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Heat faltering in clutch; A bundle of Heat notes; Dolphins chatter; UM recruiting

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

A 10-pack of Heat items, with Game 2 of the Finals looming:

### Nobody could have seen this coming: In clutch situations, Miami has gone from profoundly dominant in the regular season to the NBA’s third-worst statistically in the postseason.

The Heat has been outscored by 12 points in 36 playoff minutes that fall under the league’s definition of clutch — final five minutes of games with a margin of five points or fewer. Only the ousted Knicks (minus-13) and Nets (minus-16) were worse.

What’s more, Miami is 3-4 this postseason in games featuring clutch minutes after finishing 32-8 in those games during the season and outscoring teams by an absurd 131 points in 176 clutch minutes. No team was nearly as spectacular late in close games; Denver was second at plus-59.

The regular-season Heat averaged 116 points per 48 minutes of clutch time. The playoff Heat? Just 86.6. The regular-season Heat shot 48.8 percent and had 88 assists and 40 turnovers in the clutch; the playoff Heat has shot 36 percent, with nine assists and 14 turnovers (worst playoff ratio).

So who's to blame? This sticks out: Chris Bosh led the league in clutch shooting during the regular season (minimum 30 attempts), going 27 for 35. But in the playoffs, he’s 3 for 11. Only Nets guard Deron Williams has been worse, minimum 10 shots.

LeBron James is shooting 6 for 13 in the clutch this postseason, Dwyane Wade 6 for 11. But Ray Allen is 1 for 4 (after shooting 25 for 51 in-season) and Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers 0 for 4 each.

### One peculiarity: The clutch lineup that coach Erik Spoelstra used most before the playoffs — Allen, Battier and the Big 3 — was plus-41 in 53 clutch minutes in the regular season, but has played just two of Miami’s 36 clutch playoff minutes (and is plus-7).

Meanwhile, the Heat’s second-most used clutch lineup — Allen, Chalmers and the Big 3 — has gone from plus-34 in 46 clutch regular-season minutes to a dreadful minus-23 in 15 playoff clutch minutes, with 4-for-18 shooting.

No wonder Spoelstra closed the final three minutes of Game(1 with Mike Miller, Allen and the Big 3 — a lineup that played only 33 minutes together all season (and was minus-5).

### Battier hasn’t talked to Spoelstra about his reduced role because “there’s no time for hand-holding.”

How upset is he? “I’m 34. I’m good looking. Two beautiful kids. Rarely have a bad day. I’m playing with LeBron, have billboards in China.” The point? “I’m not going to let a little playing time dictate how I feel.”

Battier is 15 for 69 in the postseason, and Stan Van Gundy said on 790 The Ticket: “It’s killing Erik not to play him, but the guy is totally ineffective right now.” But Battier countered: “Shooting is only a sliver of what I do,” and that he needs to “make [Spoelstra’s] life miserable by playing well, make him say, ‘How can I sit Shane?’”

Battier said Saturday there’s a “good possibility” he will retire after the 2013-14 season, when his contract expires. “I’ll be 36,” he said. “Time to do something else.”

### A downside to not playing Battier much: According to synergysports.com, players guarded by Battier are shooting 29.1 percent in the playoffs, best on the team. Players guarded by Wade are shooting 45.4, compared with 35.1 in the regular season.

### Miller knows this could be his final two weeks here, as amnesty looms: “If you look at the financial part of it, [amnesty] makes sense.”

He would be paid $6.2 million and $6.6 million the next two seasons, but the money would come off the Heat’s salary cap. Miller calls this his toughest season, considering how little he played (59 games, 15.3 minutes average) because “it’s the most healthy I’ve been, best I’ve felt in six years.”

### For those preferring Bosh drive more -- and that makes sense -- consider: His shooting at the rim has plunged from 71.7 percent in the regular season to 52.3 (23 for 44) in the playoffs. The Bulls’ Joakim Noah and Pacers’ Roy Hibbert had a lot to do with that.

Here’s what’s harder to figure: Whereas his three-point shooting has improved to 42.9 percent, his accuracy between 16 feet and the three-point line has dropped from 50.3 during the season to 35.6.

Bosh, by the way, is already tired of talking about Tim Duncan but told us previously he spent some time last summer studying tapes of Duncan’s and former Lakers great James Worthy’s footwork in the post. Duncan said “it’s really odd to hear” that Bosh had a Duncan poster on his wall growing up Dallas.

### Ray Allen calls this the most enjoyable team he has played for and “the weather does wonders for your body. It feels like you’re on vacation.” His approach has rubbed off on teammates.

Not only did James copy his free-throw technique, but Udonis Haslem said he started using a paddleboat because Allen does. “It’s similar to rowing, but standing up,” said Allen, who does it for 30-minute stretches to “build up muscles.”

Two aspects of Wade’s game that have developed nicely have betrayed him in the postseason: runners (shooting 8 for 27) and post-ups (6 for 19). And Wade has had huge drop-offs from the regular season on shots from 3 to 10 feet (he’s at 27.5 percent) and 16 to 23 (28.9 percent).

With his knee injury, “it looks like he’s lacking confidence in some of the things he’s accustomed to doing,” Spurs forward Tracy McGrady said.

### From the spare-no-expense file: A partner in a Connecticut-based hedge fund paid $21,000 each for three courtside tickets for Game 2 – most ever spent on a Heat ticket, according to White Glove International, which re-sells high-end Heat tickets. And some German tourists doled out $1,500 to go by boat to Game 1, which is offered from the Miami Beach Marina, instead of fighting traffic.

###  It’s awkward enough for Chris Andersen when people make the flapping bird sign at him in public. But that’s better than the guy who approached Joel Anthony to give him a high-five at a urinal. Anthony warded him off with a friendly elbow bump.


NON-HEAT CHATTER

### The Dolphins want “offset language” in rookie first-round draft pick Dion Jordan’s contract — which lessens their financial burden if he’s cut. But that’s no longer unusual for NFL top 10 picks, and the sides remain hopeful of striking a deal before camp.

### How athletic is new Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes, who has thoroughly impressed? He said he shocked people by jumping over cars when playing “chase” with friends as a teenager.

### Not only did UM last week add two-star linebacker and Plantation American Heritage graduate Walter Tucker — an elite hurdler who had no other football scholarship offers — to its 2013 class, but Canesport.com said UM also offered a 2013 football scholarship to a player who has never played football: New York-based Connor Center.

Center taped a workout and sent it to UM — which projects him as a tight end — and other schools. Center, 6-7, said UM is “at the top” of his list with Colorado. He plans to visit in the next week.

As for Tucker, he previously committed to Clemson on a track scholarship, but changed his mind because he decided to play football and that wasn't going to happen at Clemson. Some schools, including Texas and Wisconsin, had interest in him for football but didn't offer him a scholarship because of his past preference for track. Tucker was a high productive running back at American Heritage, but UM offered him as a linebacker.

### Meanwhile, Albany, Ga.-based linebacker Juwan Young on Saturday became UM's 10th oral commitment for the 2014 class, picking UM over North Carolina, Mississippi, Western Kentucky and others. Rated a three-star prospect by rivals.com, the 6-2, 228-pound Young had 118 tackles, 10 sacks and 8 forced fumbles last season.

### Unlike several recent years, UM didn't lose a first-round pick to the MLB draft. But the Hurricanes' top two recruits in their incoming class indicated they likely will turn pro: Arizona fourth-round pick Matt MacPherson (a speedy outfielder from Maryland) and Dodgers fifth-round pick J.D. Underwood, a pitcher from a Palm Beach junior college. 

 

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