New note at 6:15 p.m. Friday: LeBron James will be named the NBA's MVP on Saturday, a league source tells The Miami Herald. It will be the third time he has won the award. He won it with Cleveland in 2009 and 2010.
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Frank Vogel’s verbal volleys drew mostly a restrained response from the Heat, which felt little need Friday to debate the Pacers coach’s claims that they’re egregious floppers.
Vogel’s gripe - accusing the Heat of being “the biggest flopping team in the NBA” – has added another layer of intrigue to a second-round series with several meaty storylines. Among them:
### Vogel, who said Thursday that Heat players “often times are falling down before contact is even made,” stood by his comments Friday, telling 790 The Ticket that what he said is “harmless” but that “flopping is a problem in this league. Miami certainly has guys that do a lot of it. It’s not good for the game in general.” Vogel said he was not referring to LeBron James or Dwyane Wade.
Chris Bosh said Vogel’s comments provide “fantastic motivation. You can talk as much as you want, give your game [plan] away as much as you want. If we play good defense, we’re not known for flopping.”
But James said, “There’s nothing you can say to our team that will give us extra motivation. We don’t really care. We don’t get involved in that. We’ve been thrown under the bus, we’ve heard everything” in two seasons together.
Coach Erik Spoelstra said, “I could care less. We could care less” about Vogel’s comments. Meanwhile, Udonis Haslem, informed of Vogel’s comments, said, “I’m speechless.” But “it’s a free country and everyone is entitled to their opinion.”
Wade shrugged off Vogel’s remarks, saying, “We understand it’s the playoffs. There’s a lot of things to be said, mind games to be thrown out there. We can’t let that affect us. We usually don’t get into going back and forth too much.”
Said Shane Battier: “It doesn’t really matter what anyone believes or thinks or writes or spouts on TV.”
The Heat drew the fourth most charges in the regular season, with basketballvalue.com crediting them for 155. Haslem was 12th in the league with 29. Battier (27) and Chalmers (21) were next on the Heat.
“We’re a physical team and part of our defensive philosophy is put our bodies in front of offensive players and that’s what we’ve done here for years and years,” Spoelstra said.
### The Bosh/Roy Hibbert center matchup. The Heat is 7-2 with Bosh at center and Haslem starting at power forward. But Bosh will be at a three-inch height disadvantage against the 7-2 Hibbert.
“It’s new challenges for me, and I’m taking them personally,” Bosh said. “We’re going to make Roy play in the open court, make him run and use his feet. If he gets the ball easily in the post, he’s a beast.”
Spoelstra said Bosh “has been solid” at center. “The last three weeks, he’s very focused on exactly what we need -- being big and filling that need for us in the paint on both ends of the court.”
### Matching up with the size of Indiana, which was fourth in the league in rebounding. (The Heat was 21st.) Spoelstra might either make more use of his backup centers (Joel Anthony, Ronny Turiaf and Dexter Pittman) or force the Pacers to adjust by playing small.
Asked if Turiaf or Pittman would play more, Spoelstra said, “very likely… Ronny is the next guy in line” at center after Bosh and Anthony. Turiaf played seven minutes against the Knicks; Pittman didn’t play.
But Spoelstra also said, “We’re not going into it anticipating a lot of immediate changes to how we play.”
That’s a good thing, according to Bosh. “I always love to implement what we do before the other team does,” he said. “They are big, but it really doesn’t mean anything. We’re fast. And we can rebound.”
### James and Wade versus the Pacers wing players. James called Danny Granger (20th in the league in scoring at 18.7) a “good player. Can shoot, drive, make pull up jumpers. He’s going to have to guard me as well. I try to stop the first move and the counter. In the last series, I stopped Carmelo Anthony’s counter and another move, and he used the fadeaway jumper in my face at the end of the third quarter” in Game 5.
Wade said of shooting guard Paul George: “He’s a young, athletic guy that can shoot from outside and be explosive in the open court.”
### The point guard battle. George Hill and Darren Collison will present more problems for Mario Chalmers than Mike Bibby and Baron Davis did. “They’re quick and I’ve got to keep them in front of me,” Chalmers said.
“Two very good point guards,” Wade said. “Collison is extremely fast. He provides a lot of pressure on the ball. He can score, break down a defense. George Hill is solid, big guard. He has really helped that team. Our guards have to change our mindset on the point guards and understand they’re just as big in this series as the big guys are.”
### The Pacers’ unwillingness to accept their position as underdogs. Vogel keeps insisting they’re not the underdog. Asked by 790 whether the Heat is better than Indiana, Vogel said, “I’m not so sure they are. There is no better team in the NBA than Miami. We’re right up there with them. We believe we can beat this team.”
JACORY HARRIS SIGNS
Former UM quarterback Jacory Harris signed with Philadelphia on Friday after impressing the Eagles in a tryout. He becomes the fifth quarterback on the roster, joining starter Michael Vick, Mike Kafta, Trent Edwards and rookie third-rounder Nick Foles.
Harris, who previously auditioned for the Dolphins, had 70 touchdowns and 48 interceptions in four years at UM.