Miami Heat v Phoenix Suns

Mario Chalmers takes over as Heat starting point guard

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Carlos Arroyo is out as the Heat’s starting point guard. Mario Chalmers is in.

But it really doesn’t make that big a difference. These two remain interchangeable parts used depending on the situation. And there is a good chance next season it will be someone entirely new at the point in Miami.

The fantastic Kevin Arnovitz at ESPN’s Heat Index spoke to Erik Spoelstra about the change.

“It’s a tough decision,” Spoelstra said of shuffling the deck at point guard. “It’s not an indictment on Carlos. It’s just something I think will be beneficial for the team right now. Mario has been giving us solid and steady minutes, and he’s been getting better at things I’ve wanted him to do.”

Arroyo had been starting but Chalmers often had been finishing games quite often. There’s an easy logic to it — Chalmers is the better defender, and with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh you don’t need the guy who is a little better on offense, you need the guy who is a little better on defense.

Overall, broken down by Synergy Sports, their defense numbers are similar — guys are scoring 0.8 points per possession against Chalmers, 0.84 against Arroyo. But they each have strengths, Chalmers is better at defending the three-point line and is better in isolation. They were very close in the key areas for the position of defending a pick-and-roll ball handler and getting to guys spotting up. What Chalmers is more likely to do is come up with the big steal, he gambles more.

The flip side is Arroyo gives the Heat a little more offense — he better from three, which is key. Arroyo is the slightly better pick-and-roll player, but that is sort of moot because when the game really matters these two will be in spot up situations. And they shoot about the same there, but Arroyo is more likely to drain the three.

But the fact of the matter is, neither has been good enough to grab the job and make it theirs. Arroyo sums up the Heat situation for all but three players on the roster well.

“The reality is that the only starters here — the only guys getting starter’s minutes — are Chris, Dwyane and LeBron,” Arroyo said of adjusting to his new role coming off the bench. “Everybody else is in the rotation. The rest of us are rotation players. It’s been like that all year. It’s part of the process. No excuses. Whoever is playing better will stay out there and help the team win. It’s as simple as that.”

76ers tie NBA-record losing streak, dropping heartbreaker to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas, T.J. McConnell
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After a rare period of on-court competence, the 76ers led the Celtics by five with two minutes left tonight.

Then, Philadelphia snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

The 76ers yielded a 9-0 run to close an 84-80 setback.

They’re now 0-16. Combined with their 0-10 finish to last season, that’s a 26-game losing streak – tied for longest in NBA history. Last year’s 76ers already shared the record.

Philadelphia is also in danger of the worst start to a season. The 2009-10 New Jersey Nets began 0-18, and last year’s 76ers won only one game sooner.

The 76ers will try to avoid the all-time longest streak at the Rockets on Friday. If that goes unsuccessfully, they’ll try to avoid matching the worst season start at the Grizzlies on Sunday. And if both fail, they could set the worst-start record against the Lakers on Tuesday.

76ers-Lakers – it’s shaping up to be a big one.

Timberwolves read mean tweets about themselves (video)

Flip Saunders, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones
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The Timberwolves didn’t select the meanest tweets about these players, but credit Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones, Shabazz Muhammad and Zach LaVine for being good sports.

LeBron James: I’m healthier than a year ago


LeBron James received an injection in his back before the season.

It’s working.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

LeBron James now says he feels better than he did even a year ago.

“I feel better in the mornings; I feel better throughout the games; I feel better throughout the day,” James said before a Cavs shootaround Wednesday in preparation for their game against the Toronto Raptors. “It was a rough start to the season for me last year and for our team. Obviously the way we’ve been playing, a lot is predicated on my health and being able to lead these guys out on the floor and not from the sidelines.”

LeBron certainly looks healthier than he did at this point last year. He’s moving much better and giving more effort.

But comparing November to November means very little for the Cavaliers, who hope to play deep into June.

The key question: Did LeBron properly time his injection? There’s a limit on the number he can have in a year, and it takes time to recover after one. Cleveland doesn’t want LeBron to peak to early.

It’s good for the Cavs that LeBron feels better now, but his health in the playoffs remains the priority.

Report: Suns signing Bryce Cotton

Bryce Cotton
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Eric Bledsoe missed the Suns’ loss to the Spurs on Monday with a knee injury.

So, Phoenix is bringing in a reinforcement – Bryce Cotton.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Jazz waived Cotton before the season despite Dante Exum‘s injury leaving them with just two other healthy point guards. That says something about Cotton – but also Utah’s depth.

Cotton – who went undrafted out of Providence last year – is quick, varies his speed well and can leap. There’s reason to believe in his potential at age 23. But his 6-foot-1 frame limits him defensively, and he’s not much of a distributor.

Phoenix will rely on Brandon Knight and Ronnie Price at point guard if Bledsoe is unavailable. The Suns can also use fewer two-point guard lineups – giving more minutes at shooting guard to Devin Booker, Archie Goodwin and Sunny Weems.

Cotton provides insurance while Bledsoe is banged-up with what seems to be a minor injury. But he might have to show something to keep drawing an NBA paycheck once Bledsoe gets healthy.