Joe B.

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Joe B. last won the day on October 10 2016

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  1. Photo Credit: Fernando Medina The Miami HEAT fell to the Orlando Magic 116-109 Wednesday night at Amway Center. Hassan Whiteside led the way for the HEAT with 26 points and 22 rebounds. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com
  2. Photo Credit: Fernando Medina The Miami HEAT open the regular season against the Orlando Magic Wednesday night at Amway Center. The HEAT fell to the Magic 110-99 in their last meeting on March 3. Tip-off is set for 7:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 6:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: With Rodney McGruder undergoing surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left leg, how will the HEAT adapt without him? Couper Moorhead: First of all, let’s wish McGruder a swift and healthy recovery (no timetable has been set). You never want to see any player injured but it’s especially tough seeing McGruder go down with how hard he has worked, going to Europe and then the G-League and finally making the most of his opportunity in the big league last season. He’s as dedicated a worker as I’ve ever seen myself. What made McGruder fit so well last year with the starters was that he’s not the type of player who needs the ball in his hands. He simply put his head down, took on the toughest defensive assignments in the league, took open shots and constantly put himself in position to make loose ball plays. With how much the offense is geared around Goran Dragić and Dion Waiters attacking the rim, McGruder was able to play off those actions perfectly. The player who most closely fits that mold, if that’s what Erik Spoelstra is looking for, is likely Josh Richardson. He might take on more ballhandling duties in general, especially with the bench unit, but Richardson is both a good shooter and versatile defender. The question is if he starts, who fills in the rotation behind him? That depends on who starts between Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson, but Okaro White and Jordan Mickey might have some opportunity ahead of them. Joe Beguiristain: Even though the team is deep, it’ll certainly be tough to replicate what Rodney McGruder brought to the table. Whatever Miami needed him to do last season, from defending the opposition’s best offensive player to hitting spot-up threes, he did so with competitive fire. In other words, McGruder embodies the HEAT culture. As for how the team will adapt without him for the time being, my guess is that Erik Spoelstra will roll with Josh Richardson as his replacement. Luckily enough, Richardson was fantastic in the preseason, as he averaged 13.6 points on 44.6 percent shooting, 2.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 26.4 minutes per game. The former Tennessee Volunteer did a little bit of everything over the past few weeks, whether it was dunking on Bismack Biyombo, nailing treys or creating transition opportunities thanks to his defensive prowess. Again, replacing the “glue guy” in McGruder is a tall task, but the HEAT’s versatility and depth puts them in a better position than most when dealing with injuries. 2: What did the Orlando Magic change during the offseason and how will that affect this matchup? Couper: While Jonathan Isaac was certainly a significant pickup in the draft given that he’s the sort of long, athletic, skilled swingman who could turn into just about anything, Orlando’s most important move came at the trade deadline when they moved Serge Ibaka to Toronto for Terrence Ross. This accomplished a number of things, not only adding explosive perimeter shooting alongside Evan Fournier but giving Aaron Gordon the chance to move down to his more natural position in the modern NBA: power forward. So now, instead of starting a pair of big men, Orlando has speed and shooting on the floor at the outset. In that sense, Orlando was almost as different as possible from the HEAT a season ago but now they both play a more similar style as far as lineups go. Joe: The Magic added a few new pieces over the summer, including veterans Arron Afflalo and Marreese Speights, up-and-comer Jonathon Simmons and first round pick Jonathan Isaac. With the exception of Speights (who did not play), each of those guys scored in double-figures against Miami on Oct. 7. In particular, Isaac looked quite comfortable on both ends of the floor despite being a rookie. He also showed impressive range on his outside shot and proved to be viable in pick-and-pop situations. Although he’ll likely be coming off the bench for the foreseeable future, Isaac is a very intriguing prospect. Speaking of which, the Magic have a lot of depth like the HEAT do. Isaac backs up Aaron Gordon (who seems primed for a breakout season), Simmons is behind Evan Fournier and Biyombo is behind Nikola Vučević. Long story short, Frank Vogel has a lot of young talent to work with. 3: Orlando beat Miami three times last season. What aspect of those losses do you think the team will key in on Wednesday night? Couper: There’s actually no great answer to this because, with the in-season trades Orlando made and the injuries Miami dealt with, there wasn’t much consistency from game to game. The HEAT won the season opener handily but after that each game was a mix of Evan Fournier scoring out of pick-and-roll, Nikola Vučević being the load inside that he’s been against Miami for years and Elfrid Payton doing a little bit of everything in his own second-half surge. Even then one of those games took a remarkably tough Ibaka hook shot bouncing in off the glass to force overtime. At this stage of the season, and especially with a shortened preseason, opponents don’t matter as much. These first few weeks will be about the HEAT establishing their identity from last year, sorting through all their lineup options and, most crucial above all else, playing with the same competitive edge that they played with through both wins and losses last year. We’ll say this more than once this season, but this team’s greatest strength is how hard they play no matter who or when they’re playing. Joe: While both teams are different like Coup stated above, I think the one thing that Miami might focus on is limiting Orlando’s points in the paint. Last season, the Magic averaged 42.2 PITP per game. That number ballooned to 58.0 PITP per contest in Orlando’s three wins over the HEAT. However, it’s important to note that Serge Ibaka, who got traded to the Raptors midseason, played a part in a few of those. That said, Vučević still performed quite well against the HEAT. With better discipline, more attention to detail and a healthier squad, Miami should be able to shore things up this time around. One thing you can bank on Wednesday night is that the HEAT will give it their all from beginning to end. Based on the vibes after practice from Coach Spo and the players, you could just tell that the team is ready to finally get things going. Let the games begin. Highlights: March 3 – HEAT at Magic Feb. 13 – Magic at HEAT Game Notes: The HEAT have won a franchise-best six-straight opening night games. Both Miami and Orlando went 3-3 in the preseason. Okaro White (strained left shoulder) is questionable, while Rodney McGruder (left tibia stress fracture) and A.J. Hammons (illness) are out. Efficiencies (Rank): Note: Preseason HEAT Offense: 93.8 (27) HEAT Defense: 99.1 (16) Magic Offense: 96.2 (21) Magic Defense: 94.0 (8)
  3. HEAT 95 - 76ers 119 Game Recap

    Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT fell to the Philadelphia 76ers 119-95 Friday night at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The game was presented by Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida. Bam Adebayo, Dion Waiters and James Johnson each scored 13 points apiece for Miami. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  4. Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler The Miami HEAT face the Philadelphia 76ers Friday night at Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO. The game is presented by Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida. The HEAT defeated the 76ers 125-98 in their last meeting on March 1. Tip-off is set for 8:30 PM. There will be no television coverage, but you can listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: What was your main takeaway from the win over Washington? Couper Moorhead: With Goran Dragić, Dion Waiters and Hassan Whiteside all sitting out this was a nice showcase game for the team’s younger players. Most of Bam Adebayo’s 15 points came by simply making himself available for passes around the paint – he did have a nice post-up – but don’t discount that as other players doing all the work for him. It’s not easy learning where the spaces are and will be at the speed of the pro game and even though this was preseason we can at the very least take it as a hint that Adebayo might have a knack for this sort of thing. It was also a very fine evening for Justise Winslow, who set up Adebayo on a number of the aforementioned scores. Winslow’s playmaking has always been a strength but this season he appears to have tightened up his handle to the point that he’s breaking down defenses in the pick-and-roll better than ever. And it must be said that Matt Williams Jr. is a pure shooter. Joe Beguiristain: The young guys can flat out ball. While it was fun to see the Brothers Johnson take over in the third quarter, the night belonged to Jordan Mickey, Bam Adebayo, Matt Williams Jr. and Derrick Walton Jr. Each one of those guys had their moments, with Mickey sealing the deal with a game-winning three. After the clutch shot, the whole bench mobbed the 23-year-old, which showed just how close the squad is. It also must be noted that Adebayo had his best outing of the preseason, as he wreaked havoc on both ends of the floor. Although his pick-and-roll dunks were fun, his improvement on shots from the block was more encouraging. On the flip side of the ball, he showed quick feet on switches and also played stout interior defense. We’ll see how the rookie follows that up on Friday against the 76ers. 2: With just one game left in preseason, what is left to accomplish? Couper: Erik Spoelstra said that Dragić likely will sit out again, while Waiters and Whiteside could get some run. Usually once you get to the back end of preseason its more about continuing to let the younger guys get some minutes and take a couple more quick looks at lineups that maybe haven’t been tried as much before. In a sense, it’s much like Wednesday’s game was. Some coaches will do a dress rehearsal in the last game, at least in the first half, but without Dragić that won’t be possible. Joe: I believe the most important thing is to keep everybody healthy heading into the regular season. That seems to be the approach with Goran Dragić, as he’s officially out due to rest. That said, there are also a few guys out due to injury, including Okaro White (strained left shoulder) and Rodney McGruder (left tibia stress fracture). Long story short, there’s a good chance the young guys get some significant burn once more against Philadelphia. And with cut/send down day rapidly approaching, there’s no better time to see what you have than right now. 3: What do you expect to happen in the next few days until the road opener in Orlando? Couper: This is always the tough part of preseason, when rosters need to be cut down before the real thing begins. But the HEAT run things a little differently as they have the Sioux Falls Skyforce coaching staff in Miami during this time of year helping at training camp, practices and games. Spoelstra has referred to this camp as a no-cut camp in the sense that most of the players will wind up with the Skyforce, so this way they’ll have spent weeks with their future coaching staff. So cuts will be made because that’s how official paperwork works, but those players won’t be leaving Miami’s system. After that, the team will have three days of practice and then we’re off. Joe: Other than trimming down their roster, I expect the HEAT to continue to work in preparation for the grind that is the 82-game season. Luckily enough, Miami has a few days between its first game against the Magic and its home opener against the Pacers on Saturday, Oct. 21. With guys like Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson carrying over their sharp play from a year ago and newcomer Kelly Olynyk making a seamless transition, the HEAT should be ready to rock when the regular season begins. Highlights: March 1 – 76ers at HEAT Feb. 11 – HEAT at 76ers Game Notes: The HEAT are 3-2 in the preseason, while the 76ers enter the contest at 1-3. Four players are averaging 10.0 points per game or more for Miami in the preseason. Rodney McGruder (left tibia stress fracture), Okaro White (strained left shoulder) and Goran Dragić (rest) are all out. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 95.6 (20) HEAT Defense: 97.6 (12) 76ers Offense: 95.8 (18) 76ers Defense: 100.6 (19)
  5. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT defeated the Washington Wizards 117-115 Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. The game was presented by Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida. Bam Adebayo led the way for the HEAT with 15 points. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  6. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT host the Washington Wizards Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. The game is presented by Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida. Get your tickets now! The HEAT defeated the Wizards 110-102 in their last meeting on April 12. Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM, and television coverage is on FOX Sports Sun. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: What stuck out to you the most about Monday’s win over Charlotte? Couper Moorhead: Aside from Josh Richardson continuing to look as good as ever and Dion Waiters having a complete game, with eight assists, as Goran Dragić again sat out, the best thing to see was Justise Winslow with the ball in his hands scoring the go-ahead basket in the final minutes of the game. The result, of course, doesn’t much matter, but with Winslow getting his first 5-on-5 action since last December it’s important to remember that the process can be slow when it comes to injuries. Even last season we saw how tough it was for Richardson, and now he’s wiping away all memory of how he looked when getting his legs back underneath him. Not only did Winslow score, he did it off a pick-and-roll with a mid-drive crossover and burst that’s as good example as any for how much he’s tightened up his handle in the offseason. There’s a lot of talent there, and every glimpse of it is a good step forward. Joe Beguiristain: The main thing that stuck out to me was that nearly every player on the roster contributed to the victory. While Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson continued to impress, guys like Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson had their best game of the preseason. In particular, Olynyk did a little bit of everything, as he scored 13 points, grabbed a team-high 12 boards, dished out four assists, blocked two shots and came away with two steals, one of which led to a jam for Richardson late in the contest. Although it’s just the preseason, it’s encouraging to see Olynyk fit in quite well with his new teammates. Of course, being a versatile big who can put the ball on the floor, set up his teammates and knock down the outside shot certainly helps matters. 2: Four games in, do we have anything more than hints about what the lineups will be next week? Couper: Erik Spoelstra continues to note that he’s liked what he’s seen so far from the starting frontcourt of Hassan Whiteside and Kelly Olynyk – that pairing is a +8.8 per 100 posessions so far – so we might keep seeing it. On Monday Spoelstra staggered the two so Olynyk came out early and then returned in place of Whiteside, which meant the HEAT never truly went small with either James Johnson or Justise Winslow at the five. Goran Dragić has so far sat out both games that the frontcourt has been used, however, so it remains to be seen if he will simply take his spot with the starters and Richardson will return to the bench unit or if Dragić changes the complexion enough to warrant a double switch. Joe: Since things are always fluid with Erik Spoelstra, it’s tough to predict what lineups we’ll see on opening night against the Magic. However, Coach Spo has started Olynyk at power forward alongside Hassan Whiteside for two consecutive games now. After a slow start together on Saturday, the duo performed better on Monday. We’ll see if that continues as the preseason rolls along. Also of note with Olynyk starting is the return of The Brothers Johnson. After struggling a bit in the starting lineup early in the preseason, James Johnson looked razor sharp coming off the bench with Tyler Johnson. That said, it’s important to remember that these lineups and rotations may not carryover when the games count. Remember, James Johnson averaged 18.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game on 50.7 percent shooting in his five starts at the end of last year. It’ll be interesting to see how Spoelstra utilizes JJ once the regular season commences. 3: Does Miami need this test against the Wizards backcourt? Couper: Competition is always good, especially when you’re preparing for the regular season. Kemba Walker only wound up taking four shots and playing 16 minutes on Monday so every second against John Wall and Bradley Beal is a valuable one. Of course, those two played a combined 16 minutes themselves against Cleveland on Sunday. That’s preseason for you. That said, Washington is starting Otto Porter Jr. as the nominal four, so if Spoelstra sticks with Olynyk in the opening group that will be a nice opportunity to see how he handles defending a smaller, quicker player. Joe: Yes. With preseason being shorter than in years past, live action is certainly important. Like Coup stated above, both John Wall and Bradley Beal haven’t played much in the preseason, but they have produced in their limited time. If Wall is eased into things once again, we’ll likely see a decent amount of Tim Frazier. While the 26-year-old has been battling a left groin strain, he’s set to make his Wizards debut on Wednesday. Frazier averaged 7.1 points and 5.2 assists in 23.5 minutes per game for the Pelicans last season. Highlights: April 12 – Wizards at HEAT April 8 – HEAT at Wizards Game Notes: The HEAT are 2-2 in the preseason, while the Wizards enter the contest at 3-0. Miami has won five straight against Washington. Markieff Morris (recovery from sports hernia surgery) and Sheldon Mac (torn left Achilles) are out for the Wizards. Goran Dragić (rest) is out. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 91.1 (27) HEAT Defense: 94.1 (11) Wizards Offense: 106.6 (7) Wizards Defense: 92.8 (8)
  7. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT defeated the Charlotte Hornets 109-106 Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. The game was presented by Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida. Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson both led the way with 18 points apiece. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  8. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT host the Charlotte Hornets Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. The game is presented by Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida. Get your tickets now! The HEAT defeated the Hornets 112-99 in their last meeting on April 5. Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM, and television coverage is on FOX Sports Sun. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: What did we learn from Miami’s close loss in Orlando? Couper Moorhead: Even though this wound up being a loss, it’s preseason and the most important thing was that this was something off a fresh-air game in that everyone looked aggressive and energetic coming off a down performance against Brooklyn. Josh Richardson in particular continued to look as good as he ever has in his young career, but we also saw James Johnson trying to dunk on just about everyone and Dion Waiters again working his way into the paint and to the free-throw line – not to mention Hassan Whiteside continuing to shoot well from outside the paint. Big picture, it was an interesting night as far as rotations go. Goran Dragić had the night off (he’s pretty much ready to go coming off Eurobasket) but instead of just inserting someone in his stead Erik Spoelstra pulled the double switch going with Richardson at guard and Kelly Olynyk in for James Johnson as the starting four. The trickle down after that was that Johnson effectively became the backup center and we see two shifts with Johnson and Justise Winslow as the frontcourt – and then both of them slid up a spot with Olynyk inserted back at center for a few minutes. As we’ve said all along, Spoelstra is not one to leave stones unturned and preseason is the best season for lineup experiments. Joe Beguiristain: Despite the loss, there were a lot of positives to glean from Saturday night. For starters, the HEAT continued to show just how deep and dangerous they are thanks to having a multitude of ball handlers. From James Johnson and Justise Winslow (who got some run together in the first half against Orlando) to Dion Waiters and Josh Richardson, so many different guys can beat you off the dribble. Speaking of Richardson, the 24-year-old had a fantastic 13-point spurt in the second quarter before he came through with a massive jam over Bismack Biyombo in the fourth. If anyone’s ready for the season, it’s him. As Coup stated above, both Richardson and Kelly Olynyk got the start against Orlando. While Olynyk hasn’t converted as much as he’s used to from the perimeter, he got some good looks once again within the flow of the offense. And even with his 1-of-7 shooting performance, he found other ways to impact the game. In fact, he amassed four assists, four steals and a plus-five rating. He also contested a team-high 10 shots. Once his own shot starts to fall again, watch out. 2: What do you expect Spoelstra to try next? Couper: With the team playing every other day for the rest of preseason it’s going to depend on who is available (regarding anyone who gets some rest), but we could see at least two more different starting lineups over the next three games. So that might mean another look at Olynyk at the four next to Whiteside but with Dragić in the lineup, or with Richardson in at the three. What’s important to note in all this talk off lineup tinkering is that no matter who starts the HEAT are just about always going to have above-average rotation talent on the floor across the board. In other words, the HEAT will have a strong bench unit either which way – and a strong bench unit was as important as anything else to last season’s turnaround. Joe: I expect Erik Spoelstra to continue to tinker with different lineups. Going back to what I said before about Miami’s depth, Coach Spo can go with a number of different combinations and find a decent amount that work. Winslow and Johnson at the three and four looked pretty intriguing on Saturday, but imagine what a Richardson-Winslow pairing would look like with Goran Dragić back at the point guard spot. If you added Rodney McGruder and Hassan Whiteside to that group, you’d have three bonafide perimeter defenders, a rim protector and a fire-breathing dragon in transition. In 209 minutes last season, the four-man lineup of Dragić, McGruder, Richardson and Whiteside produced a 10.6 net rating. Maybe it’s something Spoelstra will look at again. We’ll just have to wait and see. 3: How can playing Charlotte help prepare this team for the regular season? Couper: When you’re trying to get your defense ready for the regular season, you want to be tested by players of Kemba Walker’s caliber. And when you’re throwing out a bunch of different lineups to see what works, you want to build evidence against players like Walker who can do just about anything with the ball in his hands. In other words, assuming Walker plays, preseason minutes against players like him lend an air of greater legitimacy to preseason numbers. Joe: This matchup can help prepare the HEAT because Steve Clifford is going to have his guys ready to rock regardless of who plays. That said, it’s important to note that Nicolas Batum suffered a torn ligament in his left elbow and will miss some time. It seems as though Clifford will replace Batum with Jeremy Lamb for the time being. The 25-year-old Lamb played quite well in the Hornets’ last preseason game on Wednesday against the Pistons, as he scored 18 points on 5-of-9 shooting, dished out four assists, grabbed three boards and tallied a plus-11 rating. In short, Miami will certainly have to be wary of a guy who’s ready to make his mark. Otherwise, Charlotte added a few new guys in the offseason, including Dwight Howard, Michael Carter-Williams (who is out, but working his way back) and rookies Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon. It should be a fun matchup on Monday night. Highlights: April 5 - HEAT at Hornets March 8 - Hornets at HEAT Game Notes: The HEAT are 1-2 in the preseason, while the Hornets stand at 1-1. Miami has won its past two games against Charlotte. Goran Dragić (rest) and A.J. Hammons (illness) are out for the HEAT. Nicolas Batum (UCL tear) and Michael Carter-Williams (knee soreness) are out for the Hornets. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 86.3 (29) HEAT Defense: 91.7 (8) Hornets Offense: 91.8 (26) Hornets Defense: 101.0 (18)
  9. HEAT 90 - Magic 93 Game Recap

    Photo Credit: Fernando Medina The Miami HEAT fell to the Orlando Magic 93-90 Saturday night at Amway Center. The game was presented by Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida. Josh Richardson led the way for the HEAT with 19 points. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  10. Photo Credit: Fernando Medina The Miami HEAT face the Orlando Magic Saturday night at Amway Center. The game is presented by Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida. The HEAT fell to the Magic 110-99 in their last meeting on March 3. Tip-off is set for 7:00 PM, and television coverage is on FOX Sports Sun. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: What did we learn from Miami’s loss in Brooklyn? Couper Moorhead: That even though there’s plenty of continuity on the roster and training camp was mostly about getting everyone back up to speed, there is plenty of work left to do. While the offensive numbers haven’t been great, the 20 turnovers were pretty typical of preseason, especially with the officials clearly watching for traveling violations across all games, and Miami going 4-of-28 from three made the scoring effort look worse than it was when many of those were solid looks. The offense can be much sharper, but even a below-average number of threes in Thursday’s game would have had things looking differently. Just as they did last season, those shots will eventually fall. Defensively, however, this hasn’t yet been the team we came to know last season. You don’t expect regular-season intensity in early October, so there’s hardly reason for concern, but this team – like any Miami team – will find success as it finds its highest level of defense. It’s one thing if an opponent is shooting well, as those numbers will typically fluctuate over the course of a season, so the area that needs most attention right now is the paint. The HEAT limited attempts at the rim to an elite level last season and they will most likely get back to doing the same, they just aren’t there yet. Again, this is all normal for the preseason, which exists for this very reason – you don’t know where you need to put more work in until you see how your work plays out against real opponents. The best news so far, of course, is that the bench unit has looked highly viable. The HEAT are thought of as having one of the deepest rosters of rotation players in the league. So far, they’re living up to that reputation. Joe Beguiristain: We learned that the team still has to work on some things. While Hassan Whiteside came out with a vengeance and Tyler Johnson was masterful once again off the bench, Miami looked a step slow against Brooklyn. The HEAT’s 20 turnovers didn’t help matters, but they also shot a paltry 37.2 percent from the field. All that said, it’s important to keep things in perspective. As Johnson said after the game, it’s early and guys are getting used to new roles and positions. One of those guys, Justise Winslow, had some aggressive drives to the bucket against the Nets. While he didn’t always finish those plays, it was good to see him get a step on his man with relative ease and draw contact time and time again. In fact, he led Miami with nine free throw attempts. At the end of the day, the team knows what it needs to do in order to correct its mistakes. It all starts with a stronger disposition on both ends of the floor and more time on the court together. We’ll see how it all shakes out. 2: Do you expect any changes to Miami’s lineups in Orlando? Couper: Before the game in Brooklyn Erik Spoelstra noted that he was going to go with the same starters as against Atlanta because he wanted to give that group another shot. Based on that and other comments made, it seems fairly likely that we’ll see more variations on both the starting and bench lineups, and those variations could come as soon as Saturday night. Exactly what those changes are remain to be seen – Josh Richardson has looked particularly spry so far – but this is not a coaching staff that leaves any stone unturned. Joe: I do. Like I’ve said before in this space, I believe Erik Spoelstra will tinker a bit with the three and four spot. Maybe Josh Richardson will get a chance to show what he can do in the starting lineup or James Johnson will come off the bench like he did last season. It’s tough because you can make a case for pretty much every wing player on the roster, including the incumbent Rodney McGruder, who started 65 games last season. Although difficult decisions will have to be made at some point, too much depth is a good problem to have. 3: How does playing Orlando help with regards to preparation for the season? Couper: Orlando is one of the toughest teams in the league to get a read on because of how many different lineups they can use. That Aaron Gordon is a power forward again gives both James Johnson and Justise Winslow a similar-in-style matchup, while Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo each offer a unique look for Hassan Whiteside. But this is preseason and the matchups and results aren’t particularly important, what is important is that Elfrid Payton might be on his way to being one of the better paint-attacking guards in the league. For a defense that has had trouble allowing penetration so far, this is a good opportunity to get the most important area on the floor sealed off. Joe: After seeing a Nets team that likes to get up a bunch of threes, the HEAT will likely get more of the same from the Magic. Case in point: Orlando has attempted 60 treys in the preseason, which is just two shy of Brooklyn’s total through the same amount of games. While the Magic don’t convert at an efficient rate by any means (26.7 percent), they still take them. Where Orlando does differ from the Nets is in its passing metrics. In fact, the Magic are ranked in the top half of the league with a 66.2 assist percentage. Of course, a lot of that has to do with skilled playmakers in Elfrid Payton and Evan Fournier. On the defensive side of things, Orlando has been very good thus far, giving up just 87 points per 100 possessions. In short, Miami will have to be sharp both offensively and defensively in order to come away victorious. Highlights: March 3 – HEAT at Magic Feb. 13 – Magic at HEAT Game Notes: Both the HEAT and Magic are 1-1 in the preseason. Tyler Johnson is averaging 17.5 points and 6.0 rebounds per game on 57.1 percent shooting. Adreian Payne (fractured left hand) is out for Orlando. A.J. Hammons (illness) is out for Miami. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 86.4 (30) HEAT Defense: 91.2 (8) Magic Offense: 95.8 (21) Magic Defense: 87.0 (4)
  11. HEAT 88 - Nets 107 Game Recap

    Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler The Miami HEAT fell to the Brooklyn Nets 107-88 Thursday night at Barclays Center. The game was presented by Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida. Tyler Johnson led the way for the HEAT with 21 points. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  12. Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler The Miami HEAT face the Brooklyn Nets Thursday night at Barclays Center. The game is presented by Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida. The HEAT defeated the Nets 108-99 in their last meeting on Feb. 10. Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM, and television coverage is on FOX Sports Sun. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: What did we learn from Miami’s first foray into the preseason? Couper Moorhead: The most immediate note from that game was that Erik Spoelstra used Rodney McGruder and James Johnson alongside assumed-starters Goran Dragić, Dion Waiters and Hassan Whiteside. I wouldn’t read too much into that beyond its simply being the first group Spoelstra tried as, based on all previous preseasons when there hasn’t been a clear starter he will experiment with all available options just to see how the pieces fit. That being said, both McGruder and Josh Richardson performed well in their roles against Atlanta, with Richardson looking as athletic, energetic and healthy as he has at any point in his young career. We also learned the lesson that we learn early in every preseason, which is that it’s early in the preseason. While the schemes on either side of the ball were clearly recognizable from a year ago, the offense had a bit of lag time as far as execution goes and the defense had some holes that will most likely be tightened up in the coming weeks. This is all perfectly normal. In fact, even not quite looking themselves at times the HEAT were ahead of where many other teams will be right now given that so much of what they do is a refresher course. Joe Beguiristain: We learned…well continued to see how versatile and deep the HEAT are. From obvious choices like Goran Dragić and Tyler Johnson to wing players Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow, there are just so many guys who can handle the ball. For example, Winslow came off the bench for James Johnson in the first quarter on Sunday and played power forward for a bulk of the first half. However, the 21-year-old pretty much ran the offense late in the third quarter and early into the fourth. Another standout was Josh Richardson, who led the team with four blocks. Yes, four. Simply put, Richardson looked like he did towards the end of last season when he wreaked havoc on both ends of the floor. While things could have been smoother for Miami as a whole both offensively and defensively, it’s important to remember that it was the first game of the preseason. There are a lot of the same faces, but some guys have to adjust to new roles. We’ll see how things look as the preseason continues. 2: Do you expect Spoelstra to try anything new Thursday night? Couper: Spoelstra said at practice that, given that this preseason is shortened to six games, he’s going to address things game-to-game rather than approach his rotations with a pre-planned approach. In other words, even though it’s expected to see change at some point there’s no set-in-stone plan to start one player one night and a different player the next. So against Brooklyn we might see the exact same rotation and minutes distribution. Joe: Since you can pretty much bank on Dragić, Dion Waiters and Hassan Whiteside being in the starting lineup, I think Spoelstra might try something new in terms of the three and four spot down the road in the preseason. As Coup mentioned above, Spo went with Rodney McGruder and James Johnson against Atlanta. Perhaps we’ll see Winslow in the starting lineup alongside McGruder or Richardson with Johnson. Even if the starting lineup does remain the same, there is a chance certain guys will get more burn with one another as opposed to Sunday night. 3: How might playing Brooklyn help the HEAT as they prepare for the regular season? Couper: While the Nets have so far started Timofey Mozgov at center – acquired from the Lakers along with D’Angelo Russell in exchange for Brook Lopez – they still play an aggressive, floor spacing type of game that should be another good test for Miami’s defense. It’s easy to forget that Jeremy Lin was signed by Brooklyn last year but spent most of the season injured. Now he’s back and starting at shooting guard, which means between him and Russell the Nets have multiple attackers along with a number of multi-positional wings and forwards. Joe: For starters, Brooklyn is a fast team that can beat you with a number of different guys. Case in point: seven Nets players scored in double-figures against the Knicks on Tuesday, including newcomers D’Angelo Russell (19 points on 7-of-14 shooting) and DeMarre Carroll (10 points on 4-of-7 shooting). Linchpin Sean Kilpatrick, meanwhile, ensured the victory with an eight-point fourth quarter. It’s also worth mentioning that Brooklyn shot 16-of-32 from deep against New York, so the HEAT’s perimeter defense and rotations will likely be put to the test. Highlights: Feb. 10 – HEAT at Nets Jan. 30 – Nets at HEAT Game Notes: The HEAT swept the season series with the Nets last year. Brooklyn is coming off a 115-107 victory over the Knicks on Tuesday. A.J. Hammons (illness) is out. Caris LeVert (sprained right ankle) and Allen Crabbe (sprained left ankle) are out.
  13. A Special Guest

    It was a really cool moment. Happy I could brighten your day with it.
  14. Hawks 90 - HEAT 96 Game Recap

    Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT defeated the Atlanta Hawks 96-90 Sunday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. The game was presented by Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida. Tyler Johnson led the way for the HEAT with 14 points. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  15. You actually might see me on there lol