Goran Dragic provides spark in nailbiting victory

Sunday’s action on the hardwood was exciting to the very end. The Miami Heat beat the Brooklyn Nets by a 109-106 score. It seemed like every starter contributed, and that was great to see. This season in particular, Miami has been all about balance in terms of scoring and that was evident on Sunday. And they once again got a major impact off the bench from Goran Dragic.

Dragic provides spark for Miami Heat

Dragic contributed 24 points, six assists, and two rebounds in 31 minutes of play. His 24 points were the most since he scored 25 on November 7 against the Phoenix Suns. This was another case of a player stepping up and helping Miami get the job done. He went three-of-six from behind the three-point line. He also chipped in three free throws.

Sunday night he was definitely looking for his shot, going nine-of-18 from the field. His 18 shot attempts were his most to this point in the season. If the Miami Heat can get him going on a consistent basis, that’s just another weapon they have in their arsenal.  Miami’s versatility this season has allowed Dragic to seamlessly transition from starter to sixth man. That’s the benefit of having depth on the roster. The rookies are playing so well that Miami can mix and match their lineups. For Miami, it’s a nice luxury to have.

With games against the Toronto raptors and Boston Celtics coming up, the Miami Heat need to be firing on all cylinders.  Dragic has been a valuable piece to their success so far. Playing well and with efficiency will be key for both the Heat and Dragic and it will be interesting to see how they do over these next couple of games. These will be two very difficult road tests and will pit Miami against two of the best in the Eastern Conference.

Full boat for Miami Heat: Blessing or problem?

The untold national story of the Miami Heat’s 13-5 start is how much they’ve done with less.

When training camp started, it was assumed by many that Justise Winslow, James Johnson, Dion Waiters and even Derrick Jones Jr. would be integral parts of the rotation. After all, those are two of the team’s highest paid players, the projected starting point guard and a prospect the Heat have compared to first round value.

But Winslow missed three weeks with a concussion. Johnson wasn’t in Heat shape to start camp and has fallen out of favor. Jones has had an assortment of maladies. And Waiters? Well, you know.

Now, though, all are back.

That gives the Heat 15 available players as they face the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday at the start of a compelling 3-game Eastern road swing.

So how will this shake out?

Start with the starting lineup. Since Winslow returned, Erik Spoelstra has inserted sixth man Goran Dragic in his place anyway. But the Heat are committed to Dragic as bench stalwart. So you’d guess Winslow gets back in the lineup, now that his minutes are up, to start to build offensive chemistry with Jimmy Butler — arguably the most important objective for this team in the short term.

But who is the guard between them? Still Kendrick Nunn? Duncan Robinson, who played so well as part of the five-man opening group with Winslow out? Or is this the time to insert Tyler Herro, the Bucket Brother who has undeniable chemistry with Butler?

That, of course, will affect the bench. Assuming Dragic goes back there, does he pair better with Herro or Nunn? And what about the frontcourt? Kelly Olynyk has found his game of late. Does he replace Meyers Leonard in the starting lineup? What becomes of two-way surprise Chris Silva? In some games, the Heat have needed his energy. They’re not worried about his service time clock. Send him to the G-League for a week as Jones and Johnson get some run? Or stay with what’s working?

You’d always rather have more talent than less.

But some of Spoelstra’s decisions have been made for him so far, by circumstance.

Now, as even he has said, the decisions will get more difficult.

His motto: Force me to watch you, force me to play you, force me to make a tough choice.

Heat lineups

Miami Heat: Jimmy Butler out for Wednesday’s game against Rockets

The Miami Heat will face a tough Houston Rockets team without one of its best players. Forward Jimmy Butler will not play in Wednesday’s game against the Rockets due to an illness.

This is certainly an unfortunate development as Butler has been fantastic for the Heat this season. He is averaging 18.9 points per contest, to go along with 5.4 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game. He is truly doing it all for Miami, and he is undoubtedly one of the leaders in the locker room.

If there is one positive about this injury, it is that the Heat beat the Milwaukee Bucks without Butler in October. They are facing a team of equal talent in the Houston Rockets Wednesday night.

