Wade says the Heat are still evolving, which sounds like a horror flick concept

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Chris Bosh wound up a center, LeBron James turned into a power-point-center, Shane Battier was power forward and Dwane Wade played small forward. The Heat went through a series of radical and unpredictable changes last season on account of both emerging trends in their opponents’ lineups and the injury to Chris Bosh. Up was down, in was out, and the only thing that made traditional sense was that Mario Chalmers ran point and the ball always went through the best player (on Earth), LeBron James.

But just because it worked last season, doesn’t mean it will work next season. And Dwyane Wade, in comments to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, made it clear that the Heat, despite being champions, are still evolving, still changing, still getting better.

“You never know what player is going to start off and be playing a certain way and you switch things up a little bit,” Wade said. “But we have that luxury, because we have not only three marquee players, but we have a lot of other players on our team that’s very capable, highly capable, and very good.”

And there will be decisions to be made, from how to maximize Allen’s role in the rotation, as stressed during his recruitment, to where to play Lewis, with length suited for the power rotation but a frame more befitting a perimeter player.

“So our plan to come out,” Wade said, “is, let’s get together as a team, let’s get our team defensive concepts down, let’s get our offensive continuity down and  we’ll see what comes out of that.”

via Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade looks ahead to NBA championship defense. – South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com.

The Heat were three solid Boston quarters away from being sunk by the Celtics, and struggled with Indiana’s size. The Pacers improved. The Celtic arguably improved. The Lakers improved. The Thunder can’t help but improve. So the Heat will have to respond if they want to defend their title. But the ideas that the Heat used to win were sound.

After all that talk about ditching Erik Spoelstra (and I made as much noise about it as anyone — whoops), Spoelstra put the pieces together specifically by not cementing anything. It was that approach that lead them through, and it will have to be the same for Miami next season.

Stephen Curry back in full practice mode for Warriors

AP
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Stephen Curry resumed full practice with contact and could play for the defending champion Golden State Warriors as soon as Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals Saturday night against New Orleans.

Curry looked strong as he practiced Thursday wearing a protective brace over his sprained left knee, which has sidelined him since the injury March 23 – the same day he returned from a six-game absence because of a hurt right ankle.

Coach Steve Kerr is calling Curry questionable for Saturday. That could change if the two-time NBA MVP still feels fine Friday and is fine after one more day of full practice before the Pelicans visit Oracle Arena to begin the best-of-seven series.

“Steph practiced at 100 percent, he did everything, he looked good,” Kerr said. “What we have to do is see how his body responds the rest of the day, put him through another practice tomorrow. I think he needs to string together two good days but it was very positive today. … I think it’s been coming along pretty well. When we were in San Antonio and I was asked a question about how he was doing, I think I was able to give an answer, `He’s doing great but we haven’t ramped him up yet.’ I think today was an important day because it’s the first time he’s actually gone live action and he was allowed to go through practice. And he appears fine.”

Curry went through his usual shooting work with Kevin Durant from various spots after practice, cutting and exhibiting his fancy footwork and dribbling skills. The Warriors have played well without their floor leader, eliminating the San Antonio Spurs in Game 5 of the first-round series with a 99-91 win Tuesday night.

The Pelicans will present a different, faster pace for the Warriors, so getting Curry back to push the ball and direct the offense would be important. Andre Iguodala, the 2015 NBA Finals MVP, started in the first round in his place while Quinn Cook handled point guard duties late in the regular season with Curry out.

“We’re excited. I know he’s very eager to play,” said Klay Thompson. “He’s a competitor, so sitting out I know kills him. We can’t wait for him to get back whenever that is.”

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball

PBT Extra: How big a threat are Pelicans to Warriors?

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Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and the New Orleans Pelicans were the surprise of the first round of the NBA playoffs. We knew they were good, but they looked dominant on both ends sweeping the three-seed Portland Trail Blazers right out of the postseason (and into a somber period of reflection).

New Orleans looked like the best team in the West in the first round and now they take all that momentum to Golden State where… let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

In this PBT Extra I discuss how the Pelicans have found an identity, but the matchups against Warriors are dramatically more challenging than what they saw in Portland. And that’s before Stephen Curry returns to the fold.

The Pelicans are a great story, but the pecking order in the West is real for good reason.

Nuggets’ Mason Plumlee undergoes surgery to fix core-muscle injury

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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DENVER — Denver Nuggets center Mason Plumlee underwent surgery to fix a core-muscle injury.

The team said Plumlee had the procedure performed Thursday morning by Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia.

Plumlee is expected to return to basketball activities this summer and be ready for training camp in the fall. He averaged 7.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists for a Nuggets team that narrowly missed out on the postseason.

The 28-year-old Plumlee was acquired by Denver as part of a deal in February 2017 that sent center Jusuf Nurkic to Portland. Plumlee signed a three-year, $41 million deal with the Nuggets last September.

 

PBT Extra: Spurs many off-season questions start with Kawhi Leonard

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San Antonio has a lot of roster questions heading into this summer. When Danny Green opts out at $10 million a year, how much do they offer to bring back a key wing defender? What about Tony Parker, an unrestricted free agent? Will Manu Ginobili come back at age 78 41 for another season?

But at the top of the list: Can the Spurs relationship with Kawhi Leonard be repaired?

If so, do they trust his health enough to offer him the $219 million designated veteran max extension?

If not, do they test the trade market (likely we will know the answer to that around the draft, well before July 1)?

I get into all of it in this latest PBT Extra.