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Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann At 1:00 PM ET, I will ask a trivia question in this thread to give away one Shane Battier signed photo. 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
dbarmmer posted a blog entry in The PULSE BlogBy Dylan Barmmer When talk turns to the HEAT among national observers, the names LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh generally dominate the conversation. But during the HEAT's exceptional and sensational run since James and Bosh joined franchise face Wade in the summer of 2010, many other men have contributed mightily to the success. Some call them "role players," while others prefer the term "glue guys." Whatever you call them, these players have filled key roles in the HEAT's drive to three consecutive NBA Finals appearances. And as the HEAT have begun their quest for a third consecutive NBA Championship by going 6-0 to open the 2014 NBA Playoffs, such supporting players have been equally instrumental. In the HEAT's first round series sweep of the young Charlotte Bobcats, it was Miami native James Jones who seized his opportunity to make an impact in a newly expanded role. In the HEAT's Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the veteran Brooklyn Nets, Shane Battier has gotten the call to contribute more. And just like fellow versatile veteran Jones, the 35-year-old Battier has taken full advantage of his increased opportunity. After playing just two minutes in all of the HEAT's series sweep of Charlotte, Battier was tabbed by HEAT coach Erik Spoelstra to start at small forward against the Nets. The decision paid immediate dividends – on both ends of the floor. Battier helped key a 107-86 win against the savvy, experienced Nets, scoring eight points, handing out two assists and grabbing one rebound in 26 minutes of action. Battier shot an efficient 3-of-5 from the field, including 2-of-4 from behind the three-point arc, in his first start since the HEAT's regular-season finale on April 16. He drilled his first shot attempt, a three-pointer from the right corner, to tie the game at 7-7 with 8:56 remaining in the first quarter, and he later played a key role in a 24-10 third-quarter run that put the HEAT up 70-54 and led to a comfortable win. Battier converted a layup in the opening minutes of the second half that put the HEAT up 50-43 with 10:37 left to play in the third quarter. When he buried another three-pointer from the right corner 2:25 later, the HEAT had a 55-49 lead with 8:12 remaining in the third. From there, the HEAT would mount a 15-5 burst that seemed to break the will of the Nets. The 6-foot-8, 220-pound Battier also helped limit dangerous Nets forward Joe Johnson to 17 points in 32 minutes of action. The sweet-shooting Johnson had averaged 21.9 points in the Nets' first-round win over the Toronto Raptors, scoring 24 points or more in four of the series' seven games. With Battier defending him for much of the game, Johnson managed just 11 shot attempts, including six from behind the three-point arc. In Game 2 two nights later, Battier nailed his very first shot attempt – a three-pointer that put the HEAT up 5-2 with 7:43 to play in a hard-fought first quarter. He closed the game with three points, one rebound and one steal in 19 minutes, helping the HEAT earn a 94-82 victory and take a commanding 2-0 series lead. And once again, he helped hold down Johnson, who finished with only 13 points on 6-of-14 shooting. Through the first two games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals series, Battier has averaged 5.5 points, 1.0 rebound, 1.0 assists and 0.5 steals in 22.5 minutes. He's hit 4-of-8 field goals, including 3-of-6 from long-distance. Most importantly, the HEAT have won both games, and now hold a powerful 2-0 lead as the series shifts to Brooklyn for the next two games. Battier's stellar contributions at both ends of the floor have come as no surprise to HEAT fans, teammates and coaches, who have seen the 13-season veteran do just about everything possible – in both starting and reserve roles – during his three seasons in a HEAT uniform. Battier joined the HEAT in the offseason prior to the 2011-12 season, and went on to play in 65 of that lockout-shortened season's 66 games, making 10 starts. Battier averaged 4.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.5 blocks in 23.1 minutes of that regular season, which saw the HEAT post a 46-20 record. In the postseason, Battier was moved into more of a starting role, and elevated his statistical output. In starting 16 of the HEAT's 23 playoff games, Battier averaged 7.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.6 blocks to help the HEAT win the franchise's second NBA Championship. He averaged a whopping 33.4 minutes per game during that Championship drive, and hit 38.2 percent of his three-point shot attempts. In his first full-length regular season with the HEAT, Battier averaged 6.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.8 blocks and 0.6 steals in 24.8 minutes per game, helping the HEAT post a NBA-best and franchise-record 66-16 mark. He saw action in 72 of those 82 games, starting 20, and shot a career-best 43.0 percent from behind the three-point arc, finishing just behind Ray Allen with 136 hits from long-range. Once the playoffs arrived, Battier moved into an exclusively reserve role, and averaged 4.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.3 blocks and 0.2 steals in 17.8 minutes per game off the HEAT bench. He also saved his best for last, scoring a postseason-high 18 points by drilling six three-pointers as the HEAT topped the San Antonio Spurs 95-88 in Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals. Battier nailed 6-of-8 shots from long-range in that game, including each of his first five attempts. "Reports of my demise were premature," quipped the quick-witted and humble Duke University graduate after that big-time showing in a must-win game. Battier continued to demonstrate his value this season, playing in 73 games and starting 56 of them. Battier averaged 4.1 points, 1.9 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.7 steals and 0.5 blocks in 20.1 minutes per game, shooting 34.8 percent from long-range – and draining 73 three-pointers. He scored nine or more points 10 times, and also drilled at least three three-pointers in 10 different games. Of course, Battier's value to a team goes well beyond the standard statistical accomplishments. A hard-working, aggressive and highly intelligent player and teammate, Battier is well known for doing much of the game's "dirty work" – taking charges, setting picks, keeping opponents away from the rim, diving for loose balls, executing inbounds passes and the like. His ability to knock down long-range shots also helps the HEAT space the floor and opens driving lanes for James, Wade, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole. Battier's willingness to do whatever it takes to help his team win – including sitting out for long stretches of games, if not entire games – is as renowned in NBA circles as his wit, intelligence, versatility and long-range shooting ability. It's this special skill set that causes former coaches and current TV analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Hubie Brown to wax poetic every time Battier's name comes up, and it's what prompts Wade to call him "one of my favorite teammates of all time." It's also what compelled the then-Vancouver Grizzlies to select Battier with the sixth overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, making him one of seven HEAT players to have been tabbed in the Top 6 of an NBA Draft. Now, close to 13 years later, Battier is a seasoned veteran, an accomplished three-point marksman, a crafty, cunning defender and much, much more. Most importantly, he's not just able to do many things exceptionally well – he's willing to do whatever the HEAT ask of him to help the team secure its third consecutive NBA Championship. The odds are certainly in their favor. After all, Battier and the HEAT are both a perfect 2-for-2 since he first donned a HEAT uniform.
By Dylan Barmmer He's playing a new position. He's giving up 20, 30, 40, 50 pounds per game on the defensive end. He's in just his second season in the HEAT system. But Shane Battier is getting the job done. And then some. Battier has accomplished a lot throughout a professional basketball career that has spanned 12 seasons and three NBA teams, so it really should come as no surprise to HEAT fans that the veteran swingman is finding a way to contribute as the HEAT's 6-foot-8, 220-pound starting power forward -- many ways, to be exact. Through the HEAT's first 11 games of the 2012-13 season, Battier ranks fifth on the HEAT in scoring at 7.5 points per game and is tied with LeBron James for second with 1.0 blocks per game. Not deterred by spending time and energy banging big bodies in the low post, Battier also ranks fifth on the club in 3-point field goal percentage at 47.1% and first in 3-pointers made per game (2.2) through the HEAT's strong 8-3 start. A sharpshooter on a team stocked with snipers, Battier ranks 13th in the entire NBA in 3-point field goal percentage and is tied for eighth in 3-pointers made per game. He's drilled a team-high 24 3-pointers in a team-high 51 attempts, and has hit on a sizzling 15-of-24 attempts (62.5%) over the last four games -- all on the road. Not coincidentally, the HEAT won three of those four games, including the last two without the services of Dwyane Wade, who has been resting a sore foot. Battier picked up his offense dramatically in those two games, scoring a season-high 18 points in a 98-93 win at Denver on Nov. 15 and 12 in a 97-88 victory at Phoenix two nights later. Battier made 10 of 15 shots in those two wins, all coming from long-range. Talk about efficient. Battier's superior conditioning and seemingly endless energy make HEAT fans forget that he's a 34-year-old, 12-year NBA veteran, but the smarts, savvy and clutch play of the former Duke University star serve as ample reminders of his vast experience. There's so many things he does well, and many of those things don't show up in your standard box score. Of course, Battier's value has long transcended standard statistical summation, as evidenced by the New York Times Magazine piece once penned on him by sportswriter Michael Lewis entitled "The No-Stats All-Star." And this year has been no different -- even as Battier's positional assignment has changed, and he's transitioned from a reserve role into a starting spot. The win in Denver serves as an ideal example of Battier's multi-faceted and versatile game. Yes, there were the season-high 18 points on the game-high six hits from long range. But there were also the handful of charging calls he drew, most of them coming at key points in the game and helping to spark or extend pivotal HEAT runs. And there were the numerous other times he recklessly yet strategically launched his sinewy, flexible frame into the teeth of the opposing offense. At times it's almost like Battier is a skilled defensive back in a football game, locking down opponents and relentlessly hunting down the ball every time it's thrown into his airspace. And just like the defensive back often won't get talked about unless he's beaten deep or comes up with a big interception, you often won't hear much mention of Battier unless he hits the deck or drills a timely triple. But Battier's name has been called more and more by both HEAT coach Erik Spoelstra and game announcers lately. And it's increasingly clear that despite the tough positional assignment that has him battling younger behemoths like the Nuggets' Kenneth Faried and L.A. Clippers star Blake Griffin, Battier is clearly more comfortable in the HEAT system this season than he was last year, when he joined the team as a free-agent signing just before the start of a frantic, lockout-compressed 66-game season. Of course, Battier emerged as a valuable component of that NBA World Champion HEAT team, averaging 4.8 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.0 steals and nailing 62 3-pointers in 23.1 minutes off the bench in 65 games. He did serve as a starter in 10 games, mostly filling in for Wade at shooting guard, but seeing some time at small forward as well. The former No. 6 overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft was even more valuable during the HEAT's playoff run to their second NBA title, averaging 7.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.0 steals in 33.4 minutes a game. His value, role and confidence continuing to grow as the season and postseason progressed, Battier ended up starting 16 of 23 postseason games, mostly at the small forward position, and nailing a HEAT-high 42 3-pointers during the title run. Battier was especially prolific during the HEAT's five-game NBA Finals win over Oklahoma City, scoring 9 or more points in four of the five games, including 17 in each of the first two and 11 in the closeout game. He canned a remarkable 15 of 26 shots from long-range (57.7%) and grabbed 4 or more rebounds three times. As usual, Battier's all-around game was strong in many other areas, and he helped limit the extremely explosive, young Thunder to under 100 points in three of the five games. Battier has continued to provide sweet shooting from long-range this season, while somehow managing to mix in spirited defense against men often much larger and longer than him down in the paint. It's been a win-win sort of situation, as the continued evolution of James' own post game, along with Chris Bosh's move to center, allows Battier to sneak and float back outside for good looks at 3-point shots fairly often on the offensive end, and he has continued to drain those shots when they matter most. So you might say Shane Battier is doing for the HEAT what he's always done during his decorated basketball career -- a little bit of everything.
By Dylan Barmmer Imagine you are playing for your third NBA team in two seasons. Imagine you are in your 12th season overall, and 5 months away from your 34th birthday. Imagine you had hardly any time to familiarize yourself with your new coaches, teammates, city or surroundings before being thrust into a prominent, multi-dimensional role as the bench leader of a deep, talented team. Imagine much of this was happening while you battled lingering quadriceps and calf injuries. Imagine you are Shane Battier. The prize acquisition of the HEAT's offseason, the versatile, veteran Battier is averaging a respectable 4.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.6 blocks in 22.5 minutes per game. He's played in all 52 of the HEAT's games, starting 7 of them. And he's compiled those numbers while battling the aforementioned litany of obstacles to smooth, sudden sailing in new waters. In the 12 games that fellow veteran swingman Mike Miller has missed due to an ankle sprain over the past three weeks, Battier has picked up his production, scoring 5 points or more in 6 of those 12 games, including 11 points twice. And he's pulled down 4 rebounds or more 6 times. He's also drained 11 of 40 3-point attempts during that stretch. Battier has also had a few monster games during this tough, truncated season. During a nailbiting 99-98 loss at Utah on March 2, he scored a season-high 18 points, grabbed 4 rebounds, handed out 3 assists and blocked a season-high 4 shots in 32 high-energy minutes. Battier drained 6 of 7 shots in that game, all from behind the 3-point arc. Battier was also brilliant in a 106-89 win at Washington on Feb. 10, scoring 15 points (on 6-of-9 shooting) and grabbing 5 rebounds in just 23 minutes. He also had a steal, block and assist in that game, showcasing his impressive all-around talent. For the season, Battier is shooting 38.3 percent from the floor, below his career average of 44.1 percent. But he's drained 34.9 percent of his shots from behind the 3-point arc, not far off his career average of 38.3 percent. And his 53 3-pointers made ranks second on the HEAT, behind only Mario Chalmers' 90. “I want to play well," said Battier in early February. "I grade myself harder than anybody else. At this point, I’m not worried about the numbers. Even if I go on a tear, I’m pretty far below my averages. I’m not going to be playing to those." But offense has always been a bit of a bonus for the 6-foot-8, 225-pound Battier, who carries a career average of 9.3 points per game over those 12 NBA seasons. Of course, the high-octane HEAT haven't needed Battier to score too much, allowing him to do the many other things he does so well -- many of which don't show up in box scores. In fact, of the 7 games Battier has scored 10 or more points in this season, only 4 have been HEAT wins. The quintessential "glue guy", the rugged, rangy and resilient veteran has always been more revered for his myriad defensive abilities. And it's on that side of the ball that Battier's skill set, savvy and energy really jump out at even the most casual observer. Battier willingly and creatively defends a number of players and positions, and does so with an energy and aggression that appears almost maniacal at times. When you consider that Battier is in his 12th NBA season and closing in on 34 years old, his defensive play is even more impressive. And while hustle plays, dives and jump balls don't show up in the box scores, things like blocks and steals do. Battier's 32 blocks are fifth-best on the team, just behind Chris Bosh's 36. And his 45 steals are fourth-best on the HEAT, one ahead of Bosh. Not bad for a reserve player who also happens to be the HEAT's second-oldest player. According to The Sporting News, Battier may also be the HEAT's smartest player. The esteemed publication recently tabbed him as the seventh-smartest athlete in all of professional sports. Graduating from Duke with honors while leading his team to two Final Fours and winning a National Title might have something to do with that. As might the effusive praise that seemingly every NBA analyst, especially former coaches like Hubie Brown and Jeff Van Gundy, regularly direct his way during telecasts. Van Gundy, who coached Battier in Houston and doesn't exactly hand out compliments like candy, has called Battier "the finest competitor I ever coached." "I have so much admiration for how Battier approaches his job, and his commitment to winning," Van Gundy said a few years back. "He comes ready to play every single day. He plays for the team, he plays for his teammates. If there is any NBA player that is egoless, it is Shane Battier. Battier is winning-driven." Add all of it up, and you're left with the portrait of a player whose value transcends mere numbers. And you see why Battier was the sixth player selected in the 2001 NBA Draft after a decorated career at Duke, where he won a National Championship and swept the major National Player of the Year awards as a senior. And why he was later selected as part of the U.S. National Team, helping them to a bronze medal in the 2006 FIBA World Championship. And you see why the HEAT coveted Battier long before signing him as a free agent this offseason. Because, as Van Gundy said, Shane Battier is "winning-driven." And the HEAT are winning with him.