Dwyane Wade, LeBron James

As always, Erik Spoelstra wants Miami to play faster


Last season, in the run up to the season, Erik Spoelstra tried to make the Heat’s identity a team that used pressure defense and fast break attacks to overwhelm opponents. And at the start of the season they did that.

But as the season wore on the Heat’s pace dropped back to about the league average (a little below, actually, they finished 19th in the league). In part that was due to injuries, in part due to teams adjusting to what the Heat tried to do. The Heat did play faster than the year before, but not fast all the time (only in spurts).

So guess what Spoelstra’s mantra is again going into this season? From Ira Winderman at the Sun Sentinel.

Talking to WQAM on Tuesday, Spoelstra shed some light on his game plan for next season.

“I hope to play faster,” Spoelstra said. “We turned it up a gear last year and I think we have the personnel to hopefully go even faster. I think with a normal training camp and a normal season we can build up that habit even more.”

I can find you 29 other NBA head coaches who are vowing to play faster this year, too. It must be part of the “Off-Season Cliche Handbook” the NBA passes out to coaches.

Obviously, part of this is how healthy Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are when they return next season. Wade has said he will be playing his way into trusting his knee, which means he could be a step slower to start.

It seems like the Heat might if they do play more small ball with Chris Bosh at the five. But one of the more knowledgeable Heat guys out there, Couper Moorhead, suggested Bosh may not start at the five next year. He likely finishes games there, but not always start. And if the Heat are saving the small lineup, we’ll see how fast they really play.

But, we know what Spoelstra wants.

Chris Paul, after breaking finger, intends to play in Clippers preseason game tomorrow

Chris Paul
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Chris Paul broke his finger Saturday.

The initial diagnosis said the injury wasn’t serious.

Here’s confirmation.

Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:

Paul obviously wouldn’t push it during the preseason. If the Clippers are allowing him to play, this can’t be bad.

Really, the most challenging aspect to this is grasping the concept that a broke finger can be a minor injury.

Report: David Lee, Tyler Zeller in line to start for Celtics; Jared Sullinger, Jonas Jerebko out of rotation

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 08: David Lee of Boston Celtics attacks during the friendlies of the NBA Global Games 2015 basketball match between Real Madrid and Boston Celtics at Barclaycard Center on October 8, 2015 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Brad Stevens has a big challenge this year – sorting the Celtics’ deep roster of similarly able players.

It seems that process is shaking out at power forward and center.

A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

it appears Boston’s first four bigs will be starters David Lee and Tyler Zeller, with Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk off the bench.

That leaves Jonas Jerebko and Jared Sullinger, potentially on the outside looking in as far as the regular rotation is concerned.

Lee is the best passer of the bunch, which could partially explain why he’s starting. Boston’s most likely starting point guard, Marcus Smart, is still growing into the role of the lead ball-handler at the NBA level. Lee and presumptive starting shooting guard Avery Bradley can take some pressure off him.

Olynyk can space the floor for Isaiah Thomas-Johnson pick-and-rolls with the reserves and run pick-and-pops with Thomas himself.

I’m a little surprised Zeller is starting over Johnson, though. The Celtics just signed Johnson to a $12 million salary, and I thought they’d rely on his defense to set a tone early. Like Johnson, Zeller is a quality pick-and-roll finisher who can thrive with Thomas.

This is particularly bad news for Sullinger, who – barring a surprising contract extension – is entering a contract year. It seems those reports of offseason conditioning haven’t yet paid off. Jerebko’s deal also isn’t guaranteed beyond this season, but at least he has already gotten his mid-sized payday. Sullinger is still on his rookie-scale contract.