Heat forward James looks to pass under pressure from Celtics forward Bass during their NBA basketball game in Miami

Heat’s ball movement has team talking hockey assists


LeBron James gets the ball on the wing and drives, blowing past his man and toward the lane and quickly the rotations start and the defense collapses on him. LeBron draws the defense in then kicks it out to Dwyane Wade who quickly makes the extra pass to Ray Allen in the left corner. He drains the three.

Allen gets the points, Wade gets the assist and LeBron… nothing. In hockey he also gets an assist (there are two per goal) but as there are a handful of scoring plays a game is something the sport can track.

But the Heat, they are tracking it this year. They report LeBron had three in Monday night’s game and nine for the season so far, reports Tom Haberstroh at ESPN’s Heat Index.

If you have seen the Heat play this season, you have seen some quality ball movement. They are comfortable in their system now and are playing unselfishly. Coach Erik Spoelstra is analytics driven so he wants to keep tables on that movement.

“Very few players have an understanding what a hockey assist is,” Spoelstra said. “(LeBron) is able to read the

situation and make the hockey assist knowing that it’s going to take one or two passes for a wide open shot. He can make those calculations as fast as any player I’ve been around….”

Chris Bosh only has seven regular assists this season, but he has more hockey assists (four) than any of his teammates not named LeBron James. That’s part of a big man’s job, to kick out to shooters and restart the offense if there’s nothing there in the post.

The biggest recipient of hockey assists? That would be Allen, who has made six shots via the extra pass, all of which are three-pointers.

You know what your dad called the hockey assist? Good basketball. It’s not new, we just saw a lot less of it when the game drifted toward more isolation plays. Now that pendulum has started to really swing the other way.

Miami is not the only team tracking this stat internally, they just seem to have more of it to track than other teams. And the internal recognition that comes with it makes players even more likely to make that pass.

Just watch a Heat game and you’ll see what I mean.

PBT Extra bold prediction: Is this Andrew Wiggins’ breakout season?

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Minnesota is going to be entertaining to watch this season. A healthy Ricky Rubio (hopefully) dishing at the point, Karl-Anthony Towns is already a high-IQ passer, and bench players such as Shabazz Muhammad and Adreian Payne have shown some skills.

Then there’s Andrew Wiggins. The reigning Rookie of the Year developed quickly last season — particularly his jump shot — and he should make a big leap this season. He’s going to dunk on people and end up in a lot of highlight packages while putting up a lot of points.

Enough to set the Minnesota Timberwolves single game scoring record, currently held at 52 by Mo Williams? That’s the question for this PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado.

Derrick Rose being back for start of season in question

Fred Hoiberg, Derrick Rose
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The Bulls have said Derrick Rose is about a week away from returning after suffering a facial fracture this preseason.

The start of the NBA season is two weeks from today (Oct. 27).

So Rose will be ready to go when the Bulls start their season that first night against Cleveland, right? Don’t bet on it, says Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com, quoting coach Fred Hoiberg.

The opening night projection for a Derrick Rose return is a bit murky at this point, as the Bulls are taking a cautious approach to his recovery with Fred Hoiberg essentially ruling him out for the rest of the preseason.

“Most likely (out for the preseason),” Hoiberg said….

In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rose sit out the first handful of games, as the Bulls start the season with a three-game in four-night stretch starting Oct. 27 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is in two weeks.

“That will be in consideration, sure,” Hoiberg said. “We gotta make sure, he really hasn’t done anything and that will be a good two or three weeks where he has total inactivity, so just to throw him back out there going 100 percent with his speed and everything, you just don’t want to take any risks, chances, where it could be a lingering issue.”

Just what TNT and the NBA hoped for with an opening night Bulls vs. Cavaliers showcase: Kirk Hinrich vs. Mo Williams. (Don’t forget Kyrie Irving will miss the start of the season recovering from his knee surgery.)

Of course, this is the smart play for the Bulls who need to be thinking about getting Rose fully healthy and focusing on what condition he will be come April 27, not Oct. 27.

And of course, a lot of Bulls fans who are down on Rose will slam him for this. Even though the injury was a freak accident and the team is right to be patient.

Rose could play opening night, if he gets back to practice next week and can get closer to basketball shape. But I wouldn’t bet on it.