There’s really no such thing as a simple summer for Dwyane Wade

Sounds like a simple summer for Dwyane Wade. At least that’s the way Pat Riley is framing the necessary recommitment of the Miami Heat to its star player, and vice versa.

“We’ll sit down and we’ll talk about that with Dwyane,” said Riley, who doesn’t do much for his negotiating position by proclaiming last season as Wade’s best overall performance since prior to the Big Three era.

Miami Heat's Dwyane Wade looks on after his team lost in Game 7 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinals against the Toronto Raptors in Toronto, Sunday, May 15, 2016. The Raptors won 116-89. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
TORONTO – Dwyane Wade looks on after the Miami Heat lost in Game 7 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinals against the Raptors on May 15, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

“He wants to win, I think, as much as he wants to do anything. Compensation to a player is not just a way to get paid and to live your life. Compensation to a player is about recognition and respect and place. We know where he belongs…He’s a lifer. What he’s done in this city over the last 13 years is irreplaceable and so we’re going to do the right thing. There’s no doubt.”

Wade, who flirted with the Los Angeles Lakers last summer, is in a similarly agreeable mood.

“I don’t want to be on the market at all,” Wade said two days after the Heat’s season ended with a Game 7 loss to Toronto in the Eastern Conference semifinals. “I’m not curious at all. I want to get to it [with the Heat]. I want to be able to sign my deal and move on and not have to deal with any rumors, any free agency, any this, any that. This is where I want to end my career. So we’ll figure it out.”

Oh, what a relief it is to hear such words. Fans in Cleveland can’t count on that kind of assurance from LeBron James. Same for Oklahoma City fans in their relationship with Kevin Durant. It’s a tradeoff, though.

The Cavaliers and the Thunder are in the middle of what could be a championship run for either team. These are the best of times for those franchises, the most hopeful, and it’s because they have dynamic players that everyone else wants and, potentially, somebody else might get.

It’s highly unlikely that anyone would try to steal Wade from the Heat this summer or any summer. He’s 34. Doesn’t mean that Dwyane no longer is capable of scoring 20 points per game, but Allen Iverson played his final NBA season at 34. So did Bob Cousy. Jerry West and Clyde Drexler finished up at 35.

A flashy guard can go longer, but they don’t grow stronger. So the legacy talk begins to slip into conversation, and into Wade’s mind. The three titles. The NBA Finals MVP award. The Hall of Fame leadership and the spectacular ability to close out a game with a series of bruising drives and acrobatic finishes.

It’s a lot, but one day there will be no more, so Riley promises what he can. A friendly sitdown at Dwyane’s convenience, a ton of respect, a fat contract to reseal one great player to one franchise that never would have been as great without him.

You know what else will be in there, right? A tease.

Take a little less than you might like in another one-year deal. Give us a chance to talk to Durant, and not just about next season. Give all the possibilities room to breathe. It’s about more than money for a guy like you, Dwyane. It’s about full recognition and respect, which means somehow getting back to the NBA Finals, if not now then soon.

[Blame New Orleans for the escalation in Super Bowl hosting requirements]

[Missing out on LaMarcus Aldridge hasn’t hurt Heat because of Whiteside]

[An entertaining look back to when the Braves trained in West Palm Beach]

“I think we’re close, I really do,” Riley said during his season wrap-up media session. “We took a step forward. It’s one of the best locker rooms we’ve ever had. The guys really respect each other. I’m very optimistic. Why wouldn’t I be optimistic?

“Plus we’ve got the flexibility this year and next year, and that’s what I’m looking at.”

This year and next year. Just down the road, that’s where this dream is always going, and that’s where it was going even in the years where Wade and the Heat were coming off championship parades.

For that reason it’s never really a simple summer for a guy like him. He’ll be glad to get his Heat contract. He’ll be sad that it’s the only big one put in front of him. He’ll be wishing that Chris Bosh was Chris Bosh again, and that Dwyane Wade was Flash.

Can’t have it all, but he does have a place. It’s right next to Pat Riley, the man who deals out Micky Arison’s millions but sees to it that every now and then Wade still gets to play boss.

 

 

 

Ja’Wuan James provides first hard evidence of where rookie Laremy Tunsil may play

Ja’Wuan James said he started at right tackle in Tuesday’s first OTA workout of the spring for the Miami Dolphins, a session that reporters were not allowed to watch. That means a couple of things.

Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) is helped from the turf by Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James (70) and Miami Dolphins tackle Branden Albert (71) at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on September 21, 2014. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) is helped from the turf by Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James (70) and Miami Dolphins tackle Branden Albert (71) at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on September 21, 2014. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

For openers, the Dolphins’ first-round draft pick from 2014 is healthy after missing nine games last season with a toe injury. Second, Laremy Tunsil, the new first-rounder on the block, figures to be playing guard and not tackle.

Veteran Branden Albert is the starter at left tackle for now, a nod to his Pro Bowl status, but eventually that position is expected to belong to Tunsil.

Asked about his reaction to Miami spending the No. 13 overall pick in the draft on an offensive lineman, James said “it’s always exciting to see somebody get drafted and it ends up being a guy coming into your room that can help us.

“He’s a strong kid, a good kid. He’s trying to learn right now. He’s under me, asking me questions, asking B.A., asking everybody…He’s a guy that wants to learn. I respect that about him and I like that about him and I really think he can help us.”

As for the offensive line as a whole, James said “I think the sky’s the limit for us, whoever is out there. I think we’re going to do well.”

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked 45 times last season, tied for eighth most in the league. Also, Miami rushed for an average of 93.5 yards per game in 2015. That ranked 23rd in the NFL.

Jermon Bushrod, an offensive lineman who started 96 NFL games with the Saints and the Bears, also joined the Dolphins as a free agent in March.

 

Tom Brady pulling out all the stops with his choice of Deflategate attorney

It’s fourth-and-long on Tom Brady’s Deflategate appeal. Does he have a flea-flicker play that might work?

I’m not enough of a legal scholar to rule on that, but Brady and the NFL Players Association aren’t messing around in their choice of counsel. Ted Olsen is their lawyer, the one who is formally requesting that a U.S. Court of Appeals take a second look at its own ruling, and Ted Olsen plays for keeps.

FILE - In this June 16, 2105, file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws a pass during an NFL football minicamp in Foxborough, Mass. Brady grew from a sixth-round draft choice into one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history. On Tuesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell hears Brady's appeal of a four-game suspension for using deflated footballs in the AFC championship game. How will that affect Brady's legacy? (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws a pass last summer during an NFL football minicamp in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)

He argued for the winning side in the Bush v. Gore final showdown before the U.S. Supreme Court. There was a presidential election riding on that one, and it was decided in what amounted to double- or triple-overtime.

That gig worked out fairly well for Olsen, who soon was nominated and confirmed to the office of Solicitor General of the United States, a job he worked from 2001-04. The men and women who have filled that role keep an office in the U.S. Supreme Court building and maintain close contact with the justices in cases involving the federal government, which frequently puts them on the short list for elevation to a seat on the Supreme Court itself.

What, you didn’t sign up for a civics lesson?

OK, let’s just agree that Brady is huddling up with one of the Pro Bowlers of the American legal scene, and that it’s not pro bono.

William Howard Taft. Thurgood Marshall. Archibald Cox. Robert Bork. Kenneth Starr. All, like Olsen, were the U.S. Solicitor General at some point in their careers. All had a way of making headlines.

[New Orleans fired first shot in escalation of Super Bowl hosting requirements]

[Missing out on LaMarcus Aldridge hasn’t hurt Heat because of Whiteside]

[Winslow and Richardson give Heat a rare boost from NBA draft]

Does any of this mean that Brady will have his four-game suspension reduced or tossed altogether in time for the 2016 NFL season? No, but if anybody can push this Hail Mary effort all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, it figures to be Olsen, who has appeared in that ultimate courtroom many times, including a turn as the NFLPA’s lawyer in the 2001 NFL lockout case.

Frankly, I still figure on seeing Brady in the season opener, riding another wave of legal delays.

Escalation of Super Bowl hosting requirements started with botch job by New Orleans

All this angst over how much it costs and how much it takes to become a Super Bowl host city in the 21st century? I blame it all on New Orleans.

That’s where the first indoor Super Bowl was played in 1978, setting a new standard for the pampering of team owners and fans.

Even worse, New Orleans did the most of any city to disappoint team owners and to remind them of how lousy an outdoor Super Bowl can be.

That happened in the summer of 1974, when construction was going so slowly on the Louisiana Superdome that completion couldn’t be guaranteed for a grand-opening Super Bowl scheduled to be played there on Jan. 12, 1975.

tulaneReluctantly, the league moved the game to old Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, where two previous Super Bowls had been played, including the Miami Dolphins’ first appearance, a 24-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Wouldn’t you know it, the weather was lousy for the relocated Super Bowl IX, damp and blustery and 46 degrees at kickoff, with the mercury diving after that. Pittsburgh beat Minnesota 16-6 on a day when the winning quarterback, Terry Bradshaw, passed for 96 yards.

By halftime the only score was a safety on an end-zone sack of Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton. Yuck.

[Missing on LaMarcus Aldridge doesn’t sting Heat because of Whiteside’s growth]

[Kyle Lowry’s Game 3 breakout is where Heat lost control of series]

[QB Brandon Doughty well worth a 7th-round pick for Dolphins]

Anyway, the Dolphins can only hope now that they are to snuff with their bid for a Super Bowl host spot in 2019, 2020 or 2021, having committed $450 million to stadium renovations in Miami Gardens.

Tough to think of the original Joe Robbie/Pro Player/Sun Life building being considered by NFL owners to be unusable.

Tulane Stadium, the facility used for a Super Bowl in January of 1975, was condemned later that same year, and on the day that the Superdome officially opened for business.

Missing out on LaMarcus Aldridge hasn’t hurt Heat thanks to Whiteside’s development

 

Last year at this time Pat Riley was trying to get a meeting with LaMarcus Aldridge.

The Miami Heat didn’t have the salary-cap space to sign 6-foot-11 all-star but eventually they did talk about possibly playing for less or maybe signing a shorter deal elsewhere that would make Aldridge available in 2016.

Toronto Raptors center Bismack Biyombo (8) battles for the ball against Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) during first half NBA basketball playoff action in Toronto, Thursday, May 5, 2016. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
TORONTO – Toronto Raptors center Bismack Biyombo (8) battles for the ball against Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) during nba playoff actioN ON May 5, 2016. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

None of that came close to happening. Aldridge signed a four-year contract with San Antonio.

Then came Hassan Whiteside, developing on the fly in Miami. He’s raw. He’s unpredictable. He’s not yet capable of reliably scoring 20 points per game.

So what?

If the Heat can keep Whiteside from signing with another team, they’ll have a free-agent thunderbolt of a player who is the equal of Aldridge in many categories and the best of anybody at blocking shots. What’s more, Whiteside is only beginning to tap his potential.

Here are the numbers from this season.

Aldridge, during the regular season, shot 51 percent, averaged 8.5 rebounds and scored 18.0 points per game.

Starting 31 fewer games, Whiteside made 60 percent of his shots with per-game averages of 11.8 rebounds and 14.2 points.

The biggest difference was blocks. Hassan led the NBA with 269. That’s a mind-blowing average of 3.7 per game. Aldridge wasn’t even in the top 20 at 1.1 and he’s averaged just one block throughout his long career.

Now let’s look at the playoffs, which is as fair a measure as any since both Aldridge and Whiteside started 10 postseason games.

Whiteside wins field-goal percentage, 68 percent to 52.

Whiteside wins rebounds, 10.9 per game to 8.3.

Whiteside doubles him up on blocks, 2.8 to 1.4.

Aldridge wins points per game, 21.9 to 12.0, and free-throw percentage, 89 to 59.

Is Aldridge a smoother scorer with safer to have in the lineup late in close games? Undoubtedly. He’s been in the league for a decade.

[Kyle Lowry’s Game 3 breakout is where Heat lost control of series]

[Winslow and Richardson bring Heat rare boost from NBA draft]

[QB Doughy well worth a seventh-round pick for Dolphins]

Whiteside will get better at all of that, but even if it’s only a little, remember the savage efficiency of all those lob passes Dwyane Wade sent his way for slam dunks late in the season? That’s a preview worth savoring.

For the moment, defense is Whiteside’s game. Listen to Riley, however, and you know why it matters on both ends of the court.

“It isn’t just an offensive game,” Riley said Wednesday. “You talk about up-tempo basketball, you go back and find our best offensive games and we probably held teams to 38 or 39 or 40 percent shooting. We were getting blocked shots, deflections, turning the ball over. Your offense is only as good as what you do on the defensive end.

“You want to explode out of there, then you better make some stops. You better rebound the ball. That’s why Hassan is so important to us. He’ll block shots. He’ll rebound the ball. He’ll change 10 other shots. He’ll scare the hell out of four or five other people coming into the paint. He’s got some intangibles that, simply, you just cannot find.”

Not even if you go to San Antonio, the team that won the 2015 bidding war for Aldridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kyle Lowry’s Game 3 breakout is where Heat lost control of the series

To me the story of the Heat-Raptors series was told in the second half of Game 3, and it happened, somewhat surprisingly, at AmericanAirlines Arena.

The Heat had gained a road split to open the series, remember, and everything was looking good for a 2-1 lead with one more game to play in Miami.

TORONTO, ON - MAY 15:  Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors dribbles the ball as Tyler Johnson #8 of the Miami Heat defends in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on May 15, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON – Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors dribbles the ball as Tyler Johnson of the Miami Heat defends in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at the Air Canada Centre on Sunday. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

How could that possibly be with Hassan Whiteside sidelined by a knee injury earlier in the same game?

Because Dwyane Wade went on one of his classic scoring spurts in the third quarter that night. He scored 18 of Miami’s 28 points in the period, with a couple of three-pointers back to back. That woke up a sluggish offense and tied the game at 68-68. The place was booming with sound and confidence and with love for the franchise’s cornerstone player.

Then Kyle Lowry put out the fire.

Toronto’s all-star guard is not Wade’s equal. Never will be.

Fact is, Lowry scored just seven points in the series opener against Miami and topped 20 points just one in the previous seven-game series against Indiana.

In the fourth quarter of that Game 3 on May 7, however, Lowry hit his stride. He scored 14 points in the period with a couple of three-pointers included at the cruelest possible times.

His game total of 33 points couldn’t top Wade’s 38, but the power of his fourth-quarter leadership gave Toronto a 95-91 victory. Miami suddenly was down in the series and never back got on top of it again.

Lowry probably won’t average 23.4 points per game in the Eastern Conference finals the way he did against Miami. He won’t be anywhere close to being the best player on the court either.

[Some things LeBron might be doing during long break between playoff rounds]

[Winslow and Richardson bring Heat a rare boost from the NBA draft]

[QB Brandon Doughty well worth a seventh-round pick for Dolphins]

Don’t expect him to back down, though, against LeBron James and the Cavaliers. He’s another of those tough-minded guys from Villanova, and a Philadelphia kid from the start. Listen to this quote and you’ll hear it.

“LeBron’s probably one of the best players in the league, besides Steph Curry,” Lowry said after his own 35-point against the Heat in Sunday’s Game 7 of the Eastern semifinals.

LeBron might have treated Wade with a little kindness if the Heat had advanced, once King James was done scoring 30 points and all. It won’t be that way with Lowry.

It’s an opportunity that Lowry first started earning, though, in Game 3 at Miami and then carried to a rousing conclusion. All we can say is good luck to him, and of course good luck to the first Canadian team ever to reach the conference finals, eh?

Some things LeBron might be doing during the long break between playoff rounds

What is LeBron James doing now that he has all this time on his hands between a couple of playoff sweeps and the beginning of the Eastern Conference finals?

Driving his Kia around Cleveland, I would guess, because he is a man of the people. Well, that and the “Chosen1,” if you read his tattoo art.

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 06: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts to a call against the Atlanta Hawks in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 6, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA – LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts to a call against the Atlanta Hawks in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on May 6, 2016. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Of course, there are many other possibilities.

LeBron could be taking selfies in front of the sky-high mural of himself that hangs on the side of the Sherwin-Williams corporate headquarters building in downtown Cleveland. No time to waste, since the company has announced it will take the mural down in late June to temporarily replace it with one more appropriate for the arrival of the Republican National Convention.

Of course, if the Cavaliers fail to reach or win the NBA Finals, which begin on June 2, that LeBron mural probably comes down a lot sooner.

Hey, here’s another idea. LeBron could fly to Miami and work out with Dwyane Wade again. No, wait a minute, D-Wade is a little busy right now. How about a little fishing trip with Chris Bosh, who is done for the season. That wouldn’t cause much of a fuss, right?

Then there’s the chance to get started on his expected starring role in “Space Jam 2.” LeBron could run some lines with Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, just to get a better understanding of the motivations behind their respective roles. Already LeBron has some of their cartoonish facial expressions down pat for the one or two drives each game when he doesn’t get a call. He does a mean Yosemite Sam, too.

Another idea for LeBron filling the unexpected down time by writing a job referral for David Blatt. The former Cavs coach interviewed for the Rockets’ head coaching vacancy this week. Just a few notes jotted down and passed along by King James might make all the difference in how that goes.

For now, though, it figures LeBron’s days would be best spent in the gym, shooting baskets, lifting weights, getting ready for the Heat or the Raptors.

He’s only 43 points shy of passing Shaquille O’Neal for No. 4 on the all-time playoff scoring list, you know. They’ll be talking about that on the TNT set when the time comes and it’s easy to guess what Shaq will say.

He’ll bring all four of his championship rings to the studio, line them up on the table and say something like, “Yeah, LeBron is a great player but this is the only math I care about. Four is greater than two.”

[QB Doughty well worth a seventh-round pick by Dolphins]

[Winslow and Richardson bring Heat rare boost from the NBA draft]

No amount of time off between playoff rounds could motivate LeBron for a big effort more than a dig like that. He doesn’t want rest. He wants respect, and more than a third-place finisher in the MVP voting gets.

This 8-0 start to the postseason is just LeBron getting all stretched out for some real exercise. Lame jokes submitted by a snarky blogger in a rival market can’t change that. Nothing can.

 

Canadian flag flap from 1992 World Series suggests Dwyane Wade will be forgiven

Dwyane Wade has been the villain in too many road games to count. It comes with the territory when you’re an NBA star intent on ending somebody else’s season.

Tonight’s Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals will be different, however, because this time Wade is being viewed as a bad guy. He’s not, but shooting pregame jumpers during the Canadian national anthem a few games ago in Miami has painted him as one in Toronto.

TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 16: A large Canadian flag is unfurled during the singing of O Canada before the start of the Toronto Raptors game against the Indiana Pacers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs on April 16, 2016 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA – A large Canadian flag is unfurled during the singing of “O Canada” before the start of the Toronto Raptors game against the Indiana Pacers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on April 16, 2016 (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

This was an unforced error and Wade knows it. His customary pregame routine got interrupted by a change in the anthem presentation schedule and caught him off guard.

Hearing those first few notes should have been enough to stop Wade in his tracks and get him scurrying over to stand in line with his teammates, or maybe, if Wade was wearing earbuds or otherwise zoned out, somebody with the Heat could have gotten his attention. Either way, it happened, and Wade wasn’t quick enough to specifically apologize for showing disrespect, and even in mild-mannered Canada that’s enough to get some anti-social stuff going on social media.

So what will happen tonight as a sold-out Air Canada Centre crowd exacts its revenge?

Not much, I’m guessing, based on another international incident between our nations caused by a sport-related blunder.

During the 1992 World Series a Marine Corps color guard in Atlanta mistakenly raised the Canadian with the maple leaf symbol upside-down. The sergeant who attached the flag had been rushed because it was presented to him just moments before his detail took the field with the introductory fanfare music already playing and, well, nobody knew what was wrong until the bungled banner was already on its way up the pole.

When the World Series shifted to Toronto, Canadian fans could have reacted the way fans in, say, Philly or New York or Miami would have reacted in the situation were reversed. I won’t name all the ways that could have gone. Just imagine it, and then wipe it quickly from your mind.

Instead, the reaction was forgiveness. Thousands of fans stood during the playing of the U.S. national anthem and sang out the words themselves, as loudly and proficiently as they could. In fact, cheers actually filled the stadium when Jon Secada belted out the closing flourish.

Of course, President George H.W. Bush had done what he could to help matters beforehand. In a classic America-first way, of course.

“They are our friends and our allies,” Bush said of Canadians. “They have respect for our flag, and we have respect for theirs. They are a great people, and I hope they come in second in the World Series.”

The Toronto Blue Jays didn’t come in second. They beat the Atlanta Braves in six games, taking the clincher in 11 innings at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

Karma? No, just one good team beating another. It will be that way again tonight in Toronto with either the Heat or the Raptors winning based on nothing whatsoever that happens in the pregame ceremonies.

[Heat and Raptors challenging NBA record for OT games in a series]

[Winslow and Richardson give Heat a rare boost from the NBA draft]

[QB Brandon Doughty is well worth a seventh-round pick by Dolphins]

Just the same, Wade has learned his lesson, and maybe the rest of us will, too, about Canada. It’s too nice of a place and too good of a friend to be ignored, especially when there’s no good excuse for such ignorance.

And as for those times Toronto fans booed Chris Bosh on his return to the city as a member of the Miami Heat, hey, that’s just sports. Everybody gets that.

 

 

 

Heat and Raptors challenging NBA record for most overtime games in series

Three overtime outcomes in four playoff games puts the Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors on a pretty crazy pace, but it’s not the record for bonus time in an NBA postseason series.

Yet.

In 2009 the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls met in a first-round series that should have left both teams unwilling and unable to advance to the next round due to the beginning symptoms of rigor mortis.

Seven games. Four made it to overtime, including a double session and a triple OT. That’s an average of one overtime period per game.

Miami Heat forward Amar'e Stoudemire (5) and Miami guard Dwyane Wade (3) defend against Toronto Raptors center Bismack Biyombo (8) during the first quarter on Monday, May 9, 2016, at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS)
MIAMI – Amar’e Stoudemire (5) and Dwyane Wade (3) defend against Toronto Raptors center Bismack Biyombo on Monday at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald/TNS)

Strangest of all, Boston won Game 7 without much drama at all, 109-99. The Bulls, seeded seventh in the Eastern Conference after a 41-41 regular season, simply ran out of gas. They scored 11 points in the second quarter. Can’t blame them. At that point lacing up sneakers was a chore.

Asked immediately afterward if it was the greatest playoff series ever, Boston coach Doc Rivers said “I didn’t see great. I just saw hard.”

In 2014 Oklahoma City and Memphis matched the record of four overtime games in an NBA series. That series gets bonus points, too, for having four OT games in a row, though none of them went more than one extra period. The Bulls and Celtics of 2009 have the edge in total bonus time.

It would be fun if Miami’s Luol Deng had played in that 2009 series for the Bulls but a broken tibia had him down for the count. There are some other intriguing ties, however, between Miami’s ongoing struggle with Toronto and the events of even postseasons ago.

Zooming in on the Celtics and Bulls, each team earned a split on the road to open the series 2-2. (Boston had home-court advantage, as Toronto does now, and the Bulls couldn’t get another win at TD Garden).

Zooming out to view the rest of the East, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were on an intimidating roll in 2009. They swept Detroit and Atlanta, just like this year, and had more than a week to rest before the conference finals, again familiar. (Orlando wound up knocking off the Cavs just the same, which proves once more that anything can still happen).

No real conclusions to draw from any of this, except that the Heat and Raptors seem bound for a second consecutive seven-game playoff series each. The sloppiness in play reflects that, with only one example of a team reaching 100 points so far in the series in spite of all the overtimes. That was the Heat’s 102-96 win in Game 1.

[Winslow and Richardson bring Heat a rare boost from the NBA draft]

[Gil Brandt not sure Laremy Tunsil will make immediate impact for Dolphins]

[QB Doughty well worth a seventh-round pick for Dolphins]

One more example. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Miami’s 1-for-15 success rate from three-point range is so rare for a winning team that it’s only happened one other time in the last four postseasons. Memphis also hit just one three-pointer in a first-round closeout win over Portland last year.

Dwyane Wade may be fit enough to handle all this physical and psychological stress, but the rest of us are flagging, and there’s still a best 2-out-of-3 finale to go.

At this point, I’m rooting for a record number of overtime games. At this point, nothing less can draw America’s attention away from Steph Curry for more than a few seconds.

 

 

 

Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson bring Heat rare boost from NBA draft

(After the Miami Heat’s playoff run comes to an end, there will be an NBA draft. Usually that doesn’t mean much compared to the free-agency frenzy that comes each summer, but 2015 was an exception. Below is my instant-reaction column from last June, the night Pat Riley took Justise Winslow in the first round.

Didn’t know at the time that Josh Richardson would be coming, too, in the second round. Both have been great as rookies, comprising perhaps the best Heat draft class since Rony Seikaly, Kevin Edwards and Grant Long in the inaugural season of 1988. You could make a case, too, for 1989 with Glen Rice and Sherman Douglas, or 2003 with Dwyane Wade and who cares, but the point is the same.

 Winslow and Richardson are invaluable in the playoffs as rookies and no team could hope for a better draft return than that.)

 

By Dave George

Palm Beach Post columnist

June 26, 2015

   So LeBron ditched the Miami Heat, but there’s Justise after all.
Not a bad way to pick up the pieces of last summer’s disappointment for Pat Riley. Justise Winslow, Miami’s lucky charm all the way down at No. 10 overall in Thursday’s NBA draft, has done as much as any player could to prove his right-away NBA readiness.

Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow (20) drives against the Charlotte Hornets during  Game 7 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Miami.  (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Miami Heat forward Justise Winslow drives against the Charlotte Hornets during Game 7 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series on Sunday, May 1, 2016. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Well, there was a time when a big body could do more, back when LeBron James and other monsters stepped right into the league from high school.
Failing that, and bound by new rules, Winslow did the next best thing. He played one season of college ball, played it at Duke, where Coach K lures everybody John Calipari can’t, and won a national championship on the dead run out the door to NBA millions.
This doesn’t make him LeBron. A body-armor suit and a jet pack couldn’t do that. For Miami to get a guy this talented, however, and without trading anything away, this is so much better than it could have been after a season outside the playoffs and wrapped in surgical gauze.
Winslow is a 6-foot-7 wingman ready to take flight as a pro.
He’ll need work, like all No. 10 picks do. Heck, Minnesota has the last three No. 1 overall picks in Anthony Bennett, Andrew Wiggins and now Karl-Anthony Towns, and I’m still not sure the Timberwolves will make the playoffs next season.
With Winslow, however, the Heat are plugging holes before they even open. Nobody knows if Luol Deng, the starting small forward, will sign up for more heavy lifting in Miami. Either way, coach Erik Spoelstra has an athletic kid who will be starting sooner or later and can come off the bench to grab rebounds and shoot 3-pointers until it happens.
Smooth-shooting Devin Booker of Kentucky would have been good, too, since Dwyane Wade’s negotiations for a Heat return come without guarantee. Miami needs a backup there as well.
Can’t have everything, though, even if you’re Calipari. Four of the draft’s top 13 picks played for him at Kentucky, so he has to reload, poor guy.
We’re more concerned around here with getting the Heat back up to speed. Chris Bosh coming back healthy will be huge. Hassan Whiteside putting more polish on his rim-rattling game would be strong, too. Bring back Wade, who surely smiled at Thursday’s prime pickup, and Miami’s almost got it made.
The need for more high-percentage scoring from the perimeter remains to be addressed, if not in the second round then sometime. To me, Riley probably has spent as much time and energy on this draft as he’s going to spend. He’ll start chasing veteran free agents now, for that’s still the quickest way out of the lowly lottery crowd.
Let the Knicks and Magic take those crazy Euro steps on draft night. It’s time to get down to work with players who have been in a brawl or two, either in the pros or in March Madness.
One of the reasons Winslow was expected to go so much higher, maybe even top-five, is that his game actually picked up against better competition. He averaged 14.3 points for Duke in the NCAA Tournament, a bucket more per game than in the regular season, and didn’t mind swinging a few elbows under the boards to supplement that scoring punch.
Go to the Final Four for clues of what he will become. In the national semifinals against Michigan State, an outfit that has to be tough just to make it out of Tom Izzo’s practice gym alive, Winslow got 19 points and nine rebounds. That topped Duke teammate Jahlil Okafor, Thursday’s No. 3 overall pick, in both categories.
Also, Duke had three players on the Final Four all-tournament team. Winslow was one of them. Okafor wasn’t.
Of course, it’s all about development now. That job falls to Spo and his staff.
Riley’s already done his, and without breaking a sweat.