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.
### 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.