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5 Key Moments from Media Availability with Spoelstra, Dragic, DJJ

The Miami Heat had an earlier practice than usual on Thursday, while other teams are preparing for the first regular season game of the restart tonight. This was the first official practice for the Heat that will prepare them for these types of regular season games. Well, here’s what they had to say about their preparation for Saturday against the Denver Nuggets…

Post-Practice Comment #1:

Coach Erik Spoelstra talks a little about the preparation for these regular season games coming up. He says the plan is to “adjust and play the depth as necessary.” This is definitely a major advantage for the Heat, as mentioned many times. It seems pretty clear that depth is the biggest strength of their team. Sometimes it seems as if Spoelstra has a little too much depth to mess around with, but this is definitely a good problem to have in this format. He also says “I have to remain open to pivot as needed.” Spoelstra is one of the only coaches that have the ability to adjust quickly and succeed at it. As there’s been many different x-factors discussed for this season, Spoelstra may be the biggest one.

Post-Practice Comment #2:

Goran Dragic seems pretty excited to get back out their on the court with the team in games that count. He said, “I can’t wait to start.” He also mentions that today’s practice was really intense, which means they’re starting to ramp stuff up a little more. These practices are being utilized right now as a type of scouting format. The coaching staff is trying to find the guys that are in the best shape right now and who they can trust. This very well may be Goran Dragic. As mentioned before, it’s been very obvious that veterans are made for this format more than young guys. Plus, Goran is one of the Heat’s primary play-makers, which will begin to be needed more and more over the course of the next few weeks.

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Derrick Jones Jr got to talk with some media today after practice as well. He starts it off discussing the Heat’s primary struggle. Defense. He said, “We just got to get a little bit better rhythm playing together. Just getting locked in on defense.” Derrick Jones Jr is one of the few guys on the roster that has the ability to fix this problem. It’s been obvious that the defensive struggles have come from the lack of defense from the Heat’s guards. And well, DJJ has the ability to match-up against other guards, which he mentions, “I want to guard the best player every night.” But, there’s a lot of question marks around what he will be able to offer offensively. It seems pretty clear that Spo will have to make a decision on what he wants to prioritize.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Spoelstra talks a little about the importance of these scrimmage games for this Heat team. He says, “We didn’t play particularly well in our last game, but there were moments in each game where we made progress.” The Heat’s final scrimmage game was definitely a bad note to leave on, but as Spoelstra said, they’re focusing on the positive moments. These scrimmages have helped Spoelstra find the right lineups, defensive schemes, and mainly the type of environment. Last game’s disaster may be the best thing that could’ve happened to the team, since that makes them practice that much harder and truly understand what it takes to win these games.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

The Miami Heat have just released some new shirts on the social justice issues. The team wore them in practice today, which include “Enough is enough,” “Silence is compliance,” and much more. Derrick Jones Jr talked a little about the shirts, saying “I love it.” He says there are some people that aren’t very comfortable speaking about this matter, so the shirt does the talking for them. Erik Spoelstra also spoke about these shirts, saying “This is the shirt that resonates with me,” when speaking about the “Silence is compliance” shirt he was wearing. This team continues to be vocal with their stance on social justice aspects, which is one of the main reasons they wanted to get back onto the highest stage possible.

Post-Practice Comments

5 Post-Practice Comments from Spoelstra, Haslem, DJJ Zoom calls

The Miami Heat had an evening practice on Tuesday afternoon, preparing for Wednesday’s first scrimmage game. Udonis Haslem and Derrick Jones Jr spoke to the media on Zoom afterwards about the team’s current status and the preparation before tomorrow. Here’s five main Post-Practice Comments from Sports, UD and DJJ.

Post-Practice Comments #1:

There has been a lot of excitement from the players this week after practice as they get closer to the return of play. Spoelstra touched on this saying that’s all they’ve been talking about, especially for the game tomorrow. He also mentioned that every player in the bubble right now will get minutes tomorrow, which might mean no minutes upon the return of Bam Adebayo and Kendrick Nunn. This then gives these guys the time they need to get back to 100%, and gives some of the bench guys an opportunity to earn a spot in the rotation.

Post-Practice Comments #2:

Udonis Haslem got asked about what he likes about this type of environment, he replied, “Ain’t nobody complaining. We got a no complain rule.” This is indeed true with this team, especially under their leader UD. Haslem has talked about this bubble in the past and always talks about one thing, focus. He wants their guys to be with their guys and essentially stay locked in. He also said “We got a short amount of time to get a whole lot of work done,” when referring to the return of play. Although we don’t know the minutes UD will get over the next few weeks, we do know he’s been putting in more work than most team’s starting lineups.

Post-Practice Comment #3:

Derrick Jones Jr begins the discussion with the joy of getting back to doing what he loves. He said, “This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for.”

All of the guys feel the same way, but it’s a bit different for Derrick. He’s had a bit of a rocky road throughout this hiatus after testing positive for Covid-19. At the end of the day, he just wants to get back to basketball. Derrick will look to play some major minutes off of the bench for the Heat. He may be asked to jump into the starting lineup some nights for match-up reasons.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

Andre Iguodala is one of the Heat’s most intriguing players entering the playoffs. His experience–His defense–His leadership. Which is why it was great to hear Erik talk so highly of him today after practice. He said: “He’s gotten better each day.” Spoelstra also says that this has been great for him since he didn’t have a training camp before the season. He also ends the discussion saying that he’s seen the different ways that he can impact a game to help the team win. Spoelstra will definitely look to Iguodala in tough spots since he’s a guy he can trust in a playoff game.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

Spoelstra starts saying that at some point you can’t look at this situation from a basketball perspective. He says they are so grateful to partake in this since there are so many people around the world right now out of work. He says he’s talked to the team about this recently and thinks it’s important. Erik Spoelstra and the Heat have been using these zoom calls with media to touch on all of the important things going on in our world. They’ve discussed the pandemic, social injustice, and much more over the course of the last two weeks in hopes of getting their point across. They clearly have a bigger goal in mind beyond basketball.

Butler, Spoelstra and DJJ interviews

5 Takeaways from Jimmy Butler, Spoelstra, DJJ Interviews

The Miami Heat are slowly making their way into more intense practices this week after taking the day off yesterday to watch film. Here’s some post-practice comments from the Butler, Spoelstra and DJJ Interviews.

Post-Practice Comment #1:

There has been a lot of questions about KZ Okpala after the Heat drafted him in the second round this past year. He’s been going back and forth between Sioux Falls and the Heat roster all season. And it seems too familiar. No matter if it’s an un-drafted guy or a second round pick, the Heat always has a young prodigy flying under the radar. Coach Spoelstra also says “He’s learning how to do things at a more intense level with detail…and I like it.” It seems as if Spoelstra is just as intrigued with him as Heat fans are.

Post-Practice Comment #2:

Jimmy Butler starts off the interview with his Social Justice message on his jersey. He chose to not put a message on his jersey, just as LeBron James said he would do a couple days prior. But he also wants to not include his name on the back of his jersey, saying “I am no different than anyone of color. I want that to be my message.” He also says later in the interview that he sees a lot of talking on Social Justice topics, but he wants to see more action. Jimmy is still working on getting the approval to have no name on the back of his jersey.

Post-Practice Comment #3:

The NBA world has been waiting for the match-up of Jimmy Butler and TJ Warren after the altercation early in the season. And it seems as if Jimmy Butler still hasn’t forgotten about it. Jimmy says “I’m pretty sure you can’t see the smile that’s on my face,” when thinking about that TJ Warren match-up. He gives the Indiana Pacers credit by saying they’re a very good team, but closes the topic with “I’m taking the Miami Heat twice.” Which pretty much sums up this whole teams confidence in each other.

Post-Practice Comment #4:

With Derrick Jones Jr’s contract up after this season, there has been a lot of question marks about his decision. The salary cap may be a little tight with other players including Goran Dragic, Jae Crowder, and Meyers Leonards having their contracts up as well. But though there may be more money thrown at Derrick from other teams. He says, “I never want to be on another team.” He love everything about this team including the style of play, which is defense. Derrick said, “I’m gonna just keep doing exactly what I do. Guard the best player, make his life miserable.” This quote right here proves that the Heat don’t want him on another team as well.

Post-Practice Comment #5:

There has been a lot of complaints and comments inside the bubble over the last week about food, rooms, and more. But this doesn’t include one Heat player. Jimmy sums it up for the rest of the team. “We do get to eat, we do get a roof over our heads. For a lot of people, it could be worse. For a lot of us, it has been worse.” He adds that he is speaking for the team. But some of the others have expressed the same idea over the last few days. This type of answer shows this team is ready. They’re not here for a vacation, it’s a business trip. And like Jimmy said earlier in the interview, “I think you can count on this Miami Heat team.”

Airplane Turbulence: Derrick Jones Jr. Dunk Contest Debate Rages

He promised all 50s, no matter how many it took.

And while Derrick Jones Jr. didn’t deliver that, he did give the Heat their first Slam Dunk championship since Harold Minor in 1995, beating Aaron Gordon in the final round.

 

 

Even so, it’s clear many don’t want to give him the proper respect.

Including Gordon.

Nearly 24 hours after the completion of the contest, the dunk contest — and Jones Jr’s win — was still a top trending topic on Twitter, with many pointing to former teammate Dwyane Wade’s ruling as a judge as the reason Jones reigned. And many are saying Gordon nearly taking off the head of Celtics 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall warranted more than a 47 out of 50. Wade gave Gordon a 9 for it.

Still, Jones Jr. isn’t giving the trophy back, or giving an inch.

Here are some of the tweets that tell the story:

Whatever the NBA world thinks, Miami won 2 of the 3 titles on All-Star Saturday night, with Jones’ buddy Bam Adebayo capturing the Skills Competition.

As we’ve said, it’s safe to hate the Heat again.

They appear to enjoy it….

Still, the Magic fans who can’t jump over a coach’s resignation letter are sending slander to Jones on social media, calling him a “fraud” and a “bum.”

Maybe this is the reason for that…

Derrick Jones Jr will participate in All-Star Dunking Contest

Derrick Jones Jr. will finally be at the All-Star Game.

As our Greg Sylvander reported earlier this month, the Miami Heat will have a representative in one of the most exciting features of the NBA All-Star Weekend.

Today, the news were confirmed by Shams Charania, from The Athletic.

With Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo still trying to earn their spot in the roster, Derrick Jones Jr. assures, the Heat, one of the best teams in the league this year, will have a representative in most of the activities that will take place that weekend in Chicago.

Enjoy some of the best Airplane Mode takes and exhibitions this season:

Support Derrick Jones Jr for the All-Star Dunking Contest buying his Airplane Mode Tee here:

Miami Heat: Bench struggles contribute to loss against Spurs

Sunday, while many were watching the AFC Championship game, Miami Heat lost to the San Antonio Spurs by a 107-102 margin. Although it was a close game throughout, a strong second quarter propelled San Antonio to victory. Outscoring the Heat by a 32-23 margin in the second frame, the bench was a huge reason why San Antonio was able to come away with the victory.

Derrick White had 11 points on five-of-11 shooting. Patrick Mills had 18 points on four-of-10 shooting. He was perfect from the free-throw line, making all four of his shots. Marco Belinelli also got into the action. He scored 12 points on two-of-six shooting. He made all six free throws he attempted.

San Antonio’s plus-minus numbers were impressive. White was a +21 while Mills was a +17. Belinelli and Jakob Poetl were  +11 and  while Lonnie Walker IV was a +10. Each of the players on the San Antonio bench were assets while they were on the floor.

Miami Heat bench struggles in loss

Miami’s bench had a tougher time getting things going. All five players recorded a minus rating while they were on the floor. Goran Dragic was the big bench scorer for Miami with 19 points in 24 minutes of play. Dragic was a -13 on the floor in this game. Derrick Jones Junior was a -21 in this contest. He finished with six points on the evening.

Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Herro each had zero points in this game. Olynyk played seven minutes while Herro played nine. Both players missed the two shots they attempted. Olynuk and Herro were both -13 respectively. This was Herro’s first game back from injury. He missed the past two contests with a knee bruise. And he appeared rusty.

Miami is going to have to have a better contributions from their bench, particularly as fatigue starts to set in during the remainder of the season. This was a rough night for the bench all-around. Up next, Miami plays host to the Sacramento Kings Monday evening. Tipoff is at 5:00 PM.

Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat blow kisses to TJ Warren on social media

The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers aren’t exactly the best of friends.

This has been the case for years. Remember Udonis Haslem and Lance Stephenson? And LeBron James and Lance Stephenson? And Ray Allen and Lance Stephenson? And Juwan Howard and Lance Stephenson?

OK, you get it. There was some stuff with David West and Danny Granger too.

Things got a little chippy between the two teams again on Wednesday night, with Jimmy Butler and T.J. Warren had an exchanging of pleasantries during the Miami Heat’s 122-108 win over the Indiana Pacers. Butler had a great night, scoring 14 points on five-of-six shooting from the field. He also made all four free throws he attempted, and recorded six rebounds.

Warren had a rough night to say the least. He went one-of-five from the field and made one of two attempts from the free throw line. He had three points in 23 minutes of play. Warren was also a -25 while he was on the floor. When these two teams meet again on March 20, things should be interesting.

Miami leads the season series by a 2-0 margin. Prior to this game, they met on December 27 at American Airlines Arena. The Heat won narrowly, 113-112. The series is certainly trending in the right direction, particularly since the Pacers won the last three meetings prior to Miami winning the pair.

Friday, March 20 should be a whole lot of fun. That is the next time the Heat and Pacers will face off. Bankers Life FieldHouse will be the venue, and  it will set the stage for a Butler-Warren rematch.

If Warren shows up.

Maybe not if someone shows him social media from tonight.

It’s safe to say that Jimmy Butler is looking forward to this matchup. His post on Instagram said it all. Derrick Jones Jr., who played with Warren in Phoenix in 2017-18 also added his two cents on Twitter in regards to Wednesday night. Meyers Leonard did the same.  One thing is for certain: There is certainly no love lost between these two teams.

There is no doubt that his words with Warren ignited a competitive fire. That’s the type of Jimmy Butler we love to see. There is little doubt that he will be booed when Miami travels to Indiana. However, that will undoubtedly fuel the fire for him to play even harder. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out, and if the tensions increase in subsequent matchups.

Because all the Heat players appear to be firmly on Butler’s side, including the rookies:

And the veterans:

Attrition may Have Uncovered Potent Lineup for Heat

A potent lineup for the Heat may have revealed itself.

The Miami Heat have somehow managed to maintain course despite crucial injuries to Justise Winslow and Goran Dragic.

 

Miami has started to show some vulnerability, as evidenced by their first truly bad loss of the year at Memphis.

Jimmy Butler needs a break.

However the team once again found enough gas Wednesday to end Philadelphia’s undefeated run at home.  The common denominators for most Heat lineups lately have been Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Kendrick Nunn.  That trio has been in the top three lineups for Miami in terms of minutes per game, with Duncan Robinson and Meyers Leonard rounding things out.

Switching to Airplane Mode

One intriguing combination has been to bring in Derrick Jones Jr. for Meyers Leonard early and late.  Leonard typically opens each half but has not been utilized much, if at all down the stretch.  Jones, Jr. has been seeing a huge increase in minutes recently due to several factors, including the razor thin rotation Erik Spoelstra has to work with.  That faith has been rewarded as Jones continues to carve out a more significant role.  Over the last seven games, DJJ is averaging nearly 30 minutes per game and is starting to feel it from downtown.  He is 6-for-13 in his last four games and has scored in double figures three times in that span, while his defense has also made a huge impact.

 

The lineup featuring Butler/Jones, Jr./Adebayo/Robinson/Nunn has been used in just three games going into Wednesday.  Yet in that limited sample the numbers have been encouraging and perhaps worth a look.  Rebounding is a legitimate concern without a second traditional big however, time will tell how the scales balance in that aspect.

 

Butler has been all that Heat fans could have hoped for but is exerting a ton out there. He struggled in his latest return to Philadelphia and is logging a Thibodeau-ian amount of minutes lately.  Butler is playing almost 39 minutes per contest in December which is nearly six minutes more than his career average. His 26.3 usage rate this season would be the second highest total of his career if maintained.

While DJJ has been a key cog in the wheel, the emergence of Adebayo is what has held things together.  The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week has continued to carry the load on both ends.  Adebayo is the anchor, not only on defense but from the high post where his skill set shines.  Bam is averaging 18/11/5  in December and his ability to finish on the pick-and-roll, or run things from the top, has kept defenses off balance.

Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson have been inconsistent but when they are on, they give this group the scoring from the perimeter it needs.  Nunn erupted for 26 points at Philadelphia and has hit half his three-point attempts on this road trip. If he can start making the easy plays and distribute the ball, expect another nice progression from the rookie.  Meanwhile, Robinson has been feast-or-famine, but when he’s eating the whole offense changes.  He has become a comfortable second option on the perimeter when the initial action doesn’t hit, while doing just enough on defense.  Robinson is shooting over 47% from deep this month and is getting almost six minutes more per game.

The lineup is shooting 59.6% overall and 52% from deep, while averaging a 3.6 assist-to-turnover ratio.  On the opposite end they are holding opponents to just 40% shooting, including 26.5% from beyond the arc.  Conversely, they are 6.5 points better overall than the opponent so far.  Perhaps that is why they were the “Five on the Floor” to close the game out in Philadelphia.

When Dragic (and Winslow?) return, it will likely shake up the backcourt rotation once again.

For now, we may be seeing this group again when it counts.

Playful Kids — Bam, DJJ — want to take Heat into future

As we wait to see what the Heat will do with the 13th pick in the draft — and we say they take a risk rather than play safe — the Heat’s existing core of young players seems eager for more responsibility.

Justise Winslow has made it repeatedly clear he wants to be one of the new faces, if not the face, of the team.

And yesterday, close friends Bam Adebayo and Derrick Jones Jr. appears at a new Learn & Play Center at Jose Marti Park and expressed similar sentiments.

The great thing about this group is all have likable personalities. That’s a start. Now the question is how much they can grow, to fill a little of the void Dwyane Wade has left.

One of our Miami Heat Beat podcasters, Alex Toledo, was there, and posted the highlights on Twitter.

Here’s his string: