Can the Heat be beat inside?

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Thumbnail image for bosh_wade_james.jpgNobody is going to be better than the Miami Heat at the two, three and four spots.

But picture them playing Orlando. Jameer Nelson has the ball (guarded by Mario Chalmers) and Dwight Howard (covered by Joel Anthony) comes out to set the high pick. That is a hard-to-stop P&R combo for any team, and the undersized Anthony is really going to struggle to stop the strength of Howard rolling to the rim. LeBron, Wade and Bosh are going to have a hard time helping out because you can’t leave Orlando’s perimeter shooters (especially when JJ Redick is in for Vince Carter).

Can Orlando beat Miami this way? Can some combination of the O’Neals (Shaquille and Jermaine) along with Kendrick Perkins (when he returns from injury) do the same thing for Boston? Is there a model for beating the Heat?

Center appears the place to attack. But as Ira Winderman points out in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, it’s not that easy.

I think Wade and LeBron, and to a degree even Miller, rebound very well for their positions. Look, you can’t have it all, but I think the Celtics are somewhat of a size exception in the East. And it’s not like they will have more than two bigs on the floor at any time. If they did, it would mean Pierce or Allen or Rondo would be off the floor, which actually might favor the opposition.

Again, I think it’s all about matchups. Against the Celtics, Magloire will play. Against the Magic, the Heat might even try Udonis’ defense against Howard. Look, on most nights the Heat will be overmatched at center. But the opposition also will be overmatched at power forward, small forward at shooting guard. Heck, Michael Jordan’s Bulls often were overmatched at center, and they did just fine.

Only a handful of teams can even dream of matching up with the Heat. Particularly in the regular season, when teams have limited time to prepare and game plan.

What will be more interesting is the playoffs. Orlando and Boston certainly have some personnel that create their own matchup problems, some things to try and exploit. And those are two teams that reached the finals the last two years because their players know how to go right at a weakness.

The Heat have their own advantages to exploit. And that may well more than cover any weakness at the five. The regular season Heat are going to be a lot of fun. The playoff Heat are going to be interesting, because then we will see just how good they really are.

Report: Raptors’ Delon Wright out a month

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Raptors guard Delon Wright dislocated his shoulder, but at least he won’t need surgery.

Raptors media relations:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Raptors (11-5), off to a surprisingly strong start, are second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve bought themselves margin for error. All in all, a month-long absence for Wright isn’t so bad.

Wright had been a key part of an excellent all-bench unit that included Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, C.J. Miles and Jakob Poeltl. Two-way player Lorenzo Brown has assumed Wright’s role, and Norman Powell – returning from his own injury – will provide a boost. Toronto can also stagger Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan more.

The chemistry of the bench mob was something to behold, but the Raptors should withstand this.

Report: Clippers PG Patrick Beverley out rest of season

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Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley underwent knee surgery – never a great sign.

The prognosis is about as bad as could be expected.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This injury isn’t just a setback for this season. It could derail the Clippers’ long-term plan.

They’ve already lost nine straight, and Danilo Gallinari and Milos Teodosic are injured. If they fall further out of playoff position, they could become sellers before the trade deadline, especially with DeAndre Jordan ($24,119,025 player option for next season) and Lou Williams ($7 million salary on expiring contract).

Health was always the major question with this team, and it won’t soften as Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari age through lucrative contracts.

The final year of Beverley’s contract is guaranteed for just $5,027,028 next season, and the 29-year-old will spend most of the summer recovering from this injury. That salary is probably low enough that the Clippers will keep him without hesitation.

Until then, down a couple point guards, the Clippers have no choice but to continue leaning more on Austin Rivers. That also means greater roles for second-round rookies Jawun Evans and Sindarius Thornwell. That’s just too many players facing outsized responsibility.

The Pelicans, Grizzlies, Jazz and any other team competing for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference ought to feel better about their chances. They’re still competing with each other, and it’s doubtful all three make it. But Beverley’s injury helps clear the way.

The Clippers, who didn’t want to take a major step back after Chris Paul‘s departure, must confront an even more uneasy reality.

Giannis Antetokounmpo out for Bucks-Suns Eric Bledsoe revenge game

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Giannis Antetokounmpoone of the NBA’s best players – won’t help new Bucks teammate Eric Bledsoe in a revenge game against the Suns tonight.

Not only is Milwaukee missing Mirza Teletovic and John Henson (and Matthew Dellavedova and Jabari Parker), Antetokounmpo is out.

Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Antetokounmpo will miss Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns due to right knee soreness.

Antetokounmpo says his knee soreness is the same injury he dealt with in the off-season, which caused him to withdraw from the Greek national team.

“It feels good,” Antetokounmpo said after sitting out shootaround. “I’m just trying to be careful with it and not make any damage. That’s it, because it’s a long season and I’m trying to be careful.”

The Bucks have been outscored by 18.6 points per 100 possessions without Antetokounmpo this season (and are +2.3 without him). Phoenix isn’t good, but neither is Milwaukee without Antetokounmpo.

I don’t think Bledsoe will mind a chance to get more aggressive tonight, though.

Report: Mexico City could host NBA’s 31st minor-league team

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver said his league would look into placing a franchise in Mexico City.

Meanwhile, the NBA’s minor-league has affiliates for 26 of 30 NBA teams and counting. The league also has youth academies in China, India, Australia and Senegal – and also counting.

Jonathan Givony of  ESPN:

The NBA will announce a new basketball development and training academy in Mexico City during the Global Games December 7th and 9th, in conjunction with CONADE (Mexico’s National Commission for Physical Culture and Sport) and the Mexican Basketball Federation, sources told ESPN.

Mexico City could emerge as the 31st G League franchise, where prospects from the seven academies graduate up to, according to sources.

A minor-league team in Mexico City could be a nice testing ground for an NBA franchise. An unaffiliated minor-league team is also an interesting wrinkle, especially how it’d be stocked.

Ultimately, experimentation is a purpose of the NBA’s minor league. This would be running multiple test cases at once.