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2 posts from May 7, 2013

May 07, 2013

Heat finishes 2nd in award; Analysts speak out on Heat; Heat, Fins, UM/NCAA notes

Quick Wednesday morning update: Erik Spoelstra finished second in Coach of the Year, announced minutes ago, behind Denver's George Karl. Karl had 404 points, Spoelstra 190. Karl had 62 first-place votes, Spoelstra 24. New York's Mike Woodson was third.



Mostly Heat chatter -- entering Game 2 Wednesday -- and a couple football notes:

### So was Monday night’s loss a blip (as most assume), or could the Bulls actually win this series? Network analysts opted for the blip theory.

ABC’s Jeff Van Gundy said off the air Tuesday he cannot see any realistic scenario in which the Bulls win the series, despite having the utmost respect for Chicago. “I don’t think there is a concern,” he said. “It’s a bump in the road. It breaks a rhythm to have that much time off as Miami did. They missed makeable shots.”

Former NBA coach and NBA TV analyst Sam Mitchell said by phone: “Miami was stagnant, no ball movement, too much one-on-one and they can’t get beat by 14 on the boards again. But I would still be shocked if Chicago won this series. It would be one of the greatest upsets in NBA history. But if Miami can’t beat them one game in Chicago, they don’t deserve to move on. And if they lose Wednesday, then Oh my God, it’s going to be interesting.”

Since the playoffs were expanded to 16 teams in 1983, a road team that won Game 1 went on to win 56.1 percent of those series. But when the home team won Game 2 after losing Game 1, it won 85.5 percent of those series.

So is there any concern Chicago could actually win this series?

“I don’t think it’s going to happen, but it better be a concern,” TNT’s Steve Kerr, who’s calling the first two games with Marv Albert, said off air Tuesday. “I was shocked [by Game 1]. Miami has the greatest player on Earth. They’ve been here before. They’ll be fine.”

### Kerr noted the Bulls are better equipped than most to defend the Heat’s small lineup because Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson are versatile enough to guard multiple positions. “And Gibson guarded Ray Allen most of the fourth quarter,” Kerr said.

In fact, the Heat’s “smaller” lineup was outscored by 16 in the second half Monday.

### Noah essentially said earlier this year that if Heat wants to play small against them, good luck with that.

“I was young and immature when I said those comments,” Noah cracked Tuesday. But “we’re more than capable of guarding it.”

### Wade not only settled for an ill-advised pull up three-pointer with the Heat down two and 1:08 left, but consider this: Monday was the first game all season he did not attempt a free throw.

“It’s one of the tougher matchups for Wade because of their length,” Kerr said. “The Bulls are all long-armed, rangy guys and create all this traffic in the lane. Their whole defensive game plan is to keep you out of the paint and run you off the three-point line in the corners.”

### That the Bulls outscored the Heat, 20-10, during clutch time (final five minutes with a margin of five or less) was stunning considering this: In 176 “clutch” minutes, this season, the Heat outscored opponents by 131 points, easily the NBA’s best.

### And there’s this: The lineup that the Heat used during the last five minutes of Game 1: The Big Three, with Allen and Mario Chalmers, outscored teams by an absurd 36.9 points per 48 minutes this season (second best in the league) and shot 57 percent.

### Still, a case could have been made to use Norris Cole instead of Chalmers to close the game, because Nate Robinson was giving Chalmers fits. Opposing players shot 41.1 percent against Chalmers this season, 36.6 against Cole, according to synergysports.com. And that doesn’t even take into account blow-bys.

“When Cole came in, the Bulls could barely get it across halfcourt,” Kerr said.

And Van Gundy said: “I would suspect we’ll see LeBron James on Robinson.” James said that wouldn’t surprise him, either.

### Noah, on Robinson: “You tell me a player under six foot ever better than him! Nate Robinson is the best.”

When a writer suggested Hall of Famer Calvin Murphy, Noah said, “I don’t know who that is.”

### Troubling: Shane Battier's shooting accuracy has sunk to 24 postseason in postseason (7 for 29).

“There’s nothing like the morning after a playoff loss,” he said. "When I retire from this game, I'll never forget this feeling. It's not a fun feeling. It's not a fun feeling for anybody, for my dogs, for my kids, for my wife, for my teammates, for the coaches."

Battier cracked that losing Game 1 makes him act like “an [expletive] hole.”

What was “most upsetting” about Game 1, Battier said, “were so many mental mistakes and breakdowns in defensive principles. Lack of communication… on rotations.”

### Noah, asked about the talent difference between the two teams, responded: “People underestimate chemistry a lot.”

And Gibson cited this underrated key to Chicago’s success: “We hide our weak points well on both sides of the ball.”

### In Heat-Bulls matchups this season, Noah is now averaging 10.4 rebounds, Chris Bosh 5.6.

Bosh closed his interview session Tuesday with this: “I’m tired of talking about Joakim.”

### Noah predicted James will be more aggressive offensively early on. James disputed that, saying his mindset would not change.

### We've heard positive feedback on tight end Dion Sims during rookie minicamp, and it would be surprising if he doesn’t emerge as the Dolphins’ No. 2 tight end right away.

“I don’t want to pigeon-hole Dion as a blocking tight end because he’s got a different skill set,” general manager Jeff Ireland said. “He can catch, can run. He’s got very good hands, big hands.”

### Jake Long and Bryant McKinnie weren’t the only offensive tackles the Dolphins tried to land and couldn’t. We hear Miami made a serious run, early in the free agency, to try to sign Gosder Cherilus, but he opted for a five-year, $34 million contract with Indianapolis. He canceled a visit here when Detroit made the big offer.

### Besides excluding testimony of Kyle Wright, the NCAA informed UM that it will toss the testimony of Brodie Waters, the No. 2 official at Nevin Shapiro’s former sports agency, because part of it may have resulted from Sean Allen’s excluded testimony. Waters’ interview wasn’t believed to be horribly damaging.

### Please see the last post for a Marlins development.... And I'm on Twitter now: @flasportsbuzz

Marlins reducing capacity for some games

Quick Tuesday night item:

The Marlins, whose attendance ranks last in the National League five weeks into the season, have decided to close the upper bowl at Marlins Park for at least some weeknight games – an approach the team used at times at Sun Life Stadium.

The upper bowl will be closed for six dates in the team’s nine-game homestand that begins next Tuesday. Fans can sit only in the lower bowl for games May 14-16 against Cincinnati and May 20-22 against Philadelphia. The upper bowl will remain open for May 17-19 games against Arizona.

Marlins representative P.J. Loyello said the team has not decided whether to close the upper bowl for all Monday through Thursday home games, and decisions will be made before each home stand.

Less than 500 people own season tickets in the upper bowl, and those fans are being moved --- with no additional charge -- to seats in the lower bowl for all Monday through Thursday games.

Upper bowl tickets to weeknight games will continue be sold on Marlins.com. Fans who buy single-game upper deck tickets will be moved to the lower bowl if the Marlins decide to close the upper bowl on those particular nights.

Closing the upper bowl some games “will give an overall better fan experience,” Loyello said, adding from a standpoint of concessions, restrooms and other services, “it will be better for fans” than if they were scattered in a larger area.

The Marlins began this approach during their home stand that was completed last week. They did not close off the upper deck for any home games last season, their first in Marlins Park.

The closing of the upper bowl for some games will mean fewer hours for some stadium employees, but none will lose their jobs, Loyello said.

The Marlins are averaging 18,864 fans per game, fourth-lowest and ahead of only Seattle, Kansas City and Cleveland. That number includes people who bought or received tickets, not those who actually show up.

Capacity at Marlins Park is 37,442, and will be about 27,000 on nights the upper bowl is closed.

The Marlins averaged 27,401 fans last season, but the team said an average of only about 17,000 attended each game.