6 p.m. Heat sked update and news; Surprising James/Wade numbers; Marino/Fins update; More Fins visits; Marlins, UM
Quick 6 p.m. update on the final day of the regular season:
### We don't know the Heat's first-round opponent at this hour, but we do know the time of Game 1: 3:30 p.m. Sunday on ABC.
The NBA announced dates for only the first games of playoff series this weekend, even though only two of eight matchups have been set. The openers in Indiana and Toronto will be Saturday; the opener hosted by the Bulls will be 7 p.m. Sunday. The only Eastern matchup set is Pacers-Hawks.
Out West, games hosted by OKC and the Clippers will be Saturday. The opener in San Antonio will be 1 p.m. Sunday. The Portland-Houston Game 1 will be 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
All games will be televised nationally.
Dates for Game 2 and beyond have not been set.
### Erik Spoelstra said LeBron James and Chris Bosh both will be given the night off tonight against Philadelphia. That means each will have at least six, and perhaps seven, days of rest before Miami's playoff opener on Saturday or Sunday. (Playoff dates and times will be announced at some point tonight.)
### Spoelstra said he wants to use Dwyane Wade tonight, though not as much as he would in a meaningful game, so he can get in "rhythm" heading into the playoffs.
### Spoelstra also indicated Greg Oden, who hasn't played since March 26 in Indiana, will get minutes tonight. He had been sidelined initially with back spasms and for the past two games with a stomach virus.
Regarding the playoffs, Spoelstra was non-committal about who would start alongside Chris Bosh, a job that Udonis Haslem has strongly staked a claim to. "A lot of that will be dictated on who we play," Spoelstra said. But even against Indiana, Haslem has proved to be the better option in the past two games.
### Shane Battier said he expects the Heat will get updates on the Charlotte and Washington scores from fans in the front row. The Heat will play Charlotte in the first round if the Bobcats lose to Chicago or if the Wizards win at Boston. Washington would fall to seventh if the Wizards lose and Charlotte wins.
### Listening to Spoelstra, it's clear he still has great faith in Norris Cole, who has shot 34.4 percent and 26.3 percent on threes since ther All-Star break. "I'm not concerned," Spoelstra said of his shooting struggles.
### James will finish the season with a career-high in field goal percentage (56.7), topping his 56.5 last season.
### Bosh will close with his lowest scoring average since his rookies season (16.2) and his lowest rebounding average ever (6.6). He averaged 18.7 and 8.3 in his first season with the Heat.
WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Dwyane Wade and LeBron James enter postseason having played just one game with each other in the past three weeks. And though that shouldn’t worry them, considering their four years of high achievement together, it will be fascinating to see how they work in tandem in these playoffs.
Playing together, they were good this season, but the Heat outscored teams by a larger margin when James played without Wade than alongside Wade, a trend dating back to last season’s playoffs. That’s surprising, considering Wade (in his 53 games) produced his highest shooting percentage ever.
Let’s be clear: Despite winning 13 of its last 17 without Wade, the Heat clearly needs a healthy, productive Wade to win a championship. And you obviously want James and Wade playing together for much of the game.
But these developments are notable:
### The last time Wade played a lot, in March, the Heat was outscored by two points during the 259 minutes that James and Wade were on the court together. When they weren’t on the court together, Miami outscored teams by 70 in March.
That’s the first month (other than one-game Octobers) that Miami has been outscored during the minutes when James and Wade were on court together, in the regular season, since the first month of their first season together (November 2010). Incidentally, Miami was outscored by five when James and Wade played together in their one April game (against Atlanta on Saturday).
### James and Wade have played 1161 minutes together this season (well below last season’s 1932), making them the Heat’s ninth-most used duo. The Heat has outscored opponents by 6.3 per 48 minutes with James and Wade on court together, which ranked only eighth-best among the Heat’s 15 most-used tandems.
By comparison, the Heat outscored opponents by a larger margin when James was paired with Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, Norris Cole, Chris Andersen or Rashard Lewis (but not Wade).
### Over their first three seasons together, the Heat outscored teams by 11.8 per 48 minutes with James and Wade on the floor together in 2010-11, by 13.6 in 2011-12 (best two-man pairing on the team) and by 13.8 last season --- much higher than the Heat’s overall plus/minus those years. The difference this season between the Heat’s overall score differential (plus 4.9) and the James/Wade one (6.3) was much narrower.
### This season, the Heat outscored teams by 7.1 per 48 minutes when James played without Wade, compared to 6.3 when James played with Wade. During the 2012-13 regular season, the Heat was much better with James and Wade together (plus 13.8 per 48) than James without Wade (plus 8.3).
### The reverse doesn’t hold true for Wade, with Miami outscored by eight points in Wade’s 591 minutes without James this season.
### Wade’s ability to overcome knee problems and thrive in several games in the Finals was vital to the Heat winning a second consecutive championship.
But when James and Wade played together during last season’s playoffs, Miami was plus two in 677 minutes, probably mostly a byproduct of Wade’s knee issues. By comparison, James was plus 149 with Battier, plus 121 with Allen, plus 112 with Andersen and plus 67 with Bosh. The lineup of James with several reserves was Miami’s most effective in several games.
So it will be fascinating to watch how the Heat’s two biggest stars play off each other during the postseason.
“I understand that he’s the greatest player in the game,” Wade told ESPN this week. “But also understand how important I am. Is it easy? No, it’s not easy. But to win and to win the way you want to, you can’t have two cars bumping into each other.”
### With the Knicks beating the Nets tonight, there's a chance Brooklyn could fall from fifth to sixth (and into the Heat's bracket as a potential second-round opponent). If the Nets lose at Cleveland Wednesday and Washington wins at Boston, the Wizards would move to the fifth spot.
### We hear Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Dan Marino met recently to discuss a potential job with the organization and those conversations will continue. Ross and Marino haven’t yet settled on what would be the best fit for him, but both parties want to make it work and he could end up involved in multiple aspects of the organization. A role on the football side is possible down the road, but probably not in the next few months.
### In addition to the visits mentioned in our last few posts, sources says the Dolphins are using two of their 30 permitted non-local visits on Georgia State offensive lineman Ulrick John (starter at left tackle but can play every line position) and Marist defensive end Terence Fede (led FCS in sacks per game, finished last season with 13 sacks and had 30.5 in his career).
Draft analyst Tony Pauline's assessment of John amused us: "He does not sink his butt at the line of scrimmage, nor is he a true knee bender." (OK then!)
But... "his ability to play three separate positions on the line gives him an upper hand to make an NFL roster."
Teams are allowed to bring 30 non-local players who interest them to their headquarters to meet with coaches and front office officials and take medical tests. Former Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland drafted several of the players he brought to Davie.
Dennis Hickey has used his visits in many different ways, from first-round talents (Marqise Lee) to several who weren't invited to the Combine. The Dolphins do not announce draft visits.
### Clemson guard/tackle Brandon Thomas was one of the Dolphins' 30 invitees but canceled his visit after tearing his ACL in a workout for the Saints.
### Second baseman Derek Dietrich, who entering Tuesday batting .300 with two homers, said he hopes he will continue to start a lot of games when Rafael Furcal returns from injury and a minor league stint in early May because "I'm helping the team." But Marlins manager Mike Redmond told us Furcal will be the starter regardless: "That's the plan."
### Jose Fernandez, who starts Wednesday against Washington and is coming off the worst outing of his young career (six runs allowed against Philadelphia), said, “I can’t go crazy about one start. My grandmother said, ‘It’s baseball.’ It’s going to happen.”
Fernandez can move closer to history Wednesday -- he’s 11-0 in 17 career starts at Marlins Park, and only two pitchers since 1910 have not lost a game in their first 18 starts at their home ballpark: William Vanlandingham (18) and David Palmer (21).
### UM’s football game at Nebraska was set for 8 p.m. Sept. 20, with ABC, ESPN or ESPN2 televising.... UM hoops wants to lure a senior transfer with size, and Tennessee State's 6-9 MJ Rhett (11 points, 9 rebounds per game) will visit UM on Monday, after visiting Oklahoma State, Tulane, Mississippi and USC, according to ESPN. Rhett would be eligible to play immediately.