Look lower for a Heat update from Thursday, including news of a possible lineup change.
The Dolphins ended their offseason program today, and here are a half-dozen thoughts from Joe Philbin:
### (On the areas where the team improved) – “I think our two-minute is better. I think our pressure package is better on defense. I do think we are throwing the ball a little better vertically down the field. We didn’t always convert, we didn’t always catch every single one, but I think we are putting the ball in a better spot I believe.”
### (On the areas the team needs to improve) – “Everything. Just overall execution. Again, it’s hard to get a tremendous feel for where you are in the running game on either side of the ball. So I think that is something that we need to pay close attention to when it gets closer to camp.”
### (On his impressions of Lamar Miller) – “He is very smart. I think he has really progressed from a mental standpoint as a professional in his second season. He has very good hands. We like a lot of the things he is doing in pass protection. Again, we have to temper our enthusiasm based on how he does in pads, but I think is understanding of how he fits in the protection scheme is very good. We use that term, ‘closing the distance.’ He has done an excellent job in that regard in the spring, so we’ll have to see how that carries over to the fall.”
### (On what Phillip Wheeler has shown him so far) – “All the play speed things that we saw on tape are evident. Pursuit to the football is excellent. He is very decisive. I think he has anopportunity to be a pressure player. I think he is a good blitzer. He likes to play the game; you can tell that on film.
### (On Nolan Carroll’s role in the defense) – “I think he has been very, very good. He is a competitor. He played a lot of football for us last here, and I expect he is going to play a lot of football for us this year. I’m looking forward to the same type of attitude. I see him in the building, he likes coming in the building, he likes going out on the field, and so this guy is a competitor. He is smart, he is tough, so it will be fun watching him during camp.”
### On whether he sees the team progressing in his likeness) – “As of right now, yeah. I like the character of the men that we have on the football team. We’ve got a ton of work to do, but I think we have good men. When you have men who care about that, that’s a good place to start. But we have a lot of areas, virtually every area, that we need a lot of improvement in, and I’m confident that they will come back ready to go on July 20th.”
### Also, Jesse Agler - who hosts the Fins' radio show on WINZ-940 - is replacing Dick Stockton as the Dolphins' preseason TV voice. Stockton said he couldn't do Dolphins games this year because he's busy with Fox baseball and breaking in a new Fox NFL TV partner (possibly Ronde Barber).
HEAT CHATTER HEADING INTO GAME 4
### Two news updates from today: ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported the Heat is considering starting Mike Miller in place of Udonis Haslem, in a move that would add another shooter and help the Heat do a better job of spreading the floor… That lineup of Miller, Mario Chalmers and the Big Three played 53 minutes in the regular season (the Heat outscored teams by 21 during those minutes) and 22 minutes in the playoffs (the Heat was plus 9).
### Tony Parker (hamstring) said he will play tonight.
### One of the amusing sideshows of these NBA Finals has been watching Spurs coach Gregg Popovich respond to questions that irritate him, perplex him or merely try his patience. Among his more unusual exchanges with reporters in recent days:
### Regarding whether to play Tony Parker in Game 4 in spite of his hamstring injury, a reporter said: “The temptation I would think is to mail in Game 4 and have him at full strength for 5, 6 and 7… How much do you wrestle with that?”
Popovich: “It confuses my whole brain. I don’t think I can think past that comment. I would like to help you, but I don’t know how to help you. You can come back to our coach’s office and hit us. We’ll be talking about all these sorts of things. Any ideas are welcome.”
### A reporter pressed Popovich about why he would not discuss the team’s defense on LeBron James: “Is LeBron a sleeping dog you’re letting lie? You won’t get into the LeBron issue at all?”
Popovich: “You’re digging really deep. You must need to write an article by 4 today or something.”
### What was behind the lack of turnovers in Game 1? Popovich: “I have no clue. We don’t do no-turnover drills.”
### A reporter noted that Tim Duncan could win a championship in three decades and asked: “How amazing is it to have sustaining success?”
Popovich: “Truly amazing. That’s how amazing. How amazing? How am I supposed to answer that? Really, really amazing. Not trying to be a wise guy. What am I going to say? He’s ridiculous. He’s amazing, as you said.”
### A reporter asked Popovich why, during road games, he changed his approach and now has the Spurs shoot at the basket closest to their bench in the second half, not the first? Popovich: “I was bored.”
### A reporter said: “I know a lot of this is kind of speculation” when Popovich interrupted and shot back: “You’re going to ask me anyway.”
The reporter responded: “And you’re going to shoot it down.” Popovich: “Next question.”
### And finally, there was the reporter who referenced former Spurs great David Robinson, who started a private equity firm several years ago.
The reporter asked: “Can you give me a few adjectives that you assigned to David Robinson? I’m just wondering if you would at all hesitate to invest your money with him in his current role on Wall Street with his investment fund?”
Popovich: “I have no clue what your question is or what it means. So I’ll just pass on it.”
### Like San Antonio, Indiana also had quality size (Roy Hibbert and David West) and skilled defenders covering James (Paul George, Lance Stephenson).
So why, entering Game 4, was James having more trouble scoring against the Spurs than the Pacers?
“I consider us a better team than Indiana. That explains it,” seldom-used Spurs forward Tracy McGrady said. “We do a better job. Our guys are disciplined, less mistakes, make it tough on everybody…. We’re a great defensive team.”
### But even if James had been playing better, McGrady insists: “One great player is not going to beat a great team at this level. Other guys are struggling on that team as well.”
### One problem for James – heading into Game 4 – is that in each round, he has been moving progressively farther away from the basket on his shot attempts.
According to ESPN, James’ average shot distance in the Milwaukee series was 8.5 feet (and he shot 62.7 percent). It was 10.7 vs. the Bulls, 12.3 vs. the Pacers, and entering Game 4, 13.3 against the Spurs. He was shooting 38.9 percent through three games of The Finals.
### McGrady hasn’t been surprised by the falloff in Dwyane Wade’s play in the second half of Games 3 and 4. “Mentally, when you’re dealing with an injury like he’s dealing with, it’s tough to have a great first half and then come out and sustain that,” McGrady said. “I’ve been through that.”