Four years after unsuccessfully trying to sign him, the Dolphins finally got Peyton Manning in their building this offseason. And it was entirely his idea.
It speaks volumes about new Dolphins coach Adam Gase that Manning chose to quietly visit Dolphins headquarters earlier this spring to meet with Gase (his former offensive coordinator in Denver). He also shared some knowledge with Ryan Tannehill over lunch.
“It was really cool,” Tannehill told me. “A guy that had his career, the living legend he is, coming off a Super Bowl winning season --- it was really cool just to be able to sit and pick his brain about things he's done in this offense and football things in general: snap counts, things you like, the way you want guys to run routes, little details about the game. We really just got to talk the game, which is something we both love.”
Manning, who is now retired, told Tannehill some of the nuances of Gase’s offense.
“At that time, we weren't able to meet with the coaches or anything, so I didn’t really have a great handle yet,” Tannehill said. “So I wasn't really able to dive into the playbook too much. So I had a few questions [for Manning]. If he comes back now, we can have a completely different conversation.”
What was clear, Tannehill, said is that Manning “respects Adam. The things they did, getting to a Super Bowl together, there is a mutual respect there. He is something I aspire to be, as good or better as he is one day. Hopefully, we'll be able to get him to come around some more.”
LOTS OF HEAT NEWS
Already without one premier big man in Chris Bosh, the Miami Heat now must adjust again after center Hassan Whiteside was diagnosed on Sunday with a sprained MCL in his right knee. The Heat said it is undetermined when Whiteside will be able to play again, listing him as day-to-day.
Meanwhile, Toronto --- which leads the Heat, 2-1, in this second round series --- also lost a key player on Sunday, with center Jonas Valanciunas ruled out for the duration of the series with a sprained ankle.
Though the Heat listed Whiteside as “questionable” for Monday’s Game 4, coach Erik Spoelstra confirmed Whiteside was instructed to rest the injury “a lot” and receive treatment for an undetermined amount of time. Whiteside was wearing a walking boot and a knee brace on Sunday.
Spoelstra said “it’s way too early to tell” how long he will be out.
Whiteside, who’s an impending unrestricted free agent, wasn’t made available for comment.
The injury that Whiteside sustained, a sprained MCL, has sidelined Golden State guard Stephen Curry for the past two weeks, though the Warriors said he might play Monday against Portland.
Curry’s injury was diagnosed as a Grade 1 sprain, which was the least severe MCL sprain. The Heat declined to specify the grade of Whiteside’s sprain.
If Whiteside missed two weeks, that would extend through at least three games of the Eastern Conference Finals, if the Heat makes it that far.
The more encouraging news: Dallas guard Deron Williams missed only one game with a sprained MCL, and Washington guard John Wall didn’t miss a game with that injury, though he required knee surgery after the season.
“Where my mind was, where Hassan’s mind was, that’s about the best news we could have,” Spoelstra said of the MRI showing a sprain and not a tear. “He’s going to be doing treatment, a lot of rest.”
Whiteside, who led the league in blocked shots this season, is averaging 12 points, 11 rebounds and 2.8 blocks this postseason.
The injury happened early in the second quarter of the Heat’s 95-91 Game 3 loss on Saturday, when Whiteside lost his balance and fell to the floor when jockeying for a rebound.
Luol Deng and Kyle Lowry each made contact with Whiteside as he fell, with Lowry pulling Whiteside's arm before he crumbled to the floor. It was the same knee that Whiteside strained in Game 1, but he said this is an entirely different injury.
“I was just going for the rebound and I felt someone fall on my knee,” Whiteside said. “I don’t know if it was intentional or by accident. I think Kyle Lowry dove or fell into my knee and pushed it in. I didn't see the play, but that's what happened.... My leg went two different ways.”
Whiteside said he had never felt anything like that before in his knee.
Without Whiteside, Spoelstra used all three of his reserve centers in Game 3: Udonis Haslem (eight points, seven rebounds in 22 minutes), Josh McRoberts (four points, four rebounds in 13 minutes) and Amare Stoudemire (scoreless, no rebounds in four minutes).
Haslem started the second half and Stoudemire didn’t play in the second half.
“I’m pretty relaxed and poised,” said Haslem, whose 144 playoff games are most in NBA history for an undrafted player. “I try to infuse that in others, along with high intensity and competitiveness.”
Dwyane Wade said Whiteside’s absence will affect how the Heat will play defensively.
“It’s a different game with Hassan out; we have to figure out a game that’s successful for us so we’re able to win the next game,” Wade said. “Our body movement has to be a little faster [defensively]. It changed on that last play with Kyle Lowry when I was guarding him. Normally, Hassan is back there and I can be closer on the jump shot to know he’s going to [be confronted with] a 7-footer [if he drives to the basket].
