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2 posts from December 3, 2013

December 03, 2013

Heat says it has two teams that would make playoffs; Dolphins, Canes, Heat, Marlins


So without Dwyane Wade, the Heat (14-4) saw its 10-game winning streak snapped by Detroit tonight, 107-97, in a game that means little in the grand scheme of things for the defending two-time champions.

Despite that glitch, the Heat is so talented, and most of the Eastern Conference so weak, that a bunch of Heat players asserted in recent days they actually have two separate teams that would make the playoffs in the East (though not if they play like they did Tuesday).

Wade and Udonis Haslem started talking about the topic on a bus ride the other day: Would a team made up entirely of Heat reserves --– and none of the starters --– make the playoffs?

Ray Allen said the Heat’s bench, on its own, would “easily” be a top six seed. “Look at how few teams in our conference are over .500,” he noted. (Two entering Tuesday.)

Mario Chalmers said players 6 through 15 on the Heat’s roster would “definitely” make the playoffs and finish somewhere between the No. 3 and No. 6 seed.

Haslem said not only would Heat backups “definitely make the playoffs,” but “we could make some noise” in postseason.

With Shane Battier starting, that would mean a roster of Norris Cole, Allen, Chris Andersen, Rashard Lewis, Michael Beasley, Greg Oden (when healthy), Haslem, Joel Anthony, Roger Mason and James Jones.

"We could easily compete for the sixth, seventh, eighth seed,” Lewis said. “Allen and Beasley would be our go-to guys. The rest of us would be role players.”

Jones said the Heat’s reserves would make the playoffs and be in the mix for a decent seed because “we have rotation guys from top to bottom.”

Beyond the fun fantasy talk of the Wade/Haslem bus conversation, consider this: Of the Heat’s top four lineups, from a plus/minus standpoint, only one consists of more than one member of the Big 3. One example: A lineup of Wade, Anderson, Beasley, Cole and Lewis has outscored teams by 20 in 30 minutes.

Entering Tuesday, the Heat had outscored opponents by 112 points with Cole on the court, which is sixth among NBA reserves, 17th overall, and amazingly, best among all Heat players. (Wade is 23rd in the league at plus-94, LeBron James 30th at plus-85).

Four other Heat backups rank in the top 70 of overall plus/minus, which is impressive: Anderson (39th, plus 77); Lewis (43rd, plus 73); Allen (47th, plus 66) and Beasley (68th, plus 51).

Even in Tuesday's loss, Andersen, Beasley and Allen had the Heat's best plus/minus numbers. (All Heat starters were minuses.)

### Erik Spoelstra admitted Tuesday he has no idea when Oden will suit up for a game; it likely will be awhile. Spoelstra said his leg strength and conditioning will determine that, as well as when the team’s medical staff feels “comfortable” with his progress.

### Spoelstra has found something that works by pairing Chalmers and Cole at times. The Heat is plus-17 in 33 minutes when they’re on court together, entering Tuesday. They were plus one on Tuesday night, with Spoelstra using that tandem for a few minutes in the fourth quarter.

Cole said Tuesday he would like to be a starter someday. Chalmers is earning $4 million in the last year of his contract, and re-signing him might be difficult with tax implications.


### One reason the Dolphins chose Caleb Sturgis over Dan Carpenter (besides money and age) was they considered Sturgis superior on long kicks. But Sturgis is just 3 for 6 on field goals of 50 yards or more, compared with Carpenter’s 3 for 4 for Buffalo.

Overall, Carpenter is 23 for 25, and Sturgis 23 for 30. Only Houston’s Randy Bullock has more misses than Sturgis. Sturgis, who studies tape of each of his misses about 15 times, is 76.7 percent on field goals “and you want to be over 90 percent.” He said he’s fully aware what Carpenter is doing.

### Whereas Richie Incognito contacted Nate Garner to commend him for the job he has done filling in for him, Jonathan Martin has ceased contact with Dolphins players. He’s unhappy how the locker-room reacted to his departure.

### Miami Central High four-star running back and UF oral commitment Dalvin Cook, rated rivals.com’s 30th best overall prospect, told Canesport.com he’s seriously considering UM after visiting with Canes coach on Monday night. FSU and UF are the other finalists.

### Though UM has expressed concern that junior Clive Walford might turn pro, that seems unlikely because he isn’t among the top dozen draft-eligible tight ends.

### Unfortunate to hear: The family of UM’s Anthony Chickillo said FSU guard Bobby Hart spat at Chickillo during the FSU game, before Chickillo grabbed Hart’s face mask. The FSU sports information department said Hart did not confirm or deny that when asked, and the school’s only comment is that it has moved on.

### The Marlins, who upgraded at catcher Tuesday by agreeing to terms with free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia, are open to trading starting pitching for offensive help in their infield. But aside from untouchable Jose Fernandez, they don’t want to deal their top pitching prospect (left-hander Andrew Heaney) and are reluctant to trade Nathan Eovaldi.

They might need to consider parting with one of the pitchers acquired from Toronto last winter to acquire a hitter. Ex-Tiger Jacob Turner likely isn’t going to net a high-end hitter in return.

### Legal matters: One of Mike Miller’s former attorneys said he believed he had Miller's authorization to file a lawsuit against the Heat, weeks ago, because a former Heat employee introduced Miller to a con man who defrauded him, resulting in the former Heat guard sustaining losses of $1.7 million. But Miller subsequently parted ways with both attorneys --- the suit was never filed --- and told one of them that he doesn’t want to deal with the matter……

Former UM assistants Jorge Fernandez and Aubrey Hill (now Carol City High’s football coach) --- who were both given two-year show cause penalties by the NCAA --- decided not to appeal because “that would take another 9 to 12 months, and that would add a year onto their sanctions,” their attorney, Jim Zeszutek, said. Show cause penalties make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find work in college sports.  

Tuesday notes: Marlins sign catcher; Wallace excited about return to Pittsburgh; Heat

Dwyane Wade will miss tonight's game with soreness, the Heat just announced.

A half dozen quick hits:

### Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace met the media today to discuss his return to Pittsburgh for Sunday's game against the Steelers. He said he fully expects to be booed, even though he never ripped the Steelers when he left.

“My welcoming is not going to be too pretty,” he said. “I’m on a new team. I’m pretty sure they’re not going to like that.”

He said his return to Heinz Field “is going to be exciting” and a “little more emotional” than his return to his hometown of New Orleans.

But he said: “I don’t want to get caught up in too much hype of the personal battle with those guys. It’s not about that… Just another team standing in the way of our playoff hopes.”

Of his play, he said: “I’m starting to get in the flow of things. I’ve never lost my swagger. It’s time to hit stride. You’ve got make plays now. No more time to wait.”

### Cornerback Dimitri Patterson, limited to five games this season because of a groin injury, said he hopes to return to practice this week but wasn’t certain.

### Daniel Thomas worked on the side at Dolphins’ practice and the team remains hopeful he will play against this season.

### Here’s where Ryan Tannehill ranks in the league through 12 games: sixth in attempts, ninth in completions, 17th in completion percentage, 11th in yards, 23rd in average gain, 14th in touchdowns (17), 29th in interceptions (13) and 24th in rating (83.2).

By the way, Tannehill has a higher rating than Andrew Luck’s 82.4.

### The Marlins upgraded at catcher today by signing free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a three-year, $21 million contract, pending a physical. 

Saltalamacchia is coming off his best offensive season: .273, with 14 homers, 40 doubles and 65 RBI in 121 games. But he has thrown out only 19.9 percent of base stealers the past two years and hit .222 in 2012.
Saltalamacchia, 28, grew up in West Palm Beach.

The Marlins did not give him a no-trade clause. He will make $6 million, $7 million and $8 million over the next three years.

### Erik Spoelstra said he spoke to his players about Roger Mason Jr. being robbed at Ni.Do.Caffe restaurant at 7295 Biscayne Boulevard on Sunday night. "It was a scary moment," Spoelstra said. Mason's watch was stolen and his sister's purse was taken; both have been recovered.

Three Heat players have been victims of crime since the spring. Burglars robbed the homes of Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh in April.

Two men have been captured in the Mason case; two are at large. Shots were fired during the incident but nobody was injured. 

Mason will not discuss the incident because it is an ongoing legal matter, the Heat said.