Dwyane Wade, LeBron James

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.

Glenn Robinson III does his best to salvage Dunk Contest, gets victory in process

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NEW ORLEANS — This year’s NBA All-Star Dunk Contest was doomed to disappoint, it was never going to match last year’s epic battle. It started in a hole.

It never climbed out. Don’t take my word for it, check out what JaVale McGee thought.

Saturday was an underwhelming night of dunks punctuated by a couple of moments of brilliance.

The Pacers’ Glenn Robinson III had the most of those moments — which is why he won the event. His strong night started with his first dunk, which may well have been the best of the contest.

The final one from Robinson, the one that sealed the victory, may be the other best dunk of the competition — dunking over Paul George, the Pacers mascot, and a Pacers dancer.

“I originally planned for it just to be PG (Paul George),” Robinson said afterward. “I knew I had to bring out something special. We added the mascot and the cheerleader. I really just wanted to get up high and dunk that thing hard, man. My adrenaline was going. It felt like I was looking at the rim. All I knew was the crowd go crazy. I pointed like this because, man, everybody seemed to sleep on me, didn’t really think I was going to win this thing.”

Event favorite Aaron Gordon, who should have won a year ago, opened the contest with an innovative idea — a drone dunk — but he couldn’t execute it and there were a few attempts before he nailed it.

Gordon didn’t advance out of the first round, and his first dunk summed up the 2017 Dunk Contest — interesting ideas that didn’t quite pan out like planned. (To be fair, Gordon has been battling injuries recently, that may have thrown him off).

If it wasn’t going to be Gordon, a lot of people expected it to be the bouncy Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. who won, and he reached the Finals in part thanks to this spectacular dunk that woke the Smoothie King Center up.

DeAndre Jordan was okay, but without Chris Paul throwing him lobs it didn’t quite feel the same. Jordan can dunk with such power in game, but we didn’t see that Saturday.

In the end, it was Gordon who was making the plays.

“I’m not really a known dunker,” Robinson said. “I practiced. I prepared. I know I’m a jumper. And like I said, I’m a guy that stays out of the way. But when it’s time to shine, that’s my thing. That’s what I wanted to do. I knew all along I had some things planned, and I just wanted to show the world.”

Glenn Robinson III wins underwhelming dunk contest on over-people, below-rim dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — Glenn Robinson III won the dunk contest with the second-best dunk of the night, going over a few people and under the rim — a narrow path to slamming victory.

It would’ve rated as the event’s best dunk if he were truly under the rim rather than somewhat in front of it. And he did have the best body of work to win the contest.

But the best single dunk was still by runner-up Derrick Jones Jr., who went between the legs on a pass off the side of the backboard.

NBA stars shoot threes to raise $500,000 for Sager Strong Foundation in touching moment

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NEW ORLEANS — The spirit of Craig Sager is strong during All-Star weekend in The Big Easy and he’s going to get a spot in the Hall of Fame, deservedly so.

After Eric Gordon won the Three-Point Contest, he and the other finalists Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker stayed on the court to shoot threes to raise money for the Sager Strong Foundation — they would shoot threes for a minute and for each make the foundation would get $10,000. Then they brought out help — Reggie Miller, James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, DJ Khaled, and others to knock down shots. That raised $130,000.

Stephen Curry tried to push that to $500,000, but it was Sager’s son that actually did it (with an assist from Shaquille O’Neal).

It was a touching moment for a great cause.

Derrick Jones Jr. catches pass off side of backboard, jams between-legs dunk (video)

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NEW ORLEANS — With defending runner-up Aaron Gordon eliminated in the first round, Suns forward Derrick Jones Jr. might be our best hope to save the dunk contest.