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NBA TV column: Analysts assess Heat; UM basketball player on Dolphins' radar


Sampling views of TV analysts on the Heat heading into postseason:

### Former Knicks and Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy said today that the Western Conference champion will win the NBA Finals (he picks Houston, surprisingly) and leans toward Indiana beating Miami in the Eastern Finals.

“They have a lot of guys that are not in their prime right now,” Van Gundy said of the Heat. “Their ability to consistently play well individually is just not there.”

He said their chances will hinge partly on “how often those aging, really good players can play well. Can Chris Andersen be good two out of three nights, and Shane Battier and Ray Allen? Mario Chalmers is really, really good. How often will he be really good in these playoffs? Three out of every four, two out of every four? A lot depends on Chalmers and those aging guys.

“Then you have the health issues. If they didn’t have some of those health issues, they would be a 60-win team and they would be the favorite. If Dwyane Wade can stay healthy, they have as good a shot as anybody. I don’t feel they will get challenged until the Eastern Conference Finals. They will have methodical series wins” before then.

Van Gundy said the Heat’s field-goal percentage against, down more than a bit from past years, is a “concern” but “because of their speed and quickness, and if they’re healthy and if they have a renewed commitment, which I am sure they will have, I am sure their defense will be very disruptive in the postseason. If it’s not, they could lose in the Eastern Conference Finals.”

In those Eastern Finals, “I believe home court will be important and that’s why if you have to favor someone, I would favor Indiana," Van Gundy said. "They went through a real struggle but will be getting a fresh start. Indiana would be my pick to come out of the East. Indiana is very good. They are somewhere between their incredible start and their poor finish.”

### TNT’s Reggie Miller favors the Heat to win the East but said today: “Everyone thinks it’s a foregone conclusion it’s Indiana against Miami in the Eastern Finals. The way both have finished the last month and a half, it’s not a foregone conclusion. If I’m [seeds] 3 through 8, I’ve got to somewhat like my chances. When healthy, Miami is the best team. But when have they been healthy for a consistent amount of time?

“I will be curious to see if everyone is on the same page. I’m not sure they have a great rhythm going into the playoffs. If they want to three-peat, Wade has to be at 85 or 90 percent. There’s a reason the Pacers went out and got Evan Turner…They are going to put so much pressure on Dwyane Wade to score and defend, because you’re not going to stop LeBron James.

But if you take Dwyane Wade out of the equation the Heat become more vulnerable. If [Wade is] healthy, Miami will come out of the East. If not, it’s wide open.”…. Al Jefferson is playing off the charts and we know size and physicality affects the Heat. Al will be a load down low.”

### TNT’s Chris Webber: “Wade is the biggest question, not just defensively where you need him, but it puts such a load on LeBron. I believe they will get their rhythm back. They are my favorite to come out of East, but I would not be surprised if a team stops them. When Wade is not healthy, that team is very vulnerable.”

### NBA TV’s Dennis Scott: “My concerns are the others. I believe Wade and LeBron and Chris Bosh will show up. I’m concerned about Ray Allen. He’s not shooting the ball well. Mike Miller is not there, who made three-point shots, a ball-mover, a pretty good rebounder. Udonis Haslem is older. Shane Battier is beat up because they played small ball a lot. Michael Beasley hasn’t worked out. I’m concerned who are the others this year that are going to make those big shots and help out the Big Three.”


### Van Gundy indicated he wasn’t bothered by radio shock jock Howard Stern’s recent 10-minute rant against him. Van Gundy said he was joking when he said on air that the Knicks should stop giving tickets to Stern if he leaves games early.

Stern then unleashed an on-air tirade against Van Gundy, calling him a douche-bag, midget and schlub.

“I was sitting in the movie theater watching [Sabotage] and a friend texted me and said, ‘Can you believe what Stern said about you?’ I’m sitting in the theater, saying why would David Stern be talking about me now? I texted, 'What did he say?' He texted back, and I said that’s not like the [former] commissioner to call me a douche-bag.

“Then when I got out of the theater and called this guy, he told me it was Howard Stern. I didn’t know why he was upset or talking about me. And someone told me it was about me saying something jokingly about him leaving a game early. I didn’t even know he was still on.”

### Van Gundy said he abstained from voting for NBA honors this year because “I don’t watch all the teams as I did when I was coaching. I didn’t feel I was worthy to vote. Voting should be done by coaches, players and management of the teams."

### Dick Stockton won’t return to Turner’s NBA playoff coverage. The first-round games not announced by Marv Albert and Steve Kerr, or Kevin Harlan and Miller, will be worked by Milwaukee Brewers announcer Brian Anderson and Greg Anthony (including Game 2 of the Heat series) and Joel Myers and Webber…. Mike Breen and Van Gundy are working ABC games on opposite coasts within 24 hours this weekend: Warriors at Clippers on Saturday and the Bobcats-Heat game on Sunday.


### According to a UM source, the Dolphins have expressed interest in highly-athletic 6-5 UM basketball player Erik Swoope --- who has never played Pop Warner, high school or college football --– in the wake of the Denver Broncos working him out last week.

The Broncos called UM coach Jim Larranaga to express interest, and “I was completely shocked,” Swoope told Yahoo.com. “That was the last thing I expected Coach L to tell me.” Besides Miami and Denver, the Kansas City Chiefs also have inquired.

The Broncos believe he can make the transition from a basketball forward to a football tight end, like former UM and New Orleans Saints standout Jimmy Graham has.

It will be interesting to see how many teams offer Swoope a free agent contract after the draft, presuming he goes undrafted. Swoope has not hired an agent but has declared himself for the NFL Draft, opting to do that instead of playing football for a season at UM while attending graduate school.

Swoope, who has talked about the transition with Graham, avaraged 5.0 points and 2.7 rebounds last season, and Larranaga has conceded that he wishes he had played him more early in the season. He showed a knack for dazzling dunks and for leaping over taller players for rebounds.

The Dolphins had some interest in Graham in the 2010 draft, but Tony Sparano loved John Jerry and Bill Parcells --- after consulting with Sparano and his scouts --- decided Jerry would be a better choice than Graham at No. 73. The Saints took Graham 95th, and Miami has regretted that decision ever since.

Of course, Swoope isn't the prospect Graham was. But it's certainly worth exploring the possibilities.

Meanwhile, UM basketball player Raphael Akpejiori, 6-9, is attending football meetings, will attend camp in August and hopes to earn playing time at tight end. One UM person said he struggled catching passes on the side on the day he observed Akpejiori.

### Please see the last post, posted very late last night, with more Heat nuggets and Dan Marino's thoughts on Ryan Tannehill.