Here’s some Dolphins news and a full Heat practice report from Monday:
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told NFL.com on Monday that he expects Matt Moore will be the team’s starting quarterback at least initially this season.
“I think Matt Moore will probably be the starter in week one, and I wish him the best,” Ross said.
Asked about rookie Ryan Tannehill, Ross said, “I don’t think they’re going to rush Tannehill into anything. He’s going to have to win the starting job…. If Matt Moore develops, so be it. We want a franchise quarterback.”
After drafting Tannehill last month, general manager Jeff Ireland said, “I didn’t take him with the eighth pick in the draft for him to be a backup quarterback.”
Ireland hasn’t ruled out Tannehill starting but said the process must play out.
### Philadelphia cut former UM quarterback Jacory Harris less than two weeks after signing him.
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Shane Battier, the Heat’s new starting power forward, is giving up 30 to 35 pounds to the man he’s guarding, David West. The Heat’s starting center, Ronny Turiaf, is four inches shorter than Indiana’s 7-2 Roy Hibbert, and the Heat’s backup center, 6-9 Joel Anthony, is five inches shorter.
Then there’s Udonis Haslem, who was draining clutch jumpers Sunday while playing with nine stitches and an irritating bandage hanging above a bloody cut over his right eye.
Such is the demanding and difficult predicament that most of the Heat’s power forwards and centers have faced in this playoff series in the absence of Chris Bosh.
And it’s a plight that will continue indefinitely, with Bosh continuing to do rehab on his abdominal strain but not ready to return by any means.
"He's not even near any court work right now," coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Then Spoelstra added it’s “too early to tell” whether Bosh could be back Saturday, when the Heat would potentially play a Game 7 in this Indiana series (which is tied 2-2) or a Game 1 in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Tuesday’s critical Game 5 at AmericanAirlines Arena will hinge, in good measure, on whether LeBron James and Dwyane Wade can approach their extraordinary efforts of Game 4. But the outcome also will rest, in part, on the work of the Heat’s patchwork crew of power rotation players – a group that left an imprint on Sunday’s critical win.
After a light practice Monday, Wade celebrated the return of “the U.D. that I’ve grown to love in nine years – tough guy making big shots.”
Haslem, who struggled with his mid-range jumper all season, hit four in the final 5:57, aided by a change in strategy suggested by James and Wade.
After Bosh was injured, “LeBron and D-Wade suggested I get back to what I do – pick and pop,” Haslem said. That means popping out into open space after he sets a screen – something he did successfully for many years here - instead of rolling to the basket, as he has often done this season.
“Fourth quarter Sunday, me and D-Wade started doing it, and it felt like old times,” he said. “The pick and pop, it’s no secret that’s where I’m most comfortable.”
That Haslem was even in the game late required a shift in approach for Spoelstra, who played Haslem 12 minutes in Game 2, seven in Game 3, but 25 in Game 4.
Between Games 3 and 4, Spoelstra woke up irked about not using Haslem more. “This is such a competitive, physical series and I realized we’ve been in too many battles” for Haslem not to play more, Spoelstra said. “This guy is built for a series like this. You can’t define some players by statistics and trends. U.D.’s heart transcends all that.”
Haslem said his vision was fine Monday, a day after a fourth-quarter elbow from Indiana’s Lou Amundson left him bloodied and boiling. “I was [angry],” he said. “Anybody would be. I had to calm myself down.”
Spoelstra said Haslem and Wade “are similar that way. The more physical it is, the more blood you see on the face, the more engaged they are in the competition.”
Spoelstra continues to tinker with his lineups to adjust to Bosh’s absence. He had some success with a small lineup in parts of the first two games, and Game 4. On Sunday, when two among Turiaf/Anthony/Haslem were on the floor, the Heat was plus-7. And when Indiana went small, Spoelstra gave Haslem his first minutes at center in this series, and Miami was plus-6.
Battier said Monday he logged considerable minutes at power forward for Houston and Memphis, but the past two games represent the most he has done it for the Heat. Haslem and James also have spent time at power forward in this series. “It’s a different type of physical stress,” Battier said.
Though Battier shot 1 for 14 in the past two games, he has capably defended West, who had eight points in Game 4.
“Shane throws his body around, but he can’t guard West one-on-one,” Spoelstra said. “West is too good, too big, outweighs him by 30 pounds. But within our system and to try to guide him where there’s help, Shane can be very disruptive because he’s relentless. It’s his toughness that allows him to be who he is.”
Hibbert has predictably outscored the Anthony/Turiaf combo (13.5 to 8.5 per game) and outrebounded them (12.3 to 8.0). But Anthony, in particular, has had some good moments.
As for James, he said “it’s not realistic” to routinely expect what he and Wade achieved Sunday, when Wade scored 30 and James delivered a stat line (40 points, 18 rebounds, nine assists) matched by only one other player in playoff history (Elgin Baylor).
Wade called James’ performance “amazing, video-game-like. I was watching the game on the plane and I turned to Turiaf and I said, ‘I’ve played in this league for nine years and I’ve seen some amazing things, but I’ve never played with a guy that I’m amazed by some things he does.
“I’m used to not being awed. Some of the things he does – I say, ‘How did he just do that?’”
Wade, meanwhile, was asked to reflect about the avalanche of criticism after his clunker in Game 3. “It’s part of life,” he said. “I’m not someone who thinks he’s above anything. I understand how this world works. I’m 30 years old. I kind of get it. I didn’t get down on whatever was said about me. I didn’t hear much.”
That’s all history now. What matters is this: “We don’t want to go to Indiana down 3-2,” Wade said. “We expect their best and their best is good enough to win.”
### Wade said it was "hilarious" that Juwan Howard went over to Indiana's side of the court before Sunday's game and confronted Lance Stephenson about giving the choke sign while James was shooting a free throw in Game 3. Wade also said everyone laughed on the plane ride home about James Jones trying to drive for a dunk in the game. (Jones missed badly.) "Probably the funniest thing that's happened all year," Wade said.
### The NBA announced that Eastern Conference Finals games will be played every other day, beginning either Saturday or Monday. All games will start at 8:30 p.m. and air on ESPN, except a potential Game 1 on Saturday, which would be at 8 p.m. and air on ABC.
If the Heat and Celtics series end in six games, Game 1 of the Eastern Finals would be Saturday night in Miami. Otherwise, there would be one or two seventh games played on Saturday, and the Eastern Finals would start Monday.