Winderman: Miami kicks-off "We Want Wade" recruiting campaign

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wade_layup.jpgApparently the dogs and ponies are at the starting gate.

And, apparently, retaining free agents has come down to a civic duty.

Last week, lost in the speculation he created by opening the door on a possible coaching return, Heat President Pat Riley addressed free-agency recruiting and all the silliness that might ensue.

“We’re going to figure out who wants a dog-and-pony show and who wants, ‘I just want to come.’ We’ll know that early,” Riley said at the time. “So we’ll go ahead and start building. And I say that, with all due respect, you might have to recruit.”

The dogs and ponies have won out.

Thursday, the Heat, a team that largely has refused during Riley’s tenure to campaign for postseason awards, began the most massive player campaign in the franchise’s 22 seasons:

“We Want Wade.”

Apparently they really do.

Not only has the Heat created a WeWantWade.com website, there also is the opportunity to leave voicemails at a We Want Wade hotline at 786-777-3333, where the recorded message ends with, “and we’ll make sure D-Wade hears you loud and clear.”

In addition, the team has begun distribution of We Want Wade fan kits, which can be requested at the newly established web site, but only from those in the Miami area. The kits include window clings, an oversized placard, rubber wrist bracelet and stickers. In addition, the Heat has launched a related billboard campaign at major intersections in Miami.

For his part, Dwyane Wade said Thursday, “I didn’t expect anything like that. I just found that out. I thought it was hilarious. But I appreciate it. I do, I really do.”

While the Heat generally has shied from such overt approaches, the sense is that other teams will begin their own over-the-top recruiting once it is allowed on July 1 and the Heat, by currently having Wade under contract, has the advantage of moving forward with such an approach immediately.

Of course, the Heat also has an even more significant advantage under collective-bargaining rules, one that surely will ultimately outweigh websites, hotlines and billboards.

A team is allowed to re-sign its own free agent for up to six seasons, with annual raises at 10.5 percent. Outside teams can only offer five-year contracts with 8.5-percent raises. For a player with Wade’s experience, that would allow the Heat to offer a contract worth roughly $125.5 million, compared to $96.1 million less by an outside team.

That is, of course, unless the Heat already has spent the $29 million difference on oversized placards, rubber wrist bracelets and stickers

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Watch all 25 threes from Cleveland in Game 2 win

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Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.

Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.

In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.

Cavaliers threes shotchart

Report: Rockets to interview Mike D’Antoni, Frank Vogel for coaching vacancy

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Head coach Mike D'Antoni of the Los Angeles Lakers gestures during the game against the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center on February 28, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 126-122.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.

The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.

Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.

Cavs set single-game three-point record in blowout win over Hawks

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On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.

Nope.

The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.

The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.

18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:

That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.

LeBron James whips one-handed pass, leads to open Kevin Love three (VIDEO)

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 2: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers fights for a loose ball against Al Horford #15 and Kyle Korver #26 of the Atlanta Hawks during the second half of the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals at Quicken Loans Arena on May 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Hawks 104-93. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:

The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.