Haslem says Heat ready to defend their title. Shocking.

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Last June’s Miami Heat title was not the first trip down the parade route for Udonis Haslem. He was part of the Miami Heat’s 2006 title team.

That would be the one that came back in no condition mentally to defend its title. One that fell apart as quickly as any champion in recent memory.

Haslem, one of the veteran leaders of the Heat, says he is not going to let that happen again. Granted, the situation on the Heat is pretty different this time around, nonetheless Haslem told the Miami Herald this Heat squad is ready to take on 29 challengers (hat tip SLAM).

“I think it’s not necessarily about being a different group. It’s about the right mindset,” Haslem said. “I don’t think with the ’06 team we really understood what mindset we had to come in with as returning champions….

“I think now we understand what our mindset has to be,” he said, “because the level of expectation has been raised a notch, and we understand that.”

That 2006 Heat team was not built for the long run, unless you think Shaq was suddenly going to be motivated to focus on conditioning. This Heat team has its core players at their peak. But Haslem is right about the mindset.

I still contend what makes the Heat the most dangerous this coming season is they figured out who they are. They found an identity last season and into the playoffs, there is no more guesswork. That said, it’s a long, long way to the finals next June. It’s a marathon.

Haslem just thinks they are ready to run it.

Harrison Barnes banks in game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer (video)

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With the shot clock off in the fourth quarter and the game tied, Grizzlies big JaMychal Green put back Tyreke Evans‘ miss with a clutch flush. There’s a very fine line between ensuring the last shot and leaving time for an offensive rebound, and Memphis threated it almost perfectly.

Emphasis on “almost.”

The Grizzlies left the Mavericks 0.5 seconds, which Harrison Barnes used to bank in a 3-pointer – off a pinpoint bounce pass by Dennis Smith Jr. – to give Dallas a 95-94 win.

Heat snap Celtics’ 16-game winning streak

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
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The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.

After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.

The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.

Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.

The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.

Serge Ibaka gets dunked on by Enes Kanter, hit in face by ball (video)

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Is Enes Kanter mad Serge Ibaka rifted with his family?

(No, not this family. That family.)

LeBron James blows wide-open dunk (video)

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J.R. Smith (slightly out of context): “We don’t start paying attention until after All-Star break.”