Saturday 6 p.m. report: Heat starters adjusting to Oden; Olsen gets first-team reps; Heat, UM chatter
7 p.m. update: As expected, Dwyane Wade and Greg Oden will sit out tonight at New Orleans, the second game of a back to back to set. The Heat listed rest as the reason for each and is being cautious with their knees, which is sensible.
Saturday 3 p.m. report:
The upshot of Erik Spoelstra’s decision to move Greg Oden into the starting lineup recently, on nights that he’s available, is that it gives the Heat’s other starters a chance to adjust to playing with the hulking 7-foot center.
And that adjustment remains very much a work in progress, especially offensively.
Oden has started three games since March 16 and has 11 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks but also eight fouls in 39 combined minutes in those games.
Oden was expected to sit out tonight’s game in New Orleans, with the Heat continuing its pattern of resting his knees on one of the nights of back-to-back sets.
“It’s a challenge because we haven’t played together,” Dwyane Wade said late Friday night. “For three years, [Udonis Haslem] was in the starting lineup and that’s what we were comfortable with. It’s been a challenge this year. Shane [Battier] was in it. We tried to put Michael Beasley in it and are trying to work Greg Oden in it.
“It’s a little different. We’re trying to get used to it and adjust to it on the fly, especially in March, [with] no practice time and a game every other day. We want him to continue to get comfortable and better in our system. We have to figure it out.”
Miami outscored Houston by one point in Oden’s 13 minutes in his first start and outscored Cleveland by eight in Oden’s 14 minutes in his second start, a contest that Wade missed.
But Memphis outscored Miami by 12 in Oden’s 12 minutes on Friday, though Oden wasn’t directly to blame for that. (He had five points, two rebounds and two blocks during his time on the court.)
Of Oden’s 24 field goals (in 42 shot attempts) this season, 17 are dunks.
Wade said the Heat isn’t trying to force-feed him the ball.
“He lets us know when he wants the ball, the way he ducks in,” Wade said. “I think he’s still trying to figure out when he can be aggressive, as in duck in, and sometimes getting out of the way. It’s not there yet. Even though he’s started a few games, he hasn’t played that many minutes with us.
“That’s something we’re just going to have to learn on the fly, learn each other. He doesn’t talk much, so it’s hard to go to him and see kind of what he likes. So we kind of got to figure it out on the court.”
Even during the midst of an extended shooting slump earlier this season, Ray Allen insisted he wasn’t worried because there was nothing off with his mechanics.
Still, it’s reassuring to see what the NBA’s all-time three-point king has done the past two weeks. Allen has led the Heat in scoring in three of the past five games, including an 18-point night Friday against Memphis.
Just as significantly, he’s shooting 50 percent, including 43.3 percent from three-point range, in 12 games in March, while averaging 12.4 points.
Allen had shot 32.6 percent and averaged 7.0 points in January, and 42.4 percent and 7.9 points in February.
“He’s playing well, playing with a lot of confidence,” Wade said. “He’s back to being Ray. We’re doing a better job of finding him, running more sets to him. But he’s being aggressive.
“Even when he doesn’t have his shot, Ray can still put the ball on the floor at times and finish, which he has been doing a very good of. He changed his mindset a little bit and understanding we’ve been struggling and we need that extra jolt. He’s given us that.”
### According to Elias, Friday’s game marked the first time that LeBron James (15 points), Wade (14 points) and Chris Bosh (11 points) all scored 15 or fewer points in the same game in any of the 227 regular-season contests they have appeared in together since becoming teammates in 2010.
### The Heat had a meeting scheduled with center Andrew Bynum on Feb. 1, the day he decided to sign with Indiana instead. But Bynum has played in only two games since, and the Pacers announced Friday he’s out indefinitely with soreness and swelling in his right knee.
### Wade, on the Heat losing six of its past nine before Friday: “It probably surprised us a little bit. Before our struggles, we won eight in a row. You understand throughout a season you’re going to go through bumps. We’re not above that. I don’t care how many Finals we’ve been to. It’s a different year. For us to win a championship, we understand we have to win it different.
“Hopefully, the struggles we’re going through are lessons for our team and hopefully that will prepare us for those moments later in the postseason.”
Ryan Williams said after Thursday’s practice that he had received all the first-team reps through five days of spring ball. That changed Saturday, with Kevin Olsen working with the starters on one possession early in the day. He led the offense in a two-minute drive, culminating in a TD pass to Herb Waters. He then resumed working with the backups for the rest of practice.
“We're going to mix him in a little bit,” Al Golden said. “We gave him the two-minute today and didn't tell him. We wanted him to just keep his poise and try to assess the situation. He had no timeouts, needed a touchdown. I thought he did a good job. We were up against it there on fourth-and-eight and he came through and made a play, which was good."
Golden mentioned that Olsen's approach is "drastically different" from last season. How so? "His maturity, his energy, getting ready to play," Golden said.
Golden said Thursday that Ryan Williams remains ahead in the quarterback competition. Coaches and players have praised his maturity, improved arm strength, accuracy (which has been off at times this spring), knowledge of the offense and ability to make pre-snap adjustments. Williams threw a 35-yard TD pass to D’Mauri Jones on Saturday.
### Among those eliciting praise from Golden on Saturday: freshman cornerback Ryan Mayes (“he’s done a great job; as smart as can be; long”); safety Jamal Carter “light years” ahead of last year in regard to “maturity, preparation” and is a “physical, explosive player”); linebacker Thurston Armbrister (“playing well and fast”); linebacker Raphael Kirby; ends/outside linebackers Tyriq McCord and Al-Quadin Muhammad (“growing up right now”); and Dallas Crawford (adjusting to safety and “done a lot in a very short period of time.”)
### McCord and Muhammad have been competing at one end spot on first and second down, but both are being used together on third down. "We're not afraid to put Chick (Anthony Chickillo) inside and get him in a one-on-one matchup against a guard, (Ufomba) Kamalu is doing well in that instance as well," Golden said. "We're going to find the best grouping."
### Injured Olsen Pierre is expected to resume practicing next week.
### Check back late tonight for more Canes, Heat, plus Dolphins and Marlins in the Sunday buzz column.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz