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2 posts from January 8, 2013

January 08, 2013

Bosh fed up; Golden, Cristobal talking; Heat, Dolphins, Marlins news

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

The locker-room, for the most part, had cleared out after the Heat was again pummeled on the boards Tuesday night in Indianapolis.

Chris Bosh, one of the few who remained, turned introspective, as he often does, when I approached.

He was calm but clearly peeved.

“If we think we’re going to win a playoff series in the first round, second round, third round, we’re kidding ourselves,” Bosh said. “We are not good enough to be where we want to be. We’re lucky to be first in the East. We’re kidding ourselves if we think this is good enough.”

After Tuesday night’s 55-36 dismantling on the boards, the Heat has achieved this embarrassing distinction: Six times this season, Miami has been outrebounded by at least 15.

And Bosh, who had only five boards in 36 minutes, said it’s time for the Heat to re-think its approach and perhaps go back to the way it played when Miami went 28-13 on the road in the first year of the Big Three era. The Heat is 7-7 on the road this season.

“We don’t play the same way,” he said. In 2010-11, “we were a halfcourt team that pounded you on the glass and executed the offense, and if LeBron and Dwyane had opportunities in the open court after we get a stop, they will push it down your throat.

“We’re not the same team. We don’t play the same style. That style was working for us pretty good. If you look at our weaknesses right now, it’s defense and rebounding.”

Of the change in style affecting the Heat’s rebounding, Bosh said, “I don’t think it’s a coincidence.”

Of course, this team is different, built more around a perimeter approach and spreading the floor. That team played Bosh at power forward; this team plays Bosh at center. That team usually played a natural center alongside Bosh.

Even though Udonis Haslem starts alongside Bosh, Haslem typically has playing half the game or less, and the Heat often goes with only one natural power rotation player.

Does it mean the Heat needs to play two natural bigs together more? “Maybe,” he said. “We played more conventional basketball the first year and last year. This is different.

“We get placed in a system and we try to play to the system to the best of our abilities. Some days, it’s good. Some days, it’s bad. Most days it has been bad for us on the boards. I don’t think it’s about effort. We’re trying our best.

“Even in Toronto, I don’t remember being outrebounded on the boards constantly. Being outrebounded by 20! Soon, I’m going to need two hands to count the times. It’s a constant problem. It’s happening over and over and over. This is unacceptable.”

Miami is last in the league in rebounds, and even if Miami signs Chris Andersen, that isn’t going to solve everything. And it's difficult to get the fastbreak going when you can't rebound. (Miami had one fastbreak point Tuesday). See our last post for news on Anderson and Miami adding Jarvis Varnado.

MORE HEAT CHATTER

### Looking for good news? Well, there’s this: The Heat – maligned for its clutch play during the first season of the Big Three era and somewhat in its second – is shooting 51 percent in the last five minutes of games with a margin of five or fewer, compared to 43 last year.

Miami is outscoring teams by 59 points during those 74 “clutch” minutes.

There are times Mario Chalmers, accustomed to playing in those critical moments, turns to Spoelstra and pleads: “Put me in there” or simply visits his office later to discuss it.

The Big Three and Ray Allen are automatic to be on the floor, but choosing a fifth can be tricky among Shane Battier and Chalmers (the most likely options), Norris Cole (who played late in a few December games), Mike Miller or less likely, Udonis Haslem or Joel Anthony.

Chalmers said not playing as much late “definitely has been tough on me. I’m used to finishing games. I will come to [Spoelstra’s] office and say something or say during a game: ‘I want to be in there.’ [But] I’m not going to say it in a disrespectful way.”

Said Spoelstra: “I don’t mind if they’re angry, and guys will get angry. Rio is kicking and screaming if he’s not in there. But nobody crosses the line to be disruptive to the team. You are still dealing with egos, and it’s my job to manage these personalities.”

James has played all 74 clutch minutes. Beyond James, Allen (72), Bosh (71) and Wade (61), Spoelstra has used Battier and Chalmers for 30 minutes apiece, Miller for 15, Cole for 8, Rashard Lewis for 5, and Haslem and Anthony none.

So how have they fared in clutch time? Bosh has shot the best (11 for 13), with Wade second at 56 percent. James averages a triple-double in clutch time (using his regular season averages) and shoots 48 percent, but just 3 for 12 on threes.

Allen is 9 for 21 in the clutch (but 6 for 18 on threes), Battier 3 for 6, all threes (but no rebounds or assists), Chalmers 2 for 8, Miller 1 for 4, Cole 1 for 2.

CHATTER

### UM still hasn’t filled its open receiver coach’s job, and we’re told coach Al Golden has spoken to former FIU coach Mario Cristobal about an offensive job on the staff. That’s one of several job possibilities that Cristobal is considering, according to a source.

Cristobal and Golden always have had a good relationship.

### Though we hear the Dolphins would like to keep Reggie Bush and Sean Smith at the right price, as of Tuesday they had not reached out to their representatives, let alone made an offer – different from their approach with Brian Hartline and Jake Long, who rejected in-season offers and are awaiting new ones.

### We hear the Dolphins’ new logo will be different and more creative than the one circulating on line. 

### Even though Jonathan Martin showed promise, no NFL tackle allowed more quarterback hurries than Martin’s 47. And please don’t suggest that the Dolphins’ play at left tackle didn’t suffer without Long.

Long allowed four sacks and 10 hurries in 11-plus games. Martin allowed three sacks and 17 hurries in just under five games at left tackle, and Pro Football Focus graded Martin’s work clearly lower than Long’s. So Miami will make another attempt to keep Long, though not at the dollar figure he ideally wants.

### Some have asked if the Dolphins will get compensation if they lose Long or other unrestricted free agents. Potentially -- depending on who the Dolphins sign from other teams -- but the compensation wouldn’t come until the 2014 draft.

The NFL says a team losing “more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory picks,” but no more than four. The NFL uses a complex formula to determine compensatory-worthy free agents, based on salary, playing time and postseason honors.

For perspective, Oakland got three extra picks last year (third, fourth and fifth) after losing Nnamdi Asomugha and others in 2010. Most picks are in the fourth through seventh rounds, so that’s what Miami could expect if it loses more impact free agents than it adds from other teams.

And keep in mind that three teams got extra picks last year simply by losing better free agents than they signed, even though there was no net loss.

### The Marlins, looking for bullpen help, have had discussions with free agent Chad Durbin (4-1, 3.10 for Braves), among others.

   

Tuesday night update on Birdman workout and Heat roster machinations

INDIANAPOLIS – Continuing to tinker with its roster, the Heat is expected to add at least one center while considering whether to add another.

Veteran center Chris “Birdman” Andersen worked out for Heat president Pat Riley on Tuesday and will stick around in South Florida for at least another day while the Heat mulls whether to sign him.

Meanwhile,  Heat draft pick Jarvis Varnado is expected to sign a 10-day contract with Miami at some point this week, according to a source.

Andersen, 34, averaged 5.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 15.2 minutes per game for Denver last season.  The Heat didn’t make an offer after his workout but saw enough to keep Andersen in town while deciding what to do with him. He's still working himself into optimal condition after not playing in the league this year.

Coach Erik Spoelstra said he was not briefed on Andersen’s workout but  “we’ll never stand pat and be complacent with our organization. If we have opportunities to improve, we’ll look for those… [But] as players and as a staff, we have no complaints with our roster.”

Heat center Chris Bosh endorsed Andersen: “He’s a shot blocker, dunker, assaults the rim all the time. Energy, hustle, runs the floor well. You can definitely see how he can help us. He’s always rolling hard to the basket. Just his defensive presence, knack for rebounding.”

The Heat is expected to add the defensively-skilled center Varnado, a Heat second-round pick in 2010. Varnado, cut by Miami in training camp before this season, averaged 14 points, 10 rebounds and 3.9 blocks in 10 games for Sioux Falls. He was released by the Celtics on Sunday after playing 18 minutes over five games.

“It was very tough to evaluate him when we had him in camp,” Spoelstra said. “Outside of our arena, we’ve always loved him.”

### With center Dexter Pittman playing in the Development League, the Heat has only 12 players traveling with the team – three under the league maximum and one less than the 13 permitted to dress for games.

The Heat released Terrel Harris on Saturday and Josh Harrellson on Monday to avoid having to guarantee their contracts for the entire season.

Though he didn’t comment on the likelihood of adding Varnado,  Spoelstra said there’s no urgency to bring Pittman back from Sioux Falls and is “fine” traveling with 12 “because I hardly ever play 12 guys.”

### Agent Merle Scott said Harrellson was surprised to be released and was told the Heat hasn’t ruled out bringing him back on a 10-day contract if he clears waivers.

“It’s more about the business of the NBA and less about Josh,” Spoelstra said. “We like him. Right now, the most important thing for us is flexibility.”

### No team has gotten under the Heat’s skin in the past year more than Indiana, whether it was Pacers coach Frank Vogel last year accusing the Heat of a penchant for flopping, or Lance Stephenson giving LeBron James the choke sign before their second-round series last May.

“They’ve been talking a lot,” James said Tuesday before the teams met at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “I read a lot of clips before the season saying they were better than us and they should have beat us. We’ll be ready. I’m not one to talk much. I do it on the court. I let my game do the talking. But it is amusing sometimes, seeing teams talk. And they didn’t beat us.”

In last year’s series, “They were talking a lot,” James said. “They felt they were the better team and we took control of the series” by rallying from a 2-1 deficit to win in six games.

LeBron’s approach on trash talking? “After the fact, if I hear someone talking, I will have a conversation with them or say my peace on the floor. But I’ve never started it up. My little league coaches wouldn’t allow us to do that. They always said, ‘Let your game do the talking.’”