Game of the Weekend: The Heat are starting to figure it out.


The takeaway from the Miami Heat’s throttling of the Nets is not that the Heat cruised to a 101-78 win. Some version of that is going to happen a lot this season.

The takeaway is that the Heat are getting better. They are figuring out what works, they are correcting their mistakes. The fact they are winning by 23 and still figuring things out is what should scare people.

The Heat’s issues so far have been on offense, and that is where you are seeing the vast improvement.

First and foremost, against the Heat the really tried to push the pace. They ran on every miss, and there were a lot of those from the Nets.

That running was fueled by a Nets strategy to really crash the offensive glass — and it worked, the Nets recovered 35 percent of their missed shots with offensive rebounds (that number was up over 40 percent before garbage time). They got a lot of second chance points which kept the game as close as it was. But with all those bodies going forward to the glass, when the Heat did get the rebound there was nobody back to stop them. Add to that the fact that LeBron dribbling the ball is still faster than most of the Nets roster just running and you had some easy and spectacular transition points for the Heat.

In the half court, the Heat clearly mad a point to go at the rim. They did not against Orlando a couple nights before, but they were drilling the midrange jumpers so they won easily. Miami attacked the rim, with very interesting sets like Wade coming off a double high screen (LeBron and Big Z) then just driving hard as Wade does. LeBron went to the rim hard, too. By the second half there were kickouts to a wide-open Carlos Arroyo for midrange jumpers and threes.

The Nets tried a zone for a while, which worked for about three straight possessions, but the Heat just kept attacking, got inside the zone and went on a run. They went on a lot of runs.

The Heat also tried some new looks like posting up Dwyane Wade.

It all worked. The Heat had an offensive efficiency of 117.4 for the night (points per 100 possessions), which is very good.

The Heat defense on the perimeter is still good, and still forced a lot of turnovers. The Nets tried to counter by going to Brook Lopez inside early and often — he had 11 of the team’s first 14 points and he finished with 20 points on 8-17 shooting) but it was not enough. Lopez absolutely pushed around Chris Bosh for a while.

It’s not all bad for the Nets, Derrick Favors put up his first double-double (13 and 13) and the guy already looks like a beast on the boards. He is not efficient but he is learning, and you really can see the potential the Nets fall in love with.

Before season starts, watch top 10 dunks of preseason

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Starting Tuesday night, the games matter. The dunks matter.

But before we move onto those dunks, let’s have some fun with the top 10 dunks of the meaningless preseason. They may not matter, but they certainly were fun.

Of course there are some expected highlights — can you have a dunk reel without Russell Westbrook? — but game-winning dunks always get the top slot.

Carmelo Anthony says rather than take knee during Anthem he wants action in communities

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 26:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks looks on against the Cleveland Cavaliers during their game at Madison Square Garden on March 26, 2016 in New York City.  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 Al Bello/Getty Images)

Colin Kaepernick certainly fired up a discussion — not always the conversation he intended, but a discussion of the treatment of African-Americans in our society was part of that conversation.

No NBA player has taken that same step through the preseason, taking a knee during the national anthem (only anthem singers have done that). Some teams are locking arms during the anthem in a show of solidarity, but they stand in two orderly rows.

Carmelo Anthony explained in an interview with Bleacher Report that what he and many others want to see is the next step in Kaepernick’s protest — action in the community.

“I’m past the gestures,” New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony told B/R Mag. “I’m past that. It’s all about creating things now and putting things in motion. So, that’s what I’m on. I’m trying to get guys on board with that and help them understand that—enough of the gesturing and talking and all of that stuff—we need to start putting things in place….

“He’s done it,” Anthony said of Kaepernick. “He was courageous enough to do that. He created that. He created the kneeling and that protest. And people fell in line with that. Some people supported it. Some people didn’t. But at the end of the day, and I’m not taking nothing away from him…I just don’t think the gesturing is creating anything. I think it’s bringing awareness, but I think doing stuff and creating awareness in the communities [is more effective].”

What are those things? Players, the players’ union, the NBA itself, and it’s teams are all working to figure that out. This is not something where one blanket program fits all — what is needed in communities in New York is different from the needs in Milwaukee, is different from the needs in Sacramento. This needs to be local, with players involved.

There have already been some steps. The Bulls held a basketball tournament between police and a mentoring agency, which was followed by a panel discussion. Dwyane Wade biked with police through Miami. The Grizzlies have revived the Police Athletic League in Memphis. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, there are teams from New Orleans to Los Angeles are working to bring youth and police together to talk.

It’s a start. A good start.

There is no one magic gesture, no one simple measure that can heal the deep divides in our nation right now. There are no easy answers, and as a nation we can be too dependent on easy answers. We need to listen. We need to talk to each other, not at each other. We need to practice empathy.

NBA players can help lead that effort, that conversation. It would be the next step after a protest — to act on those steps. Good on Anthony and the NBA for attempting to go down that road.


Rockets change from earlier reports, waive Pablo Prigioni, keep Tyler Ennis

HOUSTON, TX - MAY 17:  Pablo Prigioni #9 of the Houston Rockets celebrates in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers during Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals at the Toyota Center for the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 17, 2015 in Houston, Texas. 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 Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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The Rockets traded for Tyler Ennis., sending Michael Beasley away in the deal.

Which is why it was a bit of a surprise on Monday when early reports had the Rockets waiving Ennis, but either the report was off or the Rockets changed their minds.

With Patrick Beverley out injured, this leaves the Rockets thin at the traditional point guard spot. However, in practice James Harden, Eric Gordon and others will initiate Mike D’Antoni’s offense, so the bigger challenge will be defensively. Prigioni was not much help there at this point in his career.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a team snaps up Prigioni as insurance, or he certainly can make money overseas. Prigioni played last season as a backup point guard for the Clippers.

Want some dance lessons from Hassan Whiteside? We got that.

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 26: A portrait of Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Miami Heat on September 26, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Miami’s Hassan Whiteside is a lot of things: An elite shot blocker, up-and-coming NBA star who worked hard for the right to be that, a Heat cornerstone.

Dance instructor?

I’m not sold, but he’s showing off his groove in this Twitter video.

When you get a $98.6 million contract, you can do whatever you want. So he can be a dance if he wants to.