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5 p.m. Heat-Nets preview, quotes; Bosh changes game; Dolphins, Marlins, Canes, Jameis chatter

Please scroll down on this post for the Sunday buzz column. First, a Sunday afternoon update previewing the Heat-Nets second round series:

Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov authorized spending an NBA-record $180 million this season in combined salaries and luxury taxes, with an eye toward unseating the Heat.

The Nets now get their chance to topple the two-time defending champions, with Game 1 of the best-of-seven series set for 7 p.m. Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena. (Game 2 is 7 p.m. Thursday in Miami; Game 3 is 8 p.m. Saturday in Brooklyn; and Game 4 at 8 p.m. Monday in Brooklyn. The teams will play every other day until the series concludes, with start times not yet set for a potential Games 5, 6 and 7.)

Having advanced to play the Heat by ousting Toronto in seven games, Brooklyn enters this Eastern Conference semifinal emboldened by its 4-0 record against the Heat in the regular season, but also knowing, as Nets forward Paul Pierce said Sunday, that the Heat “is a different team in the playoffs.”

Nobody on either side reads too much into the Nets’ season sweep, which included three wins by one point and another in double overtime.

Remember that the Heat went 1-3 in the regular season against Boston and 0-3 against Chicago in 2010-11, then eliminated both in five-game playoff series. In 2011-12, Miami again went 1-3 against Boston during the regular season, then ousted the Celtics in a seven-game Eastern Conference Finals.

“Regular season doesn’t indicate anything,” LeBron James said, speaking in general after Sunday morning’s practice. “You have more time to prepare” in postseason.

Said Nets swingman Joe Johnson: “We know we can beat them, but it’s going to be a lot different than the regular season.”

The Nets create potential matchup problems with a starting frontcourt featuring Kevin Garnett at center, Pierce moving from small forward to power forward and Johnson from shooting guard to small forward. One option for Erik Spoelstra would be starting Rashard Lewis or Shane Battier, instead of Udonis Haslem, to match up defensively with Pierce or Johnson, though it’s unclear if Spoelstra will do that.

“Chris Bosh will have to matchup with Garnett,” Dwyane Wade said. “The challenge is our rotations, of who coach will feel [comfortable] in playing. LeBron can obviously play [power forward]. So we can match down or we can continue to play our style, whatever coach wants to do.”

Johnson said last month that “I think we have a good chance” to beat the Heat in the playoffs because “small-ball works in our favor with them when they have LeBron James or Shane Battier at [power forward]. It’s a great fit.”

Pierce said last month: “We match up pretty good with them. Size wise, they’re not an overly big team. If you can match them in quickness and intensity, especially on their home court, you give yourself a chance. The way we shoot the ball, we can pretty much play with anybody when we’re on.”

He said Sunday that Heat-Nets “is not a rivalry yet. We’re still trying to earn respect as a franchise.”          

Several themes emerged in the four regular-season games. Among them:

### The Nets have been better in close games. Brooklyn outscored Miami 23-12 in the last two minutes of those four games, when the margin was three points or fewer.

“They executed better down the stretch,” Wade said. “That’s what we pride ourselves on. They beat us at our own game.”

### Pierce averaged 13.5 points overall this season but 21.3 against the Heat --- his highest against any team --- on 55.3 percent shooting. Johnson also was outstanding against Miami, averaging 19.5 points on 51.7 percent shooting.

### The Nets out-rebounded the Heat, 201-158, in the four games. Brooklyn center Brook Lopez played in only one of those games before a season-ending foot injury. Garnett played in only two of the games but averaged 8.5 rebounds, compared with  Bosh’s 6.8.

### The Heat averaged 15 turnovers in the four games, with James committing 17.

### The Heat had just seven fast-break points in two of the games and nine in the other two.

### Miami averaged 102.2 points and shot 50.1 percent overall this season but averaged just 94.3 and shot 46.5 percent against Brooklyn.

“I don’t think we played our best basketball against them,” Heat guard Ray Allen said. “Defensively, we weren’t good. Hats off to them because they beat us four times. We don’t particularly like how we played in those games.”

NOTEWORTHY

### James, who is still getting treatment on his bruised thigh, said he should be “close to 100 percent” by Tuesday. When was the last time he felt close to 100 percent? “On my honeymoon.” That was back in September.

### Mario Chalmers and Justin Hamilton did not participate in the contact portions of practice because of soreness, but Chalmers said afterward that he’s fine.

### Wade said the extended break since closing out Charlotte on Monday will end up being “probably a little too much rest.”

Wade, incidentally, is sporting a beard: “I don’t want to even say it’s a playoff beard. It’s just what I’m doing right now. When you’re a man, you don’t have many options.”

########################################################################################### 

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

The numbers tell us one thing about Chris Bosh, that his raw statistical contributions have never been lower since he joined the Heat.

His coach, and areas that cannot be quantified in box scores, tell us something else: That Bosh is as valuable to the Heat as ever because the evolution of his three-point game has helped Miami spread the floor and also because his defense generally has been very good.

Evaluating Bosh’s play has become more intellectually challenging because, as Erik Spoelstra says, the numbers often don’t reflect his value.

“Those are things that I’ve sacrificed,” Bosh said of statistics. “I don’t let [fan criticism] bother me. I can get 20 and 10 with an L, and people would still be on my back. You can’t please everybody. I don’t live to make other people happy, except my family. I just want to please my teammates and coaches and win championships.

"If people don’t understand winning and numbers are what they want to chase, they should play fantasy.”

This much cannot be disputed:

### Bosh’s scoring and rebounding averages have never been lower here. He averaged 18.7 points and 8.3 boards his first season with the Heat, then dropped to 18.0 and 7.9, to 16.6 and 6.8 in 2012-13, and to 16.2 (lowest since his rookie season) and a career-low 6.6 boards this season.

### That drop coincides with the shift of his game more to the perimeter, with his three-point attempts rising from 25 to 35 to 74 to 218 (this season) in his four seasons here. He made 33.9 percent of his threes this season and is a league-best 9 for 13 this postseason.

### More perspective on how his game has changed: According to basketballreference.com, only 38.7 percent of Bosh’s shots this season were taken within 10 feet of the basket --- a dramatic drop from 57.2 percent in his first season in Miami and unlike the stereotypical big man. Bosh said he’s comfortable with that ratio.

During the first round of the playoffs against Charlotte, that number of shots within 10 feet plunged to 34.8 percent of all his attempts, even though he made several strong moves to the basket in Game 4. But the change in approach is not hurting his field goal percentage; his 51.6 percent accuracy this season was his second-highest with the Heat.

“Chris will figure out when to be aggressive, when to facilitate, when to space the floor,” Spoelstra said. “It’s a tough balance. But I trust him as much as I trust anybody to be able to strike that balance.”

The question is how much playing on the perimeter has hurt his rebounding numbers. Bosh says it has.

“When you’re spread, you’re not under the basket and that does affect offensive rebounding numbers,” said Bosh, who’s averaging 5.3 boards this postseason. “I would rather get back on defense and make a team have to play against our set defense. They didn’t talk about me when I was averaging 10 rebounds, so don’t mess with me when I’m averaging five or six.”

What none of those numbers quantify is Bosh’s defense, which he said has been the best of his career. “He’s been incredibly consistent,” Spoelstra said. “The one thing he’s doing even more this year is utilizing his versatility and guarding more positions.”

This is telling: According to synergysports.com, Bosh ranked third among all starting centers this season (narrowly behind Washington’s Marcin Gortat and Houston’s Dwight Howard) in points allowed per possession against the player he’s guarding.

That figure takes into account what happens when the player guarded by Bosh ends a possession with a missed or made shot, a foul, free throws or a turnover.

Bosh allowed .786 points per possession, which was 42nd among all players, and ahead of Roy Hibbert (43rd), Joakim Noah (47th) and Tyson Chandler (131st), among others. Players defended by Bosh shot 40.4 percent, whereas Bosh shot 51.6 percent. The web site rated Bosh good or excellent in every key statistical defensive category except post-up defense (average).

And remember, he was the Heat’s best shooter (54 percent) late in close games – one of the best figures in the league. The ideal mix offensively for Bosh would be how he played in Game 4 against Charlotte, when he did damage inside and outside.

"What I’m trying to work on now is getting to the rim from the perimeter – that’s the next challenge for me because I’ve never had to do that before,” he said. “I’ve been growing into a different player ever since I got here.” 

CHATTER

### Several Dolphins have wondered among themselves why Miami has been looking so closely at first- and second-round receivers, and their suspicion is that the Dolphins want to replace Mike Wallace in a year or so. Several players believe some of these coaches aren’t big fans of Wallace, and “Joe Philbin is running that place,” one prominent agent said.

But Wallace will have a big cap hit whether he's here or not in 2015. If Wallace is on the team in 2015, his cap hit would be $12.1 million. If he’s cut, it would be $9.6 million. If he’s traded, it would be $6.6 million.

### Receiver Brandon Gibson is two months ahead of schedule in his recovery from a major knee injury.

### We mentioned on Tuesday that one reason the Dolphins sent their special teams coach to work out receiver Robert Herron in Laramie, Wyoming, last week is because they want to see what he can do as a returner. They're already comfortable with his receiving skills (72 catches, 937 yards, nine TDs last season).

Here's what Herron subsequently wrote in his USA Today diary yesterday: "My workout with the Dolphins went very well. I was catching punts and kicks. This was the first time I actually did that. The other workouts were running routes. I didn't catch punts at all in college. At practice, I did some, but I haven't in a game. I told them I haven't done it since high school. It actually went very well, though. I caught them more fluidly than I thought I would."

Herron, a 5-9 former track star, looms as a mid-round option.

### Good to hear that Mark Duper --- the most prominent former Dolphin diagnosed with signs of a degenerative brain disease that often results from head trauma --- said he’s showing some improvement after 23 sessions in a hyperbaric chamber (oxygen under high pressure). Duper’s memory loss includes driving to the grocery store and having no idea why he went there.

### Prominent South Florida attorney Andy Haggard, a former chairman of FSU’s Board of Trustees and still active in the school’s athletic department, said the reaction inside FSU to Jameis Winston’s arrest for stealing crab legs from Publix was “bewilderment and astonishment. We can’t put together why he would make these decisions.

"FSU communicated to him that he should get psychological counseling and he has been receptive," Haggard said. "He said he was sorry and wants to get back on the right track.”

His baseball suspension ended Sunday upon completion of his 20 hours of community service. Haggard said there is no indication if there will be a football suspension. (It's difficult to envision him being suspended for the much-anticipated opener against Oklahoma State.)

### In the wake of Ryan Williams' injury, the idea of returning to football has crossed the mind of former quarterback David Thompson, who left the UM football team to concentrate on baseball, according to Thompson's father, Ed.

But Ed Thompson said that’s unrealistic because of David’s recovery from venous thoracic syndrome, which left him with a blood clot and necessitated the removal of a rib.

The good news: UM coach Jim Morris said Thompson, who hit .328 in 19 games, might return for postseason baseball.

"We tried to get the hospital to give him the rib as a memento but they wouldn't," Ed Thompson said. Classy move by athletic director Blake James to visit Thompson in the hospital last month.

### Jose Fernandez enters his 20th home start Sunday not only unbeaten at Marlins Park (12-0) but with the lowest ERA, in the past 100 years, for a pitcher in his first 19 home starts (1.00).

“He’s got the best power arm I’ve ever seen from a starter,” Marlins outfielder Reed Johnson said. His fastball velocity ranks fifth in baseball this season; the Marlins’ Nathan Eovaldi is second, according to fangraphs.com….

And consider this: Batters have only six hits off Fernandez’s 219 curveballs this season, according to analytics site Brooksbaseball.com. “He’s got one of the best curveballs the game has seen in a long time,” Braves second baseman Dan Uggla said last week.

By the way, Fernandez gets between 75 and 100 fan letters a week, but unlike the married Shane Battier, no marriage proposals, he said.

Comments

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Phil Rebillard

First

Great column

CutlerRidge Laz

You are in top of it again Barry. Just finished the great read and getting ready to watch te 30 for 30 The U for the 2,342nd time then probably tune into WQAM and call in with my amazing ex-con thoughts. Go canes beisbol!

Reality Bites

CutlerRidge gotta give you credit my man your posts are routinely filled with the right amount of veiled sarcasm and humor that they seem to come for the real deal. Bet you got most homers here fooled. Congrats.

Usually I don't opine much about the Marlins, but this Fernandez kid is something special on the field. He also seems very humble and full of gratitude off the field. Miami is lucky to have such a budding star player. Unless you are a filthy bigot like UMike who recently called all Cubans "pond scum". Way to go Mike and represent all the local high school grads, MDCC dropouts, FIU rejects and GED wannabes that make up 95% of cane bandwagon fans in Miami. You make all them homies proud.
Go Heat!

Georgia Cane

Bosh might be third behind Gortat, but Gortat makes 5 million less a year. What is there to analyze? You say value, there's your answer!

Brandonspikesandtebowareboyfrnds

Dont be stupid reality , all schools have bandwagonfans, and fans that didnt attend the university. Idiots like youalways mention that, yet fail to balance your stupid argument by admitting how small UM is and how relatively large their fan base is- An example is the factthat 90% of Ohio college football fans never set foot on campus there- you go anywhere from Cleveland to Toledo in the north, or down toColumbus and Youngstown and 90% of fans support Ohio State. The U's main fan base is not their alumni. ITs the 1.5 million or so people that inhabit Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm BEaches. Gimme a break with that constant chatter about miami band wageon fans- So what we cant be pissed when they lose? And your stupid a55 said implied that FIU rejects are Miami supporters?/ Its the other way around loser. Look at the credentials needed to get at UM, versus FIU and that reality will bite U in your fa6t a55, losr

Dashi

Dan Uggla's opinion doesn't count when it comes to Curveballs. ;)

The Heat did what they were suppose to do. Now you can rest after you sweep.

Which is my point on why they could and why they should do better consistently. This team wasn't built just to win, The Heat were Built to Dominate!!

If they lose 1 game before the Finals, I would Fire that D-League Coach. But I have higher standards than these Pots and Pans Heat Fans.

I understand Bosh Points dropping because he has less shots, but his Rebounds are dropping because of Effort, Not Positioning. That and that he is playing in the wrong position, in this positionless scheme the D-League coach runs. C.Bosh is a Power Forward!! Don't play him as a Center, Don't let him play Defense as a Center!! C.Bosh is not a Center. Start Bridman or Hasbeen as a Center even if they are undersized to play the position, they show more fight under the rim which is what you need in a Center.

Zo wasn't the biggest Center in the NBA, He just had the most fight in him.

Not our rival

Posted by: Reality Bites | 05/04/2014 at 10:13 AM

Hush nerd, no one cares about your fake internet nerd rivalry. In real life Miami crushed your team last year and we aren't scheduled to play again.

Jodete

Hey Brandonspikesandtebowareboyfrnds,

Regarding your ignorant "....And your stupid a55 said implied that FIU rejects are Miami supporters?/ Its the other way around loser. Look at the credentials needed to get at UM, versus FIU and that reality will bite U in your fa6t a55, losr..." comment.

FIU has the highest rejection rate in the state, at 38.9%. scUM is at 42.3%. Therefore, perhaps its FIU rejects that are ending up at UM... come bola.

Besides, everyone knows FIU is Miami's REAL university. Everyone who attends scUM are white folks from the Northwest, who have rich parents and are spoiled rotten. They come for four years, and LEAVE. And when they leave, they refuse to wear scUM colors. I'm AA executive platinum and trust me I hardly see scUM logos at airports across the nation, and much less across the world.

TRW

If a UM player had the history that Winston does the entire country would be in an uproar to shut down the football program. He would also be off the team.

However, at free shoes u, he will be given a free ride both by the school and local law enforcement. Pretty sad.

Russell

Re: Andy Haggard.

Let me take a stab at Winston's psyche, hmm… 20 years old Heisman Trophy and NC Winner living in playing in the great Capital city of Tallahassee where he's a walking god/legend and much more popular than the Governor and any other politician there. The young man is most likely told ad nauseum how great he his and how lucky FSU and Tally is to have him. He walks without trial on a rape investigation/case and you wonder in bewilderment why and how? I'd be more surprised to learn he attends classes, makes an effort, does his own work and the professors grade him equitably. Now that would surprise me a lot more than him shoplifting.

What's surprising is Publix actually chose to notify authorities rather than give him a shopping spree.

Brandonspikesandtebowareboyfrnds

totally agree- Imagine the outcry nationally if the rape had been by a miami player. I mean look at the fake indignation that Chris Fowler and all of the other espn pu55ies cried out after the FIU brawl. like they had commiitted mass urder or something. Instead they said barely a peep about the travesty that was the whole FSU "investigation" or lackthereof- the kangaroo Bubba court in tallahassee by the so-called FSU alumn prosecutor and the botched investigation by the Bubba sherriff.

rboud

FSU and the Tallahassee PD has really exposed themselves throughout Winston's transgressions. FSU will have to explain why it didn't follow rules in pursuing a rape charge. It's an embarrassment for the university. The T'hassee PD is just an embarrassment, period.

RichmondHeightsCanes

Since the Herald will not write a good article!

Every year the football fans across America gets excited about the NFL draft and signing day for college and high school football players respectively. Too often behind the scenes, parents, coaches, NCAA, and Sports Network overlook an on-going problem that exploits young men. It appears that some major Universities gets a pass (never investigated). For example, Duke in basketball and ND in football. Now, major networks; such as ESPN, has protected universities (SEC) becasue of personal contract interest. It is amazing Lou Holt and Mark May have so much positive information concerning their boss (ESPN) product (SEC).

Rumors and some people are talking about Auburn and Alabama deep pocket books during recruiting. Don't follow the players, just pay attention to the parent's new lifestyle. Also, Alabama consistently recruit and sign more than any team every year. Who are really on football scholarships, and who is on the roster, but tuition is paid by an unknown source? I have heard several former players who were recruited and signed with Alabama but really wanted to attend the U. "I had to make a business decision to help my family", stated one former Alabama player...who is now playing in the NFL.

If the NCAA is trying to make college football an even playing ground, then the requirements for entry should be the same across the board. How can a kid that struggles to maintain a 2.0 in high school...pass the ACT or SAT? How can the same kid pass college level courses, but struggled in HS? I have seen so many kids come back home, because they could not meet the high education standards to maintain their grades to play. However, many have mentioned the super stars were failing the same classes, but received passing grades. Some don't attend classes during the football season, but was able to play to help the team get into a bowl game. It's funny how the university reports the players not eligible after the announcement of being accept to a major bowl ($$$$).

Are they really student-athletes?

TheSergeantMajor

Great post RichmondHeightsCanes.

AnonymousCane

Upon hearing that Seantrel Henderson tested positive for marajuwana at the combine.....I am now of the opinion that Seantrel Henderson and Jamis Winston are cousins or at least somehow connected in the gene pool.

AnonymousCane

On another note .... to those whose constant and annoying complaint is that this Miami staff doesn't develop players it is difficult to develop a guy who cares more about getting a hit or getting high than he does his team, his reputation and potential NFL career! He should have gone to Colorado where he can get a real Rocky Mtn High! Good riddance!

CPhinsWin

I do not by this crap. Not at all. May be a smokescreen may be invalid reports from paranoid people. The one thing that is clear is that Wallace almost grabbed a 100 yards while spreading the defense of opposing teams. How many offensive players last year had to be game planned for to handle?! seriously. If used properly Wallace will shine and mark my words now. If Wallace leaves he will reemerge as a serious threat for whatever team he lands on.

The Boss

Joe Johnson said "we know we can beat them but it will be alot harder".What he didn t say is it will be alot harder now to beat the Heat even in 7 games.

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