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Heat notes from Saturday's NBA Finals availability

Please see the previous post for UM/NCAA investigation news from Saturday.

 

Last year’s Heat starting lineup in the NBA Finals – with Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers joining the Big Three – proved to be the ideal mix against Oklahoma City.

But this postseason, when Battier has come off the bench and joined the four others, that unit has been a disaster statistically. And Erik Spoelstra has used that lineup a total of less than one half of one game in these playoffs.

The group of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Battier and Chalmers has been outscored by 19 points in 23 playoff minutes, due in part to poor shooting (7 for 28) and poor ball-handling (nine turnovers, four assists).

Spoelstra decided before the playoffs to stick with Udonis Haslem as a starter instead of going back to Battier, who has struggled offensively throughout postseason and has logged just 18 minutes in the past four games. He didn’t play at all in Game 7 of the Indiana series.

During last year’s playoffs, that group of Battier, Chalmers and The Big Three outscored opponents by 32 points in their 159 minutes on the court together. This season, that quintet has played just the eighth-most minutes among Heat lineups.

“It’s hard right now [to play that lineup] with the way the rotation has shaken out,” Heat assistant coach David Fizdale said.

By sticking with Haslem as a starter throughout the postseason, “we’re not at an immediate [size] disadvantage,” Fizdale said. “Most teams we play against want to punish us early, so we try not to put LeBron and Shane in that position early in the game. As the game wears on, we can get to those groups that are not as big and physical.”

### Fizdale, who is widely respected around the league, reportedly is among candidates on the radar of the 76ers, who are looking for a head coach after Doug Collins moved to a consultant role with the team.

Fizdale, 38, said he hasn’t been contacted but would listen if approached after the Finals.

“They’ve got great personnel, great history,” he said. “That’s a team you would really have to consider, especially with Jrue Holiday as a point guard. Holy cow. I hate scouting against that guy.”

Fizdale, who has a year left on his contract, declined an opportunity to interview for Portland’s head coaching job last June.

"With me just signing my new contract with Miami, us just coming off winning one last year, I wanted to take another shot at getting multiple [rings] with this group,” he said. “I didn’t feel at the time the Portland thing was the right timing.”

Now, after being “tutored” for years by Heat president Pat Riley, Spoelstra and assistant Ron Rothstein, he would be open “to the right situation…. I’ve really tried to soak up everything they say about that seat. Am I ready? Probably not. You’re never really ready. Eventually, it just has to happen and you do it.”

### Dwyane Wade said Saturday: “We’re not a team that really says this is a must-win game. But this is a must-win game” Sunday, with the Heat down 1-0 in the series. “I don’t think we’ll make the same mistakes we made in Game 1.”

### Heat guard Mario Chalmers said compared with the series against the Bulls and Pacers, this matchup is “a lot less physical.” Battier cracked: “Indiana and Chicago were like MMA on ABC. It was a shock to play a [less physical] basketball game” Thursday.

### Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said the Heat differs from Western Conference teams primarily on the defensive end, “how they press for the ball, how they guard pick and rolls and rotate. We don’t normally face teams like that in the West.”

### LeBron James shot 2 for 8 when guarded by Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard in Game 1, and Leonard said he’s “pretty sure” James will try to take more control of the game.

But James said when people say he needs to be more aggressive, “I can’t get involved in that honestly, because I’ve done more and lost before. I can’t really get involved or care.

“Offensively, I attract some much attention that if a guy is open on my team, I will pass the ball. And the Spurs did a good job of shrinking the floor. So if that’s their game plan, we’re going to continue to exploit that.” But he said there were also “a few plays I could have been more aggressive.”

### James said “it has been a toll for myself to go through what I’ve been through the last 2 ½ years” with two long playoff runs and an Olympics.

“I would love to have rest, but not at this time of the year. I wouldn’t substitute sitting down in my house right now watching The Finals.”

### Wade said his knee is feeling better “but I didn’t say pain free.”

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