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  1. "Y’all seen Casino, right? You know, the one with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in Vegas? Anyway — that one. If you want to know what it’s like to meet Pat Riley, you need to watch that movie." To read more, click on this link.
  2. By Wright Thompson This was the NBA legend's most difficult season in 50 years. So why, after nine championships, doesn't he just walk away? If only it were that easy. Read more
  3. Photo Credit: HEAT Click here to see what HEAT President Pat Riley had to say at his End of Season Press Conference on Wednesday.
  4. Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus Click here to check out some of the HEAT's best reactions during the 2016-17 season.
  5. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon What do you think of when you hear the word culture? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, one of the many definitions of culture is “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.” Sounds familiar, right? Read more
  6. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon Take a look back at the eventful 2016-17 HEAT season in the video below. http://www.nba.com/heat/video/2017/04/13/1492108814829-END-OF-SEASON-ROLL-OUT-1366392/
  7. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT host the Washington Wizards Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Get your tickets now! The HEAT defeated the Wizards 106-103 in their last meeting on April 8. Tip-off is set for 8:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 7:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: How did Miami pull out the comeback win against Cleveland? Couper Moorhead: The same way they usually do, by playing hard. The actual details of this game are less important than the fact that they managed to pull out a win, whether or not they had to overcome a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter. But the best run of the game came in the early fourth when Erik Spoelstra opted to use James Johnson at center for what felt like the first time in months. That formation won the HEAT games earlier in the season and it sparked an immediate surge in the fourth. That’s not to say things were easy from there, but it was certainly a more manageable deficit. Overall, the team just found a way to grind out a win just as they’ve been doing for the last few weeks. It might not look pretty, but looking pretty doesn’t get you anywhere this time of year if you don’t win. Joe Beguiristain: Despite not having LeBron James or Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers were quite sharp on the offensive end thanks to the hot shooting of Kevin Love and Deron Williams. Still, Miami stuck with it and fought back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime. While James Johnson and Wayne Ellington were vital in the fourth (the duo combined for 19 points in the period), Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson were even more impactful. Richardson led the team with five steals on the night and forced Williams to shoot just 2-of-7 from the field in the fourth quarter and overtime period combined. Not to mention, the 23-year-old also hit a difficult jumper to put the HEAT up 120-117 with 42.3 seconds remaining. T. Johnson, meanwhile, attacked the basket off the pick-and-roll down the stretch and hit four clutch free throws with less than 30 seconds left to seal the deal. The end result? Another important victory and another team hug when the clock hit zero. This team wants it. 2: Down to the last day of the season, what do Miami’s playoff hopes look like? Couper: After a month of tracking future schedules and complicated multi-team tiebreakers, there’s nothing complicated about tonight. If the HEAT lose, they’re out. If the HEAT win and both Indiana and Chicago win, they’re out. But if the HEAT win and either Indiana or Chicago loses, then they’re in. Simple as that. They could also get as high as the No. 7 seed if both those teams lose, but the most important thing tonight is simply extending the season. So how do things look for the other teams? The Bulls have Brooklyn at home. The good news there is that the Nets have been playing pretty well lately and just beat the Bulls last week. The bad news is that the Nets are resting a bunch of players and only have seven road wins all season and just two over playoff teams. The Pacers are also at home, hosting the Hawks. Now, Atlanta clinched the No. 5 seed with a win over Charlotte on Tuesday and might elect to rest players given that they’ll be on a back-to-back too. But that’s where the HEAT are right now, relying on help from the Hawks or the Nets. Joe: Since we’ve been breaking down a bunch of convoluted scenarios for the past few weeks, it’s only fitting that it all comes down to Wednesday night’s regular season finale. For starters, if the HEAT lose to the Wizards, they’re out regardless of how the Pacers or Bulls fare. On the other side of the coin, if Miami wins, the team isn’t guaranteed to make the postseason. In that scenario, the HEAT still need either Indiana or Chicago to lose in order to clinch a spot. On Wednesday, the Bulls host the Nets, while the Pacers host the Hawks. Although Brooklyn defeated Chicago on Saturday, the Nets announced on Tuesday that Trevor Booker, Jeremy Lin, Brook Lopez, Quincy Acy, Joe Harris and Sean Kilpatrick are all out for their final game. On paper, that makes things much easier for the Bulls, but you never know. As for Indiana’s matchup, Atlanta could opt to rest its guys too since the Hawks solidified the No. 5 seed with their win over the Hornets on Tuesday night. That said, Atlanta’s approach still remains to be seen. We’ll see how it all plays out. 3: What is Washington’s situation Wednesday night? Couper: The Wizards are locked into the No. 4 seed no matter what happens tonight. They also know that they’ll be playing Atlanta after the Hawks beat the Hornets Tuesday. In other words, the Wizards have nothing to play for beyond maintaining a rhythm headed into the postseason. Scott Brooks has already said that Ian Mahinmi won’t play and that he’ll likely rest a number of other players, but even those regulars who do play, we surmise, might not see a regular allotment of minutes. The final game of the season, for most teams in this situation, is for giving guys a bit of a break and making sure nobody gets hurt. Joe: Both John Wall (quad) and Otto Porter Jr. (back) missed Monday night’s game against the Pistons, so you should expect the same if not more to sit out on Wednesday. Case in point: the Wizards called up former University of Miami standout Sheldon McClellan on Tuesday, which means he might get some playing time against the HEAT. As Coup stated above, Washington is already set in the No. 4 seed, so there’s really no need to push guys when a playoff series with the Hawks is right around the corner. Even so, Miami understands that it still has to come out and compete. INJURY UPDATE: John Wall (rest), Bradley Beal (rest), Markieff Morris (rest) and Ian Mahinmi (calf) are all out for Wednesday night's game. Highlights: April 8-HEAT at Wizards Game Notes: The HEAT have won three of four and are 40-41. The Wizards have won three of four and enter the contest at 49-32. Josh Richardson is averaging 15.0 points, 2.8 steals and 1.6 blocks per game on 53.8 percent shooting from downtown in his last five outings. Marcin Gortat leads Washington with 10.4 rebounds per contest. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 105.1 (16) HEAT Defense: 104.1 (5) Wizards Offense: 108.5 (8) Wizards Defense: 106.8 (20)
  8. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT defeated the Washington Wizards 110-102 Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Goran Dragić led the way for the HEAT with 28 points. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  9. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT host the Cleveland Cavaliers Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Get your tickets now! The HEAT defeated the Cavaliers 106-98 in their last meeting on March 6. Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 7:00 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: What did you take away from Miami’s highly necessary win in Washington? Couper Moorhead: At this point, how the team plays is almost secondary to whether they win or lose – a different message than we usually send given how much attention we give to the process in this space. In winning while Chicago lost at Brooklyn, the HEAT and Bulls remained tied and Miami still has a decent shot at a playoff spot. That’s the most important thing. But within the game itself there were some important developments. Josh Richardson was a demon in transition, defensively, as he stymied John Wall over and over to the point that the Wizards scored just 97.7 points per 100 when Wall was on the floor. Washington averages 16 fast-break points a game and Miami held them to just eight thanks to Richardson’s effort. Hassan Whiteside, on the other hand, might have had the single best game of his career. Yes he’s had more statistically impressive games and nights when dunks come in bunches, but in this one he simply found ways to impact winning at every opportunity whether it was deflecting passes, managing pick-and-roll spacing, scoring efficiently in the post or attacking the glass – not to mention a game-saving switch onto Beal in the final seconds. You might have a more favorite performance, but this might have been his most complete given the stakes. Joe Beguiristain: Grit. Hustle. Heart. All of it was on display in yet another must-win game for the HEAT on Saturday night. As Erik Spoelstra has alluded to in the past, his team wants to make the playoffs badly. If you need more proof of that, all you have to do is take a look at the massive team hug when the clock hit zero against the Wizards. As usual, Miami fought tooth and nail with a Washington team that, at the time, was also fighting for playoff seeding. With a lot at stake, there were 17 lead changes and 15 ties on Saturday night. Since Coup already mentioned the sharp play of Hassan Whiteside (who amassed 30 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and a plus-10 rating) and Josh Richardson (who forced John Wall to shoot 5-of-18 from the field and commit eight turnovers) I’ll get into James Johnson’s performance. Johnson started his third straight game in place of the injured Luke Babbitt and made some huge plays down the stretch to ensure the victory. In the final 2:40 of the game, the forward came up with a key steal on Markieff Morris, threw down a massive dunk, hit the game-winning layup and grabbed a defensive rebound after Whiteside blocked Bradley Beal on the final possession. That kind of two-way play is almost expected from Johnson at this point, which tells you that he should strongly be considered for the Most Improved Player award. 2: What does the playoff picture currently look like? Couper: The HEAT sit in the No. 9 spot, tied with Chicago, one game back of No. 7 Indiana and two games back of No. 6 Milwaukee. With Atlanta’s incredible comeback victory over Cleveland on Sunday, the Hawks are now out of reach for Miami meaning the highest seed attainable is No. 6 – and a matchup with Cleveland, Boston or Toronto. So what does Miami need to happen? If they can go 2-0 against the Cavs and Wizards (who might rest players Wednesday with their seed locked in), then either the Pacers (@ Philadelphia, vs Atlanta) or Bulls (vs Orlando, vs Brooklyn) going 1-1 is enough to get in. If Miami goes 1-1, they’ll need one of those two teams to lose out. Either way, most scenarios involve one of Indiana or Chicago losing at least one game. There is one backdoor scenario where both Chicago and Miami win out, which involves Milwaukee losing its last three games and the Bulls missing the playoffs due to the three-team tiebreaker. Regardless, all Miami can control is how they play in their next two games. Playoff odds and scenarios only matter if you win. Joe: Since the Bulls have the tiebreaker over the HEAT, Chicago is currently in the final playoff spot despite having the same record as Miami. Indiana, meanwhile, is sitting at No. 7 with a 40-40 record. While the HEAT’s best chance at making the postseason involves them winning their final two games, they also need some help from either the Bulls or Pacers. You should know by now that Miami has the toughest remaining schedule of the three (especially since the Cavaliers just blew a 26-point lead in the fourth quarter against Atlanta on Sunday) but the Wizards might rest their guys on Wednesday since they’re locked into the No. 4 seed. Like I always say though, the HEAT just need to take care of their own business and let the chips fall where they may. James Johnson echoed that sentiment after Saturday night’s victory. “We’re not worried about the standings,” Johnson said. “We’re worried about these next two games and taking care of that. And however the chips fall after we take care of what we can take care of, we can live with. But we can’t live with giving somebody else the option of getting us out.” 3: Can we apply anything from the previous wins over Cleveland to Monday night? Couper: Assuming Cleveland plays all its usual players (barring Tristan Thompson, who is dealing with a thumb injury) as it continues to fight for the No. 1 seed in the conference, then there probably isn’t much to draw on. In the first game of that March series, the Cavs didn’t play anyone. In the second game, Cleveland was still missing Kevin Love and JR Smith while the HEAT were without both Tyler and James Johnson. Now, both Dion Waiters and Josh McRoberts have been upgraded to Questionable for Monday night so we won’t know quite what the lineups look like especially given that James Johnson has been starting lately. But the player who really changes things in this matchup is Love. Johnson is the ideal player to guard both James and Love, but there is only one of him. Put Johnson on James, and now you have either Rodney McGruder or Josh Richardson giving up size in the post to Love. Same goes for having Johnson on Love. Both Richardson and McGruder have been up to the challenge of defending larger players, but it’s a disadvantage for them however you look at it. Let’s just forget about how these teams have played each other in the past and enjoy this one for what it is. This should be NBA drama at its best, and you can’t ask for much else this time of year. Joe: For all intents and purposes, we can throw out the March 4 game since LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love didn’t play. James and Irving rested, while Love was out after undergoing minor knee surgery. The following matchup, however, featured James and Irving and the HEAT still came away victorious thanks to the sharp play of Goran Dragić and Dion Waiters. Speaking of Waiters, he was upgraded to questionable on Sunday afternoon. That said, it’s unclear as of this moment if he will actually suit up. Getting back to what we can apply to this matchup, one glaring issue with Cleveland that’s been prevalent since the All-Star Break has been its defense. In their last 25 games, the Cavaliers have tallied a 111.2 defensive rating (only the Lakers have been worse since the break). We’ll see if Miami can take advantage on Monday night. INJURY UPDATES: LeBron James (right calf strain) and Kyrie Irving (left knee tendinitis) are listed as out. Kevin Love (illness) is listed as questionable. Highlights: March 6-HEAT at Cavaliers Game Notes: The HEAT have won two of three and are 39-41. The Cavaliers have dropped two straight and enter the contest at 51-29. In his last three games as a starter, James Johnson is averaging 21.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per contest on 55.8 percent shooting. LeBron James leads Cleveland in points (26.4), assists (8.7) and steals (1.2) per game. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 105.0 (17) HEAT Defense: 104.1 (5) Cavaliers Offense: 111.2 (3) Cavaliers Defense: 107.9 (22)
  10. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-121 in overtime Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Tyler Johnson led the way for the HEAT with 24 points. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  11. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon At 2:15 PM EST, I will ask a trivia question for a pair of tickets to tomorrow night’s game against the Wizards. Please keep in mind that you must be at least 18-years-old in order to qualify and must reside in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach or Monroe County. Also, you are ineligible if you've already won tickets this calendar month. Please only play/answer if you can attend and qualify based on these rules: http://www.nba.com/heat/miami-heat-inferno-trivia-contest-official-rules-april-11-2017
  12. Photo Credit: Ron Turenne The Miami HEAT face the Toronto Raptors Friday night at Air Canada Centre. The HEAT fell to the Raptors 101-84 in their last meeting on March 23. Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 7:00 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: What was most impressive to you about Miami’s hugely important win at Charlotte? Couper Moorhead: It’s tough to pick between the HEAT hitting 21 threes on 40 attempts and . . . no, it’s the HEAT hitting 21 threes on 40 attempts. In what was their latest biggest game of the season, with Charlotte poised to leap back into the playoff race with a victory, the HEAT managed to come up with the single best three-point shooting game in franchise history. How’s that for timing? They weren’t all wide-open shots. Charlotte does tend to allow perimeter catches considering how disciplined they are at defending the paint, but until the floodgates opened in the final minutes the Hornets did fairly well closing out on and contesting shooters. Even looking at only their threes, Miami’s expected effective field-goal percentage was just slightly under their mark for the entire season. They had to make some tough looks, and make them they did. It’s not the sort of performance you can always count on having, but it certainly came at the perfect time. Also, if you’re keeping track, in the last three years the HEAT have set the marks for most efficient offensive game in franchise history, highest individual scoring game in franchise history (LeBron James) and most threes in a single game in franchise history. All against Charlotte. Joe Beguiristain: The HEAT’s remarkable shooting performance made it a night to remember, but the team’s overall demeanor was quite impressive. In what was a huge game with major playoff implications, Miami came out with a laser-sharp focus and business-like approach. While five HEAT players scored in double-figures, it was Goran Dragić who really got things started off on the right foot. From beginning to end, the Slovenian kept the pressure on Charlotte and led the way with 33 points on 13-of-21 shooting, including 5-of-9 from deep. That said, Miami wouldn’t have been victorious without James Johnson, who shined on both ends of the floor in his first start of the season. From a fantastic hustle play in defensive transition against Nicolas Batum to a steal on Kemba Walker down the stretch, the forward did it all. Of course, he also set a career high with six made 3-pointers. In addition to the HEAT making history with their 21 threes, Hassan Whiteside also etched his name in the record books with his 54th double-double, which set the single-season franchise record. Simply put, it was one heck of a performance from top to bottom. 2: What can we take from the previous game against Toronto headed into tonight? Couper: Everyone will remember DeMar DeRozan dropping 40 points on what were some incredibly tough shots, even for him. But the bigger story was that after a hot start, the HEAT struggled to score as Toronto found another defensive gear and made every Miami shot a difficult shot. Part of that is because Toronto, with their recent acquisitions of Serge Ibaka (who didn’t play in the last game) and P.J. Tucker have as many or more players than the HEAT who can defend multiple positions with strength and speed. That takes away from some of Miami’s usual advantages with James Johnson, Hassan Whiteside and Willie Reed in the middle of the floor. On top of that, the issue was exacerbated by the HEAT’s 16 turnovers. Cleaning up the execution can take you a long way. The Raptors also didn’t have Kyle Lowry in that last game. He’s back now, without a minutes limit, leaving Toronto in as healthy a state as they have been all season. Just another big game against a very good team. Joe: In that last matchup on March 23, Toronto used a 13-3 run at the beginning of the fourth quarter to take a 17-point lead with a little under seven minutes to play. Although Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson fought hard to try and narrow the gap, it just wasn’t enough in the end. As a whole, the Raptors have a lot of depth at key positions, and that caused some issues for the HEAT throughout the contest. This time around, Miami also has to worry about Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry. Ibaka was out for that last meeting due to a one-game suspension, while Lowry was rehabbing his right wrist after undergoing surgery. Since Lowry missed 21 games, you’d think he would look a little rusty in his return to action. On the contrary, the bullish guard scored 27 points on 9-of-16 shooting, dished out 10 assists and nabbed two steals on Wednesday against the Pistons. While things will be tough, the HEAT never back down from a challenge. We’ll see how things play out on Friday night. 3: With four games left, what does the playoff picture currently look like? Couper: While many fans lamented the recent losses to both New York and Denver, the reality is that while those were by no means good losses, the HEAT got the two most important games of the last stretch in beating both Detroit and Charlotte on the road. Because not only did those games keep Miami in the fight for one of the final playoff seeds, it effectively knocked both the Pistons and Hornets out of contention themselves (538 projections give both teams less than a one percent chance of making the playoffs as of Thursday). In other words, the HEAT have controlled the field, leaving them less at risk of suffering the consequences of chaos and randomness. With Chicago, Indiana and Miami all grouped up for those final two spots, there’s still more winning to be done. The HEAT have the toughest remaining schedule of those teams left and any one loss could have significant ramifications on the race, but given how this season has gone, why expect anything to be easy? Joe: With Chicago and Indiana both winning on Thursday night, the Bulls stayed put at No. 7 and the Pacers leapfrogged the HEAT for the final playoff spot in the East. Additionally, the Hawks supplanted the Bucks for the No. 5 seed after defeating the Celtics. Even though the HEAT have a tough road ahead (at Raptors, at Wizards, vs. Cavaliers, vs. Wizards), they’ve risen to the occasion quite often throughout this season. Regardless of what’s been thrown in Miami’s path, the team has always found a way to block out the noise and focus on the task at hand. Above all else, that mentality has been the driving force in the HEAT’s improbable playoff push. Highlights: March 23-Raptors at HEAT Game Notes: The HEAT have won three of five and are 38-40. The Raptors have won 9 of 11 and stand at 48-31. Goran Dragić is averaging 25.0 points and 5.6 assists per game on 51.2 percent shooting over his last five. DeMar DeRozan leads Toronto in scoring at 27.0 points per game. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 105.2 (16) HEAT Defense: 104.2 (5) Raptors Offense: 109.9 (5) Raptors Defense: 105.2 (9)
  13. Photo Credit: Ned Dishman The Miami HEAT face the Washington Wizards Saturday night at Verizon Center. The HEAT defeated the Wizards 112-101 in their last meeting on December 12. 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: Were there any positives to take away from a tough loss in Toronto? Couper Moorhead: Unlike the win at Charlotte, when Miami set the single-game franchise record by hitting 21 threes, the offense never quite got going against the Raptors. Some of that was the team missing reasonably good looks, but Toronto is as versatile a defensive team as there is in the league and they more than did their part as far as staying in front of the ball and contesting. The HEAT, too, did their job defensively limiting the Raptors to 41 percent shooting and less than 40 points in the paint, even forcing DeMar DeRozan into 32 shots in order to get to 38. And the competitive spirit, as always, was there after Miami overcame multiple double-digit deficits to tie the game down the stretch. So what sunk Miami, other than the relatively poor shooting night (until a late flurry of Wayne Ellington threes)? It was the 19 turnovers. Passes going out of bounds or otherwise off target, offensive fouls, traveling – whatever form they took they eventually cost Miami the chance to play for the win in the final seconds. Those turnovers weren’t there against Charlotte, either. Joe Beguiristain: There were. Despite a slow start to the game and double-digit deficits in both the second and third quarters, the HEAT climbed back and tied it up at 82 with 4:43 left to play. While James Johnson and Hassan Whiteside responded well after halftime, it was Wayne Ellington who led Miami with nine points in the fourth quarter. As usual, Ellington moved very well off the ball to get open and didn’t need much space to get a shot off. On the defensive end, the HEAT competed hard and made things tough on the Raptors’ dynamic backcourt even though DeMar DeRozan finished with 38 points. DeRozan started off red-hot, but shot just 4-of-14 in the second half thanks to Josh Richardson’s hard-nosed defense. Kyle Lowry, meanwhile, was held to just 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting overall in large part due to Rodney McGruder and Tyler Johnson. Although Miami fell short in the end, the team has shown an ability to bounce back from tough losses. We’ll see how they respond on the second night of a back-to-back. 2: What does the playoff picture currently look like? Couper: The HEAT sit in the No. 9 spot, a game back of both Chicago and Indiana, two games back of Milwaukee and three back of Atlanta. With Chicago owning the head-to-head tiebreaker that makes the Pacers the most likely target for Miami to overtake. Saturday is going to be a massively important day. Miami can’t be eliminated with a loss, but if Chicago wins at Brooklyn and Indiana wins at Orlando then a loss would essentially put all the power in the hands of those teams above them. Even now Miami doesn’t control its own destiny and will be relying on the Bulls and Pacers to lose at least one more game the rest of the way. Whatever happens Saturday night, Cleveland and Washington (again) loom in the final two games of the season, and with both teams fighting for playoff seeding there is currently not an expectation that they will rest anyone (subject to change, of course). Joe: With the loss on Friday night, the HEAT are now one game back of both the Bulls and Pacers, which are 39-40. Remember, Miami owns the tiebreaker over Indiana, but Chicago possesses it over the HEAT. As such, Miami’s most likely route to the postseason would be by supplanting Indiana within these next few games. Of the three teams fighting for the final two playoff spots, the HEAT have the toughest remaining schedule. While there are better predicaments to be in, the fact of the matter is Miami closes its season with two home games. As I’ve stated multiple times in the past, it’s all about the HEAT taking care of their own business. 3: What unique challenges does Washington present Saturday night? Couper: Speed. Only three teams get a higher percentage of overall points off fast-breaks than Washington, so with Miami playing on a road back-to-back there will be no respite in the open floor. Getting back in transition is usually not an issue the HEAT have for long periods of time, but they’ll have to keep their turnovers down as well. You already know about John Wall and Bradley Beal and how those two have powered Washington to one of the best second-half performances in the conference (32-15 since January 1st), but where the Wizards shine now is in their depth. Otto Porter Jr. has taken a step forward, Bojan Bogdanovic was acquired at the trade deadline to offer a solid combination of size and scoring, and Ian Mahinmi is now firmly in the rotation after missing most of the first half of the season. That means Washington can now throw a combo of Marcin Gortat and Mahinmi at Whiteside throughout the course of the game, though Whiteside tends to play Gortat well. The major question right now is whether or not Markieff Morris can play after sitting out the previous game with a sore ankle. With Morris out, Washington has started Jason Smith at power forward and it was Smith who struggled to defend James Johnson earlier this season. Granted that was when Johnson was a surprise insert at center and the spacing is different at the four, but Morris’ availability could have a matchup-related trickle-down effect either way. Joe: Much like Toronto, the Wizards have one heck of a backcourt that can beat you in a bunch of different ways. While Miami has defeated Washington in the previous two meetings this season, the Wizards are a much better team now than they were back when the HEAT last faced them on December 12. For starters, John Wall and Bradley Beal have meshed better than they ever have before, and the results speak for themselves. Since December 26, Washington has gone 35-15 with the fifth-best offensive rating in the league (110.6). In addition to Wall and Beal, Otto Porter Jr. has also had a career year. In fact, the former Georgetown Hoya is shooting 43.7 percent from downtown on 4.3 attempts per game. That’s incredible. On the flip side of the ball, the Wizards have struggled recently (111.2 defensive rating in their 24 games since the All-Star Break, tied for 29th in the league), but they still make the opposition commit a lot of turnovers. Since the break, Washington has forced opponents into 15.1 turnovers per game, which ranks the team among the top five in that category. Even so, the HEAT should be able to find some success offensively as long as their ball movement is on-point. Highlights: December 12-Wizards at HEAT Game Notes: The HEAT are 38-41 on the season. The Wizards have won two straight and enter the contest at 48-31. Hassan Whiteside leads Miami in rebounds (14.1) and blocks (2.1) per game. John Wall leads Washington in points (23.2), assists (10.7) and steals (2.0) per contest. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 105.0 (17) HEAT Defense: 104.0 (5) Wizards Offense: 108.6 (8) Wizards Defense: 106.9 (20)
  14. Photo Credit: Ned Dishman The Miami HEAT defeated the Washington Wizards 106-103 Saturday night at Verizon Center. Hassan Whiteside led the way for the HEAT with 30 points. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  15. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon At 1:30 PM EST, I will ask a trivia question for a pair of tickets to tomorrow night’s game against the Cavaliers. Please keep in mind that you must be at least 18-years-old in order to qualify and must reside in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach or Monroe County. Also, you are ineligible if you've already won tickets this calendar month. Please only play/answer if you can attend and qualify based on these rules: http://www.nba.com/heat/miami-heat-inferno-trivia-contest-official-rules-april-9-2017
  16. Photo Credit: Ron Turenne The Miami HEAT fell to the Toronto Raptors 96-94 Friday night at Air Canada Centre. James Johnson led the way for the HEAT with 22 points. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  17. Photo Credit: Kent Smith The Miami HEAT defeated the Charlotte Hornets 112-99 Wednesday night at Spectrum Center. Goran Dragić led the way for the HEAT with 33 points. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  18. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon At 4:00 PM ET, I will ask a trivia question in this thread to give away one Goran Dragić signed photo. A multi-part question will be asked and the first eligible person who responds correctly will be declared the winner. Please note that you must live in the U.S. since your prize will be mailed to you. READ the full rules to make sure you’re eligible: http://www.nba.com/heat/miami-heat-inferno-trivia-contest-official-rules-april-6-2017-goran-dragic-signed-photo
  19. Photo Credit: Kent Smith The Miami HEAT face the Charlotte Hornets Wednesday night at Spectrum Center. The HEAT defeated the Hornets 108-101 in their last meeting on March 8. 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: What did you take away from Miami’s loss to Denver on Sunday? Couper Moorhead: While Miami certainly could have played better on both ends, especially offensively, this game also made readily apparent how difficult of a matchup Denver is for the HEAT. Even with some injuries the Nuggets don’t have many weak spots in their lineup, meaning Miami’s usual advantage off the bench is diminished slightly, but Denver also had a ton of size and the skill to take advantage of it. Through no fault of their own, Rodney McGruder, Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson all found themselves at a height disadvantage against the likes of Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. And with Hassan Whiteside being pulled out of the paint by the immensely-skilled Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets were able to mismatch-hunt around the rim. Those matchup issues aren’t going to be the same against other teams and other personnel, but Miami hasn’t been as consistent on the defensive end of late as we’re used to seeing. With the season on the line, that’s where they can get things back on track. Joe Beguiristain: My main takeaway was the resurgence of Josh Richardson. After a nice outing against the Knicks on March 29, the 23-year-old simply went off in the fourth quarter against the Nuggets. How so? Well, he scored 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting in the period (including 3-of-4 from deep) and assisted Tyler Johnson on a huge three that narrowed the deficit to one with 10.8 seconds left. The barrage from deep wasn’t exclusive to Richardson, however, as the HEAT shot 13-of-26 (50 percent) from beyond the arc. It’s no secret that Miami is very tough to beat when it finds the range from downtown (22-8 when shooting 40 percent or better from three), and while it didn’t result in a victory this time around, it was still good to see the team catch fire. If the HEAT can build off that and also get back to their defensive principles, they should have some success on their three-game road trip. 2: What is behind Charlotte’s recent surge back into the playoff race? Couper: Since seemingly dropping out of the playoff race in mid-March the Hornets have surged back into the mix winning seven of ten including impressive road wins in Toronto and Oklahoma City this past week. This really shouldn’t be much of a surprise, however. The Hornets are good, especially when they have Cody Zeller with whom they’re a +6.9 whenever he is on the floor, and they had really only dropped behind the pack (as far as the lower playoffs seeds) when Zeller missed a good chunk of the season. Now Charlotte is as healthy as they’ve been all season, with Zeller starting and backups Frank Kaminsky and Miles Plumlee ready to go after both were sidelined during Charlotte’s last visit to Miami. As for how this game is going to go, the Hornets are always one of Miami’s most difficult opponents because they use a tough, paint-packing scheme and play it both smart and tough. Charlotte had the lead going into the final period when the teams played at the height of Miami’s run of success and it was only the HEAT’s ability to take advantage from the perimeter, shooting 17-of-41 from three, that pushed them ahead in the end. Joe: Although the Hornets have slipped up on the defensive end as of late, they’ve been one of the best offensive teams in the league over the past two and half weeks. In fact, Charlotte has tallied the fourth-best offensive rating (114.6) over its last ten games and has gone 7-3 during that stretch. Of course, Kemba Walker has been a handful, averaging 25.5 points and 5.3 assists per game on 41.4 percent shooting from three throughout the flurry. Also of note is the fact that defensive specialist Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has been more efficient offensively. While the Hornets’ recent run has been impressive, they’ve been one of the better passing teams all year and have also ranked among the top ten in 3-pointers attempted for most of the season. In short, Coach Steve Clifford always has his team prepared on both ends, and that has manifested itself in Charlotte’s recent playoff push. 3: What are the playoff implications of Wednesday night’s game? Couper: As of now, Miami is currently No. 9 and a half game back of Chicago and Indiana, which are tied for the final two playoff spots. The Hornets, meanwhile, are a game and a half behind the HEAT at No. 10. Unlike last week against Detroit the direct tiebreaker with Charlotte isn’t up in the air Wednesday night as the Hornets will finish with the better division record even if the series is 2-2, but 2-2 is very different from 1-3 when it comes to multi-team tiebreakers (as we saw at the end of last season). Of course tiebreakers only matter if teams actually tie and the most immediate concern is Charlotte being close enough to actually pull ahead of Miami in the standings. Other teams losing is always helpful, but you don’t want to rely on others to take care of things for you. Depending on how things go Wednesday night, Miami could earn a little cushion going into their tough finishing stretch of the season, or they could be on the outside looking in with a Toronto-Washington back-to-back looming. Joe: This game is of the utmost importance for both teams since the HEAT and Hornets are currently on the outside looking in. At the current moment, Miami is No. 9 (a half game back) and Charlotte is No. 10 (two games back) because Indiana defeated Toronto on Tuesday night and jumped up to No. 8. Additionally, the Hornets lost some ground on the HEAT with their loss to the Wizards. That said, Charlotte still leads the season-series 2-1 and also owns the better division record. Remember, conference and division records become more crucial if there is a multi-team tie. At the end of the day though, it’s all about what Miami can control, and that all starts with the team taking care of its own business. If you get caught up in what all the other teams are doing, you’ll drive yourself crazy. It’s better to just let things play out and enjoy what should feel like a playoff game on Wednesday night. Given everything that’s at stake, the atmosphere at Spectrum Center should be electric to say the least. INJURY UPDATE: Luke Babbitt (strained right hip flexor) did not participate in Wednesday morning's shootaround and is questionable to play against the Hornets. Highlights: March 8-Hornets at HEAT Game Notes: The HEAT enter the contest at 37-40. The Hornets have won seven of ten and are 36-42 on the year. Hassan Whiteside leads Miami in rebounds (14.0) and blocks (2.1) per game. Kemba Walker leads Charlotte in scoring at 23.2 points per contest. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 104.9 (17) HEAT Defense: 104.1 (5) Hornets Offense: 106.8 (14) Hornets Defense: 105.7 (13)
  20. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT host the Denver Nuggets Sunday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Get your tickets now! The HEAT defeated the Nuggets 106-98 in their last meeting on November 30. Tip-off is set for 6:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 5:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: What stuck out to you about Miami’s loss to New York? Couper Moorhead: This was a bit of a strange game in that it didn’t appear as though Miami was playing poorly, it was more than they were shooting poorly and the Knicks were not. There were certainly pockets, as Erik Spoelstra referred to them as, of mental lapses which led to some open Knicks shots, but as the game went along Miami tightened up and the Knicks hit some very tough shots. In the fourth quarter alone the HEAT held New York to an offensive rating of 92.3, which would be far and away the lowest rating in the league. Had Miami played to its normal level defensively throughout the evening they would have been able to absorb their own cold stretch late, but that’s not what happened. Disappointing as this loss was, it wasn’t all that different from most Miami games of late. Joe Beguiristain: The main thing that stuck out to me was how sharp the Knicks were offensively from the very beginning. Thanks in large part to Kristaps Porziņģis, New York shot 51.2 percent in the first half and took a four-point lead entering halftime. Luckily enough, Goran Dragić did his best to combat the Knicks with 16 first-half points. While the HEAT’s defense improved considerably in the second half due to Hassan Whiteside and James Johnson, New York had already gotten into a nice rhythm. As a result, the Knicks hit some difficult, contested shots in the fourth quarter (mainly Justin Holiday) to stay ahead and ultimately claim the victory. In short, it was valiant effort by Miami, but the team just couldn’t get enough stops. 2: How are the Nuggets different from the last time Miami played them? Couper: Through the first month of the season (Miami played Denver on November 30) the Nuggets were scoring 101.9 points per 100 possessions, good for 20th in the league. Since then they’ve scored 112.2 points per 100, good for the No. 3 offense in the entire league. Why such a drastic difference, some of it is getting healthy, like Miami, but the bulk of it has been rotation changes. Early on Denver was starting Jusuf Nurkic (now in Portland) and Emmanuel Mudiay. A little while after playing Miami, Nikola Jokic was moved into the starting lineup along with Jameer Nelson, Nurkic was eventually traded and Mudiay has been entirely out of the rotation at times. For good reason, too, since Denver has an offensive rating of 115.4 with Jokic on the court. Denver’s defense has still left something to be desired, but at least in the time since they played Miami they’ve found their offensive identity – that’s been enough to keep them in the race for the No. 8 spot in the West. Joe: Like Coup mentioned above, that last matchup with the Nuggets came very early into the season, as Jusuf Nurkić and Emmanuel Mudiay were starting at that time. Of late, Denver has rolled with veteran Jameer Nelson at point guard (who is out Sunday after straining his calf Friday against Charlotte) and do-it-all center Nikola Jokić in the starting lineup. Since Nelson is unable to play, Jamal Murray will get the start. Although Nelson has played quite well, Murray has proven to be a solid contributor in his rookie campaign. The 20-year-old can run the pick-and-roll and also hit spot-up threes when playing off the ball. Jokić, meanwhile, can simply do it all. The Serbian creates for his teammates supremely well (4.8 assists per game), does damage in the pick-and-roll (1.13 points per possession as the roll man) and knocks down threes at a 34.2 percent clip. Oh, and he’s coming off a 26-point, 13-rebound, 10-assist triple-double against the Hornets on Friday night. What else do you need? 3: What is the playoff situation right now and how will tonight’s game affect it? Couper: There is a three-way tie for the final two playoff spots with Chicago at No. 7, Miami at No. 8 and Indiana at No. 9. In other words, Miami still controls its own destiny, but that could change in one night should they lose and Indiana wins. Also of note is that Miami is two games back of Atlanta for the No. 6 seed and two games up on Charlotte. The Hawks could continue losing or Charlotte could make a major run (including beating Miami this week) but as far as the most likely scenarios go this is currently a three-team race for the final two spots. If Miami does make the postseason, their most likely opponents are either Cleveland or Boston. Joe: Because of tiebreakers, the HEAT are No. 8 in the East despite having the same record as the Pacers and Bulls. With its win on Saturday over the Hawks, Chicago jumped up from No. 9 to No. 7, which pushed Indiana out of the playoffs for the time being. That just goes to show you how much can change in 24 hours. In terms of who’s ahead of Miami, the fifth-seed Bucks have started to create some distance between themselves and the rest of the pack, as they are now three games up on the Bulls, HEAT and Pacers. Sixth-seed Atlanta, on the other hand, has been trending downwards recently. At the end of the day though, it’s all about what the HEAT can control. After practice on Saturday, James Johnson and Tyler Johnson echoed that sentiment and stated that they really don’t scoreboard watch the teams around them too much. With Miami trying to reach a common goal together, that makes perfect sense. Highlights: November 30-HEAT at Nuggets Game Notes: The HEAT have won two of three and are 37-39. The Nuggets have dropped five of seven and enter the contest at 35-40. Goran Dragić leads Miami in points (20.1), assists (5.9) and steals (1.2) per game. Danilo Gallinari leads Denver in scoring at 17.6 points per contest. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 104.8 (17) HEAT Defense: 104.0 (5) Nuggets Offense: 110.0 (5) Nuggets Defense: 111.0 (29)
  21. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT fell to the New York Knicks 98-94 Friday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Goran Dragić led the way for the HEAT with 22 points. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  22. Photo Credit: Oscar Baldizon The Miami HEAT fell to the Denver Nuggets 116-113 Sunday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Goran Dragić led the way for the HEAT with 22 points. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  23. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon At 2:30 PM EST, I will be conducting trivia for two pairs of tickets to tomorrow night’s game against the Nuggets. The same person can’t win both pairs. Also, please keep in mind that you must be at least 18-years-old in order to qualify and must reside in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach or Monroe County. Also, you are ineligible if you've already won tickets this calendar month. Please only play/answer if you can attend and qualify based on these rules.
  24. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT host the New York Knicks Friday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Get your tickets now! The HEAT defeated the Knicks 105-88 in their last meeting on March 29. Tip-off is set for 8:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 7:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: Was there anything of note to take away from Miami’s win in New York? Couper Moorhead: In what was a nice change of pace especially following the dramatic win in Detroit, there wasn’t. This was just a regular old road victory against a team that was on the verge of being eliminated from the playoffs. Some of Miami’s play in the first half wasn’t exactly inspired, but that’s common on the second night of a back-to-back and once the HEAT got into gear following the break the outcome wasn’t much in doubt. This isn’t a game you’re going to hear much about ever again, and night’s like that are just as important as any when every win counts. Joe Beguiristain: Even though New York hasn’t been playing well, it was still good to see Miami lock-in on the defensive end and hold the Knicks to just 37.1 percent shooting on Wednesday night. While Derrick Rose didn’t play, Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis did. Luckily enough, James Johnson and Josh Richardson did a nice job of defending both players when matched up with them at certain points in the contest. Come to think of it, Richardson actually did the same against every Knick he defended, whether it was Justin Holiday or Ron Baker. In short, the 23-year-old had a nice all-around performance in which he scored 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-7 from deep, came away with a team-high five steals and blocked a shot. Hopefully Richardson can continue to get back to his old ways as the regular season winds down. 2: How does the playoff picture look right now and how could Friday night’s results change it? Couper: Thanks to Indiana losing Wednesday night and Miami holding the tiebreaker with them, the HEAT currently sit at No. 7 in the conference standings. With the top half and bottom half of the bracket so grouped up the matchups are sure to be fluid on a daily basis, so there’s not too much of a need to zero in on any of them. It’s still about making the playoffs first, finding out who you’re fortunate enough to play second. As long as Miami keeps winning they can do no worse than No. 7. They’re two games behind both Atlanta and Milwaukee and a game up on No. 9 Chicago. Things will change every day for the next two weeks. Joe: With Miami winning and Indiana losing to Memphis on Wednesday night, the HEAT jumped up to No. 7 in the East. Although both teams are currently 37-38, Miami owns the head-to-head tiebreaker. Below them are the Chicago Bulls (36-39) and Detroit Pistons (35-41), which are one game back and two and a half games back, respectively. Of the teams that are ahead of the HEAT and within reach, you have No. 5 Atlanta and No. 6 Milwaukee, which are both two games up at 39-36 on the season. Basically, all you need to know is that things are in flux at the moment since all these teams are bunched together. With seven games left to play for most of the aforementioned squads (six more for Detroit), a lot can change in a hurry. Buckle your seat belts. 3: Now that we’re into the home stretch of the season, how are the final seven games looking? Couper: One of the reasons winning Friday night would be so helpful is that New York is the only non-playoff team (as far as competing for a spot) left on Miami’s schedule. The HEAT still have a three-game trip to Charlotte, Toronto and Washington left plus two final home games against Cleveland and Washington. With a lot of teams vying for seeding, there’s no telling who will be playing out of those top-tier teams given that its exceedingly common for teams to rest players in the final week of the season. Maybe Toronto is locked into the No. 3 or No. 4 spot by then and can afford to buy a little rest time, but at the same time Kyle Lowry could be returning from injury and everyone plays to develop a rhythm. Maybe that last game against Cleveland could determine the No. 1 seed and the Cavaliers play everyone. It won’t be easy, but there’s much more going on than just the listed schedule. And don’t overlook Sunday’s game against Denver. The Nuggets are fighting for the No. 8 spot and have been one of the league’s deadliest offenses. Joe: While Miami’s remaining schedule looks tough, this team wouldn’t want it any other way. Since Coup already went through all the matchups above, I’ll just reiterate that it’s hard to predict what those last four games will look like. If Washington or Toronto pulls away for the third seed, that might prompt either team to rest some guys when it faces the HEAT. On the other hand, the Wizards and Raptors could still be fighting for playoff positioning based on how Cleveland and Boston fare. In other words, it’s probably too early to make any assumptions at this point. The one thing that you can rely on is that Miami will be ready to play regardless of who’s in or who’s out of the lineup. All in all, the HEAT’s turnaround this season has been truly remarkable regardless of how things shake out. Over the past few weeks, Erik Spoelstra has talked about how great it is to have meaningful games at the end of the season. And you know what? He’s absolutely right. Highlights: March 29-HEAT at Knicks Game Notes: The HEAT have won two straight and are 37-38. The Knicks have lost 9 of 11 and stand at 28-47. Miami has climbed up to the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference after starting the season 11-30. Carmelo Anthony leads New York in scoring at 22.5 points per game. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 104.9 (17) HEAT Defense: 104.0 (5) Knicks Offense: 104.7 (18) Knicks Defense: 108.7 (26)
  25. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon At 4:00 PM ET, I will ask a trivia question in this thread to give away one Hassan Whiteside signed jersey. A question will be asked and the first eligible person who responds correctly will be declared the winner. Please note that you must live in the U.S. since your prize will be mailed to you. READ the full rules to make sure you’re eligible: http://www.nba.com/heat/miami-heat-inferno-trivia-contest-official-rules-march-29-2017-hassan-whiteside-signed-jersey