« May 21, 2013 | Main | May 25, 2013 »

2 posts from May 23, 2013

May 23, 2013

Friday 2 p.m. update: Pacer calls out "dirty" Heat plays; Barkley on Wade, Heat fans; Fins ripped

The Friday media column is below, for those who haven't seen it yet. First, though, an update from Heat and Pacers shootarounds Friday morning:

Call it Groin Gate or whatever you wish. 

But two Indiana players on Friday expressed dismay about two Heat offensive fouls, by Shane Battier and Norris Cole, that inflicted discomfort around the groin area of Roy Hibbert and David West in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. 

Speaking hours before Game 2, Indiana forward Paul George went as far as to call the plays “dirty” and “not called for.”

The Battier foul, in the first quarter, was a knee to Hibbert’s midsection as Battier drove for a layup. On the other play, Cole used his arm to push off West and made hard contact with West’s groin area, with 3:01 left in the fourth quarter.  

“That’s not aggressive, not a basketball play,” George said. “It’s not a tough play. It’s a dirty play.”

On Wednesday night, Hibbert said – via Twitter: “You can knee or kick me every time you drive 2 the rim. I’ll be there to protect the rim. That wasn’t inadvertent. Battier knew what he was doing.”

Asked Friday why he made that comment on Twitter, Hibbert said: “The reason I said something is I saw someone write it’s an inadvertent knee. That’s bull [expletive]. He knew what he was doing. If he wants to do that, it’s fine. I’m still going to be there to protect the rim.”

Hibbert said he believes it was intentional because “it wasn’t a regular shooting motion for a layup. You don’t shoot with your knee by your nipple unless you’re trying to do something. [But] I wasn’t whining. It was an offensive foul. I’m cool with that.”

Hibbert said he “thought” about retaliating against Battier “but I said I need to be in the game to really make an impact. In my younger days, I probably would have done something. We need every possible body out there.”

But Hibbert said he understands “it’s playoff basketball. We’re tough guys. I wasn’t saying coach needs to send this into the league. I was just saying, ‘I’ll be here no matter what, David will be here no matter what.’ They want to play tough. That’s what they have to do. We’re not backing down.”

As of Friday afternoon, neither Battier nor Cole had responded to George’s and Hibbert’s comments. Battier did not address the media after Friday’s shoot-around, and George made his comment about Cole’s foul after Cole already had left AmericanAirlines Arena.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and Pacers coach Frank Vogel declined to specifically discuss the Battier play.

But Vogel said: “I don’t think Shane Battier is a dirty player. I just think it’s teams playing hard. I don’t think there’s anything dirty about this series. We’re competing for a championship. It’s going to be intense, relentless and physical.”

### Mario Chalmers (shoulder injury) went through shootaround and is expected to play in Game 2, barring a setback.
####################################################################################

FRIDAY MEDIA COLUMN; (Twitter: @flasportsbuzz)

The conversation has played out a couple times on TNT in recent weeks – Charles Barkley insisting Dwyane Wade “is not the same player,” and Shaquille O’Neal responding with a stern “Leave Dwyane alone.”

Speaking in the TNT green room before Game 1 Wednesday night, both NBA legends tackled the Wade topic from different perspectives, this time without the glare of the cameras.

For starters, Barkley wants to make one thing clear: “I have nothing against Dwyane" -- his former partner on T-Mobile ads. "But I’m going to do my job.”

And? “He’s not the same explosive player he was a couple years ago,” Barkley reiterated, adding it “annoys me” when people criticize him for saying that.

“You’ve only had one good three-minute stretch in the playoffs,” Barkley said of Wade, who is averaging 13.7 points, 5.3 assists and 4.9 rebounds this postseason while battling through a knee injury. The Heat obviously would disagree with that assertion.

“And he’s hurt all the time," Barkley added. "That tells me Father Time is kicking in…. That’s one of the reasons I don’t like these reporters in Miami. You can’t say anything about these guys without them over-reacting.

Kobe Bryant is not the same guy. Tim Duncan is not the same guy. They don’t whine like the Heat does. One thing about these fans and the media here, they’re a whiny bunch.”

(In a matter unrelated to Wade, Barkley said on air an hour later that the Heat tends “to over-react anytime you don’t kiss their [butt].”)

Making a point not to whine, I mentioned to Sir Charles – who won a Sports Emmy for studio analysis earlier this month – that Wade still averaged 21.2 points and shot 52.1 percent this season.

“That’s because he’s playing with LeBron James,” Barkley said, adding that Wade is still a good player “but LeBron covers up all their flaws.”

Is Wade still an All-Star in his opinion? “If he played well enough to be an All-Star,” Barkley answered. “I don’t give those lifetime achievement awards. I do it every year.”