This could also mean that Justise Winslow gets the start. Winslow has played in five games this season averaging 13.8 points. His best game statistically came on October 23 against Memphis where he scored 27 points on 10-of-21 shooting. He also managed to record seven rebounds and seven assists.

Winslow also had a nice game against Minnesota on October 27. In 42 minutes of work, he recorded 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting. He also proved to be an impactful playmaker, recording six assists on the evening. He has put up points when given the opportunity. For him, it’s all about staying healthy. Wednesday night, he may get his first chance at extended action in quite a while.

Miami Heat Watch Party at Duffy’s

Make sure to join us on Wednesday at Duffy’s for the Miami Heat game. It should be a great contest as they look to defeat the Houston Rockets. With an upstart Miami Heat team playing against one of the premier teams in the Western Conference, it is certainly must-see television.

Start your Thanksgiving holiday off right. Hopefully, the Miami Heat will make the party even better with a victory.

Heat’s Justise Winslow finally back, will play vs. Rockets

Justise Winslow will finally make his return Wednesday against the Houston Rockets.

The Miami Heat point guard has been out of action since November 5th when he collided with Nuggets forward Paul Millsap, and stayed in the game. He was placed in concussion protocol after the game and practiced for the first time today (Tuesday) since the injury. Without Winslow, Miami posted an impressive 7-2 record and didn’t miss a beat for the most part, except perhaps against Philadelphia, where his size and defense clearly would have been useful.

 

Duncan Robinson was able to step in for Justise and contribute solid minutes even posting a career high in points during his absence. It will be interesting to finally see the tandem of Jimmy Butler and Justise Winslow get significant play time together. Many expect them to flourish on the defensive end but question whether offensively it will work.

What Duncan Robinson gave the Heat during Winslow’s absence was a deadly three point threat which provided tons of spacing. Although Winslow isn’t an awful shooter (38 percent from three-point range the past two seasons), it will be interesting to see how this plays out especially since the Heat proved they can win games without him. Also, the Heat have been linked to names such as San Antonio’s former All-Stars, DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, with Winslow being the centerpiece in most of these speculated trades.

So the fit here may determine Pat Riley’s actions.

Winslow’s return comes at a great time as the Heat face one of the more lethal backcourts in the NBA — Russell Westbrook and scoring leader James Harden. His size and defense will be important in stopping Houston’s high powered offense.

Justise is better.

Now we’ll see if the Heat are too.

Miami Heat

The “Vice Wave” Jerseys are Here!

Play well, look better.

Once again the Miami Heat owns the rest of the NBA when it comes to the City Edition jerseys. The Heat dropped their newest edition of the Vice collection this morning and they did not disappoint. The Vice wave baby blue jerseys are absolutely jaw-dropping and took over NBA Twitter this morning.

I’d say the Heat a perfect 4 of 4 when it comes to the city edition jerseys. It’s the perfect way to represent Miami using the Vice theme that South Florida was known for since the Mid ’80s. Some fans have even asked to make the Vice collection Miami’s permanent look over the traditional Red, Black, and White. The jerseys are a fan favorite around the entire league and the color schemes continue to be undefeated.

These jerseys will lead the league in sales once again and will be available starting Tuesday night at Midnight. The Heat will debut the Vice wave jerseys Friday when they host the Golden State Warriors. In total, they will wear the new ViceWave jerseys 22 times throughout the season.

Hopefully, the Heat’s record in the Vice jerseys improves — the team had an absolutely horrible record when wearing the Black and Pink editions last year.

Of course, Jimmy Butler wasn’t playing in them. And Hassan Whiteside was.

Another Tough Weekend for Most Miami Sports Fans

Many Miami sports fans approach games with cautious optimism, which often turns to utter hopelessness in a blink.

“Ok, UM has a cake walk against FIU. That should be an easy W let’s get it”.

Wrong.

 

“The Panthers have won five of six and the offense is rolling, they’ll keep it going in Carolina”.

Wrong again.

 

We knew the Heat would have a tough one in Philadelphia on the second night of a back-to-back, but a better performance was still expected.

No matter the actual weekly outcome for the Dolphins you can’t win.

If the Dolphins win, their draft position in April suffers.

If the Dolphins lose, you are summarily reminded how far away they truly are.

The biggest disappointment of the weekend by far belongs to the Miami Hurricanes who fell to Butch Davis and the FIU Panthers 30-24 Saturday.

Perhaps it should be overshadowed by the triumph of Davis and his feisty Panthers who clearly wanted the game more.

 

FIU came out focused and prepared, while the Hurricanes started with their far too common lethargy.

Which quickly turned into a comical attempt at motivating your team that is losing handily to a three touchdown underdog.

 

It was truly a massive setback for a Hurricanes program that was seeming to turn the corner.

 

For the Miami Heat, their loss at Philadelphia is not overly concerning.

What is a bit disconcerting is that the 76ers starting five outscored Miami’s 90-32.

The starting group for the Heat had a plus/minus as follows:

Leonard (-26)

Butler (-31)

Robinson (-26)

Adebayo (-26)

Nunn (-16)

The Heat put themselves out of contention early before finally putting up a fight in the final quarter when the outcome was no longer in doubt.

Philadelphia had four players in double figures led by none other than Josh Richardson with 32 points. Miami’s typically stellar 3-point defense was off, the 76ers hit 14-of-29 (48.3%) from deep.

Fortunately for the Heat this type of game shouldn’t linger long, some home cooking when they host the lowly Hornets Monday should get them right.

The Florida Panthers have been a great story early in the season with exciting, high scoring games being a regular event.

Coming off of three straight wins in which they scored a total of 14 goals, the Cardiac Cats had one of their worst offensive games of the year in a 4-2 loss at Carolina Saturday.

The 23 shots on goal for the Panthers was their second lowest total of the season.

Ironically their season high of 50 was also against Carolina, a 6-2 loss in October.

The goal scoring slump would continue Sunday despite a 45-26 shot advantage for the Panthers in a 5-2 home loss to Buffalo.

Florida has scored two or fewer goals in seven games this season, all losses.

With shaky goaltending again this season, the Panthers’ offense has to carry the burden most nights.

Next, and perhaps least surprising, the Miami Dolphins went into Cleveland and dropped to 2-9 on the season by a final score of 41-24.

The Browns jumped all over the Miami secondary and took a 28-0 lead before the Dolphins responded.

Miami would shrink the deficit to 28-17 before Cleveland would pull away in the fourth quarter.

Jarvis Landry (10 catches, 148 yards, 2 TD) had some extra venom for his former team.

 

Not surprisingly, Baker Mayfield (24/41, 327 yards, 3 TD, INT) picked apart a depleted Dolphins’ secondary most of the way.

The Dolphins will host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.

To put a bow on this misery package, the Miami Hurricanes men’s basketball team was bounced from the Charleston Classic Sunday 80-55 against UConn.

The Hurricanes reached the third-place consolation game after losing to Florida 78-58 Friday, meaning Miami was outscored by 45 points in the back-to-back losses.

And with that, another roller coaster weekend for Miami sports fans is in the books.

Follow us on Twitter for all things Miami sports @5ReasonsSports.

Photo courtesy of Tony Capobianco.

Miami Heat: Jimmy Butler comes up big in homecoming contest

Jimmy Butler went back to the place where he began his NBA career on Friday night. Much like he did for the Chicago Bulls all those years, he delivered for the Miami Heat in a big way. His efficiency and scoring prowess were on display in Miami’s 116-108 win.

Efficiency was the name of the game for Butler

Butler was efficient with his shots on Friday. In 34 minutes of play, he went seven-of-10 from the field. He also made one of  two three-pointers. Most impressively, he managed to get to the free-throw line. Hitting 12-of-13 tries from the stripe, that equaled out to a 92.3 free-throw percentage.

Butler’s 27 points in a game was the most he recorded since November 7 against the Phoenix Suns when he scored 34.

He didn’t just score points on Friday. He also managed to do the little things well. Recording four steals,  five rebounds and seven assists, he was active in all phases. It is something that is becoming a common sight game in and game out for the former Marquette star.

A very welcome homecoming in big Miami Heat win

Friday, Jimmy Butler went back to where it all began.  drafted with the 30th overall pick in 2011, Butler carved out a nice career in Chicago. While in the Windy City, he was a four-time All-Star, was named to the All-NBA Third Team twice, and picked up other accolades along the way.

