, but there's always been a "true" point guard on the floor bringing the ball up-court.

How does a Heat team ran at point by James or Wade look like? Well, it's different, that's for sure. A lineup that may see considerable time for the Heat features Mike Miller at shooting guard. You can expect Miller to camp on the perimeter and wait for his man to commit to a double-team or subsequent recovery help. The center's irrelevant here. Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, doesn't matter. They're rebounding  and setting off-screens. That's it. Here's the kink in this system. If we suppose Bosh is in the post (where, honestly, he's not at his strongest, versus face-up), and James is running point, is Wade in the high post? Or is he on the perimeter as well? His perimeter shooting isn't good enough for that to be a viable strategy. The backdoor cut is obviously a high-potential opportunity. But then you're risking injury as Wade's in an elevated, high impact position, focused on catching the lob while the guys underneath try and kill him.

This is the problem with Wade at point-forward. With a talented true-center, he could run the two-man game. But is Bosh able to work that way out of the post? Bosh in the high pinch post with James at point playing the two man game may be the best option, with Wade floating off back-door screens, then driving inside for a kick and drive.

Lots of options. Wade at point may be the better one.

James in the high post may be the right merger of his skills. Gives his top-level passing the ability to go low to Bosh, out to Miller, or off the cut to Wade. Wade working with Bosh feels like it would make more sense, on plays that allow James to take a possession "off." The biggest issue will be creating space without allowing teams to cheat inside and just smack them around in playoff-style basketball.

Oh, and there's Mario Chalmers...

Moving on.

The Heat are going to have a lot to figure out when they head to camp in a few weeks.
Posted on: September 17, 2010 4:12 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2010 5:07 pm
 

Pop Quiz: Has Orlando's window closed?

Posted by Matt Moore

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...

As Courtney Lee hung in the air, anticipating the incoming lob for a last second shot in the NBA Finals, he likely didn't know anything of what would happen as a result in the next 1.5 seconds. He would miss the alley-oop, a nearly impossible shot that he deserves credit for simply for managing to execute. He would wind up traded to New Jersey which would go on to be one of the worst teams in NBA history, then be traded to Houston. The Magic would swap out Hedo Turkoglu for an upgrade at shooting guard in Vince Carter. And the Magic's best chance at an NBA championship would be snuffed out.

So the question has to be: Does Orlando still have a window open to win an NBA championship?

It sounds absurd. After all, the team won 59 games last season, good for second in the East. They stomped their way to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second season in a row. Dwight Howard enters the season at only 24 years old. Jameer Nelson has a promising career in front of him. They have depth. Stan Van Gundy is considered one of the better coaches in the league. How could their window be closed?

The concern comes down to a number of tangible concerns, and one that relates to the ephemeral nature of windows in the NBA.

In the tangible, the biggest glaring problem is quite simply the other teams in the league. When Orlando ousted Boston in 2009, it was thought to be a death sentence on Boston's lockhold on the East. But Celtic players and fans who thought the only reason Orlando advanced was Kevin Garnett's injury that year were validated last season when the Green stomped the Blue with defense and intensity. Not helping matters on that front is the improved center depth for the Celtics, who now feature Jermaine O'Neal and Shaquille O'Neal to combat Dwight Howard along with Kendrick Perkins.

Then of course, there's that nasty Miami issue. With the Heat not only taking a giant step forward, but playing in Miami's division, things get considerably harder for the Magic.

But those are outside matters. The real issue for Orlando in trying to make it back to the Finals and compete is that they seem to have detonated the special formula that got them there in the first place. Vince Carter had a handful of terrific great games for the Magic but also brought all the questions about toughness and clutch ability. And he seemed a tremendous step back from what Hedo Turkoglu had given them, regardless of Turkoglu's age and diminishing skill. Chemistry for that team was shaky. It seemed inconsistent and incomplete, like there were tensions bubbling under, in contrast to the 2009 team which seemed to hum like a finely tuned engine.

Finally there's the nature of championship windows themselves for small-market teams. A large market team like the Lakers can contend for a decade if they keep egos in check. They can stay in the conversation as long as their top elite player is around and healthy. But we've seen it often in the past. A smaller market team has what is considered a great team, pushes the elite team in their conference, but is unable to reach the summit. The Magic tinkered with what worked, which is often a big no-no in sports. Turkoglu may have been on the downside of his career and not as talented as Vince Carter, but the Magic were better with him running point forward in the halfcourt set.

Think of what they need in order to return to the championship if they don't make a major trade this season. They need Carter to play better than he did last season, have everyone stay healthy, repeat last year's performance, then overcome Boston's defense and Miami's starpower... just to make the Finals where barring a gigantic upset they'll then face the same Lakers team that overwhelmed them two years ago. Orlando's ownership group has commendably committed money to the team as it enters a new arena with a contending team. But unless it takes a major step back up the ladder, it may just be spinning its expensive wheels as the rest of the league continues to stay one step ahead of them.

Orlando will be good. But barring Dwight Howard becoming one of the most dominant offensive players in the league or massive injuries to both Miami and Boston, there's little evidence to believe they'll be good enough to be considered a real title contender.
Posted on: September 17, 2010 11:46 am
Edited on: September 17, 2010 11:53 am
 

The Heat have got security on lock down

Heat credentials application for training camp is like jumping through fifteen rings of fire while solving Rubik's Cube.
Posted by Matt Moore


Here's a little bit of inside media info. Not all NBA team PR departments are the same. Some are laid back, informal, and easy to work with. Others are like dealing with a government office. They don't want to help you, and just when you think you have everything, they inform you that you need another form that's all the way back at your house across town. It's nothing personal, it's just a difference in philosophies that varies depending on a number of factors, including how much media presence there is in a given market.

Then, way on the far end of the spectrum, so far you you can only identify it by the flashing spotlights emanating from their fortress of attitude, is how the Miami Heat are handling training camp.

It was announced yesterday that the Heat will be spending camp at a military base, Hurlburt field in Florida at Eglin Air Force base. A nice way for the Heat to be identified with troops committed to service. But then, of course, there's a nice secondary perk. Getting into the thing as a media member is going to be harder than slipping into a party with LeBron and company in Vegas. Wait...

The Heat sent out their camp credentials announcement, and it's a solid three pages of documentation. Which isn't like a college application or anything, but it's still really extensive. There's legitimate reason for the application, naturally; we're talking about a freaking Air Force base. Security needs to go a little bit beyond "are you going to take naked pictures of Dwyane Wade?" and into "Are you a legitimate security risk?"

The implications are extremely favorable for the Heat in controlling the message. Due to the base's necessary security restrictions on their internet networks, no service will be provided for media. Looking to file? You'd better bring an air card. This ain't the Hilton. The questions on the security clearance may be the best, though. Here's a few examples:

"Have you ever been barred from entry/access to any Federal/military installation or facility?"

Well, that depends. Do you count Karl Malone's house? I got in there, but he said I wasn't armed enough.

"Are you wanted by federal or civil law enforcement authorities, regardless of offense/violation (i.e., an “order to arrest” has been issued by a judge?"


Yes, actually. I know these just look like fashion accessories, but in reality, it's actually a ball and chain. Additionally, the phrase "Born to Kill" tattooed on my forehead is not, in fact, metaphorical.

"Have you ever been convicted of espionage, sabotage, treason, terrorism or murder?"


Convicted is such a strong word. Also, fun fact, this was specifically designed to keep Greg Popovich out.

"Does your name appear on any federal agency’s 'watch list' or “hit list” for criminal behavior or terrorist activity?"


So basically, you're saying the Wolves and Darko Milicic can't come over for a scrimmage, right?

"Have you been convicted of firearms or explosives violation within the past ten years?"

(Insert Gilbert Arenas joke here.)

"Have you ever conspired or attempted to commit any of the criminal acts listed above?"

I confess. I tried to commit espionage once, but Tommy's mom said he had to go home for dinner. Also, get ready for a slew of sabotage jokes about LeBron and Game 5. Just be prepared.

Again, this security is completely understandable given where camp is being held. But that had to be part of the lure for the Heat organization, which has always prided itself on the ability to control the message. With the amount of attention the team will garner this year, starting off in an environment that's already sanitized by its very nature is a shrewd move on the part of Pat Riley.

Ken Berger wanted to weigh in on this post, but he's busy taking the requisite urine sample and tracking down his great-great-great-grandmother's maiden name.
Posted on: September 16, 2010 4:15 pm
Edited on: September 16, 2010 4:23 pm
 

Marijuana charges dropped against Udonis Haslem

Charges dropped against Heat forward for marijuna charges after traffic stop this summer.
Posted by Matt Moore


You have to wonder if this is going to become a recurring theme for the Heat. Trouble faced, challenge overcome, walk away clean. Or maybe this is just your normal story about a player having charges dropped over a minor violation. Regardless, Udonis Haslem's lawyer told the Miami Sun-Sentinel's Ira Winderman that all charges against him from the August arrest for marijuana possession have been dropped . His laywer informed the paper that Haslem's prints were not found on the container in his passenger's luggage which contained the marijuana in question. Haslem has not had previous trouble on account of marijuana. Winderman reports it's unclear whether he will still be forced to attend the NBA's substance abuse counseling sessions, given, you know, he didn't do anything.

It's a welcome development for the Heat, to get the charges cleared and taken care of in advance of training camp. There's going to be enough distractions this year, and Haslem will play an important part in the Heat's defense and rebounding efforts this year. Not having him distracted will likely serve them well.

Haslem's passenger Antwain Fleming does still face the charges for his less than 20 grams of marijuana. In Miami. Yeesh. This is like stopping in the middle of the Titanic's sinking and being upset because someone spilled their water on the carpet.

Posted on: September 10, 2010 5:03 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2010 5:12 pm
 

Pat Riley wants you off the Heat's back

Heat president fires back at critics.
Posted by Matt Moore


Pat Riley's mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore. Well, okay, he's probably going to take it but he's going to be really snarky about it in the press. Riley today spoke with reporters for the first time since pulling off the coup d'etat he managed back in July. In an interview with Ira Winderman of the Miami Sun-Sentinel , Riley fired back at all the people who have been taking pot shots in public towards the Miami Triad and Riley's new superpower.

A few tasty cuts from Riley's fatty cow of incredulity:
  • "Charles Barkley, to me, went way over the top," Riley said. "I think Charles is probably the only guy in the league that can get away with what he gets away with.
  • "Stan (Van Gundy)'s out there making comments about Chris Bosh being a lap dog to Dwyane Wade," Riley said. "I don't know what happened to some of these guys along the way."
  • "I take a little bit of umbrage from some of the things that came from people in our game," he said.
There's a lot more in Winderman's piece, but that gives you a sense for how Riley's feeling. There's going to be a lot more of this stuff over the next nine months, so prepare yourself. Until the world becomes accustomed to the new reality the Heat have made for themselves, and process whatever catharsis they need to if the Heat win or if they lose, this is what we'll be dealing with. The anger of the decisions. The reaction to the anger. The reaction to the anger over the reactions to the anger. Ad nauseum. This is the universe that has been made, with everyone taking a side on whether this is being overly criticized or if it really is indicative of a downfall in character.

The character issue is perhaps the most stunning. Sacrifice is most commonly referred to in hushed tones, and with reverence. But for some reason, the Triad doesn't come off as sacrifice at all. Instead it reflects in many people's eyes as weakness, excuse-making, celebrity-chasing. The answer is likely somewhere in between.

Riley had to expect this, though. Especially from Van Gundy. Asking "what happened" to Van Gundy? Pat Riley did. And Barkley taking strong sides is nothing new. But this is just the beginning. Every loss to a major team will be played as a revelation that this team isn't ready to really sacrifice and play together. Every win will be dismissed unless it's in the Finals, and then it will simply be discussed as "They should win! They have the talent!"

This is the cost of pulling off something like Riley did. There will be fame, popularity, wins, and money. Lots of money. But there will also continue to be people dead set against the Heat. Riley needs to accept it and let these pot shots keep coming. That motivation is what the Heat need more than anything, the drive to go out and destroy everyone who's dismissed, insulted, or marginalized what they've done and who they are.

"The Decision" is over. The fallout will continue for months, maybe years.
Posted on: September 9, 2010 9:15 am
Edited on: September 9, 2010 11:42 am
 

Shootaround 9.9.10: Dwight grants a big wish

Rodman's overheard orgy, Artest's ring on the market, and Bogut's MRI.
Posted by Matt Moore
Get your Kleenex ready. The Orlando Sentinel  reports of a visit from Dwight Howard to a woman dying of Stage 3 Multiple Myeloma. The one wish from a dying woman? A visit from the Orlando All-Star. It's a touching story, one that wound up with Howard being the one changed by the visit. Howard is in a unique position for these types of life-changing events. His relationship with his faith may come under constant scrutiny because of his fame, but it also equips him for times like these, comforting a woman on her way out with laughter and compassion.

Ron Artest is selling his championship ring , for charity, before he even has a chance to wear it. NBA.com reports that Artest will sell the ring without putting it on in a fundraiser to help put more mental health professionals in school. This comes on the heels of Artest working in schools to promote good mental health. It's indicative of a drastic reversal in public perception, with Artest going from being considered crazy in the negative, non-serious sense to really putting himself forward as a champion for the cause of mental health intervention. Standing "O" for Crazy Pills.

Dwyane Wade is in court this week for the custody case of his children. His lawyer is recommending custody for Wade, obviously, and there's a lawyer for the boys with three recommendations in play. All three recommendations feature Wade in a custody position to some degree. It would appear the talk of family being important for Wade is talk that's being walked, in this instance.

Depressing news out of Sacramento , as police are investigating vandalism of a Kings mural with a swastika that may be related to Kings' Israeli player Omri Casspi. Seriously, folks. We can move past this, right? The vandals really should watch the kid pass in transition. It's hard to hate him after that.

Andrew Bogut is seeing a hand specialist and having an MRI done . Nothing to worry about, really. After all, there's still like, two weeks before training camp...wait, that's not much time at all. Dang.

So Dennis Rodman? Yeah, he went to a party, and was MC'ing, and then left his microphone on when he went upstairs. That's embarrassing. Wait, what's that you say? He was upstairs having sex with six women? What's the word I'm looking for here? Oh, yeah. Icky. But hey, good to know that just like his playing days, Rodman is hyper-efficient. At least those guests that overheard him on the microphone downstairs can cross "eavesdrop on Dennis Rodman in an orgy" off their bucket list.

Spain fell to Serbia yesterday, in a minor upset. Here's how Spain unraveled . It was a shocking loss for Spain, and for those that believe that Ricky Rubio can actually walk on water, part the seas, and hit a jumpshot.

A look back at Dwight Howard's career nights . It's posts like this that make you think twice before criticizing his play too much.

If you have Raptor fan friends, prepare for them to be a grumpy bunch next season . They're gaining a great scorer (as he's shown in World play) in Linas Kleiza, but they're worried about his usage. They have a dynamic scorer in Andrea Bargnani, who, quite honestly, they hate because he doesn't rebound. There's just a lot of bad blood there right now.

I can answer this question . Does Luke Harangody have a role with the Celtics? Sure. Someone's gotta be mascot.

Jared Dudley is resigned to a good-faith situation with the Suns. That rarely works out well in the A. 
Posted on: September 7, 2010 2:52 pm
 

Pop Quiz: How will the All-Star Game look?

Fall is here, hear the yell, back to school, ring the bell ... The NBA season is right around the corner, and NBA training camp starts in just a few short weeks. To get you ready for the NBA season, we've put together 25 pop quizzes. Pencils ready? We continue our Pop Quizzes with this question...



What will the All-Star Game look like?


Los Angeles. City of Angels. Home of the back-to-back NBA champions, the legendary LA Lakers. And in February, home of the 2011 NBA All-Star Game. It's going to be ridiculous, it's going to be over-the-top (more so than even your normal All-Star Game). It's going to be expensive. Really, really expensive. It will also be interesting as next year there are likely to be big changes in the All-Star Game. So what exactly is that game going to look like?

It's difficult to predict, obviously, who will be participating in the game. Even more so than any other episode of predicting the future, there are so many factors that can play into who makes it. Not only things like injuries, team downturns, unexpected rises, and trades, but the popularity contest of the voting system. But there are some things we can examine the possibility of.

For starters, with Amar'e Stoudemire headed to New York, there's a spot down low for the West. You can slide in Tim Duncan, because he's like Johnny Cash. Steady like a freight train, sharp like a razor. Pau Gasol's another lock, as many think he's the best power forward in the league right no w. From there, you've got Zach Randolph and Chris Kaman as the other two bigs from last year's squad. Kaman's unlikely to return with the addition of Blake Griffin, and Randolph's success is tied to an inconsistent Grizzlies team. Meanwhile, Yao Ming returns from injury and will most likely look like a legitimate contender for the starting spot.

But what about Andrew Bynum? We've been waiting for Bynum to live up to his potential for three seasons, and he's constantly referred to as one of the best centers in the league, despite his numerous injury issues. With the Lakers getting older, and Bynum supposedly healthier than he has been in years, Bynum has to be considered a strong contender not just for the backup position, but possibly as a starting center (which would put Tim Duncan at power forward, where he belongs).

Speaking of Duncan, he and Dirk Nowitzki are headed down the stretch and it'll be important to note that one of them is going to take a step backwards. Age demands it. And though Duncan is widely considered the best power forward of all time by those that consider him a power forward, he's most likely to have the dropoff. You saw it at times last season. The writing isn't on the wall, but there's a pen by the chalkboard. Bear in mind we're talking about inches below the greatness he's always provided, but it might be enough with a rising Bynum to shove either him or Dirk out of the starting lineup. And that will just be weird.

This is all before we start trying to figure out the point guards in the West. Steve Nash showing no signs of slowing down. Chris Paul back to full health. Deron Williams healthy with Al Jefferson beside him and more of the offensive load. Tyreke Evans, out of the rookie well and into the general pool. Russell Westbrook, possibly coming on as one of the better slide and dice guards in the league on a team that looks poised to make a run. Stephoe Curry, a rookie of the year runner-up with another season under him and a license to score. This likely means Jason Kidd will not be returning to the team for the 11th time in his career.

And oh, yeah, Kobe will be back in the starting spot. No "probably." He will be.

In the East? Well, the Miami Triad was formed from guys in the East, so they're likely to stay. Even with a downturn in production from sharing the ball, all three should be locks, though it's hard to see Bosh making the starting spot as he was a reserve last season. Amar'e Stoudemire could wind up knocking Kevin Garnett out of the starting spot which would be another changing of the guard. But a more likely scenario is Joe Johnson being unable to reach the starting spot again and moving into the reserve spot as the East looks like the West from last year: four bigs and a guard (Dwyane Wade). Which will be disappointing considering Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo's existence, both of whom are probable to return as starters.

Carlos Boozer, freed from the big-heavy West, may be able to work his way into a spot, and Paul Pierce may be on the bubble. If Andrew Bogut returns healthy, he could complicate matters, along with Brandon Jennings. Basically, point guards are going to massively complicate these rosters.

Sure, some of these players are going to go down to injury, others will have downturn seasons. But there's a strong indication that this might be a year of big changes in the All-Star Game, both with starting rosters and the reserve spots.

But the parties will be awesome regardless.
Posted on: September 7, 2010 9:21 am
Edited on: September 7, 2010 12:54 pm
 

Shootaround 9.7.10: Believe!

Reggie believes in Wade, Thomas believes in loyalty, and Butler believes in Burger King.Posted by Matt Moore

Reggie Miller believes the Heat are still DWade's team . Miller's probably on target here, but the fact that this is debatable is an interesting thought exercise. After all, we say we determine the quality of a player not by his performance, but by how many rings he has. Wade is the only one of the Miami Triad to have a ring, and yet LeBron is burdened with leadership of the squad. It's possible that this whole thing could only serve to show us how we've been underrating Dwyane Wade the past few years.

In a summer that put a very large nail in the coffin of loyalty in sports, the Mavs' actions towards Tim Thomas remain a hand propping it open. Art Garcia spoke with both Thomas and the Mavs , and both sides used the Magic word, loyalty, in their joint decision to add Thomas to the Mavericks' roster this season after his wife's illness forced him away from the game. We'll see if both sides remain loyal if Thomas does well enough to earn more money next season, or poorly enough to force the Mavericks' hand at the trade deadline.

Derrick Rose has been obsessing over improving his three-point range shot. The Bulls were one of the worst offenses and one of the worst perimeter shooting teams in the league last season. They were simply without a perimeter threat. They brought in Kyle Korver to fix that problem. But Rose is taking that burden upon himself and working to improve it while he's with Team USA. Giving that kid range makes him essentially unguardable. Yikes.

A list of NBA pairings that should happen, including Greg Oden and the Phoenix training staff .

Caron Butler owns six Burger Kings , mostly due to the fact that he used to work at one. Do what you know, I suppose.

It's time to put childish things away and start acknowledging the potential that lies in Miami.

Larry Drew says the Hawks are going to switch less , which is a terrific idea. The switching killed the Hawks against the top teams in the league. Surprisingly, it worked against the Celtics, because they weren't fast enough to make the Hawks pay. But against Orlando, the Magic shredded them off switches by forcing penetration in the interim and creating space, the building block of their offense.

Kobe's ready to go at it again . Raise your hand if you're surprised.

An interesting look at who the Magic's rival is now. The Heat-Magic rivalry has several factors boosting it. It's an in-state rivalry, Dwyane Wade has killed the Magic (on a performance, not win-based level) over the years, and the teams play four times a year. The fans say the Celtics, but we'll see what they say by the end of the year.

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