06/17/2014

Why UM's desperate move at quarterback could make some sense; Lots of Heat chatter; Dolphins

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

The university once known as Quarterback U hasn’t had one drafted before the seventh round in 22 years. And now, less than three months from the opener at Louisville, UM is welcoming a quarterback, Jake Heaps, who lost his starting job for a 3-9 Kansas team and finished 126th of 127 major college football qualifiers in completion percentage last season.

What in the name of Brock Berlin is going on here?

UM’s decision to bring aboard Heaps --- who is eligible immediately --- and allow him to compete with Kevin Olsen and incoming long shots Brad Kaaya and Malik Rosier for the starting job --- might seem desperate, but there is reasoning behind it.

Though Olsen could still win the job, there were serious concerns internally about automatically handing the position to him in the wake of Ryan Williams’ knee injury.

One UM official, after Williams’ injury during spring ball, admitted he was very worried. Heaps, while erratic throughout his career, is by far the most experienced option for the difficult season opener.

There’s no question about Olsen’s arm and raw talent. But several concerns have been voiced privately. Among them: Olsen needs to be more receptive to coaching, polish his mechanics (which contributed to his dismal 7 for 21 showing in the spring game), stop throwing into double coverage and not force the home-run ball when it’s not there. In other words, don’t be afraid to take what the defense gives him.

He must be studious about film work (he has improved somewhat in that area) and gain a complete grasp of the offense. Olsen was stumped when asked several questions by the offensive coaching staff during a meeting late in spring practice. One UM source said the impression is that he works harder when his brother Greg, the Carolina Panthers tight end, is in town.

UM has been trying to figure out what buttons to push, so that Olsen is motivated to work maniacally, instead of feeling entitled to the job with Williams out. Bringing in Heaps, who has one year of eligibility, solves that issue.

Here’s the good news on Heaps: He was rated Rivals.com’s No. 1 pro-style quarterback in 2010, set freshman passing records at BYU, has a strong arm, is intelligent and has 28 games of starting experience, combined, at BYU and Kansas. He has 32 TDs and 27 INTs in his career.

The bad news: ESPN’s quarterback rating system ranked him 122nd in 2013, sixth-worst among all FBS starters. His 49 percent completion rating was abysmal, though mitigated somewhat by 48 drops by Kansas receivers (not all thrown by Heaps). He twice left schools after being beaten out, at BYU after 2011 and Kansas this year.

Williams’ mother said Williams hopes to return for the fourth game, Sept. 20 at Nebraska, but UM has no idea if that will happen. So Heaps is an insurance policy, as one UM official termed it.

Heaps said he visited UM a month-and-a-half ago and has been studying the UM playbook for a while.

“This has been definitely been in the works for a while now,” Heaps, who's married and a devout Mormon, told our Manny Navarro. “If they didn't think I could bring anything to the program, this wouldn't have happened. All I wanted was a strong opportunity to compete.”

Adding Heaps also could allow UM to potentially redshirt Kaaya and Rosier, which could be of benefit down the road. 

CHATTER

### Please see the last post for details about what LeBron James and Chris Bosh said today.

Here are two other notable comments from LeBron:

1) "I've been fortunate enough to play in five Finals. On the other end, I've lost three of them. That doesn't sit well with me at all, to be in this position, being able to get to this point, and be under .500 and not be able to be successful in those games."

2) "We need to get better. We have some holes that need to be filled." Heat fans can be encouraged by his use of "we."

### Perhaps Steve Kerr was right last summer when he said the Heat would ultimately be doomed by exhaustion.

“We’re playing until the [beginning] of the summer – to have to do that every year, it takes a toll,” Chris Bosh said Tuesday. “The whole thing felt forced [this season]. If we won, it would just be a relief. Pure joy – you didn’t see much of that. Toughest year I ever had.”

Bosh said “we’re going to have to find a way” next season to solve that conundrum. “I don’t know think there is an answer to it.”

As retiring Shane Battier put it Tuesday: “With the success we’ve had, you become numb to success and being able to improve from losing. Wins were relief and losses just nagged at you. When it gets to a point like that, it’s dangerous. I don’t know how you correct it.”

### Ray Allen said he hasn’t decided whether to retire but “if I came back, there’s no other place I’d rather be" than Miami.

### Bosh said communication among the three is better now than in 2010, when they came together.

"I think it's easier to get on the same page now," Bosh said. "Because we know each other. I didn't really know those guys. I didn't know LeBron and D back then, like that. We hung around each other, but not really. So we didn't really know each other. I think communication is so much easier, because we can get the kids together, we can go out together with the wives. We can do something, and we know how to talk to each other. And those things allow us to connect and feel each other out. Before, it was awkward." 

### The Heat hasn’t told Michael Beasley if it wants him back, and Erik Spoelstra, even in praising his “courage” to come to Miami, said: “We’ll see what happens with his career; we’ll see where he goes next season.”

### As for Greg Oden, Spoelstra also declined to answer when asked if the Heat wants him back. Oden is the Heat's only free agent who has declined to say whether he wants to play in Miami. 

"He'll have a very committed summer again, and then we'll see," Spoelstra said. "I loved having Greg around."

### ESPN reported "mutual" interest between the Heat and Toronto free agent point guard Kyle Lowry, but Lowry reportedly wants $11 million per season, and the Heat couldn't afford that unless the Big Three all take substantial pay cuts.... Mario Chalmers said he's "excited" about free agency while reiterating his desire to return.

### UM, which could use more size in its frontcourt, will host three-star, 6-foot-10, Class of 14 prospect Isaiah Manderson at some point soon and hope to convince him to enroll ASAP. Manderson committed to Oregon State but received his release after coach Craig Robinson (President Obama's brother-in-law) was fired.

Manderson --- who received offers from FSU, UCLA, Maryland and others during his initial recruitment --- is a good rebounder with a developing offensive game. He reportedly has no other visits scheduled besides Miami.

### Please see the last post for Dolphins tidbits and notes from Tuesday.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz                 

6 p.m. update: LeBron, Bosh address future; Tidbits, observations from Dolphins OTA practice; UM quarterback talk

Dwyane Wade declined to comment to reporters today; LeBron James was non-committal about his future; and Chris Bosh said he wants to stay with the Heat and believes LeBron and Wade also want to stick around.

A quick synopsis:

### James said he hasn’t decided whether to exercise his early termination clause  but “being able to have flexibility is what we all would like.”

LeBron passed on an opportunity to say whether he intends to stay with the Heat or whether he wants to look elsewhere.       

"I haven’t even begun to wrap my mind about it. I need to get away with my family before I start to think about what will happen next."

Among factors that will influence his decision, James cited family and a desire to win. "For me, I just want to win," he said, "and that's all that matters to me."

He said the Heat doesn't need to tell him anything, per se, to influence him to stay.

"I understand what this team, this franchise, brings to the table."

He said he plans to talk to Wade and Bosh before making a decision.  "I think there will be a conversation between the three of us," he said. "I'm not sure what Dwyane is thinking right now."  

Asked if he would talk to outside free agents about possibly signing here before making a decision, LeBron said he didn't even know the list of free agents and did not necessarily feel it's his place to do that before Pat Riley determines which players he wants to pursue.

Asked three times in some variation if the Big Three might be interested in taking less money like the Spurs' Big Three, LeBron essentially deferred, showing no interest in addressing the matter.

### Bosh said he hasn’t decided whether to opt out but: “I want to be here. My family is here. I love working here. It's a great place.

"We will talk with Riles, hear his plan, talk with our families and try to figure this out. I’m sure Riley has finite plan moving forward. It starts with listening to him. Eventually we will come together and figure this thing out. We feel that if we stay together, we can continue to compete. Everything is a possibility. That's why they negotiate. But I want to be here."

He also is optimistic about the Big Three staying together: “We like it here. We have a pretty good thing going.”

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Quick notes on the first of the Dolphins' three OTA practices this week:

### The Dolphins, who have only two cornerbacks who have started more than two NFL games (Brent Grimes and Cortland Finnegan) have passed on a slew of veterans this offseason, assuming Jamar Taylor and Will Davis are ready to handle the No. 3 and No. 4 jobs.

Early signs are very encouraging for Taylor, who intercepted a Ryan Tannehill pass Tuesday. Davis either seems to break up passes or allow too much space to receivers; there isn’t a lot of middle ground.  

"Like where they're at," Joe Philbin said of Taylor and Davis. "They're progressing well. You feel Jamar a little more [than last year, when he was slowed by a groin issue]. Davis made a couple nice plays today."

### Lamar Miller, being used more as a receiver out of the backfield, remains clearly ahead of Knowshon Moreno for the starting running back job. He had a long run for a touchdown Tuesday.

### Rookie receiver Jarvis Landry continues to make an impression; he has had a few one-handed receptions in camp.

“He’s sneaky quick, sneaky fast,” Philbin said. "He understands the soft spots in a zone. There isn't a lot of hesitation to his game."

### Most impressive of the undrafted rookies? LSU defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, who’s running with the second team. “Quick and explosive,” Philbin said.

### Rookie cornerback Walt Aikens lined up at safety for a few plays. He appears to be the sixth best cornerback, at best, in camp.

### Philbin seems concerned about the backup tight ends behind Charles Clay. "We've still got some things to sort out," Philbin said of the position.

Dion Sims is No. 2 on the depth chart, but Philbin said he wants to see him successfully block defensive ends during games. "He has a lot of great traits [but] he has some work to do," Philbin said.

Rookie Arthur Lynch made a couple of tough catches in practice Tuesday. Philbin said Michael Egnew has had a solid camp.

### Rookie seventh-rounder Terence Fede showed impressive athleticism in intercepting a Matt Moore pass.

###  Quarterback play was spotty Tuesday, with Tannehill throwing the pick to Taylor and having another pass nearly intercepted by Louis Delmas. Jalil Brown intercepted Moore.

Meanwhile, Pat Devlin overthrow Rontavious Wooten and Marcus Thigpen on deep balls and hardly shows the type of improvement you would have hoped for by now. And undrafted rookie Brock Jensen isn’t as good as Devlin.

### Rookie receiver Matt Hazel had a couple of nifty catches but fumbled one of them…. Earl Mitchell and Dion Jordan each had sacks.

### Good to see Brandon Gibson back in 11 on 11 drills ---eight months after a major knee injury.

### Dallas Thomas remained the starting left guard and remains ahead of Billy Turner at that position.

### The No. 2 defense: Jordan, Derrick Shelby, Johnson and A.J. Francis on the defensive line; Jelani Jenkins, Jason Trusnik (middle) and Jonathan Freeney at linebacker; Brown and Davis at cornerback (Taylor was filling in for Cortland Finnegan on the first team); and Jimmy Wilson and Don Jones at safety.

Keep in mind that Jared Odrick remains out of 11 on 11 drills.

### Like Finnegan and Moreno, Mike Pouncey also was given time off from full 11 on 11 drills. Sam Brenner filled in at center.... Moreno appears to have lost some weight, and Philbin insisted he's pleased with him.

### The Miami-Dade County commission approved Sun Life stadium renovations. Please see the home page of The Herald for a full report.

### Adam Beasley will have a story posted shortly on Tannehill, who is getting on his receivers more than the past two years. He chewed out Rishard Matthews Tuesday and also yelled at Wooten. Philbin said he is showing more leadership and is completing more "vertical" passes than during OTAs last year.

### In adding Jake Heaps, UM now has Rivals.com’s No. 1 pro-style quarterback in 2010 (Heaps), the 12th in 2013 (Kevin Olsen) and the 8th in 2014 (Brad Kaaya).

The good news on Heaps, who will challenge Kevin Olsen for the starting job: He has a strong arm, is very bright, set several freshman passing records at BYU and has experience starting 28 games combined for two schools (BYU and Kansas).

The bad news: ESPN’s quarterback rating system ranked him 126th of 127 qualifiers last season. His completion percentage (49) ranked 123rd of 127, though he was hurt by a ton of drops. He twice has left schools after being beaten out, at BYU in 2011 and Kansas after last season.

But UM knows it cannot assume Ryan Williams will be back by mid-to-late September (his goal) and has serious concerns about whether Olsen is ready. 

06/16/2014

Monday night report: Examining Heat's options in free agency and other looming issues

Here's a summation of looming issues and options for the Heat, with free agency beginning July 1: (Note: The free agent segment of this post is a more in-depth version of my story elsewhere on the Herald's sports home page.)

### The Big Three: As part of their six-year contracts, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all have early termination clauses that can be exercised either this summer or next summer.

If they stick to those contracts and eschew free agency, James and Bosh would each make $20.6 million in 2014-15 and $22.1 million in 2015-16. If Wade does not exercise his early termination clause, he would be paid $20.2 million in 2014-15 and $21.7 million in 2015-16.

If all three decide to become free agents this summer and re-sign with the Heat, James and Bosh would be required to take very slight pay cuts next season (to $20 million) --- under terms of the labor agreement --- but would each be eligible to re-sign with the Heat for as many as five years and $115.1 million.

Wade would be eligible to re-sign with the Heat for four years and a maximum of $87.2 million, but he realistically likely wouldn’t command anywhere close to that if he opts out.

If James and Bosh exercise their early termination clauses and join other teams, they would be eligible to sign four-year contracts for as much as $85.5 million.

Wade and Bosh have both said they want to remain with the Heat but have not said whether they will exercise their early termination clauses. Bosh, in fact, has said the Big Three wants to stay together here.

James declined to discuss his future when asked Sunday night.

### Birdman situation: Chris Andersen plans to opt out of his $1.4 million contract for next season and become a free agent, Yahoo! reported today.

### If the Big Three become free agents, here's who’s left under contract: Udonis Haslem has a player option for $4.6 million that he said he plans to exercise, unless the Heat convinces him to take a pay cut in exchange for a multiyear commitment. Norris Cole, at $2.15 million, is the only Heat player who has a guaranteed contract next season without a player option. Justin Hamilton has a non-guaranteed deal for $816,482.

### Heat free agents: Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, James Jones, Rashard Lewis, Greg Oden, Michael Beasley, Toney Douglas and Shane Battier all have expiring contracts. Battier is retiring.

### Salary cap situation: If the Big Three do not exercise opt-out clauses, then the Heat will be operating above the projected $63.2 million cap and will be limited to signing outside players only to the minimum (topping out at $1.4 million) or with its $3.27 million taxpayer midlevel exception.

The Heat might not even necessarily use the taxpayer midlevel exception in this scenario because it faces an onerous “repeater” luxury tax because it has surpassed the luxury tax threshold at least three of the past four seasons.

But if at least one of the Heat’s Big Three decides to become a free agent this summer, then the Heat would have cap space. That space would immediately evaporate if the player who opts out re-signs with the Heat for a 2014-15 salary in the range of $15 million or more.

The only way the Heat could achieve meaningful cap space to add a high-impact, costly free agent would be if one or more of the Big Three leave or if James, Wade and Bosh all accept large paycuts. In this scenario, the Heat could not exceed the $63.2 million cap except to sign players to the minimum. Miami also would have a $2.7 million “room” salary cap exception in this scenario. 

Pat Riley can never be discounted, but the odds are against the Heat having the space, and the ability within the constraints of the salary cap, to add a fourth high-salary player.

If the Big Three return next season, the likely scenario is that the Heat can augment its roster only through trades, minimum contracts and the $3.2 million exception.

### Available outside unrestricted free agents that would probably be too costly unless one of the Big Three leaves or all three take pay cuts: That list includes Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol, Kyle Lowry, Luol Deng, Marcin Gortat, Boris Diaw, Channing Frye, Spencer Hawes, Trevor Ariza and possibly Paul Pierce, Darren Collison, Danny Granger and Jordan Hill.

Nevertheless, Riley always thinks big and the Heat likely will make calls to several of them.

### Available outside unrestricted free agents that would be more affordable:

At point guard, the Heat likely will explore point guard options from a group including Chalmers, Kirk Hinrich, Ramon Sessions, Steve Blake, Devin Harris and Shaun Livington, among others.

At small forward/shooting guard, veteran options who might command no more than the minimum include Shawn Marion, Richard Jefferson, Marvin Williams, Jodie Meeks (162 threes on 40 percent three-point shooting), Caron Butler (Miami tried to sign him before he opted for Oklahoma City), Rodney Stuckey, Vince Carter, Anthony Tolliver and Al Harrington.

Because of amnesty rules, the Heat this summer cannot sign free agent Mike Miller, who had two years left on his contract when Miami parted ways with him last summer.

But the Heat also knows it needs to add youth. Younger wing options who potentially could be plucked at the minimum include Jimmer Fredette (hasn’t lived up to expectations but did make 48 percent of his three-pointers in 49 games, mostly for Sacramento), Jordan Hamilton (has a developing three-point game), swingman Wesley Johnson (made 100 threes on 37 percent shooting for the Lakers), Xavier Henry (10 points per game for the Lakers), Al Faruoq Aminu (7.2 points, 6.2 rebounds for New Orleans but just a 27 percent three-point shooter) and Chris Douglas-Roberts (limited offensively).

At center/power forward, the Heat could try to implore Chris Kaman, who Pat Riley has always liked, to accept the minimum after making $3.1 million this season. He averaged 10.4 points and 5.9 rebounds in 39 games for the Lakers.

Veteran 6-10 center Omeka Okafor, 31, also would be an interesting option at the minimum if deemed healthy. He didn’t play this season because of a herniated disc in his neck but averaged 9.7 points and 8.8 rebounds as a starter for Washington in 2012-13.

Other potential options at the minimum: Kris Humphries, Elton Brand, Nazr Mohammed, DeJuan Blair, Charlie Villanueva, Jason Smith, Cole Aldrich, Aaron Gray, Matt Bonner and Drew Gooden.

### The draft: The Heat has the 26th and 55th selections in the June 26 draft. Because Miami traded its first-round pick last year, it is not permitted to trade its 2014 first-round pick before it selects a player. But the Heat is permitted to draft a player on behalf of another team and trade that player after the draft. The first-round pick will cost $958,100 against the salary cap.

The Heat’s two draft picks and other prospects will play for Miami's summer league team that will compete in Orlando and Las Vegas in July. Among other prospects expected to be on those teams: small forward James Ennis, the Heat’s 2013 second-round pick who played in Australia this past season.

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