Dallas Mavericks v Miami Heat - Game Two

What’s on their mind Saturday: Miami Heat


Whoops. That didn’t go how the Heat planned, I’m betting. So Saturday at Heat practice, Erik Spoelstra has to regroup the Heat mentally and emotionally to prepare them for a Game 3 that’s pretty much insanely important. (“OMG NO TEAM HAS EVER WON/LOST THE FINALS AFTER LOSING/WINNING GAME 3 IN A 2-3-2 FORMAT AFTER SPLITTING THE FIRST TWO GAMES! SPECIFIC AND SMALL SAMPLE SETS FOR THE WIN!”)

Here’s what’s plaguing the Heat on Saturday at practice before Sunday’s Game 4.

Hero ball = bad

This should be pretty obvious, but then, the Heat made a living off of hero ball in the Celtics and Bulls series. In Game 1, the Heat hit several huge shots late, but they were largely a product of one of the Big 2 drawing a double, then the Heat swinging it to the other one. That’s the objective of this whole thing, right? To draw attention with one superstar then hit them with the other, or the third one if the defense rotates. The Heat abandoned that plan for hero ball in Game 2 and it bit them big time.

Spoelstra can’t adjust the issue directly. You try telling LeBron and Wade “don’t try and take guys one-on-one/one-on-three. But Spoesltra needs to try and establish commitments to the other ideas which have got them to this point. Reminders about sharing the ball, about looking for the open man, etc. will at least encourage them away from what got them burned in Game 2.

Glass works

Heat controlled the offensive boards in Game 1, they won. Dallas won the offensive glass in Game 2, the Heat lost. So that’s got to be a point of emphasis. Spoesltra’s pretty well settled into his rotation at this point, opting for speed and energy versus raw size. But Joel Anthony is going to have to contribute somewhere on the box score. Yes, he’s great defensively. Yes, he does a lot of hustle plays. But the Heat need those rebounding digits to go up. Saturday that needs to be a point of emphasis. The Heat know their offense needs extra chances. Whoever wins the five matchup is going to win this series. The Miami bigs should get a workout Satuday.

The Quick and the Bosh

Chris Bosh was great in Game 1 because he was quick and decisive. In Game 2, he froze the ball, looking for opportunities. The Heat cannot stop the ball. If they are not going to go, they need to reset and move the ball. Bosh has to know immediately if he’s going to go to the pull-up or drive. If neither option is available, he’s got to kick it back out. Bosh can be devastating if he’s working off ball. If he’s freezing the ball and trying to get shots up over solid defenders, he’s going to have issues and the Heat are going to be even more offensively limited. Bosh has to pull his weight.

Double Dirk Nowitzki.

That’s it. Don’t leave Dirk Nowitzki in single coverage. It worked all game in Game 2 until the fourth quarter, so naturally the Heat stopped doing it. Boom. Roasted.  That should probably come up at some point in the conversation today.

Report: Pistons claim Beno Udrich off Miami’s waivers

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 26: A portrait of Beno Udrih #9 of the Miami Heat on September 26, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Miami felt set at point guard with Goran Dragic starting and the up-and-coming Tyler Johnson as his backup. They decided veteran Beno Udrih wasn’t part of the future and waived him.

Detroit, looking for some help at the one until Reggie Jackson returns, saw a dependable veteran guard on the market. So they snapped him up, reports Shams Charnaria of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

At age 34 we are seeing Ulrich’s game start to slip. Still, he has valuable NBA skills as a point guard: he doesn’t turn the ball over, can run an offense, and if you ignore him coming off a pick he will bury the shot.

Jackson is expected to be out at least another six weeks after getting PRP therapy to deal with knee tendonitis (he hopes to be back sooner). That leaves Ish Smith as the starting point guard in the short term; Udrih will help provide solid depth at the position.

The Pistons need to keep their heads above water until Jackson can return.

NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement could run to 2024

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The first 12 years of the NBA’s salary-cap era went without a lockout. The league again avoided a lockout for a dozen straight years between 1999 to 2011.

Now, with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement coming soon, the NBA is setting itself up for another 12 years of labor peace.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are working on a seven-year extension to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, with a mutual opt-out in six years, league sources told The Vertical.

The seven-year deal could potentially deliver the NBA labor peace through the 2023-24 season, unless the opt-outs are exercised in 2022, league sources told The Vertical.

The new CBA will begin with the 2017-18 season.

Expect an opt out after six years. By then, there’s usually something to renegotiate.

Hope for another quick resolution, like we’re getting now.

And if neither the owners nor players opt out, be pleasantly surprised at an unprecedented 13th straight year without a lockout in this era.

Rockets waive Gary Payton II and reportedly Tyler Ennis

TARRYTOWN, NEW YORK - AUGUST 07:  Gary Payton II #0 of the Houston Rockets poses for a portrait during the 2016 NBA Rookie Photoshoot at Madison Square Garden Training Center on August 7, 2016 in Tarrytown, New York. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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The Rockets entered the day with five point guards with guaranteed salaries: James Harden, Patrick Beverley, Pablo Prigioni, Tyler Ennis and Gary Payton II.

That seemed like too many, but Houston had just 15 players – the regular-season roster limit – with guaranteed salaries. There didn’t seem to be urgency to drop a player with a guaranteed deal.

Yet, the Rockets will drop two.

Rockets release:

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has waived guard/forward P.J. Hairston, forward Le’Bryan Nash, and guard Gary Payton II.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Barring another move, this opens the door for Houston to keep Bobby Brown (whose biggest impact in the preseason was causing an international incident) and Kyle Wiltjer, a stretch big who went undrafted out of Gonzaga.

The Rockets come out behind in their trade for Ennis. They have could have just waived the player they dealt, a lower-paid Michael Beasley, and saved a little money.

Payton, undrafted out of Oregon State, is an intriguing project. But Brown is probably more capable of helping now, a bigger factor for that roster spot with Beverley injured.

Thunder waive Ronnie Price and Mitch McGary, keep Semaj Christon

2014 Oklahoma City Thunder Media Day
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The Thunder waived a former No. 21 pick who still had two years left on his rookie-scale contract and a 33-year-old journeyman.

The latter was the surprise.

Thunder release:

The Oklahoma City Thunder waived forwards Mitch McGary and Chris Wright along with guard Ronnie Price and center Kaleb Tarczewski, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

At this point, Oklahoma City waiving Mitch McGary was completely expected. Facing 15 games of drug suspension with no proven track record of NBA sustainability, McGary was an easy cut on a team with a roster crunch.

Price signed a fully guaranteed two-year contract worth nearly $5 million this offseason, and teams don’t generally waive players so soon after guaranteeing them multiple seasons (even if guaranteeing them multiple seasons was questionable in the first place). This opens the door not only for Semaj Christon to make the regular-season roster, but to serve as Russell Westbrook‘s primary backup at point guard with Cameron Payne injured.

Christon, the No. 55 pick in the 2014 draft, also signed this summer (with just a $200,000 guarantee). After leaving Xavier, he spent a year on the Thunder’s D-League affiliate then a year overseas. Perhaps, he’s ready for a regular role without the safety net of a veteran like Price behind him, but this sure seems like another case of Oklahoma City overrating its developmental system. See previously: Josh Huestis.