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2 posts from June 7, 2013

June 07, 2013

Heat Game 1 postscripts; Birdman decision looming; Heat, Fins, Canes, Marlins chatter




At least one Heat player (Chris Andersen) and possibly more could be impacted financially by the impression left in these Finals.

The Heat has two avenues to keep Anderson this summer: 1) Re-signing him to a minimum deal, which would be worth $1.68 million next season, factoring in his permitted 20 percent raise.

2) Using part or all of the mid-level exception that’s available to Miami and other taxpaying teams. That taxpayer exception is worth $3.18 million next season, with 4.5 percent annual raises allowed in a contract that can extend no longer than three seasons.

Miami will be above the tax threshold, even if it amnesties Mike Miller, as many expect. If Miller gets a chance to shine in these Finals, he could entice a team to give him part of a mid-level exception, which is $5.1 million for non-taxpaying teams that are over the cap.

One Eastern Conference executive said he wouldn’t be surprised if Andersen, 34, has done enough to command a taxpayer mid-level exception.

The Heat likely would prefer to re-sign him at the minimum but might need to use its exception. Andersen will collect $4.8 million next season from Denver, which amnestied him last summer, and that could factor into his decision. (Andersen declined to discuss his future.)

The Heat might not be able to find a better, affordable backup center in free agency. Among other options: Nazr Mohammad, Ryan Hollins, Samuel Dalembert (Heat had interest two summers ago, but he has worn out his welcome in a couple places since) and Cole Aldrich.

Greg Oden’s agent has said the Heat has shown interest in the former No. 1 overall draft pick, who has had five knee operations. He will consider Miami, Cleveland and others.

Andersen entered the Finals shooting 38 for 46 in postseason, a percentage (82.6) that would break James Donaldson’s postseason record.

“He plays really hard and with great energy, and he does it every night,” ABC’s Jeff Van Gundy said. “Consistent energy and effort is hard to find in big guys, and then the added skill that he has is, he can catch and finish. He has some things he doesn't do as well obviously. He doesn't play huge minutes, but his minutes that he does play are impactful. [Signing him] turned into a stroke of genius."

James Jones ($1.5 million) and Rashard Lewis ($1.39 million) have said they expect to exercise player options, and the Heat figures to exercise its team option on Mario Chalmers ($4 million).

Ray Allen said he loves playing here – “more enjoyable than I thought it would be,” he told me in April – but said this week he won’t decide until after the Finals whether to exercise his $3.2 million player option.

### Good line by Birdman when asked recently what he thinks of kids who try to look like him – mohawk haircut and all. “Copyright infringement,” he cracked.

### Though the NBA said Thursday it’s interested in bringing another All-Star Game here, Heat president/business operations Eric Woolworth said “it’s not really do-able” because of a conflict with the boat show (as far as hotel space) and the fact the Heat couldn’t get seats for enough of its ticket holders.

### Classy move: A year after Lance Stephenson gave LeBron James the choke sign during a playoff game, James sought out the Pacers guard after Game 7 Monday.

“He said I played hard this season; he’s happy with my progress,” Stephenson told The Indianapolis Star. “He said I helped change the Pacers organization and he respects my game.”

 Meanwhile, Pacers center Roy Hibbert thanked the Big Three on Twitter: “You’all made me a better player. I thank y’all for that. Good luck.”

### To put in perspective how unusual it was for Dwyane Wade (before Game 7 of the Pacers series) to go 12 straight games without reaching 20 points – his longest previous streak was nine games as a rookie – consider: According to Elias, only one other player (Walt Frazier on the 1969-70 Knicks) averaged at least 20 points during the regular season, like Wade did, and had as many consecutive games without reaching 20 in the playoffs.

### Again, please see the last post for Game 1 Finals postscripts.


Though it would make sense to move Jared Odrick back from tackle to defensive end in training camp when Randy Starks returns from his contract issue, Odrick said this week: “I’m not sure what’s going to happen. A lot of things are up in the air.” The Dolphins also have Cam Wake, Olivier Vernon and Dion Jordan, among others, to play end and Starks and  Paul Soliai and Vaughn Martin at tackle.

### Jacoby Briscoe, the nation’s 50th-ranked defensive tackle in the 2012 class, announced he’s leaving UM after redshirting last season… But UM received its ninth 2014 oral commitment on Thursday, from New Jersey-based three-star defensive tackle Courtney Jenkins.

### Former UM power forward Donnavan Kirk, who will be eligible this fall after departing DePaul, said he will visit UM this weekend and then decide between Miami and Colorado State.

### With the MLB draft ongoing, several of the Marlins’ recent No. 1 picks (excluding Jose Fernandez) are dealing with either injuries  -- top outfield prospect Christian Yelich (abdomen/out two weeks) and pitcher Chad James (hasn’t pitched this season/ankle) --- or ineffectiveness (catcher Kyle Skipworth is 7 for 59 at Triple A). Last year’s No. 1 pick, former Oklahoma State left-hander Andrew Heaney, has a 1.46 ERA in three starts at Class A Jupiter after missing two months with a lat strain.  

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

Postscripts from the Heat’s 92-88 loss to the Spurs in Game 1 of the NBA Finals:

### For a team that’s so lethal in transition, forcing just four turnovers simply doesn’t cut it. And after scoring nine fast-break points in the first half, the Heat had none in the second.

The Heat settled into a halfcourt game and simply couldn’t make shots late, certainly not enough of them: 5 for 18 in an agonizing 16-point fourth quarter.

Chris Bosh was 1 for 5 in the fourth, Dwyane Wade 0 for 2 and Mario Chalmers 0 for 1. The Heat’s five fourth quarter field goals came from LeBron (2 for 4), Chris Andersen (2 for 3), and Bosh.

### Ugh: The Heat is now 3-4 in its past seven games after reeling off 46 wins in its previous 49.

### LeBron had a triple double for his second consecutive Finals game, closing with 18 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists. That triple double tied him with Rajon Rondo and Larry Bird for third place on the career triple double playoff list, with 10. Magic Johnson has 30, Jason Kidd 11.

This was the third time in the last 20 seasons that a player had a triple double in a Finals loss. LeBron has two of them, Jason Kidd the other.

### LeBron also passed Magic Johnson for 11th place on the career playoff scoring list.

But he scored just eight points on 3 for 7 shooting after halftime.

“I missed some really good looks,” he said. “They did a good job of putting two guys on the ball. When I got the ball, they shrunk the floor and dared me to pass the ball. I know my guys will knock down those shots next game. [Mario Chalmers] had some good looks, but they didn’t go down.

“We went to the fourth quarter with a three-point lead. We had our chances. This is a team you can’t make many mistakes against. We outrebounded them by nine, we had more assists.”

### Replays seemed to show that the refs made the right call allowing Tony Parker’s 16-foot bank shot with 5.2 seconds left. He appeared to launch it with one-tenth of a second left on the shot clock.

“It seemed like a 26-second possession, but they played it all the way through. He was able to scramble and then he just broke through,” Spoelstra said. “He made a tough play, and you have to give him credit for that.”

Said Parker: “It felt forever, too. It was a crazy play. I felt I lost the ball three or four times. It felt good when it left my hand. I was happy when it went in… We got a little lucky in Game 1, but sometimes that’s what it takes. We know they will come back strong in Game 2.”

James defended Parker on that play and for several possessions late. “I knew it was coming,” Parker said. “They were trapping pick and rolls. The key for me in this series is be patient and choose my moments and in the fourth quarter, try to be more aggressive.”

James said: “Tony did everything wrong and then did everything right on the same possession. When he fell over, I said I’m going to try to tie this ball up. He went up under my arm. That was the longest 24 seconds that I’ve been a part of.”

### Besides scoring 11 of his 21 in the fourth, Parker played a terrific floor game, with six assists and no turnovers.

### The Heat probably could have gotten a better shot than Bosh’s missed three with 1:02 left and the Heat down four. 

“We’ll take those shots. He was making them,” Spoelstra said. “The loose balls, offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter really hurt.”

### James, Chalmers, Allen and Mike Miller all committed fourth quarter turnovers. “We had uncharacteristic turnovers and didn’t get organized and the ball didn’t go where it needed to go,” Spoelstra said.

“We had some empty possessions and it cost us. We could live with some of the actions we got going down the stretch.

“We’ve been in every situation during the year. That’s not an excuse. We just didn’t execute, and they did. It came down to a handful of possessions. Whoever makes those plays wins the game and they did.”

### More Spo: “We defended them OK. They shot 42 percent. They take care of the ball. But our turnovers in the fourth quarter, and a couple of those loose balls really hurt us.”

### Wade looked good in a 13-point first half (the most he had scored in a half of a playoff game this postseason) but scored just four in the second half on 2 for 7 shooting. What went wrong offensively in the fourth?

“We missed a lot of shots – that’s a very good defensive team, and that obviously had something to do with it,” Wade said. “We looked like a team that came off a seven-game series. They’re a very good team, no matter who comes in.”

James said he could see on teammates’ faces that were fatigued. The Spurs, who had been off since the previous Monday (11 days ago), “looked like they were rested in the fourth quarter,” James said.

### And Bosh also struggled late, closing 6 for 16 on a 13-point night, making him 17 for his last 50. His rebounding numbers remained underwhelming (five).

### Parker called Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole “two of the best defenders at the point guard position. They’re aggressive, making it difficult.” But the Heat went without a natural point guard for the final 3:30.

Chalmers shot just 3 for 10 and had just two assists on an eight-point night.

### Tim Duncan opened 0 for 5, primarily against Udonis Haslem, but then scored 12 in the second on Bosh, Chris Andersen and Joel Anthony.

But Duncan said four of his five early misses were shots he normally makes. “I know enough about them and I’ve prepared enough for them,” Duncan said. “Nothing really changes on how I attack.”

Duncan rallied from the slow start to finish with 20 points and 14 rebounds.

### Because of foul trouble, Spoelstra went 11 deep in the first half. Miller entered before Shane Battier and played more minutes (17 to Battier’s six). Miller scored five (2 for 3 shooting), with four rebounds. Battier shot 0 for 3.

### The 12 combined turnovers – four by the Spurs, eight by the Heat – tied the record for fewest turnovers in a playoff game.

### The Heat also trailed last year’s Finals, 1-0. But that loss was on the road in Oklahoma City.

“They’re going to be hungry to try to get two,” James said. “We have to come back with a Game 2 plan that’s better and even the series.”

Teams that have won Game 1 of the Finals are 47-19 in the series.

But this is encouraging: The Heat has lost Game 1 of a playoff series three times in the Big Three era. They’ve gone on to win the next four games in all three of those series.

And overall this year, Miami has won 10 in a row after a loss.