But Barkley -- who picked the Pacers to win this series in six games -- worries that “once you start getting hurt, I don’t think you ever get healthy again.”

(Barkley, on Dan Le Batard's radio show Thursday, said Wade "played very well" in Game 1 but "didn't look explosive to me.) 

Shaq, meanwhile, looks at his former teammate and says: “D-Wade still has it. He still has the same skill set and same mindset. He’s smart enough - because I helped team him – to pace himself. The last five minutes of the Chicago series, it was explosive basketball.”

O’Neal says James’ presence “is going to add two years” to Wade’s career: “Now he doesn’t have to do as much.”

### Game 1 on TNT was viewed in 24.4 percent of Miami-Fort Lauderdale homes with TV sets (396,000 homes) – the highest local cable rating since Game 7 of last year’s Heat-Celtics Eastern Finals generated a 25.0… Nationally, Game 1 drew 8.2 million viewers, dwarfing the 4.7 million average for the first two games of the Western Finals.

RIP-JOB ON FINS

The Dolphins couldn’t have expected the rip-job that NFL Network and Fox analyst and former Miami fullback Heath Evans unleashed recently against general manager Jeff Ireland and his personnel decisions on an appearance on WINZ-940’s Dolphins-owned radio show.

“This might end up being a nightmare for Jeff Ireland, in every single one of these decisions,” Evans said. “GMs I talk to around the league saying, ‘This is Jeff Ireland being Jeff Ireland throwing around monopoly money.’ That’s not the way to win championships.”

Evans is entitled to his opinion, but a couple of his comments were irrational or unsupported by fact.

Perhaps the most head-scratching was this remark about Dion Jordan: “Anytime he’s in the game, he’s a liability. I don’t care if he gives you 18 sacks next year. The negative impact of him on the field for most of true football situations is scary to me.”

I must interject here: If Jordan has 18 sacks, nobody will be calling him a liability. And besides his obvious pass rush skills, he was effective in coverage on tight ends and running backs at Oregon and wasn’t overwhelmed against the run.

Evans added of the Jordan pick: “[That] messed my mind up. I get the potential, but potential will get you fired in a heartbeat. With the struggles Jeff Ireland has had making wise decisions through the draft across the board, this is a reach. He’s still 6-6, he’s still 240. “As soon as you see him in the game, even 3rd and 3, we’re thinking we still have a very good chance to run the ball. The Patriots’ run numbers on third down last year were the highest in the league. They didn’t get better with the Dion Jordan pick and they aren’t closer to beating the Patriots with that pick.

“Dion Jordan is not the type of player that frustrates Tom Brady. Cam Wake is not the type of player that frustrates [Brady]. It’s middle pressure. It’s what Baltimore is able to do to him.” (Miami has some of that inside pressure with Randy Starks and Jared Odrick when he moves inside.)

### On the moves at receiver, Evans said: “Was there anyone that was going to pay Brian Hartline that (five years, $31 million)? Was there anyone going to pay Mike Wallace that (five years, $60 million)? The Steelers have insider trader information on people.

“Yes, we know Wallace’s ceiling is high, but the floor is equally low. This is a guy that’s going to throw your quarterback an interception [and] that’s going be lazy in his routes. You talk to the Steelers, this is a guy you can’t count on in crunch time. For a young quarterback, you need a guy you can count on in crunch time. The numbers don’t add up.”

Evans must have missed that the Steelers offered Wallace a $50 million deal before last season, albeit with far less guaranteed money than Miami offered. But a big contract nevertheless.

### We’ll see if Evans is right in criticizing the decision to replace Karlos Dansby with Dannell Ellerbe at linebacker.

“[You want] middle pressure? It’s not Ellerbe,” Evans said. “Dansby is one of the more gifted athletes. We know very little about Ellerbe. We know a guy that had a lot of super natural talent around him. You had a decade of knows with Dansby. You have nine starts with Ellerbe.”

During the interview, Dolphins employee and former linebacker Twan Russell told Evans: “I think you’re very mistaken” about his criticism. Evans conceded he “might be wrong” about Wallace. When Evans left the air, Russell said he didn’t appreciate Evans’ analysis.

But the Dolphins have not issued any edict saying Evans cannot be invited back on WINZ.

Notes, quotes, postscripts from Heat's Game 1 win

Postscripts from the Heat’s scintillating 103-102 overtime win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals:

### LeBron’s layup at the buzzer was his second career playoff buzzer beater to win a game. The other: vs. Orlando in Game 2 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals. That happened exactly four years ago - May 22, 2009.

On Wednesday, he closed with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, including the two layups late – one with 11 seconds left, and the other just as time expired. And don’t forget the three blocks, either.

### LeBron, on the winning layup: “We had two different calls. Spo asked me which one I was comfortable doing. I had enough time to get to the basket and make a play. I knew I had enough time to get to the rim. Two-plus seconds is enough time. Once I got the ball, I was the only option. As unselfish as I am, there is no way… to make a pass in that situation” with such little time left.

### LeBron’s reaction to making the winning basket was pretty reserved. Why? “I made a layup. Wasn’t like I made a halfcourt [shot],” he said. “I’ve been doing that since I was 8.”

### James has nine career playoff triple doubles. Only Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd, Rajon Rondo and Larry Bird have more, according to Elias.

### Since 2006, only four times has a player had a triple double in postseason in which he scored at least 30 points. LeBron had all four of them.

“No matter how much you watch basketball or played it you get amazed by spectacular talent, and I get to see behind the scenes what makes him a special, special player,” Dwyane Wade said. “He continues to amaze the world of basketball.”

### Why did Pacers coach Frank Vogel not have his defensive enforcer and ace shot-blocker, Hibbert, in the game on either of the Heat’s final two offensive sequences – both of which ended in LeBron layups?

"That’s the dilemma they present when they have Chris Bosh at the five-spot and his ability to space the floor,” Vogel said, referencing Bosh’s ability to take a big man out of the paint and hit a jump shot.

“We put a switching lineup in with the intent to switch, keep everything in front of us and try to go into or force a challenged jump shot. We pushed up a little too much and LeBron beat us off the bounce.”

But Vogel conceded he might have made the wrong move by not having Hibbert in the game. “Obviously, with the way it worked out, it would have been better to have Roy in the game. But you don’t know. If that happens, maybe Bosh is making the jump shot, and we’re all talking about that.”

### Paul George said “we all would” have preferred to have Hibbert in the game on the final play. “I’m 100 percent sure he would have been there” to contest LeBron’s layup.

George said he was distracted on the play “because I saw Ray Allen running by. LeBron made a good play. You’ve got to make LeBron shoot the jumper at that point. I was up too close on him. You’ve got to make him shoot a jumper. That’s what we wanted.”

LeBron said “I don’t think any of us know how it would have been different” if Hibbert had been in the game. “It’s not for us to worry about. I was able to get in the lane on George Hill on the first one and Paul George on the second.”

### George scored 18 of 27 in the fourth quarter and overtime – including the 32-footer to tie the game with 0.7 seconds left in regulation, and the three free throws that put Indiana ahead briefly with 2.2 second left in overtime. (George got those free throws when Wade fouled him on a three-pointer. Wade fouled out on the play.)

“I felt everything was in our favor,” George said. “I felt confident we were going to be able to take care of business. We slipped up at the end…. This one might be the toughest one to swallow [in my career]. That one hurts.”

But… “We have to feel good about how we played. A couple turnovers I wish we could take back. We can play at their pace or slow it down when we need to.”

## David West (26 points, 11 for 17 shooting) was a force but was 0 for 2 in overtime. He outplayed Chris Bosh, who scored 17 points but had just two rebounds. Hibbert had 19 points and 9 rebounds.

### Wade was generally efficient: 19 points on 9 for 15 shooting, with six rebounds and five assists. His eight fourth-quarter points were big.

### Wade expects a lot of close games in this series: “We can expect this for seven games.”

### Mario Chalmers suffered a bruised left shoulder and did not play in the fourth quarter or overtime. “There is concern,” James said of Chalmers’ injury. “Rio is a tough guy. Hopefully, he’s available by Friday. He should be. We don’t know.”

### The Heat's 21 turnovers were its most in a playoff game since April 21, 2001 against Charlotte. Norris Cole had five.

### The Heat shot just 5 for 18 on three-pointers, continuing a playoff-long slump affecting everyone except Chris Bosh and Norris Cole. Overall, Ray Allen was 1 for 8, Shane Battier 0 for 4.

### Chris Andersen shot 7 for 7 and is now an absurd 29 for 35 in postseason. “Without Bird’s energy and effort, we don’t win this game,” James said.

### Indiana, which outrebounded the Heat by nearly 15 per game in three regular season meetings, closed with a 43-38 edge in that category.

### Vogel said his team’s mood was “good” because “we know we can play with this team. We’ve got to play better. We can’t have 20 turnovers and give up 24 second-chance points and miss eight free throws [of 32]. You have to play a near perfect game to beat this team. We played a very good game, but we have to play better.”

### Erik Spoelstra’s postgame take: “Our group is mature enough to know that’s one game. They earned it tonight. But we didn’t feel we played to our capabilities. A large part of that is what Indiana was doing.”