Thursday NBA: Heat get first crack at Jeremy Lin
It’s arguably the toughest ticket in Miami since the Big 3 merged forces in South Florida as the New York Knicks and Jeremy Lin visit for the first time, with the Heat opening as 9-point NBA basketball bets favorites on WagerWeb.com.
The Knicks have visited the Heat once this year, losing 99-89 on Jan. 27. LeBron James and Dwayne Wade combined for 59 points. It was Miami’s eighth straight win in the series.
Bill Walker scored 21 points for New York, which took 43 shots from 3-point range, the most in the NBA this season and a total that had the Knicks flirting with Dallas’ NBA record of 49 set in 1996. The Knicks connected on 18 from beyond the arc, Walker making seven of them. Amare Stoudemire finished with 12 for New York, which tried more 3′s than 2-point shots (41).
But those Knicks didn’t have Carmelo Anthony, who was out with an injury, and Lin wasn’t playing back then – he didn’t even get on the court. With Wednesday’s easy home win over Atlanta, the Knicks are now 8-2 since Lin became the starting point guard. Anthony did struggle again in his second game back from injury with just 15 points and having only 11 on Monday. Over the past 11 games, Lin is averaging 23.9 points and 9.2 assists. Prior to Lin taking over, the Knicks were seven games under .500 and had lost 11 of 13. The Knicks have played and beaten the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks during Lin’s run, but Miami will be their toughest test.
The Heat have won seven straight games, all by at least 12 points. During that run, Wade is shooting 58.8 percent from the field (63 of 107) and averaging 23.4 points per game.
LeBron has done his part to fuel the buzz for tonight’s TNT game, calling the second meeting this season between the Heat and Knicks “electrifying” and saying “it could be one of the most watched games we’ve had in a long time.”
Wade out, LeBron questionable Thursday night vs. Lakers
One of the NBA’s most anticipated regular-season games is tonight when the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Miami Heat in what many believe will be an NBA Finals preview. The Heat opened as 5.5-point WagerWeb.com NBA basketball bets favorites but that line is in major flux right now because of the status of two Heat stars.
For sure out is Miami guard Dwyane Wade. He will miss a second straight game with a sprained ankle. The Heat are 4-0 without Wade this season, including Tuesday’s 120-98 home blowout of San Antonio – a game in which Miami was down 14 points at halftime before going crazy in the third quarter.
Things could get worse for Miami. LeBron James was sent home from the Heat’s morning shootaround with flulike symptoms. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said James will be a game-time decision.
“He didn’t feel good last night,” Spolestra said. “That bug has been going around.”
James was one of several Heat players who got sick following Miami’s five-game road trip, which ended last week. He battled through it during Tuesday’s victory over the San Antonio Spurs, scoring 33 points, though he started the game 1-of-7 shooting before settling in. James was able to practice with the team Wednesday.
Spoelstra also said that Wade will miss his second consecutive game with a sprained ankle. The Heat are 4-0 without Wade this season. James Jones is expected to start in his place.
Mike Miller, who went 6-of-6 on 3-pointers in his first game of the season Tuesday, is expected to play after spraining his ankle in the game. If James is in the lineup, the game will feature the NBA’s top two scorers this season — Kobe Bryant at 30.8 points per game and James at 29.8.
In the past 11 meetings, James is averaging 27.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7 assists, while Bryant is putting up 28.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.6 assists. James’ teams has gone 9-2 against the Lakers, winning the last four.
If James cannot play, the Heat will use Shane Battier and James Jones as the primary defenders against Bryant.
”It’s always a luxury having such great players on your team,” Chris Bosh said. ”But sometimes they’re out. This is why we made moves this season, was to be a deeper team.”
Heat likely won’t have Dwyane Wade on Tuesday vs. Spurs
The Miami Heat bring in a shocking three-game losing streak into Tuesday night’s home game against the San Antonio Spurs in a possible NBA Finals preview, and the Heat will almost surely have to beat San Antonio without star guard Dwyane Wade. Place your NBA basketball bets at WagerWeb.com.
Wade suffered a sprained ankle in the fourth quarter of Friday’s 117-104 loss at Denver when he landed awkwardly and turned his ankle while pursuing a loose ball. He immediately left the game and did not return. X-rays of the ankle were negative, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he wouldn’t speculate as to how long Wade, the Heat’s second-leading scorer, might be out of action.
“He’s up walking around … but we’re not going to put a timetable on when he’ll come back,” Spoelstra said. “Thankfully, he’s not in a cast or a boot. So we’ll see how he responds each day, and we’ll go from there.”
Wade, already dealing with a strained calf, missed three consecutive games last week with a bruised left foot — a stretch when the team went 3-0. Miami has since lost three games in a row to finish its recent five-game road trip. Wade told reporters in Denver that he had never experienced pain from a sprain as severely as what he felt Friday. He also made light of his recent rash of injuries being a sign that he’s getting older. Wade turns 30 on Tuesday.
Amid the early season adversity, Wade’s teammates are preparing as if he probably won’t be in the lineup for Tuesday’s game against the Spurs — and possibly longer.
“He needs to get healthy,” forward Chris Bosh said. “That’s the most important thing. He’s been pushing it. He’s been giving us everything he has. And unfortunately in the last game, he turned his ankle. But sometimes things happen. He probably needed to sit down and rest in the first place. Sometimes an injury will do that to you. It’s a blessing in disguise. We need to be healthy when it’s time to make a run in the playoffs.
“He needs to just chill out right now, get better and we’ll hold it down until he can come back.”
Look for a big night from LeBron James on Tuesday. Already he has shown he can be dominant without Wade in the lineup, putting up 32.5 points, 11 assists, 7.5 rebounds and shooting 61 percent from the floor in two games he played without Wade earlier this season (James also sat out one game Wade missed). Without Wade on the floor as an additional option, LeBron could be forced into carrying the load in fourth quarters and shaking that unwanted reputation he picked up last June. James acknowledged that he alters his approach in games when Wade is not available. That has led to some criticism, such as when James did not attempt a shot in the fourth quarter after Wade returned for last Wednesday’s overtime loss at Golden State.
James said he doesn’t intentionally “dial it back” when he’s playing with Wade. Instead, it’s a matter of making use of all of his options as a facilitator and playmaker.
Wade’s potential absence could pave the way for swingman Mike Miller to make his season debut after recovering from offseason hernia surgery. Miller went through scrimmage drills at the end of Sunday’s practice and said he is ready to play. The Heat have another practice scheduled for Monday before they open a stretch in which they will play eight of their next nine games at home.
Heat’s Dwyane Wade could be out a while
Wade’s foot injury, more serious than initially believed, is taking time to heal. He is questionable for both Tuesday’s game against Golden State and Wednesday’s game against the Clippers. He has missed the past three games.
“I would love for it to be [Tuesday],’’ Wade said of his return. “I would love for it to be Wednesday. I don’t know. I’m just trying to be smart. … I wanted to play the other night against New Jersey. If it was up to me, I would have played, but in Miami we make sure we all come together and put our heads together and see what’s the best for the team and for the player.”
Wade, who said his game status is “hour to hour; minute to minute,” is clearly frustrated with his slow progress and the mysterious pain in his left heel. More disconcerting is the root of the problem. Wade couldn’t offer an exact ailment but didn’t rule out plantar fasciitis. If that’s the case, that would be a big problem.
Point guard Mario Chalmers (shoulder) is also questionable for Miami. For Golden State, guard Stephen Curry (ankle) and center Andris Biedrins (ankle) are both questionable.
This is the lone meeting of the season, with the Warriors not scheduled to visit AmericanAirlines Arena due to the restructured post-lockout schedule . The Heat have won six in a row against the Warriors, including their last three visits to Oakland. The Heat enter an NBA-best 8-1, the league’s only remaining undefeated road team. They lead the league in scoring and field-goal percentage. LeBron James leads the NBA in scoring, averaging 30.2 points per game, and is shooting a mind-boggling 60.1 percent from the field.
The Heat have scored at least 50 points in the paint in six of their first nine games. Fast-break points have been a major factor. The Heat are averaging 21.1 fast-break points. Last season, they averaged 14.2. On Saturday, the Heat had 34 fast-break points, a season high.
The Warriors enter on a five-game losing streak, idle since Saturday’s 88-87 home loss to Utah, struggling to find their way under first-year coach Mark Jackson.
No LeBron and Wade for Heat vs. Hawks on Thursday?
After losing 100-92 to Atlanta in south Florida on Monday night, you know the Miami Heat would love to deliver a little punishment to the Hawks in Atlanta on Thursday night. But Miami might not have either LeBron James or Dwyane Wade for tonight’s TNT doubleheader opener at 8 p.m. ET. The Heat are 2-point NBA basketball bets favorites on WagerWeb.com.
The Heat did bounce back from that loss by slaughtering Indiana 118-83 on Wednesday night. James had 33 points and 13 assists, Chris Bosh added 22 points and Miami cruised past Indiana. James also grabbed eight rebounds and the Heat turned up the defensive intensity minus their All-Star guard Wade, who sat out with a sore left foot. Wade said the “plantar fascia area” of his left foot (the tissue directly under the heel) of his left foot is causing him problems.
Wade, a six-time All-Star, injured his foot in the second quarter at Charlotte on Dec. 28. He missed the first 10 minutes of the third period but played regular minutes the rest of the game and in the two that followed. He skipped Wednesday’s shootaround, though.
Wade’s status for tonight is officially questionable, and so is LeBron’s. James went down hard on a third-quarter drive to the basket against the Pacers and writhed in pain for several minutes before walking off the injury. He remained in the game but could be unavailable against Atlanta. James was able to play another seven minutes after the injury but only because trainers knew whenever he stopped the ankle would swell. James has played with a sprained ankle several times before, only to end up missing the next game or two. Last season, James played through a sprain in Los Angeles and then couldn’t play the next night after the ankle swelled on a flight to Denver. James totaled 77 points on 26-of-42 shooting in two games at Atlanta last season, including 43 in a 106-85 win March 18.
Wade missed six games last year and the Heat were 4-2 without him. James missed 3 and the Heat were 1-2. Miami never played without both.
The Hawks followed their big win Monday by blowing a 14-point fourth quarter lead and losing 76-74 in Chicago. Joe Johnson shot just 3 of 17 from the field in Tuesday’s loss. It tied for his worst shooting effort, percentage-wise, in a game in which he attempted at least 15 field goals. The Hawks continue to lead the NBA in scoring defense.
Though the Hawks managed to reach triple digits Monday, the Heat have held them to 83.7 points per contest during a three-game winning streak at Atlanta. The Hawks are 2-0 at home this year.
Wednesday NBA: Indiana Pacers (4-1) at Miami Heat (5-1)
For the first time this season, the Miami Heat will have to bounce back from a loss when they take the court on Wednesday night as the Indiana Pacers visit South Beach. Place your NBA basketball bets at WagerWeb.com.
Miami was stunned at home by Atlanta on Monday night, 100-92. LeBron James scored 28 points, Chris Bosh scored 19 and Dwyane Wade finished with 12 points and 10 assists for Miami. The Heat were outscored 33-21 in the fourth quarter and struggled against Atlanta’s zone defense, which not only slowed Miami down but disrupted its rhythm for long stretches. The Heat led the league in fast-break points, points in the paint, and points off turnovers per game. But against the Hawks they fell well short of their season averages in each of those categories.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said not only was the zone effective on the court, it got into Miami’s heads as well. With Wade playing mostly as facilitator, one who was unable to make a shot, and with LeBron forced to create much of his own offense, the Heat lacked the continuity that had fueled their spectacular start.
“We need to work through it,” Spoelstra said. “Look, we’re going to see enough of it that we will have our breakthrough. We hope to have it sooner than later. … But you can see, our minds were heavy from that point on and our minds were occupied rather than playing free.”
The Heat’s first loss of the season came at home, in a game in which it held an early 10-point lead. Last season, South Florida fans witnessed four Heat losses (including three over an eight-day stretch late last winter) in games in which the team had led by 10-or-more points — more than the combined total of home losses of that type suffered by the Bulls (none), the Lakers (one) and the Celtics (two). LeBron has 176 points in six games this season without making a single 3-pointer (he’s 0-for-1). In the last 10 seasons, only Kobe Bryant in 2005-06 has had more points in the first six games of a season without a 3-pointer made.
The Pacers beat New Jersey 108-94 on Monday. Paul George scored 21 points and the Pacers shot a season-high 52.6 percent. Indiana had not shot 40 percent in its first four games. But the Pacers broke out of the slump against New Jersey, putting five players in double figures. They were outstanding from long range, hitting 13 of 21, or roughly 62 percent. The Pacers had season highs in points, field goals (41), assists (26), 3-pointers made and 3-point percentage (.619).
Pacers veteran big man Jeff Foster could make his season debut against the Heat. Foster has been sidelined the first five games of the season with a sore lower back. Foster will move back into the rotation backing up Roy Hibbert at center once he returns.
This will be the first of four meetings between the teams. The Pacers have lost six of seven against the Heat.
Tuesday NBA: Heat can send Celtics to 0-2 start
It’s a great opener for the NBA on TNT doubleheader on Tuesday night as Miami plays its home opener against rival Boston in a playoff rematch from a season ago. The Heat are 10.5-point NBA basketball bets favorites on WagerWeb.com.
Miami was hugely impressive on Christmas Day, thumping the champion Mavericks 105-94 in Dallas. The game wasn’t that close as Miami led by 35 points midway through the third quarter. LeBron James finished with 37 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Dwyane Wade had 26 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Miami scored at least 30 points in each of the first three quarters. The Heat snapped a 14-game losing streak to the Mavericks (in regular season). It was the longest active losing streak for the franchise against a single opponent and the 3rd-longest all-time for the team.
The strained quadriceps muscle that limited Heat forward Shane Battier during training camp responded well in the Heat’s rout of Mavericks on Sunday, but Battier remains questionable to play.
Boston, meanwhile, fell 106-104 on Christmas in New York. Rajon Rondo had 31 points and 13 assists, nearly leading the Celtics back without an injured Paul Pierce. But Kevin Garnett missed a jumper just before the buzzer. Pierce has a bruised heel and is iffy for this one as well but is unlikely to play. Boston coach Doc Rivers said Pierce would serve as a reserve if he plays at all.
The Celtics suffered greatly without Pierce vs. the Knicks. The combination of Marquis Daniels (4 points) and Sasha Pavlovic (0 points) provided little offense and could not check Carmelo Anthony (37 points).
At the end of that Knicks game, Garnett had his hand around Boston guard Bill Walker’s throat after KG missed that potential game-tying shot at the buzzer. The two had to be separated by coaches and players. But KG won’t be penalized.
The Celtics won’t need any reminders about how last season ended. Without enough bodies to hold a worthwhile practice on the first night of training camp earlier this month, Celtics coach Doc Rivers dragged his team into the film room and went over highlights from Miami’s five-game triumph in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Boston won three of the four regular-season meetings between the two.
WagerWeb.com 2011-12 Miami Heat season preview
This looks like the Heat’s year, based on their development throughout last season and the addition of Battier, who has made a career of enhancing chemistry wherever he has played. Expect the drama of 2010-11 to be reduced substantially as the talent continues to blend constructively. As long as Miami is healthy, it will be an upset if this team fails to return to the NBA Finals.
LAST SEASON: 58-24, lost to Dallas 4-2 in NBA finals.
STARTING FIVE: G Mario Chalmers (6.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.5 rpg), G Dwyane Wade (25.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 4.6 apg), F LeBron James (26.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 7.0 apg), F Chris Bosh (18.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg), C Joel Anthony (2.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.2 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: F Shane Battier (free agent, Grizzlies), G Norris Cole (draft, No. 28).
KEY LOSSES: C Zydrunas Ilgauskas (retired), G Mike Bibby (free agent, Knicks).
WAGERWEB.COM NBA BASKETBALL ODDS TO WIN EAST: -110 (favorite)
The schedule might be the toughest challenge for the Heat, at least as it relates to the injury-prone Wade. Because of the back-to-backs and fewer days off, Wade must navigate safely through the minefield and make it to the post-season in one piece. This is a player who has never made it through a full season and only came close twice. He only saw three minutes last preseason. Coach Erik Spoelstra would be wise to give Wade a breather as much as possible.
So, Mike Miller is still hurt? Tell us something we don’t know. Miller was the tough-luck story for Miami last season when he was forced to drag a broken thumb deep into the year, and never really healed. And yet, even after getting Shane Battier, who can shoot the three-pointer, the Heat could use Miller. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have an extra hot hand, and Miller/Battier/James Jones can stretch a defense when they’re hitting.
Pat Riley had a saying when he coached the Lakers: no rebounds, no rings. The Heat was exposed in the Finals as a team with a mild interior, on both ends of the floor. Inside points were tough to come by because Chris Bosh has a mid-range game and even Udonis Haslem is a jump-shooter. Somehow, Miami must at least make an effort to score inside against the bigger teams. Is this where Eddy Curry comes in?
Clearly, nothing besides the NBA title will satisfy Miami this season. Bosh has added bulk and wants to get back to double-double form, James and Wade are two of the NBA’s best 5 players, and having a healthy Haslem for a full season will obviously help. Questions persist at point guard and center, but Spoelstra often used unconventional lineups last season and will often again this year.