“I had to try to cut him off because he had a step and I knew Hassan wasn’t back there. He just pulled out and [and shot]. It does change things and we have to do a better job now that Hassan is not back there on our overall defense of helping each other on the perimeter before they get to the rim.”
But Luol Deng said he expects the Heat to maintain the same approach defensively.
“Ours bigs that we have now can make plays other ways,” Deng said. “Blocks don't have to be spectacular. Hassan makes unbelievable plays. You could be there early; you could take charges. Our defensive mentality stays the same. Hassan is able to make plays out of nothing defensively. That's where we're going to miss it.”
Dragic expects the game to become more guard oriented without both Valanciunas (who was averaging 18.3 points and 12.7 rebounds in this series) and Whiteside.
The Raptors indicated they will start 6-9 center Bismack Biyombo in Valanciunas’ absence.
With "both guys out, guys that dominated the paint, the game is going to change a little bit but still be a physical game,..." Dragic said. "But even with Valanciunas was there, we were still able to get to the basket.”
Spoelstra and Dragic said this team is well positioned to sustain yet another setback. “Every time when that happens to us, we find a way to win,” Dragic said.
Spoelstra said “what makes it allowable with our group is the consistent grit and toughness our group has shown all year long, to not make excuses.”
Heat guard Dwyane Wade created a stir on social media in Canada on Saturday when he continued shooting after the start of the Canadian National Anthem, which preceded the playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
Confronted by Toronto reporters, Wade said Sunday that he meant no disrespect.
Wade always likes to hit a layup or dunk and then a 15-foot bank shot from the wing before ending his pre-game routine. It took him several attempts to make that bank shot on Saturday, and by the time he did, the Canadian anthem had been playing for at least 20 seconds.
“You're always sensitive to anything around the world,” Wade said Sunday. “I'm not thinking about anything like [the anthem]. I'm thinking about what I need to do before every game that I prepare for that I've been doing my whole career….
“I'm not a disrespectful person. So if anyone thinks I've been disrespectful to a country, they have no idea who Dwyane Wade is….
“No disrespect from myself or [Amar’e Stoudemire, who was rebounding the ball for Wade]. If anybody feels like it was, please don't fill up my [Twitter] timeline with disrespectful comments. That's not this guy right here. Find somebody else with that.”
Wade said he will make the necessary adjustments in Game 4 to ensure he is done by the start of the Canadian anthem.
"We have to make an adjustment with our pre-game ritual, too, with everything starting a little earlier than we are used to,” he said. “[On Saturday], it kind of started a little later than when we were in Canada.”
• Justise Winslow, who was in the Heat's rotation during the entire regular season, wasn’t used at all on Saturday, with Erik Spoelstra instead opting for 21 minutes from Gerald Green. Winslow said he and Spoelstra discussed the matter on Sunday.
“We talked about it,” Winslow said. “This was what he thought would give us the best chance to win. I go out there and play. I don't coach.
“It's the coach's decision. He's going to try to put the best group of guys out there to try to win. Whether I'm out there or not, I'm going to stay positive and stay ready.”
• Though he obviously wanted to play, Goran Dragic said it wasn’t “a big deal” that he was on the bench for nearly all of the final six minutes on Saturday, with Spoelstra opting instead for Josh Richardson because he wanted a longer defender.
In a team meeting on Sunday, Spoelstra “mentioned you need to just sacrifice,” Dragic said. “He thought this was best for the team. He said at that moment, he could react differently. But it's normal....
“Of course, I want to be out there. I want to help my team. No big deal. We still have two, three, four games left, who knows. I'm ready. It doesn't affect me at all.”
• Luol Deng, who averaged 19.3 points in the first round against Charlotte but just 8.7 points in this series, said it has been tougher to cut and move without the ball against Toronto.
“Charlotte was more collapse defense and getting you to move the ball,” Deng said. “I’m aggressive when I need to be… Our ball movement has to get a little better but we're facing a different team.”
• NBA commissioner Adam Silver, appearing on Sirius XM on Sunday, insisted there is "no dispute" between the Heat and Chris Bosh about how his situation is being handled but said he has been "monitoring it very closely."
In a joint statement, the Heat and Bosh said Wednesday that he will miss the rest of the postseason, in the wake of strong indications that Bosh wanted to play.
“It seems like the science is clear here," Silver said. "There is no dispute here between the player and the team and the league as to what the condition is. This is primarily a relationship matter between the Miami Heat and [Bosh]. He is a fantastic guy and a wonderful player—obviously I feel for him that he’s out right now."
Silver said communication among the Heat, Bosh and NBA has been open.