Perhaps the most impressive one was his Most Improved Player Award in 2015. The 2014-15 season was extremely successful one for Butler. He recorded 20 points and 38.7 minutes per game. He also started in all 65 games he played in.

Butler also managed to accomplish quite a bit in the playoffs. Particularly in 2015, his impact was felt for Chicago. He played in all 12 playoff games, averaging 22.9 points per game. He also showed his prowess defensively, averaging 2.4 steals per game. There is no doubt that he was a vital part of Chicago’s playoff appearances. now, Hopefully he will be able to bring the same playoff effort to the Miami Heat.

On Friday, Butler showed the same competitiveness he brought in Chicago. There is no doubt his impact has been felt, and despite all of his ups-and-downs throughout his career, he looks truly at home in Miami.

Miami Heat: Duncan Robinson shoots his way to memorable night

The Miami Heat got a big boost on Wednesday night.

The Miami Heat have themselves a spark plug. He goes by the name of Duncan Robinson, and his ability to convert from behind the arc was on full display Wednesday night. In a season where unheralded names have stepped up and propelled the Heat to success, Robinson put on a show for an excited AmericanAirlines Arena crowd.

Robinson scored 29 in total, and he had himself quite a night. Then again, it was just another impressive contest in what has been a great season for him. At first glance, his statistics are not eye-popping. In 12 contests the season, he has averaged 9.7 points per contest.

However, he has had three games of at least 20 points. His 21-point outburst against Minnesota on October 27 was his first one. His 23-point outburst against the Houston Rockets was his second one. Wednesday evening, he dominated the Cavaliers for 29 points. Unlike the old adage that goes “bad things come in threes”, this is quite the opposite.

Sure, 29 points is impressive. However, when you break records, it means that much more.

Robinson enters Miami Heat record book

Robinson recorded eight three-pointers in the first half. Prior to Wednesday night, the record for three pointers in a half was six. Wayne Ellington achieved that mark in the second half of a 2006 game against the Toronto Raptors.  Safe to say, it had been a while since that record was broken.

A personal record was also shattered as Robinson’s career-high for points was 23. He recorded that mark under the roof of the Crisler Center at Michigan. It was only fitting that his college coach was there to watch him achieve the feet Wednesday night. However, his coach was not watching from the stands.

John Beilein is in a different role as head coach, having traded in his Michigan Maize and Blue for Cleveland Wine and Gold. It’s funny how things come full circle.

If anything, Robinson’s performance on Wednesday night was a reflection of what the modern NBA has become: Three-pointers are putting a strangehold on the NBA That’s not a knock on what Robinson did Wednesday night either. If anything, it shows that Robinson has the skills to be an impactful player in this league.

With Robinson playing all 41 games for Michigan in the 2017-18 season, there is no doubt he is a fierce competitor.  Having been a part of several successful Michigan teams, Robinson has always been prepared to succeed.

He showed it on Wednesday. He is becoming a key contributor for a team who has received enormous contributions from unexpected sources.  In a season where many have doubted the Miami Heat, he is proof that success comes in many forms.

Miami Heat are getting the best version of Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat have been a perfect match.

You can tell that Jimmy Butler likes the Miami Heat and the organization. You can see by the way he interacts with the media in his press conferences, and just his overall demeanor in practice.  He is just happy to be here. Sometimes athletes’ put on a happy face when they reach their new destination. Underneath the million-dollar smile, they aren’t really happy. That’s not the case with Jimmy Butler.

It’s showing in his statistics as well. On the year, he is averaging 18.4 points per game 7.2 assists, and 5.2 rebounds. The 7.2 assists are the most he has had in his career to this point. The 18.4 points per game are the most has had in a season since 2018-19, during his time with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He has always had the ability to put up numbers and he has always been a solid player whereever he has gone. However, in Miami the ballgame has completely changed for Butler. Unlike in the past, it has changed for the better

For someone who likes winning, going to a team with rookies and unproven players could be a frustrating endeavor. Instead of being frustrated, Butler is leading. The way he carries himself is a complete turnaround from some of his other NBA stops. He rubbed people the wrong way in Chicago, Minnesota, and Philadelphia. Part of it was due to his fierce, competitive nature. On a team that is still looking for a source of direction, Butler is proving to be the leader and he is embracing it.

In talking to the media on Tuesday, Butler acknowledged that he is happy in South Beach. The biggest reason? He’s allowed to be himself.

Butler as himself has been great for Miami Heat

Butler being himself has paid off for Miami so far. He has recorded three games of at least 10 assists, and three games of at least 20 points. He has also logged a fair amount of minutes. In seven games this season, he has logged at least 30 minutes.

Butler is working to his strengths while getting others involved. That’s huge as the team looks to build around guys like Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn. It has undoubtedly helped everybody get touches on the court and we have seen players such as Bam Adebayo really thrive in this offense. Furthermore, he has taken on a leadership role. With the Miami Heat sporting a 9-3 record, it’s safe to say that Butler”s efforts have paid off.

Between moving the basketball, scoring, and getting others involved, Jimmy Butler is thriving. As the Miami Heat look to make headway in a crowded Eastern Conference, they will need  him to keep up this level of play. They need him to continue being the best version of himself.

 

Jalen Hurts Dwyane Wade

Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade gives Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts ringing endorsement

In light of the recent devastating injury suffered by Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins fans have been forced to look elsewhere for a potential franchise quarterback. While there’s still a chance Tagovailoa will make a full recovery, it is now riskier than ever for Miami to put all their eggs in one basket. Tagovailoa may return to form, or he may never play football again. Even if he does, there’s also a chance he will never be the same player he once was. Does that mean the Dolphins shouldn’t draft him? Not necessarily. Miami has several draft picks to spare, and Tagovailoa will likely be available when the Dolphins pick now that his health is a huge question mark. Where’s the harm in drafting two quarterbacks?

However, there is another possibility. After suffering such a major injury, Tagovailoa could decide that his best option is to return to Alabama for one more year. By doing so, he can rebuild his draft stock and prove to potential suitors that he still has what it takes. But that leaves Miami without a clear cut QB selection in the 2020 draft. Who do they turn to now? Oregon’s Justin Herbert? Georgia’s Jake Fromm? Utah State’s Jordan Love?

The 2020 draft class is filled with talented quarterbacks besides Tagovailoa, and a good coaching staff has a very good chance of developing one of them into a franchise quarterback. But there’s one quarterback who has captured the attention of another legendary athlete in Miami’s history. Former Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade took to Twitter early Sunday morning to express his support for Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts.

There’s a certain irony to this. Back during Hurts’ junior year, he was replaced as the starter at Alabama by none other than Tua Tagovailoa. Hurts did well as his backup and the two became good friends. Hurts recently offered his thoughts on Tagovailoa’s injury.

“It hurt me to hear it. He’s a great friend of mine,” Hurts said. “I pray for him and his family. I hope everything works out for the best for him.”

That said, Hurts did want to have an opportunity to play for himself. So, for his senior year, Hurts announced he was transferring to the University of Oklahoma. Since then, Hurts has become a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, and he leads the nation in passer efficiency rating. In second place, is Tagovailoa. Hurts is breaking Baker Mayfield’s records and he’s showing amazing talent as both a runner and a passer.

However, he’s also making mistakes. His recent incredible comeback against Baylor was partly necessary because of errors he himself made. But the fact he made that spectacular comeback, bringing the Sooners back from a 28-3 deficit to win, proves his talent is there, waiting for someone to develop and utilize.

But what makes Wade, a basketball player, an authority on potential NFL quarterbacks? Frankly, not much. But there is one universal trait among all competitive sports. The untraceable concept of “it.”

Wade has “it.”

There’s a saying that game recognizes game. True, Wade likely knows next to nothing about what it takes to be an NFL quarterback. However, there’s a strong chance he can recognize that all so important “it” factor that defines Wade’s entire career in Jalen Hurts.

The kind of quarterback the Dolphins need to start their path back to greatness must possess that intangible. For Wade to endorse Jalen Hurts so emphatically means he must recognize something that makes Hurts special. True, he may not be Tagovailoa, but even Tagovailoa himself may not be that player anymore. So the next best thing may very well be Hurts. If nothing else, it should prompt Miami’s scouting department to take a very close look at him.

Luis Sung has covered the Miami Dolphins for numerous outlets such as Dolphins Wire for six years. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung