06/15/2014

Noon update: Birdman opting out? Monday Heat notes; Examining the Wade money quandary

We're placing a Monday Heat update on this post, atop a post from last night which includes postgame reaction and an in-depth look at the quandary involving Dwyane Wade. Please scroll down to THOUGHTS ON WADE'S FUTURE for that portion of this post. Before we get to that, here are some Monday Heat notes: (And check back tonight for a new post with a lot more.)

SAN ANTONIO - Decisions made by LeBron James, and to a lesser extent, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, will largely make or break this Heat offseason, with all holding the right to become free agents.

But decisions also must be made on most of the eight Heat players whose contracts are expiring. And a ninth, Chris Andersen, apparently will also hit the market, with Yahoo! reporting today that he will opt out of his contract which would have paid him the minimum $1.4 million next season.

Of those eight, one (Shane Battier) is retiring, two (Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis) said Sunday they aren’t sure if they will continue their NBA careers and four (Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers, James Jones and Toney Douglas) expressed a desire to return, though it remains to be seen if the feeling is mutual. Greg Oden has declined to say if he wants to return.

Several, but not all, might be invited back on low money deals.

If Allen, 38, chooses to return, he might need to take a pay cut from $3.2 million to the $1.4 million minimum. He said he will decide in the coming days whether to retire.

“I’ve had a great career,” Allen said. “I’m content with what I’ve done. In the next couple of days, I will think about it and see where my true heart lies. To make [a decision] on my terms is the most important thing. Whether that is me retiring or staying here or going somewhere else, it will be on my terms.”

Lewis, 34, said simply “I don’t know” when asked if he wants to continue playing. Despite his lack of playing time, Beasley said: “Why wouldn’t I want to come back?”

Though a return by Chalmers isn’t out of the question, the Heat likely will explore an upgrade at point guard.

“If it’s an option, definitely I would love to come back with this team,” Chalmers said after Game 5, when he was replaced by Allen in the starting lineup.

There’s no decision for Battier, who is becoming a college basketball analyst for ESPN.

“When I’m old, fat and gray, and my grandkids say, ‘You never played in the NBA,’ I can tell them I did it at a high level,” said Battier, who kept a diary of sorts this season to use in a book. “I gave everything I had to this game and I don’t have any more to give.”

### Privately with his team and publicly with the media, coach Erik Spoelstra took the glass-half-full perspective afterward.

Haslem said he told the players: “Keep your heads up. You’re champions. Four straight Finals. We have a lot to be proud about. We just ran into a better team.”

Spoelstra told reporters: “Even as painful as it feels, you have to have perspective. Even the team we’re playing against has never been to the Finals four straight years. You can’t be jaded enough not to appreciate that.”

MORE REFLECTIONS

### Battier:  “It was a trying year from the standpoint there were very few pure moments. We were always trying to conjure something and for a while there in the second half, it worked. But you can’t win a championship trying to conjure something. It has to be who you are and it has to be pure, and that wasn’t the case for us this year.

“Unfortunately, I made the mistake of looking up our defensive rank before the Finals and no team outside the top 10 had ever won the title. We just didn’t have the fundamentals to stop an offensive juggernaut like the Spurs and we were exposed.”

### Bosh: “I thought we’d get over the hump and we never did. They dominated us. They picked us apart. They made us question what we were doing. They played faster, stronger, tougher, like they wanted it more. They played the best basketball I’ve ever seen.”

### Haslem: “It’s demoralizing when you’re playing your heart out and they’re still making shots. If someone had told me we would lose three straight, I would find that hard to believe.”

### Spoelstra: “They are the better team. We felt confident coming into the series that we were going to be able to score…. We felt we could rely on that, but they shut us out of the paint pretty consistently. And they were exploiting a lot of things we’re typically strong at [defensively].”

NOTABLE NUMBERS

### The 70-point total scoring differential between the teams was the largest for an NBA Finals series of any length.

### The Spurs produced the highest shooting percentage ever in an NBA Finals (52.76). The old record: The Bulls shot 52.72 percent against the Lakers in 1991.

### James has scored 30 or more points in each of the last six games he has played with his team facing elimination. His teams are now 5-1 in those games. James is eighth and Wade 17th on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list.

### Allen’s 55 career three-pointers in the Finals are one short of Robert Horry’s Finals record. 

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Thoughts and reaction after the Heat’s season-ending Game 5 NBA Finals loss to San Antonio:

### LeBron James said he loves Miami but declined to discuss his future, including whether he will opt out of his contract. “I haven't even really thought about that yet. I love Miami. My family loves it. You guys are trying to find answers. I'm not going to give you one...

"Obviously, we need to get better, every position.... We lost one, we won two, and we lost another one. Take 50 percent in four years in championships any day... I know me and D-Wade and Chris Bosh not proud of the way we played. All three of us, the last thing we're thinking about is what's going on this summer."

### More LeBron, who had 31 points and 10 rebounds: "Mixed emotions. Started off very well as a team. We had a great first quarter. From that point on, they were the better team, and that's why they're the champions in 2014. We came up against a better team this year. They were the much better team. That's how team basketball should be played. It's selfless. Guys cut, move, pass. It's all for the team. It's never about the individual. That's how team basketball should be played. They dominated us in every facet of the game."

He said the loss in 2011 to Dallas was "more hurtful than this one."

### Chris Bosh said he hasn’t decided whether he will opt out of his contract. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know if I’m having frosted flakes or honey nut cheerios for breakfast.”

In a more serious moment, Bosh said: “They exposed us. They picked us apart, made us question what we were doing. They played stronger, faster, tougher. They played the best basketball I’ve ever seen. Anti-climatic ending to the season.”

### Wade followed a 3 for 13 shooting performance in Game 4 by delivering an 11-point dud in Game 5, missing eight of his 12 shots from the field. That’s something of an anomaly, considering Wade led all shooting guards in field-goal percentage five of the past six seasons.

The greater long-term concern was his defense, which was so atrocious at times during this series that it was ridiculed in a YouTube video. And his ball-handling was sloppy; he had three turnovers Sunday and 18 in the series, compared with 13 assists.

"Just struggled a little bit," he said. "I felt fine. I just struggled a little bit offensively. I wish I could have done more, but it's the nature of the game."

Wade said of the Big Three: "It's been a hell of a ride in these four years.... We've been succcessful in the sense of what we tried to accomplish, and that is going to the Finals, and we did it. We'd love to be four for four. It was just wasn't in the cards for us to be that. We have no reason not to be proud of each other for what we've accomplished on and off the court for these four years together."

### Udonis Haslem: “I never thought we could lose three straight. We played as hard as we could. We ran into a better team.”

### Ray Allen said he hasn’t decided whether he wants to play next season.

SOME THOUGHTS ON WADE'S FUTURE

### Wade assured reporters over the weekend that this is the best he has felt in a long time.

 Regrettably, his game was the worst it has looked in a long time.

We witnessed an old Wade instead of the Wade of old during the past week, and it’s awfully worrisome if you’re trying to figure out how to augment this roster within the constraints of the salary cap and the punitive luxury tax.

Wade, 32, is too accomplished a player to be discounted from here. But his immensely disappointing Finals leaves the Heat in a difficult and delicate predicament heading into a pivotal offseason.

To lessen its luxury tax burden, it would not be surprising if the Heat asks Wade to opt out of the last two years of his contract, which would pay him a combined $42 million, and instead accept a longer deal with a lower annual salary. But while Wade has said during the playoffs that he has not decided whether to opt out, he also has indicated he does not believe it’s necessary to take another cut to keep the Big Three together.

And keep this in mind: Unless Chris Bosh also takes a big pay cut, then Wade accepting a large cut would not give the Heat enough cap space to sign a pricey free agent. Instead, it would merely reduce the Heat’s tax burden and make it more palatable for ownership to authorize using its $3.2 million midlevel exception.

From a personal standpoint, Wade’s only incentive to opt out of a combined $42 million guaranteed over the next two seasons would be for long-term security that would assure him a sizable salary at age 35 and 36.

Perhaps Wade considers opting out this month if the Heat makes him a respectable offer, potentially in the four-year, $60 million range that would lessen the Heat’s immediate tax burden but also clog its cap with an even further diminished Wade in 2016-17 and 2017-18. (Four years is the longest contract Wade can be given.) 

But it’s almost impossible to envision Wade taking a cut to the $12 million range when he’s due more than $20 million next season. Asking him to take a cut that significant assuredly would insult him and perhaps make him less likely to opt out.

If Bosh and Wade were to each take cuts from $20 million to $12 million next season, the Heat would have about $8 million in cap space even while paying LeBron James $20 million. But it’s unrealistic to expect either to do that.

NOTEWORTHY

### Erik Spoelstra’s lineup changes ultimately made no difference. The decision to replace Mario Chalmers with Allen made sense, and the Heat stormed to a 22-6 lead. But Allen shot 1 for 8. Chalmers said he was told Sunday morning he wouldn’t start and it was “tough” to hear.

 The decision to use Udonis Haslem could be justified, considering Tim Duncan shot 32 percent (8 for 25) when Haslem was on the court during last year’s Finals. But Duncan hit three of four shots against Haslem in the first half Sunday, when the Spurs took the lead for good.

### Bosh announced Sunday morning: “We’re going to win this game.” He didn’t make enough of an impact, scoring four points in the first half (2 for 6) and finishing with 13.

### In his final NBA game, Shane Battier had no points or rebounds in 11 scoreless minutes. He was emotional afterward, something he had said he didn’t expect.

### Biggest challenge of the offseason? Finding a quality point guard with its exception money. The position clearly needs upgrading. It’s probably time to move on from Chalmers.

And Norris Cole is too unreliable a shooter to be projected as anything more than a backup at this point. Cole shot a combined 10 for 41 in the past two Finals.

### The Heat missed 20 of 24 shots during the last nine minutes of the second quarter and the first four of the third and overall shot 37.5 percent (21 for 56) after the first quarter, closing at 40 percent for the game. Hardly something you would expect from a team that led the league in field-goal percentage this season at 50.5 percent.

Sunday 5 p.m.: UM adds QB; NBA players reach out to Chalmers; Dolphins studying Eagles; Heat, Marlins chatter

Notes from San Antonio on various topics on a Sunday afternoon, as we await Game 5 of the Finals in a few hours:

SAN ANTONIO --- Mario Chalmers entered Game 5 of The Finals on Sunday calling the past few weeks the most difficult of his career and unsure what the future will hold.

An impending free agent, Chalmers prefers to return next season. That’s certainly not out of the question, but it would be surprising if the Heat doesn’t explore trying to upgrade at the position.

Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving, veteran NBA guard Brandon Rush and former NBA guard Damon Jones all reached out to Chalmers in recent days, offering both encouragement but also a pointed message: “Stop playing passively.”

Chalmers said he agrees he has been playing passively but he said he also is cognizant of getting the ball to teammates.

He entered Game 5 having shot 5 for 18 in the Finals, with 14 assists and 10 turnovers.

The past few weeks have “been very tough, but it comes with the job,” he said. “My teammates have all been supportive. At times like this, you’ve got to perform. I’ve dealt with adversity before.”

Over the past few days, Chalmers has watched tape of some of his best moments as an NBA player, a reminder of what he is capable of.

“I’ve watched a couple of games – last year’s Finals, games earlier this year, playoff games over my six years,” he said. “It shows that you can do it. I’ve been in this situation before and I know what I can do at this level. Just got to keep believing in myself.”

### Chris Bosh had this to say this morning, via ESPN's Mike Wallace: "It's not ending tonight." And of the Big Three, he said: "We'll be here forever."

### While nobody with the Heat has publicly criticized Erik Spoelstra's strategy, it was notable that Bosh said early Friday morning: "We're going to need a better gameplan and mindset."

### Shane Battier, at peace with his decision to retire, said Saturday he does not expect to become emotional when he walked off the court for the final time.

“I wasn’t emotional when I graduated from Duke or high school,” said Battier, who will become a college basketball analyst for ESPN. “I’ve enjoyed my career but there are other things I feel more strongly about.”

### The fact Wade missed so many regular season games (28) –-- including some on short notice –-- frustrated LeBron James at times, who said Saturday (without mentioning Wade) that “in the regular season I got frustrated a lot,… because we have guys in and out of the lineup. I'm all about chemistry and habits, and it affected our team.  There were guys that didn't know if they were playing, did know they were playing, and it affected our team a little bit."

### Despite having absolutely no inside information, that didn’t stop Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons from telling ESPN this weekend that he expects LeBron James will leave the Heat.

"I think if they would've won the championship it would've been a different story and they would've came back to do it again," Parsons said. "But he's got so much responsibility. I think them losing will make him make a move and opt out, and you'll see him in a different jersey next year. He's done all he can do there and it's time for him to move on. I could see him maybe going back to Cleveland.”

### Spurs players say one compliment they hear a lot is how aesthetically-pleasing their style of play is.

“You hear it all over the place,” guard Danny Green said. “Everyone is talking about well we move the ball. I’ve heard from [Pacers and former Spurs guard] George Hill. He thinks we’re playing pretty well.”

### James entered Game 5 as one of only two players who has averaged 30 points and 10 rebounds when facing playoff elimination. Wilt Chamberlain was the other.

### One interesting point raised by Charles Barkley: "The biggest problem with the Heat is the way their offense is built. To stand Chris Bosh out [on the perimeter] is a detriment to him. He’s got to be able to
punish Boris Diaw down low. When the Spurs switch the pick-and-roll, Bosh is turned one-dimensional. Every time Oklahoma City switched the pick and roll, the Spurs got the ball to Tim Duncan and he was either fouled or got a layup. Duncan is not going to let a point guard guard him. Chris Bosh does not do that."

### In last year’s Finals, the Heat was outscored by 57 when James and Wade played together. In these Finals, they’re minus 21 together…. The Heat’s best lineup in these Finals? The Big Three, Ray Allen and
Chalmers (plus 14, shooting 59 percent).

### Not only do Dolphins players say their new offense reminds them of Chip Kelly’s offense with the Eagles --- where new coordinator Bill Lazor worked last season --- but Lazor has been using video of the
Eagles offense as a teaching tool, according to receiver Rishard Matthews. There are some differences between the offenses.


"Last year, it was one-dimensional a little bit,” Matthews said of Mike Sherman’s approach. “This year, everybody loves the offense.”

### Quarterback Jake Heaps --- the highest-rated quarterback in the 2010 class --- is transferring from Kansas (where he's graduating this month) to Miami.

Heaps, who is be eligible immediately as a senior, has had a disappointing career. He played well for BYU as a freshman but left the next year after losing his starting job. He played for Kansas last season, throwing eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions and completing 49 percent of his passes for a 3-9 team.

Internally, UM is concerned about its quarterback situation. But Heaps, based on his spotty track record, hardly seems the answer. Ryan Williams hopes to return from a knee injury by mid-to-late September. Kevin Olsen remains the front-runner to start the opener, with newcomers Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier also expecting to get some first-team reps early in camp, barring a change of heart by the coaching staff.

### One factor that has improved the Marlins’ internal clubhouse dynamics: The jettisoning of several me-first players who rubbed some teammates the wrong way.

“There’s a different atmosphere where you have everyone trying to help each other – that’s something we hadn’t seen before,” reliever Mike Dunn said. “In past years, we had guys pulling for themselves
over the team.”

Dunn didn’t disclose names, but another team source said that list included Hanley Ramirez, Justin Ruggiano and Jose Reyes, among others.

06/14/2014

Saturday 8 p.m. update: LeBron's message; Interesting words from Haslem; NBA Finals chatter; Analysts lash out at Heat

Highlights and nuggets from the Heat and Spurs media availabilities today on the eve of Game 5 of the NBA Finals:

### Here's what LeBron James said he will tell his teammates Sunday, with Miami trying to become the first team to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win an NBA Finals:

"Why not us?  Why not us?  History is broken all the time.  And obviously we know we're against the greatest of odds.  No team has ever come back from a 3‑1 deficit in the Finals, but there was a point where no team came back from a 2‑0.  There was a point where no team came back from a 3‑0.  There was a point where no team came back from a 3‑1 deficit in the Western Conference Finals, and then Phoenix did it.  One of our teammates was on that team, James Jones.

"There is a point where no team came back from a 3‑1 or 3‑0 deficit in the ALCS, and then the Red Sox did it against the Yankees.

"So history is made to be broken, and why not me be a part of it?  That would be great.  That would be a great story line, right?

"But we'll see what happens.  I've got to live in the moment, though, before we even get to that point.

### James, who is averaging 27.3 points in the series, said: "I've been telling myself I need to do more.  Is it too much to ask myself?  I don't know.  I don't know.  I need to do more because what I'm doing isn't enough."

### On pace to set a record for allowing the highest field-goal percentage ever in an NBA Finals, Heat players reiterated Saturday what they’ve been saying for a week: The defensive breakdowns need to stop.

A tape posted on Deadspin.com displays numerous examples of delinquent defense by Dwyane Wade in these NBA Finals. But among Heat players, he’s hardly alone.

“It’s shocking – the way they’ve been scoring, it’s almost like we have no defensive presence out there,” Rashard Lewis said Saturday. “It’s almost like they’re an offensive juggernaut right now.  It felt like everything we did, we were a step slow in all our rotations. We were always late.”

Lewis said “more than anything, we have to control the penetration. When they penetrate and get into the paint, it creates those wide open threes and dump-off layups.”

LeBron James said Saturday that “great offense beats great defense any day. But we’ve had some mistakes.”

### Erik Spoelstra, asked if he expects to use Udonis Haslem more, said:

"Possibly.  He's on my mind.  These are the type of games where he's proven himself, and you need somebody to rely on that's been there and has proven that those tough things, when your back is against the wall, but we'll see."

### Haslem wondered if the Heat has fallen “into the trap” because there’s no hostility toward the Spurs.

“Everybody knows we don’t like Indiana,’ he said. “Everybody knows we don’t like Brooklyn, going back to the Boston days. These guys, when Tim Duncan gets an offensive foul, he’ll grab you and ask you if you’re OK. You kind of fall into that level of relaxation against these guys. Right now, I don’t want anybody helping me up unless they’re on my team. Don’t help me up when you knock me down, Tim. And I’m not going to help you up.

“We’ll have that discussion. It’s not to say, ‘Go out and play dirty.’ That’s not what we’re going to do. Definitely, there needs to be more of an edge, make things tougher. We have the personnel to get their field goal percentage down.”

### When a reporter told James he seemed in a pleasant mood and asked him if he was angry the past couple of days, he said: “Of course. I was extremely upset, sad, very emotional to myself after Games 3 and 4.”

But he added: “I’m in a good place in my life. It’s basketball.” He said having “two championships” helps his peace of mind.

Several players said the team’s mood is upbeat. “We have no time for shock and awe,” Chris Bosh said, “or the same thing will happen Sunday.”

Said Lewis: “Guys on this team stand up to challenges. We play at our best with our backs against the wall.”

### Wade told TNT's Rachel Nichols that Bosh invited Wade, LeBron and Haslem to dinner last night to talk about the series.

### Asked if he would get on teammates who are making mistakes, James said: "I hold guys accountable. I don't let things slide."

### James said his ankle, which he “turned” in Game 2, is “a little sore, but it hasn’t limited me much. As the night goes on, it gets a little worse.”

### Wade said physically, he is “totally fine” and “way better than I’ve been in a long time.”

Of his 3 for 13 shooting in Game 4, he said: “That doesn’t happen to me often.”

On an off day Friday, he went to the arena “to feel the ball and wonder why I missed so many floaters. I’m high percentage around the basket, so I don’t like missing those shots.”

### Yahoo! reported that Chicago and Houston are the favorites to sign Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, who likely will receive a call from the Heat when free agency begins. Anthony reportedly will opt out of his Knicks contract.

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SPURS NOTES

Even though the Spurs have a 3-1 series lead, guard Manu Ginobili said the fact the Spurs squandered two chances to close out last year’s Finals gives them pause for thought heading into Game 5 on Sunday. “We were match point last year twice and they still beat us,” he said.

And Tim Duncan said that lessens the likelihood of the Spurs feeling comfortable heading into Game 5.

“We go back to last year and we learn from that,” Duncan said.  “We're 30 seconds away [in Game 6].  We feel that we have it in the bag and it slips out of our fingers. We know that they're back‑to‑back champs and they've been in this situation before and they have all the confidence in the world that they can win these games.”

### The Spurs ran nearly a mile more than the Heat during Game 4, according to SportVU data. And yet whereas the Spurs played crisply and efficiently and with great energy throughout, the Heat seemed a step slow and sluggish at times.

There are several reasons for this. Because Heat players have been beaten off the dribble so much the past two games, other defenders have needed to leave their man to help, leaving other Heat players scrambling to defend the shooter that’s often left open as a result.

“Moving the ball, changing sides, anyone would struggle with that,” Spurs guard Danny Green said. “And keeping that [fast] pace maybe hurts them.”

But are the Spurs a better conditioned team, as ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith keeps insisting? Ginobili and Danny Green were reluctant to touch that topic, but Green suggested one difference in energy level probably results in how Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has limited the minutes of his starters.

Consider: Over the past three regular seasons, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade have combined for 20,888 regular season minutes. Duncan, Tony Parker and Ginobili have played 15,699.

“We just have a very deep bench that helps us,” Green said. “All season we haven’t had to play anyone more than 30 minutes per game which is big for us.  Nobody has played crazy minutes.”

### Green said he is “shocked” the Spurs have won the past two games by a combined 40 points. “We didn’t expect to win both like that,” Manu Ginobili said.

### Tim Duncan, asked if he might retire after this series, said Saturday: “I'm not saying I'm retiring.  I'm not saying I'm not retiring.  I'm not saying anything.  I'm going to figure it out as it goes.  I've always said if I feel like I'm effective, if I feel like I can contribute, I'll continue to play.  Right now I feel that way, so we'll see what happens."

Duncan has a $10.3 million player option for next season.

### Chris Bosh said the Heat is surprised every time Kawhi Leonard attacks the basket, but Leonard doesn’t understand why. “I’ve been driving the basketball all year,” he said.

Leonard has scored 49 points over the past two games after Popovich implored him to be more aggressive. “That’s the reason Pop’s been riding him and pushing him to be the guy,” Green said.

### Green said the Spurs are assuming Wade will not have another night like Game 4, when he scored 10 points and shot 3 for 13.

“D-Wade younger was more explosive but it doesn’t mean he’s not efficient,” Green said. “I still play him and think he’s D-Wade. We know he’s not going to shoot like that game.”

As Ginobili noted, “He was pretty quiet in Game 6 last year (14 points) and came in Game 7 and killed us” with 23 points.

### Parker said the fact he has been able to experience this run with Ginobili and Duncan “makes it all worth it.  All three, we took less money to stay here and to win championships.  So it makes it even better to have been able to play my whole career with Timmy and Manu and experiencing those great moments we're never going to forget our whole life.”        

### The Spurs can’t stop raving about the impact of Boris Diaw, who became a starter in the third game. “He’s been fantastic in both games,” Ginobili said. “Attacking the rim, finding a teammate open, punishing them with mismatches.”

### Through four games, The Finals are averaging 14.9 million viewers, compared with 14.8 million for last year’s Heat-Spurs Finals. San Antonio produced a far higher rating than Miami-Fort Lauderdale for game 4 --- 47.4 to 28.8.

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In the wake of another Spurs’ blowout win, national TV pundits unleashed a torrent of criticism toward the Heat on Friday. Among the notable comments:

### TNT/NBA TV’s Charles Barkley: “These were two beat downs. This series is over. I was 100 percent wrong. I picked the Heat to win the series. As much as I respect what they’ve accomplished, they can’t beat the Spurs. Boris Diaw made Chris Bosh ineffective” because Barkley said Diaw can defend Bosh by the three-point line better than others can.

Barkley said LeBron James “doesn’t have that Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant thing. He let the lead increase (in Game 3) and he never became aggressive. As great as a player he is, that’s the one thing he doesn’t have. At some times, I wish he was a little bit more selfish. He’s just a nice guy. He doesn’t have that nasty instinct.”

“Kawhi Leonard is one of the few players that can make him work. He is athletic enough and strong enough physically. The biggest problem with LeBron is that he is quicker than most guys and he’s stronger than most guys. Kawhi Leonard reminds me of the great Scottie Pippen. He can guard a guy. He’s quick enough and has some meat on his bones.”

### ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith: “It’s over. They don’t have anything outside of LeBron James. Nobody else showed up. It was a pathetic performance. Kawhi Leonard again looked like the best player on the court. If they win, it will involve divine intervention.

“The Spurs are not just a better team; they are a team in better condition. The thing that has gotten me depressed is [the Heat] were tired in the second quarter. In the first quarter, Dwyane Wade was heaving. With this sense the Miami Heat is no longer good enough, you’ve got to get LeBron help. If you don’t, LeBron may say goodbye.”

### ABC’s Jalen Rose: “Bosh didn’t show up. Gravity caught up with Wade. Rashard Lewis and Mario Chalmers would not be starting on teams this elite if they didn’t have [the Big Three] to play with.”

### ABC’s Bill Simmons interjected: “I don’t think [Lewis or Chalmers] would be playing for teams this elite… I saw a guy [Wade] who looked really tired, played three games in five days. He had no lift, wasn’t hustling. He’s not the same two-way player any more.”

### TNT’s/ NBA’s TV Shaquille O’Neal: “When the Heat turns to one-on-one, they’re not that good. When they hold the ball, they’re not a very good team and they’re showing it right now. The Spurs want it more. You need to have a lot of energy and effort. The Heat don’t seem to have that. They miss… Mike Miller.”

### ESPN’s Michael Wilbon: “No energy. Defensively lost. They have no idea what to do. They were shell-shocked.”

### But noted Heat critic/ESPN pundit Skip Bayless warned: “It’s not over. If any team has the psyche to make history, it’s” the Heat.

 

LeBRON’S TAKE

James, asked if the Heat needs to make tactical adjustments, answered this way: “They put you in positions that no other team in this league does, and it’s tough because you have to cover the ball first, but also those guys on the weak side can do multiple things. They can shoot from outside. They can also penetrate. So our defense is geared towards running guys off the three-point line, but at the same time, those guys are getting full steam ahead and getting to the rim, too.”

James said the other “challenge” is Diaw’s insertion in the starting lineup beginning in Game 3. “That has given them another point guard on the floor.”

### The Heat is the first team to lose by at least 40 points combined in consecutive Finals games since the 76ers did against Portland in 1977.

### Before the Heat did it this week, no team had trailed by at least 20 points in consecutive NBA Finals games since the Nets against the Lakers in 2002.

### Before this week, the Heat had not trailed by as many as 19 points in consecutive home games since December 2008, against Atlanta and Milwaukee.

### The Heat has played 86 playoff games over the past four seasons, the most in history, breaking a tie with the Celtics, who played 85 from 1984 to 1987.

### James’ 19 points in the third quarter of Game 4 were the most by a player in a home Finals game since Michael Jordan had 22 in the second quarter of a 1993 Finals game against Phoenix.  “I had a huge third quarter but it meant nothing,” James said.    

### Udonis Haslem’s contract situation seems pretty straightforward: He has a $4.62 million player option for next season, the last year of his contract, and he said Thursday that his plan is to opt into that contract, as everyone would expect.

But there’s a variable that could leave him with a more complicated decision to make this summer.

If the Heat believes it can somehow convince Carmelo Anthony to join LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, the Heat likely would ask Haslem to opt out and sign a multi-year deal for less money.

Even if Anthony proves to be an unrealistic target, the Heat would still have the option of asking Haslem to opt out and take a pay cut to lessen its onerous luxury tax burden, in exchange for a new multiyear contract.

Haslem made clear Thursday that he would love to spend several more seasons with the Heat.

Asked if he would be willing to take less for a longer deal, Haslem said: “It’s something I would sit down and talk about with my family and Hank [agent Henry Thomas].”

Haslem, who turned 34 on Monday, has sacrificed for the Heat before; he took a five-year, $20 million contract in 2010 instead of five-year deals which could have reached $35 million with Dallas or Denver.

The Heat has shown loyalty to Haslem, declining to pursue a February trade with Philadelphia that would have potentially sent Haslem and other pieces to the 76ers for Evan Turner.

Haslem, 6-8, noted: “If I was an inch or two more, I would be making $2 million more. But if I’m not the size I am, maybe I’d be lazy and not have the work ethic I have.”

### Twice in this postseason, James has publicly called for more minutes for James Jones. And after Game 1 of the Finals, Dwyane Wade publicly implored Erik Spoelstra to go deeper into his bench.

Do any of these comments by the Heat’s stars bother Spoelstra? The coach indicated they do not, adding: “There’s open communication about it.”

06/13/2014

Postscripts, thoughts, notes, player reaction after Heat's Game 4 loss

Postscripts from the San Antonio Spurs' 107-86 Game 4 drubbing of the Heat in the NBA Finals, which leaves Miami one loss from elimination.

### It began, inauspiciously but appropriately, with a Chris Bosh turnover.

That would be a harbinger of a night of incompetence.

“They smashed us two straight home games,” LeBron James said. “They were much better than us in these two games. It’s that simple.”

Are the Spurs simply better? “Right now, they’re playing better than us,” Dwyane Wade said. “We’ll see at the end of the series, whoever wins is the better team. They whipped our butt.”

### Spoelstra's take afterward: "They played great. And I can honestly say I don't think any of us were expecting this type of performance. We just couldn't get into a rhythm on either side of the ball, and then it just went from there.... I've got to do a better job. We've got a couple days to figure it out, but we'll lay everything out, look under the hood and see what we need to do.

"We have to make some adjustments. We'll look at everything. But I'm going to take a step back, exhale. I've got to find a way to do a better job for my group. What I told our team is: When we're right, we can beat anybody anywhere."

### The Heat’s defensive deficiencies in Game 4? Hardly surprising, considering the lapses and miscues we witnessed the first three games of these Finals.

But this dreadful display on offense --- 12 for 34 first-half shooting (35.3 percent) , 45 percent for the game ---  was unexpected and uncharacteristic, considering the Heat shot 50.5 percent in the first three games of this series and this season became the first team since the 2007-08 Phoenix Suns to make at least half its shots.

In Game 4, Heat players couldn’t stick open threes. They couldn’t finish in the paint (4 for 15 in the first half, 15 for 34 in the game). They looked rushed, sloppy and disjointed offensively. They closed with as many turnovers as assists (13).

“We got great, great shots and just missed,” Bosh said. “Dwyane [Wade] and LeBron [James] missed a couple of layups. Ray Allen missed a couple opens threes. That’s what’s tough about this…. It’s jarring. I didn’t expect this at all. It’s discouraging. They are taking us out of everything we’re doing.”

Carmelo Anthony, please pick up the white courtesy telephone. But you will need to leave $40 million-plus on the table over the next four years if you want to hook up with your buddy LeBron James in Miami. And if Anthony --- who would help only offensively --- proves an unrealistic target, a young, athletic, affordable wing player is sorely needed.

### Playing his third game in five nights, Wade looked sluggish and diminished, in no way resembling the player who was usually efficient when healthy this season, the one who tied Otis Birdsong for the highest shooting percentage by a starting two-guard in a single season since the NBA implemented the three-point shot in 1979.

Wade, whose mid-range game was immaculate all season, missed a bunch of makeable shots (1 for 7 in the paint in the first half), lacked explosion and opened 1 for 10 before closing 3 for 13, with three turnovers, on a 10-point night.

“I’m a very accurate shooter,” Wade said. “I don’t like missing. I’m not used to missing. Law of averages.”

### As for James, he too often settled for jump shots in the first half, with an 18.4-foot average shot distance, compared with less than 11 feet in the first three games. He attacked more in a 19-point third quarter but received precious little support.

“I tried to will us back in the game, had a huge third quarter, but it meant nothing,” he said.

James disputed a reporter who suggested he has to carry the load. “It’s not all on my shoulder,” he said. “I take a lot of it.”

### Mario Chalmers? Instead of benching him for extended awfulness, Erik Spoelstra instead stuck with him a bit longer than usual in the first quarter. But Chalmers was again dominated by Tony Parker.

Consider that Chalmers entered Game 4 as the first starter in 30 years to play at least 50 minutes, score 10 points or fewer and shoot 25 percent over the first three games of an NBA Finals.

Rashard Lewis? A forgettable night: 1 for 4 shooting in 16 minutes. Spoelstra replaced him with Ray Allen to start the second half.

Bosh? He opened 3 for 4 in the first quarter, then shot 2 for 7 the rest of the night, finishing with an underwhelming 12 points and four boards.

### Even Chris Andersen, who shot 64 percent during the season, seems to lose his ability to finish around the basket when he plays the Spurs. He was 1 for 4 Thursday and is 3 for 11 in the series.

### No team has rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win an NBA Finals. And the Spurs are 10-0 when lead a best-of-seven series, 3-1.

“We put ourselves in a position where it’s about making history. We have to worry about Sunday first,” James said. “Of course we’re a little down right now. As one of the leaders of the team, I have to figure out a way to get us to a 3-2 deficit.”

### Bosh’s assessment afterward: “We need to go home and do some soul-searching and get it together. If anybody can do this, it’s us. I have belief in our guys. We’re seen our fair share of adversity. This is adversity in all caps. If a guy has a single bit of doubt, he doesn’t belong here.”

### Bosh said “we’re going to need a better game plan and mindset.”

### James didn’t agree with Bosh on one thing. “Soul-searching? We don’t need much of that. As far as soul-searching, we’re a veteran club that has been to four straight Finals. We know what it takes to win. We’ve just got to go out and do it.”

### What about the booing from the AA Arena crowd? “Maybe they’re right. Maybe they deserve it.”

### It’s regrettable that Michael Beasley never gained Spoelstra’s trust because he could have helped in a game when the Heat was desperate for offense, though he assuredly would have been targeted defensively.

Beasley averaged 25.2 points per 48 minutes this season, which was 54th in the league, but wasn’t even in uniform Thursday.

### Spoelstra changed his rotation, opting for Shane Battier over James Jones in the first half and inserting Toney Douglas in a move that reeked of desperation. Neither move paid dividends.

### The Heat is closing in on setting a record for highest shooting percentage ever allowed in a Finals (52.7 by the 1991 Bulls). The Spurs, are shooting 54.2 percent after shooting 57.1 percent in Game 4.

“They are a high-oiled machine, move the ball extremely well,” James said. “They put you in positions where no other team in this league does. Guys on the weakside can do multiple things, shoot it from the outside, penetration. Our defense is geared toward running guys off the three-point line. Any little mistake, they make you pay for it.”

### Boris Diaw’s impact cannot be understated. He filled the box score with eight points, nine rebounds and nine assists and the Spurs are now plus 60 with Diaw on the court in this series.

“Diaw has given them another point guard on the floor,” James said. “It’s a challenge for us all.”

### Short stuff: Tim Duncan surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for most minutes played in NBA playoff history… The Heat trailed by 19 at halftime after trailing by 21 at halftime of Game 3....

The Heat had gone 48 playoff games in a row without consecutive losses, a streak that ended short of the record 54, by the Celtics in the 1960s…. Of Leonard’s 11 career playoff double-doubles, five have come against the Heat, including a 20-point, 14-rebound gem Thursday.

### The Heat will take Friday off, practice in Miami Saturday, then fly to Texas to fulfill media obligations in San Antonio late Saturday afternoon.

06/11/2014

Bosh denies ESPN/Carmelo report; D. Jordan quandary; Examining how the Heat could fit Carmelo under the cap

A quick 3 p.m. update:

### As ESPN reported, the Heat is expected to at least explore the pie-in-the-sky scenario of acquiring Carmelo Anthony to partner with the Heat’s Big Three if Anthony opts for free agency by his June 23 deadline. The New York Daily News reported this afternoon that Anthony plans to opt out, barring a dramatic change of heart.

But Chris Bosh on Thursday denied an ESPN report that the team’s top players have already started to explore ways to create enough salary cap space to pull this off. In fact, Bosh said he, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have never once discussed the scenario of adding Anthony to the mix or how it can be accomplished. (It would require monumental pay cuts by all four.)

“I think that’s very, very unlikely,” Bosh said of such a Big Four scenario, with Anthony as the fourth.

Of Anthony possibly joining Miami, James said tonight: "Obviously, Melo has his own decision to make. That's not even crossed by mind at this point of the season."

The Heat views the Anthony scenario as a long shot but not out of the question.

ESPN's report said "the team's leading players have already started to explore their options for creating sufficient financial flexibility to make an ambitous run at Carmelo."

But Udonis Haslem doesn’t believe adding Carmelo is that far-fetched.

“It doesn’t seem unrealistic,” he said today. “There was a time nobody would have thought you could put this team together, with those guys taking pay cuts, and even myself taking a paycut. You can never say never.”

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN ON THIS POST FOR A DETAILED EXPLANATION ABOUT HOW THE HEAT COULD FIT CARMELO UNDER THE CAP

### Joe Philbin likes the idea of having Dion Jordan play special teams because “he’s a big guy that can run and is hard to block.” But Jason Taylor, a guest coach during the offseason program, told the Dolphins-owned radio show that there is “not a whole lot of time” to work with Jordan on pass rush moves because a lot of his practice time is being spent on special teams. That’s not ideal, obviously.

“Dion is bigger than me, more athletic than I am,” Taylor said. “He's going to be stronger. He's so willing to learn. Anything I tell him or suggest, he's like a sponge.”

### UM football is up to 14 oral commitments after landing two this week from Texas-based Drew Galitz (a punter who’s also rated the nation’s No. 2 kicker) and Venice, Fla., offensive lineman Tyler Gauthier. Eleven of those 14 recruits are rated three-star prospects by rivals.com; the others are four-star.

### Jacob Turner, 23, has allowed a .330 opposing batting average, combined with an awful 6.38 ERA, but the Marlins are in a quandary because he’s out of minor league options, and he likely would be claimed by another team if they expose him to waivers. But Andrew Heaney (3-0, 2.74 at Triple A) and perhaps Justin Nicolino (5-2, 3.29 ERA in Double A)  would seem like better rotation options.

### Dan Bylsma appears the best choice for the Panthers’ head coaching job; he made the playoffs each of his six seasons in Pittsburgh, won a Stanley Cup in 2008 and went 252-117-32 before being fired recently. But Panthers ownership was also very impressed by Detroit assistant Tom Renney in their meeting Thursday, even though Renney made the playoffs only three times in nine years as a head coach, with the Rangers, Vancouver and Edmonton.

 

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If you have, well, Internet access, you might have seen two stories tonight linking Carmelo Anthony to the Heat:

### A Stephen A. Smith story that Anthony and LeBron James have expressed a desire to play together before their careers end, and that they will look into teaming up if both end up on the open market in July 2015.

### Another ESPN.com story (by Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein) reporting that “Heat officials and the team’s leading players have already started to explore their options for creating sufficient financial flexibility to make an ambitious run at” Anthony this summer.

If Anthony does not opt out of his Knicks contract in the coming days, he would earn $23.3 million next season. He must inform the Knicks by June 23 whether he’s opting out.

If the Heat’s Big Three doesn’t exercise early termination clauses this summer, James and Bosh would earn $20.59 million each next season and Wade $20.04 million. They must let the Heat know by late June.

Before we go any further, it’s important to note that all would need to take huge pay cuts to make room for Anthony in Miami next season, presuming all of them expect comparable salaries. It’s tough to imagine that happening, but it would be foolish to completely rule it out, either, because crazy things sometimes happen.

Bosh told me and others months ago he plans to stay with the Heat and he told ESPN Radio’s Dan Le Batard two weeks ago that he might be willing to take less money to stick around.

Wade strongly suggested to ESPN.com’s Mike Wallace last week that he does not feel obligated to opt out and take less money to keep the Big Three together.

Wade has told me previously he’s not sure he will opt out, won’t decide until after the Finals end, and that either scenario --- sticking to the last two years and $41 million of his contract --- or opting out for a longer deal --- would be appealing.

James declined to address his future when queried by an out of town reporter today, but an associate has said the Heat is the heavy favorite to keep him.

Also important to keep in mind: The salary cap is expected to rise from $58.6 million to $63.2 million.

So what would be the mechanics needed to fit Carmelo under the salary cap, along with the Big Three? Here’s how it would work:

### James, Wade and Bosh all would need to opt out of their contracts this summer. The Heat, if it tries to sign Anthony, would become a team operating under the cap rather than one over the cap. It would thus not be able to exceed the cap except to sign players to minimum-salary deals.

The Heat, in this scenario, would also have a room exception of $2.732 million, NBA salary cap expert Larry Coon tells us.

### The Heat would need to renounce all of its free agents (who haven’t already agreed to new deals) to clear their cap holds but could then immediately re-sign them to agreed-upon amounts, presuming they fit under the cap (or to minimum deals which can exceed the cap). When players are renounced, they lose their Larry Bird rights.

### The Heat has one player under a guaranteed contract for next season who has no early termination clause or player option: Norris Cole, at $2.15 million. Justin Hamilton has a non-guaranteed deal at $816,482.

Udonis Haslem has a player option for $4.6 million, which he assuredly will exercise unless the Heat talks him out of it by offering a multiyear deal at lower money. Chris Andersen has an option for $1.44 million.

### Let’s say Cole, Haslem and Andersen all return. Their salaries would add up to $8.14 million. Let’s say the Heat uses the 26th pick in the draft, which would come with a cap hold of just over $1 million. So that’s about $9.2 million.

### During the offseason, the league assesses an “incomplete roster charge” for any unfilled roster spots up to 12. So let’s say the Heat got the Big Three, Anthony, Cole, Haslem, Andersen and a first-round pick under contract.

That’s eight, meaning it would need to assess four “incomplete roster charge” cap holds of $507,336 --- the league’s minimum salary for rookies next season. That would add up to $11.2 million in cap commitments for Cole, Haslem, Andersen, the first-round draft pick and four roster holds. It would be about $300,000 more if the Heat keeps around Hamilton.

If you subtract $11.2 million from the projected cap of $62.3 million, that would leave $51 million to be split up among the Big Three and Anthony. If each agreed to take the same amount, that would be $12.75 million per player --- which would represent more than a $10 million paycut for Anthony, $7.3 million for Wade and $7.8 million for Bosh and James.

It would be slightly less money for the Big Three and Anthony if Hamilton stays on the cap.

To keep this going for three years or more, each of the Big Three and Anthony would lose tens of millions of dollars compared with what they would make if they signed max deals.

### A bit more wiggle room could be created if the Heat deals its first-round pick and if Haslem agreed to opt out of his $4.6 million deal and accept, say, $2 million annually instead over several years.

But even then, it’s difficult to come up with a scenario where each of the Big Three and Anthony could make more than $13.7 million apiece, presuming they all wanted an equal share of the pot. And it likely would be less than that.

### The Heat is not permitted to trade its first-round pick before the draft but can make a selection on behalf of another team and trade the pick after the draft for some commodity (a future second-rounder, perhaps) that wouldn't clog its cap this summer.

### Teams at or above the cap can sign veterans to the minimum, so the open roster spots temporarily being held by “incomplete roster charges” could be filled by Ray Allen or Rashard Lewis or James Jones and others at the minimum. (And a point guard to replace Mario Chalmers.)

In this scenario, the Heat could use its $2.7 million room exception to add a quality free agent who wants more than the minimum, perhaps a point guard (Chalmers, Ramon Sessions, Kirk Hinrich, etc.)

### A final thought: The Big Three each sacrificed about $15 million over the length of their contracts to play together.

To ask them and Carmelo to sacrifice considerably more than that, if they choose to commit to this “Big Four” concept for several years, would be a lot to expect, even though all make a lot of money in endorsements and off-court ventures (LeBron the most, obviously).

Oh yes, there's an NBA Finals going on. Please see the last post for a ton of Heat NBA Finals notes from today.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

Wednesday night Heat report: What players had to say a day later; Finals news, notes

Less than 15 hours after they were torched like no team ever has been in a first half of an NBA Finals game, Heat players returned to the scene of the Game 3 debacle on Wednesday and watched the disaster on the tape, analyzing and agonizing over every defensive miscue, every late rotation, every lazy close-out.

It was both excruciating and enlightening.

“Pretty brutal,” is how Shane Battier described Wednesday’s one-hour film session that exposed everything Miami did wrong in the Spurs’ 71-point first-half blitz, in which they shot an NBA Finals-record 75.8 percent.

“It sucks,” Ray Allen said of the film session. “But it’s probably the best time because there are so many small things that you see.”

Several players said coach Erik Spoelstra did all the talking.

“We don’t talk back to the coach,” LeBron James said. “Let him make his point, whether he’s right or wrong. He gets up under us and we have to own our mistakes.”

Identifying their shortcomings isn’t the problem. Whether they can solve them will help determine whether they can win Game 4 on Thursday and tie this series.

"Probably the worst game we’ve played together,” Chris Bosh said Wednesday of the 111-92 drubbing.

“It’s disappointing to see the lack of effort. We just weren’t doing our jobs. It seemed like they were playing a home game. We’re supposed to have the momentum. We were at home! When we deviate from what we normally do, we get our [butt] kicked.”

Through three games, the Spurs are shooting 53.3 percent; the NBA Finals record is 52.7 by the 1991 Bulls. Also, the Spurs are shooting 47.9 percent on three-pointers, a smidge below the Lakers’ all-time Finals record (48 percent in 2001).

During the season, the Heat ranked an uncharacteristically low 15th in field-goal percentage defense, at 45.7 percent. The Spurs shot 48.6 percent, second-highest behind Miami.

For some perspective, consider this: Kawhi Leonard, off a career-high 29 point blowup in Game 3, is shooting 59.3 percent in this series, and yet that’s only the fourth-highest shooting percentage by a Spurs player in these Finals.

Tiago Splitter (8 for 12, .667), Tim Duncan (20 for 31, 64.5) and Danny Green (14 for 22, .636) are all higher. Tony Parker is at 50 percent.

Dwyane Wade said the Heat cannot dismiss what happened Tuesday as an anomaly.

“No, no, no, no,” Wade said. “You don’t chalk it up to, ‘Oh, they just shot well. It was their night. It wasn’t our night.’ No, you have to do something about it. They shot well for a reason.

“Each person individually has to look at themselves in the mirror to see what you can do better…. They shot the ball well because of mistakes we made.”

Rashard Lewis said the Heat’s biggest defensive failing was “being beaten off the dribble. They got into the paint all night. Seems like we were a step slow on everything.”

There were other issues, too, many resulting from the Spurs’ exquisite ball movement.

“I thought we didn’t help as much,” Wade said. “When you get to a point in the game where you’re tired or just thinking it’s not going to be hard, that’s when you make a mistake.

“You have to help your teammates on the drive. You have to cover the shooter. You have to cover the cutter. They make you think. It’s hard.”

James said some of the Heat’s problems stemmed from “mental breakdowns. Against the Spurs, any little minor mistake you make, they’ll make you pay.”

Spoelstra would never discuss rotation changes, but Bosh --- while not publicly advocating it --- conceded,  when asked, that Shane Battier (who was out of the rotation the past two games) and Udonis Haslem (who has played two minutes in the series) could offer something defensively.

Spurs forward Tim Duncan said Wednesday that Haslem has “always” played him effectively.

“Coach will have to make some decisions,” Bosh said. “Any time you have a game not putting out on defense, you do have to question who you are going to play.”

The Heat can take some solace in this: The Spurs also won Game 3 last year in a blowout, by 36 points, putting them ahead 2-1 in a series they would ultimately lose. And Miami has won 13 playoff games in a row after losses.

The Heat can also take solace in knowing Leonard is unlikely to repeat Tuesday’s eruption, considering he hadn’t before scored 29 points in a game since high school.

Leonard became the first player in 62 years (since Slater Martin) to score more points than anybody else in an NBA Finals game after not doing it in any previous game in the playoffs or that regular season.

But Wednesday was not about seeking solace. It was about accountability and a realization that a loss Thursday would leave their three-peat bid in grave peril.

“We have to fix some things for sure, but I’m not too concerned… because we played some good basketball in the postseason,” James said.

Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said what the Spurs achieved, from a shooting standpoint, in the first half of Game 3 “is almost unrepeatable. They’re not going to turn the ball over 20 times [again]. That’s for sure…. They’re going to be upset. It’s a tough, tough challenge.” 

THE BOSH ISSUE

It’s difficult for a 6-10 All-Star to become lost during an NBA Finals game.

But that seemingly happened to Chris Bosh on offense in Game 3 of the Finals, for reasons partly beyond his control.

The Heat’s versatile center, perhaps the NBA’s best mid-range and long-distance shooter for a player of his size, touched the ball only 12 times, compared with 39 in Game 1 and 40 in Game 2.

"We hate when that happens because he’s too big for our team for him to ever get lost,” LeBron James said Wednesday. “We can’t allow that to happen for us to be successful.”

What’s more, Bosh attempted only four shots, making all of them. He had attempted that few shots in a game only once before this season: in a November game against Charlotte.

Point guard Norris Cole said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra made clear during a film session on Wednesday that Bosh must get the ball more.

“He definitely has to have more touches,” Cole said. “It’s our job to get it to him.”

Rashard Lewis said Bosh was “wide open” several times when he didn’t get the ball. And Bosh said he held his palms open on several occasions during Game 3 to signal to teammates that he was open.

He attributed his lack of involvement to lack of “side-to-side ball movement.  Everybody knows I don’t get any play calls. That’s how it has been since I’ve been here. I’m very reliant on side-to-side ball movement. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to shoot it every time.

“But [not getting the ball] doesn’t give me the chance to read and react to the defense to get in certain spots to make them second guess what they’re doing. Hopefully, we’ll do a better job of moving the basketball so everyone can be involved to really be effective.”

Whereas the Spurs had 25 possessions with at least six passes, Spoelstra said the Heat had 37 with two or fewer passes.

TURNOVER PROBLEMS

The Heat has more turnovers (54) than assists (47) through three games, with James committing 15 and Dwyane Wade 12. Those two combined for 12 in Game 3 “and we can’t have that if we want to win,” Wade said.

With the Heat’s point guards struggling, Spoelstra indicated he would feel comfortable playing without a point guard at times but declined to say whether he’s less comfortable doing so with Mike Miller no longer on the team.

### Wade, asked to assess his defense, which has been spotty in this series: “I’ve had good moments. I’ve had bad moments. I have great moments of helping. I’ve had bad moments of helping. I’ve had good on-ball moments, bad on-ball moments.”

### James Jones bemoaned picking up three fouls in two minutes of Game 3. “I was in a bad situation making bad plays,” he said.

### James, who has an early termination clause in his contract this summer, declined to discuss his future intentions….. Though Ray Allen reiterated he hasn’t made a decision about whether to play next season, he also said: “I love how my body feels and I love the position I’ve been in the past few years.”

BY THE NUMBERS

### The Game 3 winner of an NBA Finals tied at one has won 30 of 36 series (83 percent). Among the key exceptions: Last year’s Finals, when Miami lost Game 3 and won the series.

### The home team that lost Game 3 of a 1-1 Finals series, as Miami did Tuesday, has gone on to lose 20 of 22 series.

### The Heat bench, which outscored its Spurs counterparts by 25 points in last year’s Finals, has been outscored by 45 by Spurs reserves in this year’s Finals.

### According to Elias, Mario Chalmers is the only starter in an NBA Finals over the past 30 years to play 50-plus minutes, score 10 or fewer points and shoot 25 percent or worse from the field. Greg Cote will have a column posted later on Chalmers' disastrous Finals. And check out our post from Tuesday about options to replace Chalmers this summer, should the Heat decide to part ways with him.

 

Postscripts, thoughts, what Heat had to say after dismal Game 3 loss; UM's Morris gets extension

Postscripts from the Heat’s jarring 111-92 loss in Game 3 of the NBA Finals:

### The Heat has played more than 2250 games in its 26-year history.

Never has a Heat opponent shot as high a percentage in the first quarter or first half of a game as the Spurs did on Tuesday.

Let that marinate for a minute.

So how could this happen, this remarkable offensive display by a team that the Heat had limited to 18 points and 6 of 17 shooting in the fourth quarter just two nights earlier?

How could the Spurs shoot an unfathomable 13 for 15 (86.7 percent) in the first quarter and a sterling 75.8 percent (25 for 33) in the first half?

“We did nothing right; we weren’t focused at all,” Chris Bosh said. “One on one defense was really bad. Help was bad. Containments were bad. Everything was bad. Our rotations were late. They got everything they wanted. We can’t do this. It’s the Finals! We’re kidding ourselves if we think we’re going to win a championship playing like that…. Any questions about defense, you can ball it up and throw it in the trash. It was all bad.”

Yes, some of this was otherworldly shooting, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green sinking long jumpers as if they were layups, as if the basket had been expanded to the size of Biscayne Bay.

But there was far more to it than that. This was sloppy, deplorable defense, as the Spurs scored on 19 of their first 23 possessions.

Dwyane Wade was beaten off the dribble by Leonard and Tony Parker, among others, and left in the dust in transition. Yes, even LeBron James was beaten off the dribble, by Tim Duncan and Green.

Of the Spurs’ 10 first half three-point attempts (seven makes), Spurs shooters were given too much airspace on at least half of them, with Bosh not even in the same zip code as Boris Diaw on one of them. One issue was the Heat wasn’t quick enough in its rotations, leaving too many uncontested threes.

Heat point guards couldn’t keep Parker from penetrating, or even Patty Mills, for that matter.

Rashard Lewis, Chris Andersen and Bosh were flummoxed by crafty moves by Duncan and Diaw under the basket.

This was most telling about the Spurs’ 19 for 21 start: Eleven of those shots were in the restricted area directly under the basket. Thirteen were in the paint, with the Spurs making 12 of them.

Of the other eight shots in that 19 for 21 start, six were threes (one in the corner) and two were jumpers from the top of the key.

“There were a lot of breakdowns early,” Ray Allen said. “Wasn’t any urgency. We yelled at each other, encouraged each other, a range of emotion, trying to find anything to spark us. Kawhi Leonard attacked us. They got the ball inside on us early. We weren’t ready for it.”

### LeBron, afterward: “We hate the performance we put on, but it’s 2 to 1. It’s not 4 to 1. They jumped on us. They were the aggressor tonight. They had us on their heels from the beginning. This was something at this point of the season shouldn’t happen. This is the last team in the NBA you can dig yourself a hole against. I don’t think we had a lack of urgency. They were very aggressive and we didn’t match that. They came in with a desperation that we didn’t match.

“I turned the ball over way too much [seven times]. Some were over-dribbling at times.”

### Wade, afterward: “They jumped on us early, and now you’re fighting to get back. You’re forcing things. A little frustration. That’s the nature of the playoffs. It’s not always good. We’ve got to learn from it, come out and make the adjustments. We dig ourselves a pretty big hole. We’re a resilient team. We’re going to keep fighting."

Want some historical perspective? Consider:

### The Spurs’ 41 points were the most by any team in the first quarter of a Finals game since Game 6 of the 1967 Finals.

### Their field-goal percentage both in the first quarter and first half were NBA Finals records.

### The 71 points allowed were the most the Heat has ever relinquished in the first half of a playoff game, smashing the old record by seven. It was also the most Heat points allowed in any half of any playoff game. Previous record: 68 by Michael Jordan’s Bulls in 1992.

If you’re wondering, the most points the Heat has ever allowed in a first half were 80 against Philadelphia in a regular season game in 1992.

### The highest shooting percentage in a half that the Heat ever yielded before Tuesday was 72.1 percent by Seattle in 1990 (regular season) and 68.9 percent by the Spurs in the second half of Game 1.

Other observations from Game 3:

### Clever move by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to start Diaw, who has a diverse offensive game and the versatility to play any position. The Spurs were a team-high plus 20 with Diaw on the floor, and he made several key plays, including a drawn charge from James. “He allows us to have more variety in our offense,” Popovich said afterward.

### If Mario Chalmers cannot snap out of this miserable funk (0 for 5 shooting, three turnovers on Tuesday), Spoelstra needs to consider playing more without a natural point guard, especially because Norris Cole is just 10 for 39 in 10 Finals games against the Spurs, including 3 for 9 on Tuesday.

Spoelstra played without a point guard for five minutes in the second quarter and two in the fourth, but the Heat was outscored during each of those stretches.

The problem with playing without a point guard for long stretches is that it usually requires James to defend Parker, which expends a lot of energy.

Spoelstra said afterward he would stick with the Heat’s point guards.

“We’re going to continue to give Mario confidence,” Wade said. “He’s a big piece of what we do and we’re missing that piece for whatever reason. Defensively, Mario is somebody we depend on to cause havoc, and we need him to do that.”

Please see the last post for more on Chalmers’ future.

### Spoelstra again bypassed Shane Battier for James Jones. Again, it didn’t go well, with Jones picking up three fouls and not even taking a shot in two first half minutes. Battier and Udonis Haslem didn’t play until the final 1:36 of garbage time.

### Though the Heat closed to within seven in the third quarter, Bosh said: “We’re kidding ourselves if we think we’re coming back from 25 down.”

### James and Wade each scored  22, with James closing with those seven turnovers and Wade five. Those were 12 of the Heat’s 20 turnovers, leading to 23 Spurs points. Conversely, the Spurs had only 13 turnovers, which the Heat converted into just six points.

### The Spurs’ 25 point-lead tied for the largest deficit ever for a Heat home game during the Big Three era… Leonard’s 29 points were the most he has scored since high school… Highest price ticket sold Tuesday: $25,000 for a courtside seat.

UM NEWS

### Look for UM to announce shortly that baseball coach Jim Morris has been given a three-year contract extension, through 2018. Morris guided the Canes to 11 College World Series appearances in his first 15 seasons but none in the past six.

But the UM administration has high confidence in him and knows there are factors beyond his control. Among them: UM’s high tuition hurts baseball recruiting, where only partial scholarships are usually awarded.

By the way, the extension was agreed to before UM was eliminated by Texas Tech in the regionals. 

### Please see the last post for a look at the Heat’s future at point guard and Dolphins chatter.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

06/10/2014

Tuesday report: Heat's Future PG decisions loom over Finals; Dolphins chatter

Among the Big Three’s supporting cast, no player has more on the line financially during these Finals than impending free agent Mario Chalmers, who’s trying to make a case for the Heat to give him a sizable salary next season, luxury tax penalty be damned. It’s highly questionable if the Heat will oblige.

But Chalmers’ uneven postseason doesn’t necessarily doom his chances of returning because it might damage his bargaining position such that he becomes more affordable to Miami.

Because the Heat will pay an especially onerous repeater tax next season (for teams in the tax three of the past four seasons), paying Chalmers even $4 million again next season could --- on top of his salary --- result in a luxury tax bill of at least $10 million, perhaps a few million more for 2014-15, depending on to what extent the Heat surpasses the tax threshold.

Chalmers insists his looming free agency hasn’t clouded his mind or affected his play. But he knows his performance late in postseason will impact his value.

“It’s always the last impression you make,” he said. “It’s something I’m aware of, but I’m not thinking about.”

Though Chalmers prefers to return, the belief in the Heat locker-room is that he also wants to cash in, and a team that has cap space but doesn’t have the ability to lure marquee free agents could make him a decent offer.

With Norris Cole under contract next season at $2.15 million, the Heat could pair Cole with a veteran point guard willing to accept modest money.

If Miami cannot strike a deal with Chalmers, it could try to convince Kirk Hinrich (who said he wants to stay in Chicago) or Steve Blake (he and Hinrich each earned $4 million this season) or Ramon Sessions (earned $5 million) or Devin Harris (shot just 30 percent on threes) or reincarnated Shaun Livingston (shot just 1 for 6 on threes) to take the minimum, which tops out at $1.4 million, or part of Miami’s $3.27 million taxpayer midlevel exception.

Blake previously has been open to returning to South Florida, where he grew up, but his interest always has exceeded Miami’s, and Knicks executive Phil Jackson is expected to pursue him next month. Free agents Darren Collison and Kyle Lowry will be out of Miami’s price range.

Other impending free agent point guards: improved Patty Mills, the Heat’s Toney Douglas, Luke Ridnour, Jerryd Bayless, Aaron Brooks, Rodney Stuckey, Jordan Farmar, Beno Udrich, Earl Watson and MarShon Brooks.

Cole said he “definitely” wants to be a starter eventually, though that should not be interpreted as Cole trying to push his friend Chalmers out the door.

ABC’s Jeff Van Gundy has said he believes Cole could be a capable starter on a playoff team, and ABC’s Jalen Rose said Cole “has become a starting point guard in this league.”

But Cole’s play since the All-Star break (including sub-36 percent shooting) has been neither convincing nor starter-worthy.

To ever start here, Cole must overcome the perception he’s better coming off the bench.

“Norris is great for our team; he’s a change of pace from… Rio,” LeBron James said. “That’s what you need with guys off the bench. You need energy guys. He makes his mark defensively. Offensively, whatever what he gives us is extra.”

Cole insists his skills are well suited to starting. “We have two different skills sets and our team needs both of them at certain times,” he said of himself and Chalmers. “His pace is different from my pace. I’m more of a quicker, lateral guy, more of a quick attacker. Things are working.”

Chris Bosh believes Chalmers “tries to do too much” when he’s struggling, but Chalmers says some other point guards could not handle playing with this team, playing off the ball as much as much he does.

The positive of that, Chalmers said, is that "playing here has taught me more about moving without the ball, choosing my spots better.”

CHATTER

### The Heat could draft a point guard 26th --- ESPN’s Chad Ford has Miami taking Connecticut’s Shabazz Napier --- but it’s difficult to envision entering next season with merely Cole and a rookie.

### Why did Chris Sheridan of Sheridanhoops.com leave LeBron off his All-NBA first team ballot – the only one of 125 voters to do that?

Sheridan, who listed MVP Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin as his first-team forwards, explained to me that he put Griffin ahead of James because Griffin helped lead the Clippers to a better record than the Heat “in a better conference” --- though Chris Paul and others had a lot to do with that, too.

A Heat executive told Sheridan that in retrospect, he could have put James on his first team as a guard if he felt strongly about including Griffin on the first team.

### Joe Philbin says Dion Jordan is “playing faster” because he’s “doing less thinking,” something Jordan also said Monday. Philbin wants to keep using him on special teams because “he’s a big guy that can run and is hard to block.”…

Lamar Miller remains with the starters and Philbin said he is having a “very good” camp…. Jason Fox shifted to left tackle this week, behind Branden Albert, after Nate Garner struggled in the role earlier in OTAs. That suggests the Dolphins, for now, have a comfort level with Ja'Wuan James holding down the right tackle job.

### One characteristic of Bill Lazor’s offense is a lot of pre-snap motion, but Philbin explained this week there are positives and minuses to that approach: “If you’re stationary and you’re sitting at the line of scrimmage and your ducks are in a row as we like to say, it’s a little bit easier from an offensive perspective, but you’re not challenging the defense probably as much. 

"There is give and take. I think, as a coaching staff, we have to examine whether all of this motion and shifting a detriment or is it a benefit? And what’s the right blend and what’s the right balance.”

### Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle has been showing his players tape of Seattle’s defense partly to demonstrate how much emotion and enthusiasm with which they play, according to a player. What’s ironic about that: Another veteran Dolphins player says the Dolphins, during the past two years, have taken on Philbin's unemotional, at times detached personality.

06/08/2014

Postscripts, notes, quotes from Heat's Game 2 win of NBA Finals

SAN ANTONIO --- Postscripts from the Heat's 98-96 win over the Spurs in Game 2 of the Finals at AT&T Center:

### LeBron? His second half should be framed: 22 points (including 14 in the third), 8 for 11 shooting, three rebounds, one assist and no turnovers. He played exceptional defense on Tony Parker, including one critical late-game possession.

And he passed to Chris Bosh for the go-ahead three pointer with 1:18 left --- the same type of pass he has made to Bosh in several late-game situations in the past.

"It was a huge play to help us win," James said. "I caught Tim Duncan peeking at me a little bit. And I was able to find C.B. in the corner in one of his favorite spots on the floor and he knocked it down."

He closed with 35 points and 10 boards, completing a day that he said began with an 8 a.m. yoga class "with three other people and a little kid. That was the only thing I did differently today."

The air conditioning was working, the cramps were gone, and "mentally I didn't want to think about it too much."

LeBron opened 0 for 3 "but all my misses were in the paint. I was confident where I was getting on the floor. In the first half, I got into the paint, made some shots, put pressure on their defense. In the second half, they backed up off me and I shot it. Don't overthink. If they give me space, I shoot it. If they crowd me, I try to drive and make plays for me and my teammates."

### If there was something not quite right during the drudgery of the Heat’s regular season, it was pretty clear: The defensive intensity and precision and detail too often weren’t up to the standards Pat Riley and his successors demand in this no-excuses Heat culture. Chris Bosh complained in March that the Heat “couldn’t stop a nosebleed.”

The Heat’s field-goal percentage against, in the top six each of the previous three seasons of the Big Three era, slid to 15th. The Heat relinquished 2 ½ more points per game both this season, and this postseason, than a year ago.

The Heat’s defense again malfunctioned to start Game 2, with the Spurs opening 13 for 21 from the field, repeatedly penetrating into the paint and scoring an easy basket off an inbounds pass that left Dwyane Wade throwing up his hands in disgust.

But then something simple and critical happened: “We got in ‘em more,” as James put it.

The Heat’s defense was exemplary for most of the fourth quarter, and that was one of the three biggest reasons for this win, along with James’ monster eruption, and Bosh's late three. The Heat's fourth quarter defense, Ray Allen said, "was the difference."  

Spurs shots in the fourth were fiercely challenged, with just a few exceptions. Close-outs on three-point shooters were quick and decisive. More often than not, Heat defenders kept Spurs players from driving past them, as Ray Allen did against Manu Ginobili on two late possessions that ended with a turnover and missed jumper. “I got lucky,” Allen said.  

After shooting 14 for 16 in the fourth quarter of Game 1, the Spurs were 6 of 17 in Game 2. San Antonio closed at 43.9 percent from the field after shooting 58.8 percent in Game 1.

“We forced them to make shots over the top,” Allen said. “Better attention to detail.”

Wade said “we switched a little but gave them different looks. Guards were fighting over screens.”

The Heat fouled too much early in the fourth, putting the Spurs in the bonus for the final 6:42, but San Antonio missed four of six fourth-quarter free throws.

Part of this was maniacal effort. But there were other nuances. The Heat changed up its pick-and-roll defense at times to “throw them off,” as Rashard Lewis said.

And this was huge: Erik Spoelstra had a player with size defend Tony Parker for much of the second half --- James primarily and Wade at times.

And Chris Andersen (for large doses), Bosh and Lewis kept Tim Duncan in check the final third quarters. Duncan shot 5 for 6 in the first quarter, just 2 for 8 after that.

### You had to love Bosh’s attacking mentality. He scored 18 on 6 for 11 shooting and didn’t even attempt a three-pointer until the fourth quarter. His three with 1:18 left put the Heat ahead for good.

 “One of the most stable, mentally tough guys I’ve ever been around,” Spoelstra said. “That’s why it raises the hair on the back of my neck when people question him.”

Bosh said if James is the most targeted player in the NBA, “I’m probably No. 2.” But more is needed on the glass than his three rebounds in 36 minutes.

### Spoelstra went slightly deeper into his bench, bypassing Shane Battier and opting instead for cameos for James Jones and Udonis Haslem.

Twice during these playoffs, James publicly expressed a desire for Jones to play more. Twice, Jones has played in the next game.

Jones logged nearly seven minutes, one fewer than he had played since the start of the Eastern Conference Finals. Jones missed both of his shots, but he helps spread the floor when James is on the court.

"Spo was great with his adjustments today, guys in and out," LeBron said.

### Biggest revelation of these Heat playoffs? Rashard Lewis, who played just 22 minutes between Feb. 1 and March 25. Lewis not only hit three three-pointers on a 14-point night but made a couple of nifty moves around the basket.

### Dwayne Wade, who closed with 14 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and five turnovers: "We did a better job of finishing the game. We made mistakes. It wasn't a perfect game by no stretch of the imagination. It wasn't a perfect ending, but one, we had LeBron at the end, that was one of the differences. Two, we got fouled rebounding the ball. And we made them take tough shots."

### Gregg Popovich's take: "We made bad decisions. The ball stuck. We didn't do it as a group. We tried to do it individually and we're not good enough to do that."

### Quick stuff: The Heat is now plus 11 with James on the court in this series and minus 24 with him off… The Heat has won at least one road playoff game in 16 consecutive series, extending its NBA-record streak. That’s remarkable. So is Miami winning 13 playoff games in a row after losses…. With Duncan hauling in 15 rebounds and Boris Diaw 10, James’ 10 rebounds and Andersen’s nine were huge. And Wade had seven.

### NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who succeeded David Stern on Feb. 1, said Sunday night that the breakdown of the air conditioning during Game 1 “is certainly not one of my prouder moments of my short tenure” and “wasn’t handled perfectly.”

Silver said that a few minutes before Game 1, the league was told that one of the main circuits that controls the water pump had broken. At&TCenter officials told the league they tried to reset it several times and determined late in the second quarter that they could not fix the circuit breaker. But the Heat was not informed of the problem until during the second quarter.

“There always are going to be human and mechanical errors and it’s unfortunate,” Silver said.

Silver said he wasn’t concerned about the possibility this series might be remembered for the malfunction. “I’m glad this isn’t single elimination,” he said.

### Asked if the breakup of the Heat or Thunder would be considered a success for the league under a labor deal designed to create competitive balance, Silver said: “I don’t know if I would necessarily call it a success. Our goal was not to break up teams. But ultimately, any type of cap system in essence is a form of player sharing.

“So to the extent that James Harden leaves Oklahoma City and the Houston Rockets then become a competitive team, that’s a positive thing for the league. Part of the purpose of a cap system is so you don’t see too much talent aggregated in one market.”

### Silver called the Heat “one of the best organizations in sports” and said “for all we know, LeBron James is just getting started.” 

PLEASE SEE THE LAST POST FOR A UM ORAL COMMITMENT FROM SUNDAY AND DOLPHINS AND MARLINS.

06/07/2014

3 p.m. Sunday UM commit; Pancakes, bald eagles and parking spaces: Inside Ray Allen's unique way of life; Fins, UM, Marlins chatter

Quick 3 p.m. Sunday news item: UM received an oral commitment just now from Texas-based Drew Galitz, rated by rivals.com as the No. 2 kicker in the 2015 class. Galitz, who announced his commitment on Twitter, also can punt. Galitz has a 65-yard field goal and 80-yard punt posted on Youtube.

Junior Matt Guodis will be UM's kicker this season; he made 13 of 17 field goals in 2013, missing three between 40 and 49 yards and also missing a 23-yarder. Guodis and Ricky Carroll are listed as an either/or at punter on UM's depth chart.

Galitz handled punts and kickoffs last season but not field goals, because he was playing behind a kicker who is headed to Ole Miss. He will handle field goals this season.

This is an important pickup, UM's 13th oral commitment in this class.

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SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN     

The detailed routine can be so tiresome, so tedious, that Ray Allen admits he feels “like a prisoner to it.”

But there is never any internal questioning of it, no respites from a way of life that includes thousands of pregame shots every season, carefully watching calories, visualizing bald eagles and avoiding the midcourt line (more on this later).      

In his estimation, the commitment to the relentlessly repetitive regimen is a big reason why he’s still thriving at 38, why he still has signature moments like those in Game 1, when he produced 16 points, five steals, three rebounds, three assists and an electric out-of-nowhere dunk.

“He’s never deviated from the routine, and that’s what I find most astounding,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I sat him out a game last year against Charlotte right before the playoffs. His ankle was sore so I wasn’t going to play him that game. He still took a cab over to the arena. He couldn’t do his whole shooting routine but he still did his whole free-throw routine, still there four hours before the game. That’s why we call him Everyday Ray.”

Here’s what Everyday Ray looks like on game day:

Pancakes in the morning, followed by a team shoot-around, a banana and peanut butter or a turkey sandwich (if he burns calories at shoot-around), then a 90-minute nap, followed by a 2:30 p.m. meal featuring chicken or fish, a vegetable and a carb (preferably white rice).

He arrives at the arena 3 ½ hours before tip-off (long before most players), has his head shaved before every game; stretches and launches anywhere from 120 to 200-plus shots during a grueling session that he has done every game since 1997, his second season in the league. (He will take more shots if he’s missing many of them.)

“Before the [expletive] workers even get here, he’s at the gym getting shots up,” marvels Rashard Lewis, who values Allen’s mentoring dating to their years in Seattle together. “I don’t know how he does it. I’m taking a nap and he’s probably at the gym getting ready for the game. I don’t know that I could be as disciplined as he is. It’s unbelievable.”

Each session begins with a post-up, and “I have to make a basket touching every part of the floor.”

He believes the Cavaliers cheerleaders once tried to sabotage him during his pre-game shooting: “They littered the floor and started dancing. It was intentional. These are the distractions I deal with all the time. They turned the lights out in Sacramento but I kept shooting.”

Allen used to take a cab to the arena for road games, but the Heat last season began paying for a bus to drive Allen to the arena early, often with James Jones and then-Heat swingman Mike Miller, and occasionally others. Most of the players come to the arena on a later bus.

For Allen, there is also a psychological element to everything he does. During the National Anthem before games, he visualizes big baskets in his career, big games that he’s played in, even memorable moments in other sports. Essentially, “things that have inspired me to be better.”

One of those visuals that come to mind during the Anthem “is watching bald eagles fly. Eagles watch everyone from above.”

Allen believes he has a few behavioral tendencies associated with obsessive compulsive disorder but said he doesn't use that term “out of respect” to people diagnosed with the condition.

“I can’t touch certain lines on the floor,” he said. “If there’s a timeout, I won’t walk on the line across the middle of the floor. I will walk around it.”

He tries to clean up scuff marks on the court. If his children walk around a pole, Allen must walk the same way they did. They don't believe in splitting poles, so to speak. He weighs himself twice a day and adjusts his diet even if he gains half a pound.

The Boston Globe relayed a story several years ago about Allen walking on the airplane one night and telling Paul Pierce: “You’re in the wrong seat.”

Pierce responded: “Man, there’s a hundreds seats open. Leave me alone.” Pierce, good-naturedly, has called Allen crazy.

This season, Michael Beasley parked in the spot that Allen likes to use at AmericanAirlines Arena. “He had a fender bender and I said, ‘That’s what you get for parking in my spot,’” Allen said.

When he was child, Allen forced himself to make five right-handed layups and then five left-handed layups before he could leave the gym. If he ran out of time or was forced off the court by others, “I cried,” he told The Globe. “It messed up my day.”

In Boston, Allen would scold Eddie House for shooting half-court shots at the other team’s basket during halftime, saying it was bad luck.

Ask him if he has any friends in pro sports outside of the NBA, and he mentions one: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. They text occasionally during their seasons and golf together during their offseasons.  

Allen knows he’s still plenty good enough but will decide in late June whether he has the desire not only to play next season, but to do everything in his routine that allows him to function with a clear mind. It would be surprising if he retires.

“It’s hard to do the same thing over and over and over before you get bored with it, tired of it, and he constantly has done it so many years,” Dwyane Wade said. “That’s impressive.”

### For a lot more Heat chatter from Saturday, please see the last post from a few hours ago.

CHATTER

### Contrary to a published report, the Dolphins' Koa Misi said he never complained about being asked to move to middle linebacker and is excited about it. “I’ve always told the coaches I’m open to trying new things and new positions,” he said.

Misi said he’s studying two to four hours every night and arrives at team headquarters around 5 a.m., before many other players.

What’s more, “I had my wife buy me some cones so I can line up the cones in my house and adjust to different formations. At first, I had a bunch of hats laid out on the ground. It’s a lot to learn. I have a lot more calls to make, a lot more reads. I’m already feeling a lot more comfortable.”

### Though rookie third-round pick Billy Turner shared first-team left guard snaps with Dallas Thomas on the first day of offseason practices, Thomas said he has received most of the reps since, and coaches are encouraged by how he has looked playing alongside Branden Albert.

He played just three offensive snaps last season --- despite the Dolphins’ offensive line deficiencies --- and says he struggled mentally learning multiple positions and also physically with his surgically-repaired shoulder, which “held me back. Last year, I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ I got rusty not playing, and you develop some bad habits. I played my senior year at guard [at Tennessee]. I’m very comfortable there. Starting is my goal.”

### Smart move by the Marlins to twice show patience with Marcell Ozuna by neither demoting him after a horrific spring nor demoting him after a major slump in early May.

Not only did he enter the weekend tied for first in RBI and second in homers among all MLB center fielders, but he’s tied for seventh overall in RBI in the National League and “quietly, he’s one of the best center fielders in the game” defensively, manager Mike Redmond said.

### Among those endorsing Marlins' first-round draft choice Tyler Kolek is legendary former pitcher Nolan Ryan, who now works for the Astros.

“The thing I like about him is when you watch him pitch he’s around the plate,” Ryan told MLB.com. “He’s not bouncing balls, throwing stuff up on the backstop and things of that nature. I predict he’s going to come quicker than people think.”

Kolek's fastball velocity has been timed as high as 102 mph. The Texas high-school right-hander was selected second overall in Thursday's draft.

### Last year’s Marlins first-round pick, third baseman Colin Moran, is hitting .272 with three homers, 17 RBI and four errors in 44 games at Single A Jupiter. He had one homer in his first 42 games before homering in each of his past two.

### Though Canesport.com reported Seffner Armwood defensive end Byron Cowart --- the nation's No. 1 Class of 2015 prospect --- will visit UM, Cowart indicated to other publications that UF and Oregon are his front-runners.

"With Oregon, you have the Nike backing," he said. "With Florida, you have the famility atmosphere. That's where I feel comfortable." 

### A rather jarring UM stat mentioned recently by ESPN: Over the past five seasons, UM is 25-24 against schools from the power five conferences, including its own. FSU, conversely, is 39-15.

### Please see the last post for lots of Heat and Spurs news and tidbits from Saturday... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz