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Miami Heat: Team needs to avoid fouling inside the paint

The Miami Heat are set to take on the Boston Celtics in what should be a great test for a young team. With the Boston Celtics coming in with a 14-5 record, they are certainly one of the top teams in the conference. Miami needs to focus on limiting Boston’s free-throw opportunities if they want to win this game.

Coming into Wednesday’s action, shooting guard Brad Wanamaker is ranked ninth in the NBA in free-throw percentage. With a 90.7 % from the line, he is extremely successful from there. Point guard Kemba Walker also touts a 90.7 percentage from the line. Part of the reason for their success is that they are able to get the line often.

One of the things the Boston Celtics have done well this year is get to the line. They are a team that likes to drive to the basket, and initiate contact. Walker does it very well in particular. Once he gets a full head of steam heading to the basket, it is difficult to stop him. Wanamaker does a good job of initiating contact on the shot. As soon as he releases the basketball, he looks to initiate contact with the defender.

Walker is 78-86 from the line this season while Wanamaker Is 41-45 from the free-throw line on the season.

What can the Miami Heat do to stop this?

In addition to Walker and Wanamaker, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are also very good at driving to the basket. That quartet will undoubtedly keep Miami off-balance. Miami needs to force them to take perimeter shots and play tight defense. It may sound a bit strange, but Miami should live with them making jumpers this game. If Miami lets them go to the rim, they will force the Heat into foul trouble and put the Celtics at the free-throw line.

The Celtics are in the middle of the pack when it comes to making three-point shots. Converting at 34.5%, Boston has struggled a bit in that area. Miami should look to contain the drive to the basket and forced the Celtics to take uncomfortable shots. It’s easier said than done, but It can be done. If Miami wants to keep the winning streak going, they must avoid putting Boston at the free-throw line.

Miami Heat: Three-point shot rules the day in win over Raptors

The three-point shot helped Miami defeat a tough Toronto team.

The Miami Heat beat the Toronto Raptors by a 121-110 score on Wednesday night. A big reason for the win was the Heat’s success shooting the three-point shot.

As a team, the Heat went 15-of-38 from behind the arc. Duncan Robinson had the most success for Miami. His play has improved over the past couple games, and he made a major contribution on Tuesday night. He went six-of-nine from the three-point line and totaled 22 points. That was tied with Jimmy Butler for the team lead on the evening. As a team, they shot 39.5% from behind the line on the evening.

Miami Heat eliminated three-point shot defensively

The team also stifled the Toronto Raptors three-point shooters. Fred VanFleet was held to three-of-nine from behind the arc. In 43 minutes of play, he could not get anything going at it consistent rates. Kyle Lowry also had a rough night, missing all 11 three-pointers he took. The player who had the most success from three-point range was Serge Ibaka, going two of three from beyond the arc.

There are definitely other factors as to why the Miami Heat won. However, making the three-point shot offensively while eliminating it defensively was crucial on Tuesday night. Miami is third in the league in thee point percentage at 38.9 %.  They make 12.6 three-point shots per game while attempting 33.8 per contest.

The three-pointer hasn’t always been a big part of Miami’s game. However, that is the way the game is trending. Threes are huge part of what many teams do, and it’s nice that Miami has capable players that can get it done on the roster. Their efficiency in shooting the three-ball will help them come playoff time. Now, they look to continue their success from beyond the arc against Boston on Wednesday. The Celtics have capable three-point shooters in their own right. Tipoff in Boston is  7:30 pm.

Miami Heat: Kendrick Nunn named NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of Month

A Miami Heat rookie received an accolade on Tuesday. Kendrick Nunn was named to the NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for November.

Nunn is the first Miami Heat player to win the award since Josh Richardson in 2016.

He averaged 14.1 points per game in addition to 2.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per contest. He had four 20-point games in the month of November. His best game came against Cleveland on the 14th. In that contest, he played 37 minutes , going 10-of-16 from the field. Scoring 23 points, he also recorded five rebounds and eight assists. His efficiency from the field has also been impressive. Prior to Tuesday’s game, he is shooting 46.4% from the field and 36.2 % from behind the three-point line.

In his last game against Brooklyn, he started the month of December off right. In what was a balanced team effort, he scored 11 points and chipped assists in 25 minutes play. He has been a strong source of secondary scoring. With Jimmy Butler averaging 18.8 points on the year, Nunn is second on the team in ppg.

Nunn is a great story to boot. Having gone undrafted in the 2018 NBA Draft, he was in the G-League just last year. Now he is making valuable contributions for the Miami Heat. Miami begins a tough two-game stretch on Tuesday night. They face the Toronto Raptors, and then the Boston Celtics and what should be great tests for the team. Tipoff for Tuesday’s game is 7:30 PM.

Miami Heat: Rebounding will be crucial against Raptors

The Miami Heat are set to battle the Toronto Raptors in a battle of the second and third-seeded teams in the Eastern Conference. There are certainly many storylines to watch in this game, as both teams have talent and stars at several positions. With what looks like an even matchup on paper, the margin for error shrinks. This is something that could work to the Miami Heat’s advantage in one area in particular: rebounding.

Toronto has given up the second-most rebounds in the NBA. With 48.5 per game allowed on the season, they trail only the Chicago Bulls in that category. The 13.2 offensive rebounds are the most-allowed in the NBA and they’re tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers for 17th in most defensive rebounds with 35.4.

The Miami Heat have certainly done their part in keeping opponents off the glass. They allow the least amount of defensive rebounds per game with 31.2 per contest. They also only allow 9.3 rebounds per contest on the offensive glass.

For what it’s worth, the Miami Heat are 20th in the NBA 44.6 rebounds per game. They average nine rebounds on the offensive glass and 35.6 rebounds defensively.

Opportunities for second-chance points for Miami Heat

The lack of rebounding on the part of Toronto and Miami’s willingness to crash the offensive glass may work out in their favor. This may lead to second-chance points: a category that Miami needs to be better in. They rank 21st in the NBA with 12.4 second-chance points per game.

Miami put together a good rebounding game on Sunday against Brooklyn.  Outrebounding the nets 62-56, they certainly were able to win the battle on the glass. Winning that same battle will be important for Miami on Tuesday night. This Toronto team is extremely talented, especially on the perimeter. Bam Adebayo had 16 rebounds on Sunday night,leading the way for Miami. He leads the team in rebounds and 10.6 per game on the season. Expect him to play a crucial role on Tuesday night.

This will be a great test for the Miami Heat and a win against the Raptors will add another impressive notch to their 2019 season. But in order to do that, they have to rebound.

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.

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.

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.