PASPN.net - Wade says NBA game in NY should have been postponed (Reuters)
Dwyane Wade News
Trans. Nov 2 4:28 ET (Nov 2 4:28 ET ) NEW YORK (Reuters) - Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade joined the chorus of people criticizing why some sports events were taking place in New York following the devastation caused by superstorm Sandy. Speaking to reporters before Friday night's National Basketball Association clash against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, Wade said the game should have been postponed. "I just felt that (there were) bigger things to be concerned about than us being here to play a basketball game," he told reporters. "Obviously, sports ... ...
The playoffs begin on Saturday, thankfully, which means it’s that lovely time of spring (and it is spring, right? It’s not going to snow again, is it?) when the minds behind Ball Don’t Lie to offer you their thoughts on the upcoming pairings in the first round of the NBA’s postseason.
Kelly Dwyer’s Old Grey Whistle Test
For those just hopping to the NBA season, understand the Charlotte Bobcats didn’t luck or back their way into their second (and final, considering the franchise’s imminent name change) playoffs.
Sadly for Charlotte, the Miami Heat didn’t, either.
You didn’t hear much about the Miami Heat this year, comparatively, because a lack of a 27-game winning streak will do that to a nation’s fancy. The Indiana Pacers held the Eastern Conference’s best record for nearly every day of the 2013-14 regular season, the San Antonio Spurs finished with the league’s best regular season record yet again, and Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant will likely and rightfully lope away with the NBA MVP award, ending LeBron James’ run with the hardware.
The Heat are the champs, though. And not in the “we’ll-call-them-the-champs-until-someone-knocks-them-out” way. That doesn’t mean that 2013-14 was a triumphant regular season turn, however.
The team won only 54 games, fewer than the Chicago Bulls (57) and Los Angeles Lakers (58) did during their three-peat conquerings in 1993 and 2002, and with Miami mostly working in an embarrassing Eastern Conference that saw the Heat lose twice to the Philadelphia 76ers and twice to the Boston Celtics. Dwyane Wade missed 29 games not just because he sat out on the second night of back-to-backs, but also because of a worrying late-season hamstring pull. Ray Allen shot, gasp, just about an average mark from 3-point range.
This is also a team that may just have 15 or 16 games between now and the start of the Finals. This is a team that can run James for huge heaps of minutes, while Wade works at his leisure, with Chris Bosh fitting in wherever needed. Allen’s 3-point percentage starts over on Sunday. Shane Battier grows angel wings. Erik Spoelstra gets to hammer out a game plan against the same opponent, over and over, rather than working against four other coaches in five nights.
Pity those poor Charlotte Bobcats. Kind of.
These Bobcats earned this. “Rookie” head coach Steve Clifford should be a Coach of the Year candidate, and had his team been on national television more often he’d probably have won the damn thing. The Bobcats have evolved into a team with solid depth, and most importantly to a playoff drive, the group defends like mad in spite of the presence of Al Jefferson on the floor.
Of course, the Bobcats wouldn’t be nearly where they are currently with Jefferson, who turned in a career year some six years after tearing his ACL, working in a new environment with a (damn good) point guard in Kemba Walker who isn’t exactly what we’d call “pass-first.”
If you haven’t seen Big Al, prepare for a throwback. Over 22 points and 11 boards in 35 minutes a game, despite needing the season’s first two months to work his way back (mostly on the court) from an ankle sprain. Low-post goodness, in a league that frowns on such things. Touch and footwork and a needed go-to option after a play breaks down for a team that ranked just 24th in offense.
He should have made the All-Star team, but in a lot of ways it was best that he missed it. The All-Star Game wastes talents like Jefferson, and those few days off in mid-February likely helped the player that led Charlotte to a 20-9 record following a showcase that tends to exclude players of a Bobcatian nature.
The ride is likely over. James is basically as tall as Jefferson. Walker had a very good year, but he shot 39 percent to Wade’s 54 percent. Bosh is floating, and the other Heat veterans have been through this before. It’s true that, somehow, Charlotte runs deeper than Miami, but none of this will likely matter when James spies Josh McRoberts’ too-cute entry pass from a mile away, swipes it and turns it into two points before Bobcat fans can even recall they’ll become the Hornets again this fall.
Fair-weather NBA fans? Happily introduce yourself to the Charlotte Bobcats, because this is a team worth watching.
Also, re-introduce yourself to the Miami Heat, because this is a team worth fearing.
Prediction: Miami in 4.
Dan Devine's One Big Question
Every postseason matchup has its own unique set of variables for each team, and prognosticator, to attempt to solve. Here's one that BDL's Dan Devine has been mulling over.
How much energy will Miami have to expend in Round 1?
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh begin their bid for a fourth straight trip to the NBA finals against a Bobcats team that looks to be heavily overmatched and whom the Heat swept during the regular season. A closer look at the season series, though, suggests that what appears to be a squash might not be quite as breezy as Erik Spoelstra might like.
While the Heat did go 4-0 against the Bobcats, two of those games were nail-biters. There was a one-point Dec. 1 win in which the Big Three all played, but Charlotte point guard Kemba Walker (27 points on 10 for 22 shooting, six assists) largely got where he wanted, and a mid-January overtime victory that saw James (34 points, eight rebounds, six assists) and Bosh (25 points, seven rebounds) carry the day for a resting Wade to come back from a seven-point halftime deficit.
One blowout came while All-NBA-caliber Charlotte center Al Jefferson was sidelined with an ankle injury, which represents a sizable asterisk. The other happened when James became Death, Destroyer of Worlds . (That one still holds up.)
Still, while the Heat stumbled to the finish line by going 13-14 after March 1 -- including some games, to be fair, where they weren't exactly going all-out for the W -- Charlotte played perhaps their best ball of the year. The Bobcats won three straight to finish the regular season and nine of their last 11, including three tough overtime wins against fellow Eastern playoff squads (the Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls).
The Bobcats went 16-9 after the February deal to import Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour from the Milwaukee Bucks, a move that added (some) long-range shooting and secondary ball-handling, and helped boost the Bobcats' offense from a dreadful 25th in points scored per possession pre-trade to a middle-of-the-pack 16th afterward. Another key helper: Josh McRoberts, the beautifully coiffed power forward whose fantastic touch as a high-post passer (five dimes per 36 minutes, assisting on nearly 22 percent of his teammates' buckets while he's on the floor) has paired perfectly with Big Al's left-block mastery, and whose long-range shooting (36.1 percent from 3-point land) has helped give Jefferson room to cook.
Gerald Henderson's production has dipped virtually across the board this season, but the versatile wing tends to be a bellwether; he's shooting 45.4 percent from the floor and 37.5 percent from 3 in Charlotte wins, and just 41.3/32.2 in losses. When he tries too hard to create his own offense, he can hurt more than he helps, but when he simply plays his role -- making smart cuts to take advantage of the attention Jefferson draws, or finding openings on the perimeter to be available for spot-up shots off kickouts -- he can threaten.
Rookie Cody Zeller has come on since the All-Star break , shooting 50 percent and averaging nearly eight points and five rebounds in 18 1/2 minutes per game by crashing the offensive boards, running the floor and ducking in off the weak side to dunk dump-off passes. Chris Douglas-Roberts has gone from scrap-heap signee to valuable piece in head coach Steve Clifford's rotation, adding complementary scoring and rebounding while providing defensive versatility on the wing and making some big shots .
Charlotte is a patient, careful team that turned the
John Wall and Bradley Beal make their playoff debuts Sunday in Chicago. No matter what happens against the Bulls, the Wizards backcourt pair won't be any worse than Dwyane Wade in his first-ever postseason road game. As a rookie with the Heat during the 2003-04 playoffs, Wade scored 21 and 15 points in the opening games of a best-of-7 series with the New Orleans Hornets. Not a bad start especially since the Heat won both home games.
The Scoop:Wade added he wasn't concerned about continuity with LeBron James and how his last three games helped him. At the conclusion of the playoffs last year, Wade mentioned how much he battled through injury, which explains why the Heat managed him so severely this season. The bottom line is it looks like their plan worked and they'll look to win another title in June.
The Miami Heat may not be entering the playoffs as the top seed but they are still very much the team to beat, and anything less than a third consecutive NBA title could lead to the breakup of their Big Three. No club has won three straight titles since the Los Angeles Lakers in the early 2000s, and the 16-team field for this year's playoffs, which begin on Saturday, has no shortage of contenders for the NBA's Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy. The San Antonio Spurs, who were a whisker away from winning last year's NBA Finals, and the Indiana Pacers, eager to avenge last season's loss to Miami in the Eastern conference finals, are just two of the many teams feeling good about their chances. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh joined forces in 2010 with the goal of creating a dynasty in Miami by stockpiling NBA titles but enter the postseason facing questions about team chemistry and depth.
LeBron James' jersey remains the most popular in the NBA. The league announced Thursday that the Miami Heat star topped the list of jersey sales in the NBA for the sixth time. With teammate Dwyane Wade - whose jersey number hasn't changed in 11 years - at No. 7, the Heat also had the top spot on the team-merchandise sales list. ''Thanks so much to all that 'Strive for Greatness.''' Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City is No. 2 on the list, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant, Chicago's Derrick Rose, Golden State's Stephen Curry and New York's Carmelo Anthony.
Dwyane Wade hit 6-of-14 shots for 16 points, two rebounds and four assists in 23 minutes on Wednesday.
The Scoop:His owners probably couldn't care less that he showed up for the final two games of the season, as he was simply a headache to own all year. And if you owned Wade this season, chances are you won't be touching him next year. And we're right there with you. Toney Douglas and Ray Allen were the only other Heat players to score in double figures, as LeBron James, Chris Bosh and some others took the night off to rest. The Heat will play the Bobcats in Round 1, and will have to find an answer for Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson if they're going to breeze into Round 2.
The Scoop:Wade logged 23 minutes in his return on Saturday, then followed that up with an 18-minute game on Monday, and he's not likely to get much more vs. the 76ers. The good news for Miami is that he doesn't seem to have had any setbacks with his hamstring or knee since returning, while slowly improving his conditioning in the lead-up to the playoffs.
The Scoop:Wade is expected to see a nominal amount of minutes, but it's still a great sign for the Heat to even see him suit up. He had to play through injuries last postseason and chances are he will have to again.
The Miami Heat resigned themselves to finishing with the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Miami closes its regular season Wednesday night against the visiting Philadelphia 76ers. Having home-court advantage throughout the East playoffs was still in play for the Heat (54-27) entering Monday's trip to Washington. But coach Erik Spoelstra gave LeBron James and Chris Bosh the night off, limited Dwyane Wade to 18 minutes and saw a mostly lackluster rotation get walloped, 114-93.
The Scoop: None.
Apr 15 1:00 ET
News (various sources)
Motivated LeBron preps for the playoff grind (The Associated Press) (2 Hours Ago | courtesy: The Associated Press) MIAMI (AP) -- LeBron James is getting ready to enter playoff mode. More...