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44 posts from June 2013

June 21, 2013

From Riley to Arison to players, a behind-the-scenes look inside winning Heat locker-room

This is what jubilation, what blissful bedlam, looks like, Heat-style:

### Shane Battier running through an AmericanAirlines Arena corridor shouting: “Where am I? Where am I? That was an out-of-body experience for two hours.”

### Pat Riley, hair marinating in champagne, offering up his best “Birdman! Birdman!” Shaquille O’Neal impression as Chris Andersen sprinted by.

### Dwyane Wade making a snow angel on the confetti-covered arena court, long after the game ended, and announcing to those who witnessed it: “Ten years, three championships! Ain’t no snow in Miami. So this is the only time you get to do this.”

Joy, euphoria and relief washed over every corner of the Heat locker-room early Friday morning. There was James holding the championship trophy tightly and shouting: “This is what it’s all about. Larry O’Brien!”

There was Wade leading his teammates in one more chant: “To the last minute, to the last second, to the last man, we fight!”

And there were James, Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers and others dancing to the pulsating beats.

Amid the merriment, members of the Heat family stopped to reflect. Vignettes from the Happiest Place on Earth:

For Riley, there was as much relief as joy. Because, “I know what the story line would have been” if the Heat lost. “How many guys I would have had to trade. Riley’s too old. He’s senile and all that stuff.”

Riley knows this is the only team whose season is viewed as a failure without a championship. And that’s “absolutely” a burden.

 “It’s like a 60-pound boulder on your back,” the Heat’s president said. “We don’t have to worry about that anymore. To win back to back titles is an incredible feat. When you have a dream in your head, you better have one in your heart. You better believe in miracles.

“Because there was a miracle [Tuesday] night. That’s the bullet that we dodged to get to tonight. I was a little bit desperate, but I’m not any more.”

As he leaned against the wall outside the locker-room, Riley gazed into the future.

“I just want this thing to keep going,” he said. “I’m at an age right now (68) where I am ready to just fly off somewhere. But I’m not going to because the Good Lord has blessed me with a team that’s allowed me to grab onto its coattails for as long as they want to be together.

“This is just an incredible experience. I thought I was going to be gone in 2003, first time I stepped down as a manic depressive.” He said he’s “so grateful” that James, Wade and Chris Bosh “all said yes” to the idea of playing together.

And Riley offered a message to those who keep mentioning the Big Three signing party, when LeBron said, “Not one, not two, not three” championships.

“We make so much of what was said,” Riley said. “It’s all bull [expletive] now, because all it’s about now is what’s in front of us, not what’s behind us. I wish people would stop talking about that.

“He’s been to the Finals three years in a row, won two championships, two MVPs, and he definitely controlled [Game 7]. He’s gotten better over the last couple years. He’s genuine about his approach to the game. Sometimes, I stay at real arm’s distance from him because I’m too serious and too intense, and sometimes, he needs to be loose and ready to play.

“The biggest improvement in LeBron is he has taken a leadership role above and beyond anybody else. His performance and leadership and putting everything on his shoulders is second to none ever.”

And what about Wade coming through in Game 7?

“He said the other day he had one game in him,” Riley said. “We’re going to heal him up, get his knees healed up. He’s a great, great, great player, and judged rather harshly as a guy that’s played with an injury for two months. He came up big, big [Thursday] when it counted, and we expect him to come up big for the next six or seven years.”

Riley stayed centered throughout this playoff run by never deviating from his regimen.  “Every game, I never changed my routine. From right after the shoot-around, I would just sit in my office and look out the window until the game starts. I might do a couple things, read all your guys’ articles and stuff.

“But then I would take the same route with about two minutes to go [before] the game and I go down and sit in my seat and sit next to my wife. And I tell her: ‘Don’t talk to me. Make sure all of your friends know that I love them, but I will not talk to them, either, during the course of the game.’ That’s just my insanity.”    


As his daughter sprayed him with champagne, owner Micky Arison spoke of this “incredible ride, an incredible rollercoaster. You go through the lowest low Tuesday when those yellow ropes come out. That was just agony. And to be here now. It seemed like it was so much harder [than last year]. But you forget last year, we were down 3-2 to Boston, it was pretty hard, too.”

Arison said he was “worried” since Sunday because the Heat won at Dallas in Game 6 to win the 2006 Finals and Dallas won at Miami in Game 6 to take the 2011 Finals.

“Having the road team win bothered me,… scared the living [expletive] out of me,” he said. “It wasn’t until a few seconds were left that I finally believed this was really going to happen.”

This journey, he said, “was an incredible run. The Spurs never got to the Finals two years in a row, never mind winning two years in a row. I have great respect for that franchise. For us to do something they haven’t been able to do says a lot about these guys.

“LeBron is just amazing. He made all those pull up shots [Thursday] that he wasn’t making all series. To be able to watch him every night for the past three years is a joy.”

And Wade? “A couple games Flash came back. That’s all we needed.”


Bosh had scored in 741 games in a row until Thursday. Ultimately, it didn’t matter.

“I didn’t think I wasn’t going to score any points,” Bosh said, leaning against a soda machine outside the Heat’s locker-room. “I thought I was going to have a big offensive output.

“If you don’t score any points, nobody is going to remember that. They’re only going to remember [championship] No. 2.  Very sweet, even better than last year.

"It’s the longest year you could possibly have – we started before everybody [to go to China] and we went to Game 7. It was worth it. We have two of them. It’s the best feeling in the world.”

Afterward, Bosh told Tim Duncan that if he wouldn’t have been there without him. Why?

Because “he was one of the guys I wanted to be growing up,” Bosh said. “I learned a lot just by watching him. He’s a champion. I can only hope to be a fraction of as good as he is.”

Duncan replied with a “thank you and congratulations.”


Wade, sitting in ABC’s makeshift studio set, said the idea of wanting to play with other stars crystallized as he watched Kobe Bryant win a title in 2010. “That’s what started it.”

He called this the most challenging playoffs of his career. Standing outside the locker-room afterward, he relayed a conversation with his knees.

“I told my knees – Listen, I will treat you good this summer,” Wade said. “Just give me one more.”

They did.

“I have a chance to rest now. This is the sweetest [championship] by far because of everything we’ve been through, everything I’ve been through.”


As Ray Allen’s father massaged his back, Allen stood in the locker-room, relishing The Shot That Changed Everything – his game-tying three-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter of Game 6.

“This celebration I wouldn’t be part of if that shot hadn’t gone in,” he said. “I do have to label it as probably the biggest shot I’ve ever hit in my life. You talk about the magnitude of the situation. That’s something I’ll think about, other people will talk about, forever. That moment was a defining moment for us.”

Allen’s father cracked, “He should have come here two years ago.”

Allen didn’t hear that, but said: “This is what I came down here for. It was a great leap of faith when I left [Boston]. I knew I needed a change at the time. These guys welcomed me with open arms.    


A starter for most of the season, Haslem didn’t play in Game 6 and logged just 1:37 in Game 7. “It was my turn to sacrifice,” he said, just before the Belgian female TV reporter asked if she could kiss him on the cheek. (Haslem said OK.)

“This is the ultimate definition of a team – different rounds, different guys have to sacrifice, have to make plays. Every round, we did whatever it took. [If we hadn’t won], I would have been heartbroken…. I’m happy for Dwyane – that’s my brother. I told him tonight, ‘Put some hot sauce on [that knee]. We need you.’”



After draining six three-pointers, Battier stuck his head in the arena’s flagship lounge afterward to grab a Bud Light and was greeted with resounding applause. He said a lot of people counted him out, but he knew he had a game like this in him.

“I believe in basketball gods. I felt they owed me big time.”

Meanwhile, his buddy, Miller, stood at his locker, holding his sneakers above his head triumphantly as if they were mini trophies.

Transforming from spare part in the regular season to starter in the final four games of The Finals “was awesome,” he said. “That’s our team. That’s what makes it fun.”

And LeBron? “The guy’s ridiculous. If you’ve got cable, you know. He works harder than anybody, which for a four-time MVP speaks volumes.”


Elsewhere: Chalmers cavorted down an arena hall, his young son Zachiah close behind. “Miami, we just getting started!” he said. Chalmers will forever be associated with his late heroics in Kansas’ national championship win against Memphis, but “this might have surpassed that. The dream, as a little kid, of being in this moment, and I’ve been here twice. Two out of three ain’t bad.”…

Andersen sprinted into the locker-room and served up one of the lines of the night: “I need security. Champ coming through!”…

Rashard Lewis played sparingly in postseason, but that didn’t remotely dampen his mood. “I’m still on a team that won a championship. Finally got a chance to experience it after playing 14 years in the league. Winning one cures everything.”         

June 20, 2013

Media column: Bayless resorts to old tricks; Media musings from the NBA Finals

Please check back Friday afternoon for a ton of reaction from the Heat's postgame locker-room from late Thursday night/early Friday morning. In the meantime, here's the...



Media musings from The NBA Finals:

### It was the middle of the night Tuesday when a Heat fan called a local radio station to remark that one of the best developments to come out of Game 6 was that he wouldn’t need to spend the summer listening to Skip Bayless crucifying the Heat.

Naturally, it would seem easy enough for Heat fans and other Bayless-bashers to spare themselves the aggravation, to simply turn off ESPN2’s First Take and ignore Bayless’ reactionary rants, hyperventilating declarations, premature conclusions and artificial indignation.

But therein lies Bayless’ greatest gift: The ability to make people pay attention to him, to make them care enough about what he says to repeat it, re-tweet it and grouse about it.

Bayless’ repertoire includes a couple of intellectually lazy go-to moves, and he resorted to one of them this week while in town to co-host First Take with sparring partner Stephen A. Smith. Bayless loves to accuse players of choking because, well, it’s an easy and convenient – though not necessarily accurate - way to explain failure.

Bayless said Manu Ginobili missed the first of two free throws with 28 seconds left in Game 6, and the Spurs ahead five, because he choked.

Other reasonable explanations certainly could be identified: Ginobili has been erratic with his free throws all postseason, shooting 72.4 percent from line. He was in the midst of a dreadful eight-turnover game.

But Bayless opted instead to shout “choke,” because it is the explanation that requires the least amount of thought and one that cannot be completely disproved because, well, there aren’t medical tests for that.

Talking about “clutch” is another Bayless crutch. He has asserted LeBron James “has no clutch gene,” as if a player has some sort of genetic pre-disposition to make or miss shots with the game on the line.

Bayless ranted about that earlier this year, ignoring that James’ clutch shooting (as defined by the NBA, final five minutes of close games) has been far better than Kobe Bryant’s and many other players in the past three years.

This week, Bayless seemed to take great pleasure in declaring that James “lapsed into shaky late-game LeBron” when he missed two threes (he also made one) late in regulation and committed a turnover in the final minute of overtime of Game 6.

Never mind that James entered Game 7 with a higher career shooting percentage than Bryant on game-tying or go-ahead shots in the final 24 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime of playoff games. You won’t hear that from Bayless, an unabashed Spurs fan.

Bayless declined to be interviewed when I approached him this week, saying he didn’t know my “angle” and wasn’t prepared to answer questions. An ESPN publicist later said he would answer one or two questions via e-mail, but he changed his mind when provided the questions – including one about whether he believes everything he says, or sometimes instead simply takes the position different from Smith’s.

The most amusing moment of Bayless’ visit to South Florida this week?

When First Take moderator Cari Champion said Tim Duncan looked tired late in Game 6, Bayless scolded her. “Don’t editorialize!” Bayless snapped.

Because, well, opining on sports must be left to the experts. Heaven forbid if someone not as qualified as Bayless should inadvertently misdiagnose whether a player is missing the “clutch gene.”

### Strong series by ABC’s Jeff Van Gundy, who quickly identified lineup mismatches and eyeballed and explained shifts in strategy. His quirky observations add flavor to his commentary, but Van Gundy wisely pulled back some during the Finals because of the significance of the games. 

### Sign of the times: Besides San Antonio and Miami, only five other NBA markets – New York, Boston, Chicago, Washington and Los Angeles – had English-language newspapers covering the series; most NBA markets staffed the Finals in the 1990s. That’s not a reflection of interest in the league, but of newspapers reducing travel budgets. But the international media presence at the Finals has never been bigger, and the major U.S. sports web sites were out in full force.

### Popular blogger/author/sportscaster Bill Simmons said he enjoyed his first season on the ABC/ESPN studio show but hasn’t decided whether to return next year.

“The schedule, once the playoffs start, is pretty intense,” he said. “I thought I would have more time to do other stuff…. I want to take a couple weeks and think about what makes sense.”

### Entering Game 7, none of the Finals games on ABC generated a local rating as high as the 37.1 for Game 7 of the Heat-Pacers Eastern Conference Finals. But a greater share of Dade/Broward adults ages 25 to 54 watched Tuesday night’s Game 6 than any of the past five Super Bowls.

### From the sometimes-reporters-can-be-helpful file: James thanked NBA TV’s David Aldridge for asking, earlier in the series, whether it would help him, offensively, to get the ball on the move more often. James said he liked the idea…. And credit ESPN’s Tim Legler for suggesting, on air, that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich start Ginobili beginning in Game 5.

### The best news about the Finals ending? We need not be subjected any more to WPLG-Channel 10’s unoriginal, repetitive, cringe-inducing pom-pom waving pre-game show, the one that preempted ABC’s pregame coverage five out of the seven games.

Among the things we learned: Heat fans were excited before all of the games. Many of them were loud. Sports bars did a lot of business on game nights. For WPLG, none of those scoops could be emphasized enough.

### San Antonio forward Tracy McGrady smashed the Finals record for most questions asked of The Guy Who Rarely Plays, beating Juwan Howard’s old mark. “I watch, just like you,” McGrady told reporters earlier in the series. “I just have a better seat.”      

UM adds DE; Heat rejects Spike Lee; Haslem's return?; Prices soaring; Riley's stories

### Quick UM note before we get to Heat: UM has added to its roster Julio Derosier, a former three-star defensive end out of Homestead who played for College of the Sequoias in California last season. An impressive physical specimen at 6-6 and 265 pounds, Derosier had 15 tackles in five games in 2012 but missed part of the season with a foot injury.He also had been considering Washington and Colorado.

Some Heat notes, hours before Game 7:

Knicks fan/movie director Spike Lee, of all people, showed up at the Heat’s media availability nine hours before Game 7, but no Heat players agreed to an interview with him Thursday morning for a video project that he was trying to put together for ABC’s telecast.

According to ABC, Lee wanted to do a short variation of his 1998 movie, He Got Game, which featured Ray Allen playing the role of fictitious character Jesus Shuttlesworth, the nation’s top basketball prospect. Denzel Washington played Allen’s father.

Allen declined Lee’s interview request on Thursday morning because he does not speak after shoot-arounds.

Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier, who do speak after shoot-arounds, also declined Lee’s request, as did Mike Miller.

Heat players might have been more willing to participate if Lee had approached them Wednesday, a practice day.

An ABC spokesperson said because of timing issues, Lee’s project did not materialize. But the network was unsure whether Lee would continue efforts to do some sort of Heat-related project on his own.

Lee shook Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s hand Thursday morning and wished him luck.

But last August, Lee told MTV News that if the Knicks did not win the championship this season: “I rather the Lakers win it than the Heat. I do not want the Heat to win back-to-back. Hell, no. Hell to the nah.”

###  According to TiqIQ, the average ticket price for Game 7 had risen to $1537.79, as of Thursday morning – an increase of $225 over the price listed Wednesday morning.

By comparison, ticket seller Vivid Seats said the average ticket price was $2400 for the 2010 Super Bowl in Miami and $1600 for January’s BCS title game at Sun Life Stadium.

### Spoelstra said Udonis Haslem likely will play tonight after getting his first DNP-CD (did not play/coach’s decision) of the season on Tuesday. Spoelstra said not using Haslem Tuesday was “one of the tougher things I’ve ever done.”

### Spoelstra, reflecting before Game 7 on his 10 years with Dwyane Wade and Haslem:

“I’ve probably aged 50 years. Those guys look the same. It’s been 10 long years. We’ve been through everything in those 10 years, even in different roles. That season [2003] was my first year I moved up to the bench with Stan [Van Gundy]. Dwyane and U.D. were rookies.

“We’ve been through the championship years and we’ve been through the bust years. That helps you build character, and you get to know each other for real – when you win 15 games and when you climb that mountaintop.”

### For those who ask, Wade said it’s simply not realistic to expect LeBron James to be in attack mode the entire game.

“He’s in unbelievable shape. Unbelievable,” Wade said. “But he can’t do it four quarters that way. A lot of people say, ‘Why can’t he play like that every day?’

“It takes so much out of you, so much energy, to be able to do that. If he doesn’t then he’s not playing any defense on the other end. He’s not making incredible blocks, incredible rebounds. You have to pick your spots when you do that.”

### Spoelstra said Heat president Pat Riley reminded him that the first time his Lakers won back-to-back title in 1987 and 1988, “they had three Game 7s that nobody seems to remember. They almost got beat every time.”

Riley’s recent interaction with the players has been limited, Chris Bosh indicated.

“He’s not telling stories to us right now,” Spoelstra said. “He’s done enough of that during the year.”

### LeBron James entered averaging 33.8 points in Game 7s – highest in NBA history, minimum two games.

### As ESPN’s Stats and Information noted Thursday morning, the Heat entered Game 7 having been outscored by 56 points in this series during the 194 minutes that James and Wade have played together. When James is playing without Wade, the Heat has outscored the Spurs by 48. James is shooting 54.1 percent without Wade alongside, 38.9 with Wade.

But this is a big difference from the regular season, when the Heat outscored opponents by 14 per 48 minutes when James and Wade played together.

### Whereas the Heat entered having not lost back-to-back games since Jan. 8 and 10, ESPN noted the Spurs haven't lost consecutive games with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili in the lineup since Dec. 12 and 13, 2012.


June 19, 2013

Wednesday 6 p.m. report: Wade's new knee issue, Bosh criticizes fleeing fans,Lots of Finals notes

Tidbits on the eve of Game 7 of the Finals:

Dwyane Wade, who has dealt with a right knee injury throughout the postseason, now has an issue with his left one after banging knees with Manu Ginobili in the first half of Game 6.

Wade said the knee was stiff and swollen on Wednesday but added he will be “fine” for Game 7. Wade had arthroscopic surgery on the left knee last summer.

“Early in the game, I took a good shot on my left knee [and] that kind of trauma to it, it just swelled up,” he said. “It was stiff. I couldn’t do as much I wanted.”

Wade, who scored 14 points, missed the first 2:28 of the second half to receive treatment.

### Chris Bosh lashed out at fans that left AmericanAirlines Arena with the Heat trailing late in the fourth quarter.

“Make sure they don’t come to Game 7,” Bosh said. “You never give up. People gave up on us and they can stay where they are and watch the game at home.”

Most fans stayed, but those who left were not permitted to re-enter the arena. “You can’t leave a game and then come back,” Bosh said. “Hell, I’ve been to games. You left! It’s not punishment. That’s protocol.”

Udonis Haslem said fans “can do what they want,” but “even if we had lost, we had the best record in the league. We would have appreciated their support and for them to stand up and clap after the season ended.”

James, conversely, apologized to the fans for creating so much angst.

### Haslem’s DNP/CD in Game 6 (did-not-play, coach’s decision) was his first all season, and Norris Cole’s was only his second, and the first since the Heat’s third game of the season.

Haslem said it was “frustrating watching when we were down 13” but he wasn’t angry about not playing, noting that several other rotation members (Cole, Shane Battier, Chris Andersen) also have had DNP/CDs in the playoffs. “At the end of the night, it was fine,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ray Allen said he was irritated that the NBA took out yellow ropes to prepare for a Spurs championship presentation. “There was a minute or so left in the game, and it was almost like San Antonio players on the bench were celebrating,” he said.

### Bosh offered this prediction Wednesday: “We’re going to play, I think, the best basketball we’ve ever played together [Thursday].” He said he has spent the playoffs either on emotional highs or lows “and for first time, I’m even today. That’s the right place to be.”

Bosh, who blocked two shots in the final 32 seconds of overtime, said: “I was trying to make it out alive. I was dehydrated, very tired. I asked friends how did it look on TV.”

### James loves the lineup featuring himself, Mike Miller, Allen, Mario Chalmers and Andersen. That group was on the floor for a 19-7 run that erased a 10-point Spurs lead to start the fourth quarter of Game 5, and also was on the court for nearly all of a 33-5 second-half spurt in Game 2.

"That lineup creates a lot of space,” James said. “I was able to find a rhythm… When you get into a rhythm, you feel like you can’t be stopped.”

Because opponents defend Miller and Allen near the three-point line, “it allows me to get to the paint.”

### James, who lost his headband in the fourth quarter, said it was the first time he played that much without one since a preseason game in his rookie season.

He said he will wear it in Game 7 because he’s a “little superstitious.” And if it gets knocked off again? “Then me and him will have a discussion if he will return.”

### Miller, who hit a three-pointer after slipping out of his sneaker and tossing it aside, said he wasn’t concerned about being stepped on, but was worried about slipping.

“I was just hoping we weren’t going to turn it over, and he was going to have to run back on defense or anything,” Bosh said.

### Wade and James had a spirited argument when the Heat was trailing in the fourth quarter, but they later apologized to each other while the game was still ongoing, according to Miami Herald columnist and 790 The Ticket host Dan Le Batard, who sat behind the bench.

### The Heat’s 81 wins this season are the fourth most in NBA history. The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls own the league record with 87… With Tuesday’s triple double, James has four all time in the Finals, second only to Magic Johnson’s eight…. Wade passed Julius Erving to move into 20th on the NBA’s all-time postseason scoring list.

### Game 6 drew a 12.3 national rating and 20.6 million viewers --  fourth-most for an NBA game in ABC’s history – but the series average of 9.7 trails the 10.1 rating for both the Heat-Dallas 2011 Finals and the Heat-Thunder 2012 Finals. Tuesday’s game was viewed in 47.6 percent of San Antonio homes with TV sets, compared with 35.4 percent of Miami-Dade/Broward homes.

### The Heat said only fans with valid tickets will be granted access to arena property during Thursday’s game, which will not be broadcast on the MiamiMediaMesh board in front of the arena.

### As they await Game 7 of the NBA Finals, San Antonio players said Wednesday they will not allow themselves to be dragged down emotionally by the disappointment of squandering a five-point lead with 21 seconds left in Game 6, when they had a chance to close out the series.

“We don’t get affected by big losses,” point guard Tony Parker said. “I’m not really worried about our team bouncing back.”

A night earlier, Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said: “I have no clue how we’re going to be re-energized. I’m devastated.”

On Wednesday, Ginobili said: “I’m still down. A blow like that, it’s not easy to get back up. After 12 hours, I feel a little better. We are still in a good situation.”

Forward Kawhi Leonard said the Spurs did not watch any film from Game 6 and coaches didn’t broach the loss.

But Parker said that after Tuesday’s game, Spurs players dined together and discussed games in which their teams had squandered big leads, including in international competition.

He said that was therapeutic in moving past Tuesday, when the Heat became only the second team in an NBA Finals elimination game to win a game that it trailed by 10 entering the fourth quarter.

“It was a great dinner. It definitely helped, because we knew that we blew a big opportunity to win a championship,” Parker said. “It was great to just talk to everybody and make sure everybody doesn’t stay sad too long.”

Said Tim Duncan: “We know the opportunity we let slip through our fingers. And we’re not going to hang our head and dwell on that.”


### The NBA confirmed that Spurs coach Gregg Popovich made an illegal substitution when he reinserted Duncan after referees reviewed Ray Allen’s game-tying three-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Parker missed a fade-away jumper, sending the game to overtime.

Popovich did not answer when asked Wednesday if he thought the substitution was legal. Instead, he used the forum to vent about the game being stopped briefly for a review.

“I was upset because I wanted to take it out and go,” he said. “That’s one of the great times when you can push the basketball against another team. They don’t want to foul. The game is tied. Often times, you’ll see somebody go right to the hole. Get a foul or get a lay-up. And that was taken away with the review.”

Because of the illegal substitution, the Heat planned to protest the game if it had lost, according to our Dan Le Batard.

### Popovich defended his decision to remove Duncan from the game twice in the final 28 seconds of overtime. In both sequences, the Heat secured offensive rebounds that to led to three-pointers, include Allen’s shot off a Chris Bosh offensive board.

Popovich said “it makes sense” to use Boris Diaw instead in that situation because “he has a little more speed than Duncan. Unfortunately, we had two guys that went to LeBron and didn’t switch with Bosh, and he went right to the hole. So it has nothing to do with Duncan.”

Duncan said he wants “to be in every minute of the game” but Popovich has removed him in that situation “all year long. We’ve been successful with it.”

### ABC’s Jeff Van Gundy said on 790 The Ticket on Wednesday that Ginobili was fouled on his drive to the basket with 2.4 seconds left in overtime (he lost the ball) and that Bosh fouled Danny Green while blocking his three-pointer with 1.2 seconds to go in overtime. A foul was not called on either play.

“The only people who don’t think those two were fouls are people with a vested interest in the Heat,” Van Gundy said.

Green, asked if he was fouled on the play, said: “Seeing the replay, it didn’t look like it. The refs didn’t call it. It wasn’t a foul.”

### Green, who entered Game 6 shooting 56.6 percent overall and 65.8 percent on threes (25 for 38), said the Heat defended him more tightly in Game 6. He scored three points, shooting 1 for 5 on threes and 1 for 7 overall.

“They weren’t leaving me, but it opened up lanes for Tony and Timmy to do damage,” Green said. “But there were a couple shots I got off that I should have made.”

Asked if he could do anything to get Green better shots, Popovich said: “We don’t call any plays for Danny Green, never have.”

### Duncan said one reason he went scoreless in the fourth quarter and overtime – on 0 for 5 shooting – is that he “got lost in the mix. My goal for [Thursday] will be to sustain throughout a little longer.” Duncan scored just five of his 30 points after halftime.

Notes, quotes from Heat's Game 6 win; Tidbits from UM's NCAA hearing

Please see ther last post for tidbits from the UM/NCAA hearing.

Postscripts from the Heat’s 103-100 stomach-churning Game 6 overtime NBA Finals win against the Spurs:

### Just when the critics were sharpening their knives and ready to crucify LeBron James, he shook off a 3-for-12 start to put together a monster fourth quarter and close with a triple double (32 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds). That’s his fourth career Finals triple double --- second all time behind Magic Johnson's eight.

LeBron scored 16 in the fourth and two in overtime.

“It was by far the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” James said. “I’m blessed to be a part of something like this. I’m proud how we dug down. Our mental toughness to make it look like almost the game was out of our hands, and to be victorious.

“I was struggling shooting the ball, and they took a commanding 12 point lead. I told myself: Give it all I’ve got. If we go down losing, I’m going to go down with no bullets. That’s exactly what I did, tried to play both sides of the floor until I had nothing left.”

Here’s how Manu Ginobili saw it: “He started to attack. When you’re desperate, that’s what happens. He made a couple tough shots.”

Spoelstra called James’ performance “an absolute desperation and will. He had a difficult cover with Tony Parker. He gave us that life when we were down 10.”

### LeBron became only the fourth player in NBA Finals history to put together a game with at least 30 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, joining Charles Barkley, James Worthy and Jerry West.

### Chris Bosh (10 points, 11 rebounds) was victimized several times on defense for 2 ½ quarters – Tim Duncan hit his first 10 shots against him – but couldn’t have been any better defensively in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Not only did Duncan go 0 for 5 between the fourth quarter and overtime --- primarily against Bosh – but Bosh also had two enormous blocks in the final minute of overtime: one on a Tony Parker jumper with 32 seconds left, and another on Danny Green’s attempted three-pointer with 1.2 seconds left.

"I don't know how we pulled it out, but we pulled it out," Bosh said.

Bosh said it angered him that NBA people started putting out ropes in the fourth quarter to prepare for a Spurs’ championship celebration.

“I noticed it,” James said. “We saw the championship board already out there, the yellow tape. That’s why you play the game to the final buzzer. To come out with a win like that makes it greater, when you’re able to will everything you have as individuals and have a game like this.”

Said Dwyane Wade: "When they brought out that yellow rope and you know you'r enot the one that's going to celebrate, we keep fighting and believing."

### Much was made of LeBron losing his headband in the fourth quarter; LeBron downplayed the importance of that.

"I've never seen him play without his headband that long, since his rookie year," Wade said. "He got very aggressive."

### According to Elias, Ray Allen’s three-pointer to tie the game with five seconds left in regulation marked his fifth career game-tying or go-ahead three-point field goal in the final 10 seconds of fourth quarter or overtime, most in the past 15 postseasons.

Allen said there “was luck shining on our side. It wasn’t looking good for us. We never give up.”

LeBron: “Ray can be 0 for 99, and if you get an open look late in the game, it’s going down. That’s just the confidence he has in himself, the confidence we have in him. That’s the reason we wanted him, games like this.”

That was Allen’s only three pointer of the night, but the Heat finished 11 for 19 on threes, with Mario Chalmers shooting 4 for 5 and Shane Battier 3 for 4.

### Chalmers’ night can’t be underestimated: 20 points on 7 for 11 shooting. He outscored Parker, who scored 19 and missed 17 of his 23 shots.

Parker played the better floor game (eight assists, no turnovers), compared with Chalmers’ four assists and three turnovers.

“He’s a great defender,” Parker said of LeBron. “I tried to do the best I could to try to create.”

### Tim Duncan’s 25 first half points were his most in seven years, but he scored just five after that, finishing with 30 points and 17 rebounds.

“It’s disappointing,” Duncan said. “I had some opportunities. We put ourselves in position to win the game. They made plays to take it from us.”

### Ginobili (nine points) committed eight turnovers, including two lethal ones later, and the Spurs were outscored by 21 with Manu in the game.

"I was very insecure,” he said. “I had a career high in turnovers at a bad moment. Makes me feel terrible.”

### Losing a 13 point lead in the third quarter and a five-point lead with 21 seconds left was “bad, very bad,” Ginobili said. “Very tough moment. I’m devastated. I have no idea how we’re going to be re-energized.

"We were a few seconds away from winning the championship, and we let it go. It’s a very tough moment. We gave them another chance. We are going to think about what we could have done better in the last few possessions all night long. It’s terrible.”

### Wade closed with 14 points (6 for 15 shooting)… Mike Miller stayed in the starting lineup and had eight points (3 for 4 shooting) -- after going scoreless the previous two games -- and added seven rebounds.

### In the first 5:57 of the fourth quarter, the Heat turned a 10-point deficit into a two-point lead using a lineup of James, Allen, Miller, Chalmers and Andersen. That same group spearheaded the 33-5 second-half run in Game 2.

### Spoelstra tightened his rotation from nine to eight. He used Andersen for the first time in three games, and Birdman had one point, four rebounds and three steals in 14 minutes.

### Udonis Haslem had his first DNP/CD (did not play, coach’s decision) all season. Norris Cole had only his second DNP/CD of the season; the other was the third game of the season.

### Here were the overtime numbers for the Heat: Ray Allen scored four of Miami’s eight points (shot 1 for 2); James (1 for 3) and Bosh (1 for 1) scored the other two baskets. The Spurs’ five overtime points came from Kawhi Leonard (four points) and Parker (one). But Parker shot 0 for 4 in overtime.

### Thursday will mark the 18th Game 7 in NBA Finals history. The home team is 14-3 in those games, with Washington the last road team to win a Finals Game 7 on the road --- against Seattle in 1978.          

### The final word from Wade: "I've never wanted to play a Game 7 so bad. You will have two teams that won't give up until the very end." 

### Please see the last post for tidbits from the UM/NCAA hearing.     

Tidbits from UM's hearing in front of NCAA's infraction committee

A few notes from UM’s two-day hearings last week in front of the NCAA’s infractions committee, according to three sources, including one in the room:

### UM was led to believe that the infractions committee will try to render a decision on potential sanctions in six to eight weeks but made no assurances.

### UM emerged feeling optimistic, believing the infractions committee will look at the case in a fair and unbiased manner, unlike some members of the enforcement staff.

### In one exchange, when an enforcement staff member made a particular argument, an infractions member said that comment did not make sense. But the infractions committee generally did not pass judgment during the hearing.

### The process was rough, at times, for the ex-UM coaches. Clint Hurtt, especially, was grilled with tough questions, including follow-ups that put him on the spot.

### While the NCAA defended Nevin Shapiro’s credibility with regard to his claims against UM, UM worked vigorously to undermine it.

At one point, UM said that if even though the NCAA has used felons before as informants, it was important for the infractions committee to keep in mind that Shapiro in in jail for a crime that involved lying.

 ### Still, the hearings weren’t combative between the sides; the lawyers didn’t interrupt each other, and the coaches kept their cool.

### UM mentioned that it previously asked NCAA president Mark Emmert to stop commenting about the case. Emmert said in August 2011 that the “death penalty” could be play. (It is not.)

### The NCAA told UM there was no need to mention the tainted evidence against UM that was tossed from the case. So in this hearing, UM could not emphasize that in condemning how the NCAA has handled the case.

### The sources said UM president Donna Shalala delivered a compelling opening statement, pointing out how UM has self-imposed penalties, and that UM attorney Mike Glazier was also impressive.

### The committee did not make a ruling on UM’s or four of the coaches’ motions to dismiss. UM isn’t expecting it to be granted.

### FYI: Ed Griffith of the state attorney’s office told me last week that the state would not be filing charges against NCAA investigator Rich Johanningmeier because it found no evidence that he committed a crime against Dyron Dye. Dye went to the Coral Gables police, and his attorney (Darren Heitner) went to the state attorney’s office, alleging that Johanningmeier used intimidation tactics and coercion to extract testimony from Dye.


June 18, 2013

2 p.m. Heat update: Bosh says no more open shots for Green; Green responds; Finals notes

Heat notes from Tuesday morning's shootaround, just hours away from Game 6 of the Finals: 

A warning issued hours before Game 6 of the NBA Finals: Chris Bosh declared Tuesday that Spurs guard Danny Green no longer should expect to be left alone around the three-point line.

“He won’t be open tonight,” Bosh assured Tuesday morning. “We’ll see how he shoots it with somebody always on him.”

Green’s response? “I’m sure they are going to have somebody making sure I don’t get the ball and make sure I don’t get open looks,” he said. “But I feel as if we have so many threats out there, they can’t just focus on one guy…. You have to give up something. You can’t take away everything.”

Green hopes if the Heat takes away his shooting, there will be more driving lanes for others, such as Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

According to ESPN, 24 of Green’s 38 shots in this series have been open looks. Green has made 18 of those uncontested shots, and 7 of 14 when guarded closely.

“We’re got to be much better knowing where he is,” coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Shane Battier said “the puzzling part” of Green’s success is “he doesn’t have any plays run for him. It’s not like Ray Allen coming off a screen. Most of his threes have come off defensive breakdowns on our part.”

### Battier expects Chris Andersen to be reinserted in the lineup tonight. “I think Bird will have an impact tonight,” Battier said. “Got a feeling.”

### Spoelstra, predictably, wouldn’t say if he will change his lineup. His options include sticking with Mike Miller, going back to Udonis Haslem or possibly starting Battier.

### Several Heat players said Tuesday morning that it was never realistic for fans to expect the Heat to easily steamroll through these playoffs – despite the 27-game winning streak, despite last year’s championship breakthrough and despite several contenders being depleted by injuries.

“That’s not realistic at all – to think you’re going to breeze through the playoffs,” Bosh said. “It never happens like that. It’s not easy. Nothing worth gaining is easy. If people wanted a championship and think it was going to be easy -- tough to break it to them, but we’re in Game 6 right now and we’re behind.”

Said Battier:  “The Spurs are our equal, no question. Play the same way. Same level of experience.  Playoffs are never easy, no matter how good you are. We’ve played two teams, in Chicago and Indiana, that played us very well in the regular season. For anybody to think we would sweep those guys, they weren’t watching the regular season.”

But Battier said one concern is “we have not had the best mental fortitude when things aren’t going well. We have to handle that adversity a little better.”

### On Tuesday, Spoelstra deemed the Heat and Spurs “two equal opponents.”

### The Heat entered Game 6 believing this team was better equipped to handle a Finals elimination game than in the 2011 Finals.  We’ve been hardened. We’ve learned how to compartmentalize,” Spoelstra said.

### Several Heat people were grilled by an ESPN reporter wondering how – during the NBA Finals – the Heat can have issues with lack of attention to detail, leaving shooters open and arguing with referees.

“They argue with referees, too,” Bosh responded. “Don’t get it twisted!”

Said Spoelstra: “Look, they’re going through the same thing after their losses.”

### Battier said Heat players cannot worry about ramifications of losing the Finals because “if you get caught up in the consequences, you’re not able to stay in the moment.”

### Spoelstra said Tuesday that one of the reasons the Heat signed Udonis Haslem in 2003 was “the Spurs were about to sign him. We both like the same type of player. It’s not a coincidence. We’re defensive-structure, culture-based organizations.”

Battier considered signing with the Spurs before joining the Heat after the lockout in December 2011.

“Both organizations have a culture,” Battier said. “You can’t say that about most NBA teams. Both teams value professionalism, intelligence, players who play hard. Both play an unselfish brand of basketball.”

### Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said though winning a championship is a “big deal, a big deal for a while” that “it’s not the most important thing in the world….You go after it and then life goes on.”

### Though Popovich is known for connecting well with his players, he said because “our core group has been around for a while, I have the feeling by now when I start to speak, they either roll their eyes or they shut off their ears. Or, if it’s like Timmy [Duncan], he looks at me and says, ‘I got it.’ And then I don’t have to say anything.”

June 17, 2013

LeBron's shooting plunges, Heat, NBA Finals notes

Some Heat and Spurs chatter as we await Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night:

Since the NBA introduced the 3-point shot in 1979-1980, no starting small forward with any kind of three-point element to his game has ever shot a higher percentage than LeBron James did this season.

But that deft touch has deserted James during four of the five games in these NBA Finals. Even shots in the basket area were a struggle in Game 5.

James’ 43.6 percent shooting in this series is surprising, considering he made 56.5 percent of his shots during the regular season – remarkable for a non-center.

In fact, no starting small forward who made more than two three-pointers in a season ever shot as high a percentage as James did this season. Chris Mullin was closest, at 55.3 percent in 1996-97.

But aside from his exemplary 15 for 25 performance in Game 4, James has been inefficient offensively. He shot 7 for 16 in Game 1, 7 for 17 in Game 2, 7 for 21 in Game 3 and 8 for 22 in Game 5.

Not only did James shoot just 2 for 11 in the second half Sunday, but he finished the game 5 for 15 on shots in the paint.

“I think between the two of us, we probably missed 12 layups,” James said of himself and Dwyane Wade. “I missed a lob. I missed two layups, in transition on the same possession. Those are shots we make.”

James shot 1 for 8 Sunday when defended by Boris Diaw, whose length seemed to give him some problems. Conversely, James was 7 for 14 against all other defenders.

“Boris is a pretty good defender,” Spurs guard Tony Parker said. “It gives a different look for LeBron. He looks awkward, but he gets the job done. Every time in Europe he guards guys like that, the fours who can’t really moves” – though James moves just fine.

James’ perimeter shooting also has been erratic in this series. He shot a career-high 40.6 percent on three-pointers this season but has hit just 6 of 19 in the Finals (31.6 percent).

His overall shooting percentage in this series is worse than his 47.8 percent accuracy in the 2011 Finals loss to Dallas. James is averaging 21.6 points in this series, compared with 17.8 in the 2011 Finals and 28.6 in the 2012 Finals.


Both teams were off Monday, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was non-committal when asked Sunday night whether he would stick with Mike Miller as a starter for a third game in a row or go back to Udonis Haslem. For the second consecutive game, Miller went scoreless on 0-for-1 shooting on Sunday.

ABC’s Magic Johnson implored Spoelstra to resume using forward/center Chris Andersen, who did not play in either of the past two games.

“They’re going to [need] some energy,” Johnson said. “And only one guy can provide that – Chris Andersen. He needs minutes.”

The Heat was outscored by 20 points in Haslem’s nine minutes off the bench in Game 5. But the Heat outscored the Spurs by seven when Chris Bosh was in the game.

### Without elaborating, Dwyane Wade said “a small” adjustment will be needed in the Heat’s strategic approach in Game 6.

“Just like the adjustment they made with throwing more isolations at Tony Parker,” Wade said. “Didn’t necessarily win the game, but it helped. It changed things.”

### The Spurs shot 60 percent in Game 5 – something no team had done against Miami in the regular season. (Detroit shot 58.1 percent in a win in December.)

“It’s pretty obvious that we didn’t give that same defensive effort that we had in Game 4 and they picked us apart,” Bosh said. “We had mental lapses early, we were cross-matched trying to run to our guys, and they got easy baskets. Defenses win championships. I hate to be cliché, but we can’t give up [114-plus] points.”

### The Heat’s point guard play has deteriorated in the past week.

After an impressive showing earlier in postseason, Norris Cole has shot just 6 for 22 in the Finals.

And after his 19-point, no-turnover gem in Game 2, Mario Chalmers scored 13 points on 4 for 19 shooting in the past three games, with more turnovers (10) than assists (7).

“We haven’t been getting the same looks we had in Game 2,” Chalmers said.

### Ray Allen is 11 for 17 on three-pointers in this series after finishing 4 for 4 on Sunday.

With 45 career threes in the Finals, Allen surpassed Michael Jordan for fourth on the all-time list, behind Robert Horry (56) and Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher (48 apiece).

Allen also became the first player in NBA Finals history with two four-point plays in the same game.

### The Heat finished in the upper half of the league in three-point field goal percentage defense this season, but San Antonio’s Danny Green -- and to a lesser extent, Gary Neal – are tormenting Miami from beyond the three-point arc during these Finals.

The Spurs, who ranked fourth in three-point accuracy during the regular season, are shooting 44.2 percent on threes in this series. That’s well above the 35 percent that Miami allowed during the season, which ranked 11th.

Green is shooting an absurd 65.8 percent on threes (25 for 38) during this series, and Neal has made 12 of 24.

What’s more, the Spurs’ 50 three-pointers are just two short of the NBA Finals record for most threes in a series of any length. The Celtics hit 52 against the Lakers in 2008.

“Danny is playing great – I can’t believe he’s still open at this moment of the series,” point guard Tony Parker said. “They are still trapping me and doubling [Tim Duncan], and Danny is wide open.”

According to ESPN, 24 of Green’s 38 three-point attempts in the series have been open looks. Green has made 18 of 24 threes when he wasn’t tightly defended, and 7 of the 14 contested threes.

“Give him credit – he’s knocking them down,” Dwyane Wade said. “He’s also getting some stuff in transition. And he’s the beneficiary of Tony Parker’s penetration. We do have to do a better job, like we did in Game 4, of knowing where the shooters are at all times.”

Green already has broken the NBA record for most three-pointers in a Finals and stands just three short of equaling the overall record for most three-pointers in a playoff series of any length. That mark is held by the Heat’s Ray Allen (for Milwaukee in 2001) and Dennis Scott (for Orlando in 1995).

“That will be something we have to correct,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Got to do it hard and be more committed. The open looks are the ones that are killing us.”

Green said he is surprised he’s getting some uncontested shots.

“Tony, Timmy and [Manu Ginobili] are doing a great job of sucking in the defense,” he said. “Right now, everything is working for me. I’m feeling truly blessed.”

### Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, asked if Green’s evolution as a player reminds him of former Heat and ex-Spurs forward Bruce Bowen: “They don’t really dribble or do anything. They just shoot it. So in that sense, they are kind of similar.”


Ginobili’s start for the Spurs in Game 5 was his first since the Western Conference Finals against Oklahoma City last June.

According to ESPN, this was the first time since Marcus Camby in 1999 that a player started in the Finals after not starting a game during the regular season.

“I had a better game, but I’m not sure it was just because I started,” said Ginobili, whose 24 points were just six short of his total for the first four games. “I attacked better, got to the free throw line a little more [eight times], and those things got me going.”

Duncan said Ginobili seemed “dejected” by his play earlier in the series. His 10 assists Sunday were the most by a Spurs player in this series.

### The Spurs are 14-2 in potential series-clinching games played on the road since the start of the 2002-03 postseason, according to ESPN. The rest of the NBA is 61-75 in that time span.

“We’ve been in situations like this,” Duncan said. “We’ve been together for a long time. I think every one of us wants this very badly from the top on down.”

### Kawhi Leonard said defending LeBron James has been “fun” and he doesn’t care in the least whether he has earned James’ respect.

### Among the things the Heat won’t miss about the AT&T Center: the irritating flies that exasperated Udonis Haslem and others during on-court media sessions.

Notes, quotes, postscripts from Heat's Game 5 loss

Notes, quotes, postscripts from the Heat's 114-104 Game 5 NBA Finals loss to the Spurs:   

### So this is what happens when your MVP shoots 2 for 11 in the second half, when your point guard play is abysmal, when your defensive rotations are off and when your championship-caliber opponent shoots 60 percent and buries you in an avalanche of threes.

And so a team that won 27 in a row a few months ago hasn’t been able to win two in a row in 12 straight. That obviously must change, and immediately, or there will be no championship defense.

### After closing to within one, the Heat ultimately was undone by a 19-1 Spurs run late in the third and early in the fourth. Miami cut the deficit to eight late, but drew no closer.

“They absolutely outplayed us,” Erik Spoelstra said. “At times they were just picking one guy out at a time and going mano y mano. That will change.”

### The highest shooting percentage Miami allowed during the regular season was 58.1 in a late December loss to Detroit. The Spurs topped that, shooting 42 for 70.

### Since the NBA went to a 2-3-2 Finals format in 1985, three teams won an NBA Finals after trailing 3-2 with Games 6 and 7 at home: the 1988 Lakers, 1994 Rockets and 2010 Lakers.

### Dwyane Wade’s take: “We dug ourselves in a deep hole very early. We felt this was a game we could steal, but they continued to make shots. Their starters played big tonight. They’re a great team. We’re a great team as well.

“We’re going to make another adjustment. It’s going to be very small. Just like tonight the adjustment they made was throwing more isolations at Tony Parker.  It didn’t necessarily win the ballgame, but it helped. It changed things.

“There were a lot of mental mistakes we made tonight. If we make those same mistakes again, it will be the same result. So we have to be more locked in from start to finish.”

### Wade, looking back to the 2011 Dallas series (when the Heat lost Game 5 in Texas and Game 6 in Miami): “We’ll challenge ourselves to see if we’re a better team than we were. We will see if we are a better ball club, better prepared for this moment… We’ll see which team, which style will prevail.”

### LeBron James’ take: “We can’t worry about a Game 7. We have to worry about a Game 6. I have to come up big, for sure, in Game 6…. We’re not playing well in the first quarter. We have to figure that out. We look forward to the challenge. We’ve been here before. We have an opportunity to do something special. We look forward to it.”

### James and Wade each scored 25 points in Game 5, but the perception of their nights differed, and justifiably so.

Wade was the more efficient player Sunday, dishing out 10 assists and finishing 10 for 22 from the field, with two blocks, a steal and four rebounds.

James, meantime, had a nightmarish second half, shooting 2 for 11 and closing 8 for 22 from the field. And in the first half, he didn’t make his usual impact in other facets of the game, going to halftime with one assist and no rebounds or steals.

### Chris Bosh managed just six points and one rebound in the second half, and overall, Tim Duncan outscored him (17 to 16) and out-rebounded him (12 to 6).

The Big Three’s combined scoring total of 66 points was 19 off their output in Game 4. And unlike Game 4, none of the three could make enough of an imprint on this game defensively, each victimized at various times.

“Everyone was taking turns breaking down our defense,” Spoelstra said. “Offensively, we weren’t very efficient.”

Danny Green, defended part of the game by Wade, scored 24, and James – who guarded an assortment of players – didn’t play at the level that allowed him to finish second in Defensive Player of the Year balloting.

“This is the kind of team that capitalizes on any mistake you make,” Wade said. “Danny Green is making shots – give him credit. We have to do a better job of knowing where their shooters are at all times. He got away from us a few times.”

### James’ biggest issue was his offensive inefficiency, surprising for a player that shot a career-high 56.5 percent this season.

He missed 8 of 9 shots during a lengthy stretch covering the entire third quarter and much of the fourth, including three misses – a 12-footer, a 5-footer and a layup -- during the Spurs’ 19-1 run to end the third and start the fourth.

Boris Diaw did an especially effective job defending James. LeBron shot 1 for 8 with Diaw guarding him, 7 for 14 against all other defenders.

### After making a three-pointer 43 seconds into the second half, James didn’t hit another shot until a layup with 3:27 left in the game, and the Heat down 17. His misses included – among others -- two threes, a layup and a two other shots from short range.

And after the Heat cut the Spurs’ lead to 11 soon after, James was called for a foul on a moving screen, negating a Ray Allen three-pointer with 2:23 left.

That epitomized a frustrating night for James that included three missed layups, an airball on a four-footer, an inability to convert an alley-oop from Mario Chalmers (the pass was hardly perfect) and not a single rebound in the first half.

This was especially disappointing: James came up empty during both of the Spurs’ monster runs -- both the 19-1 second-half burst and a 22-7 first-half spurt, during which James shot 0 for 3.

James had only one dominant stretch in the game, and it was too brief: a nine-point tear late in the first half. He finished with eight assists, six rebounds and four steals, but also three turnovers.

“I missed a lob, I missed two layups in the same possession,” James said. “D-Wade missed a couple of layups. Those we aren’t worried about. Those are shots we normally make.”

### As for Bosh, he took only three shots in the second half, making all of them, but didn’t assert himself on the boards, or defensively, like he did in Game 4.

Unlike earlier in the playoffs, he did most of damage in the paint. Five of his seven baskets were layups, put-backs or dunks, and another was a three footer. His other was on a hook shot.

### According to ESPN, the Heat shot 39.2 percent on drives to the basket – including 4 for 12 from James and Wade.

### With six three-pointers, Green broke Ray Allen’s previous record for most three-pointers in an NBA Finals.

“That will be something we have to correct,” Spoelstra said. “We just got to do it better, got to do it harder, be more committed. He’s getting some open looks, and he’s making some contested looks. But the open looks are the ones that are killing us.”

Green has 25 threes in this series – just three fewer than his total in the first three rounds combined.

### Allen, by the way, scored 21 points in 30 minutes, making all four of his three-pointers.

### Every Spurs starter scored between 16 and 26. Manu Ginobili, making his first start since the Western Conference Finals, scored 24 – after scoring 30 in the first four games.

He’s the first player to start a game in the Finals, after not starting a game all season, since Marcus Camby in 1999.

June 15, 2013

Lessons learned on Bosh, his future and small ball; Dolphins, Marlins, UM/NCAA


A week ago, Chris Bosh was so disgusted with his performance that he blurted, only partly in jest: “Shoot, if I was someone else, I’d hate me, too.”

He certainly cannot and should not feel that way now, not after a Game 4 when he became only the second player in the past 25 years (Shaquille O’Neal was the other) to produce at least 20 points, 13 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks in a road NBA Finals win.

Not after a game when he asserted himself defensively, sprinting repeatedly from the perimeter to the paint with boundless energy. And certainly not after stringing together three consecutive double-figure rebounding games for only the second time since October.

In the past week, several realities were crystallized, or simply re-affirmed, regarding Bosh and Heat small ball. Among them:

### Despite Shane Battier’s offensive struggles this postseason, the Heat has clearly been at its best in this series with one natural power rotation player on the floor.

When only one among Bosh, Chris Andersen, Udonis Haslem or Joel Anthony has been on the court, the Heat has outscored the Spurs by 15 points. The rest of the time, Miami has been outscored by 20.

And if you remove Anthony from that mix, Miami has outscored the Spurs by 33 with Bosh, Anderson or Haslem as the lone “big.”

With Miami using exclusively that smaller lineup in Game 4, “I was able to get in the paint a lot more,” Bosh said. “It really opened up my game.” And, as Ray Allen noted, the smaller lineup "gives LeBron and D-Wade room to operate."

One of the great misconceptions is that the Heat is more vulnerable on the boards when it goes small. Not so.

During the season, the Heat was outrebounded by five per 48 minutes when Bosh and Haslem played together with James, Wade and Mario Chalmers.

But Miami outrebounded opponents by 3.5 to 11 boards per 48 minutes with its three most-used “small ball” lineups: the Big Three and some combination of Allen, Battier and Chalmers.

And the Heat and Bosh average more blocked shots with its best small lineups than the bigger ones. It's almost as though Bosh feels an even greater sense of responsibility defensively when Haslem or Andersen isn't alongside him. "When we play with those lineups, he's the last man there," Erik Spoelstra said.

### As long as James is here, the odds are good that Bosh will remain primarily at center longterm, not power forward. Many reasons for that: 1) The Heat knows -- as Spurs center Gregg Popovich said last week and other such as Doug Collins have said repeatedly -- that “they’re at their best” playing small.

2) With no cap space in the Big Three era, Miami will never be in position to add a very good starting center with simply exception money.

3) Bosh, 29, completing his first full year at center, reiterated recently he wants to spend the rest of his career here and is fine playing center as long as Miami wants.

4) Heat assistant David Fizdale said last week: “As he gets older, [center] is what Chris is going to be.”

Fizdale explained it this way: “That’s the progression of all NBA players, any position. Look at Jason Kidd and Chauncey Billups. They were point guards their whole career and as they became older, they became two guards. Shane was a three; as he’s gotten older, he’s a 4. As guys get older, the way they stay in the league is they re-invent themselves into the next position up, the slower position, so they can guard that position and still offensively have an effect.

“For at least two or three years, Chris can still split the time at [center and power forward]. But as he gets into his later years, [center] is what you’re going to see more of.”

### Yes, the rebounding lulls during stretches can be exasperating. But we were reminded last week that the soft-spoken, unassuming Bosh not only can adapt his game when needed, but can summon mental and physical toughness in adverse conditions.

His seven blocks are most among all players in this series, and he has outscored and outrebounded Duncan over the past three games. He has launched only one three-pointer since going 0 for 4 on threes in the opener, and every shot he took in Game 4 was inside of 17 feet.

“He’s probably made the biggest sacrifices of the Big Three, to fit in with these guys,” Fizdale said. “He’s in a tough spot because we move him around a lot. Sometimes he gets caught in that in-between: Am I flaring on this play? Am I rolling? And all of a sudden, he’s missed that moment, lost the rhythm of the play. That happens to him sometimes because we ask him to wear so many different hats.”

Bosh conceded in a private moment recently that as much as he wanted to be like James and Wade, “I knew it wasn’t going to be possible, being as good, being an MVP, like them.” He said he thinks “all the time” about how he made the right decision taking less money to come here – “winning is priceless” - and has no desire to be “the man” again on a non-contender.

And what about his critics? The solution, he says, “is not to care. That’s the best remedy. I cared at first, for sure. Why are people doing this to me? Now, who cares? I’m not the first person to get criticized.”

The criticism even comes from his inner circle. His family asks him "all the time" why he's not more aggressive. "My family's rough," he said. "They push me. They're looking for more."

So are Heat fans. He gave them more Thursday. He hopes to repeat it tonight. 


Pacers forward Paul George said “we gave” the Spurs “the blueprint” to beat the Heat. “We wouldn’t mind them sharing a ring with us.” But Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard said San Antonio took nothing from that series or, for that matter, the way George defended James. (In fact, Leonard claims he never watched how George guard LeBron.) OK then.

### Who would drive 17 hours to watch a Finals game in person? Ex-UM center Constantin Popa (now a women’s basketball coach), who drove down from Indianapolis. At least the Heat gave him tickets.

### Please see our last post for more Heat notes from Saturday.

### The Dolphins staff has been impressed with the offseason work of cornerback Nolan Carroll (“has been very, very good,” Joe Philbin said) and defensive end Olivier Vernon (“he understands the scheme better and his play speed has improved,” Philbin said).

Vernon, with the first team throughout the offseason program, will be challenged by Dion Jordan and perhaps Jared Odrick (if he moves back to end). The staff likes Vernon's diverse skill set -- he can rush the passer, stop the run and drop back into coverage. 

### Louisiana-Lafayette defensive end Emeka Onyenekwu, a skilled pass rusher, has been among the best of the undrafted rookies in the Dolphins' offseason program.

### A source said UM ended up disputing at least parts of most of the 18 charges the NCAA leveled against Miami. UM internally has discussed how many scholarship cuts it would accept for football and basketball (suffice it to say it's a modest number) but likely would appeal if it exceeds that number.

Meanwhile, Shalala and NCAA president Mark Emmert have discussed the case, but Emmert apparently isn’t getting involved in UM’s discipline. He wasn't at UM's hearings this past week, which isn't unusual.

### Though Sports Illustrated did good work exploring the NCAA enforcement staff’s problems --- fired investigator Abigail Grantstein said superiors told her, in general, to “find a way to prove” any allegations -- this week’s piece printed but provided no concrete evidence to substantiate Nevin Shapiro’s claims that he received inside information from 16 UM players, four coaches and four athletic department staffers (none identified by name), nor did it provide any kind of proof for his very hard-to-believe claim that he won ALL 23 bets he placed on UM games as a result (while often betting against UM).

Nor did SI prove that UM people knew he was seeking information for bets, which Shapiro said was the case. With regards to Shapiro's claims, the NCAA is wisely ignoring the SI story, having already investigated the gambling angle a year ago.

### SI disclosed that like the NCAA, it wired money to Shapiro’s commissary account for pay for his phone calls with them. Shapiro asked to be on SI’s cover; SI compromised by mentioning the story on the front, above a photo of two Detroit Tigers.

### Rich Johanningmeier, who spent 50 hours interviewing Shapiro before retiring last May, told SI: “To us, it’s not relevant if he has an ax to grind. The point is: What are your facts and are they correct? Nevin falls into that category… Is he basically telling a true story? Yes. Is there some embellishment? Yes, too.”... The first time Shapiro met Johanningmeier and since-fired investigator Amin Najjar in prison, he told them: "If you guys aren't ready to make history, don't enter." 

### Whereas the Marlins are open to trading pitcher Ricky Nolasco as soon as they get a very good offer and also would move reliever Ryan Webb, they also have told people they’re reluctant to deal relievers Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn. The Yankees, Orioles and Giants reportedly are among those with interest in Nolasco.

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz