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Dwyane Wade says he and Chris Bosh need more touches in advance of Game 7

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After Miami dropped Game 6 in Indiana and managed to score just 77 points in the process, it’s clear that the Heat will need a much more comprehensive team effort if they’re going to be able to win Monday night’s Game 7.

LeBron James led the way for the Heat just as he’s done throughout the series, but he got little to no support from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who were both so instrumental all year long in Miami winning more games than any team in the league throughout the regular season.

Wade specifically doesn’t look right out there, and has been hampered by a knee injury that’s seemed to limit him severely over the last couple of games. But he was the one speaking up after the most recent loss saying that he and Bosh need to be more involved over the course of the game in order for the team to achieve success.

“We’ve got to do a good job of making sure me and Chris have our opportunities to succeed throughout the game,” Wade said, via Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. “That’s something we’re going to have to look at as a team.”

“We’ve got guys individually who want to play better,” Wade said. “But we’ve got to try to help each other out in this locker room and not leave it up to the individual to self-will it.”‘

LeBron would be that individual, but aside from that dominant takeover in the third quarter of Game 5, he’s been facilitating as much as possible, while still taking the bulk of his team’s shots.

“I mean, we can state the obvious; they’re both struggling,” James said of Wade and Bosh. “When you’re struggling, the best thing to get is a layup or a dunk. [Wade] missed a couple of them … Chris is struggling with his shot and him hurting his ankle didn’t help.”

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra took responsibility after Game 6, and said it was on him to find a way to get Wade and Bosh more involved offensively.

“If anything, it’s on me,” Spoelstra said. “I got to find ways to get those guys comfortable in areas where they can be aggressive.  And that will be my focus the next 48 hours. They’re obviously a major part of what we do, and I need to find a way to get them in places where they can be really aggressive.

“Now Game 7s, adversity and backs against the wall, I know those two men’s character. This is when they come up big in these moments.”

That last part was Spoelstra issuing a challenge to his superstars to step up, but it’s unclear if they’ll be physically able to do that. What’s more likely is that we see an incredible do or die performance out of LeBron James, but whether or not he can do it all by himself in an elimination game against the Pacers’ defense will remain to be seen.

J.B. Bickerstaff calls Rockets ‘broken team,’ ‘fragmented bunch’

Houston Rockets interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff rubs his head in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Houston. The Wizards won 123-122. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
AP Photo/Pat Sullivan
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Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff has been unafraid to sharply assess his team.

But after last night’s loss to the Trail Blazers – Houston’s third straight defeat and sixth in eight games – Bickerstaff kicked up the rhetoric even further.

Bickerstaff, via Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

“We’re broken,” Bickerstaff said. “It’s that simple. We’re a broken team, and we all need to use this break to figure out how we’re going to impact change. If we don’t want to impact change, then we need to be made aware of that, too, and we’ll go in a different direction.

“We can’t continue to go out and play this way. It’s easy to see it’s a fragmented bunch. You can’t win that way.”

This is why Dwight Howard is on the trade block. The Rockets are so incohesive, there’s no simple solution in sight. This increasingly looks like a lost season for Houston, which should emphasize future planning – like dealing Howard, who can become an unrestricted free agent at age 30 this summer.

Yet, the Rockets are just a half game from playoff position. They obviously dreamed much bigger when the season began, but at this point, merely making the postseason should qualify as a success.

It’s Bickerstaff’s job to get them there, no matter how unlikely. He has certainly shown little fear in trying, whether it’s giving these quotes or pulling all five starters simultaneously shortly into a game. He’s trying to put his mark on this team.

The players just aren’t responding, not more than periodically, at least. From James Harden down, nobody plays with the requisite focus and energy.

Nothing in Bickerstaff’s assessment is surprising. It’s just surprising he said it so bluntly publicly.

Then again, that’s nothing compared to what veteran Houston guard Jason Terry said. Eric Ringering of 750 The Game:

https://twitter.com/ringering45/status/697664478993756164

Devin Booker to replace Nerlens Noel in Rising Stars at All-Star Weeekend

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker reacts after hitting a 3-point shot against the San Antonio Spurs during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
AP Photo/Rick Scuteri
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Sixers big man Nerlens Noel — who has looked much improved this season once Ish Smith was feeding him the rock on offense — sat out the Sixers game Wednesday night due to tendonitis in his right knee. After he missed his rookie season with knee issues, you can understand why the Sixers want him to be cautious.

Noel is going to sit out All-Star Weekend as well — he had been scheduled to play in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night, but he is going to sit that out and Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns will take his place, the league has announced (Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic broke that story).

Booker has been one of the few bright spots for the Suns this season, averaging 10.6 points a game and shooting 40.3 percent from three.

He will play for the USA in the World vs. USA format of the Rising Stars Challenge (the former rookie/sophomore game, featuring first and second year players).

With Emmanuel Mudiay replacing Patrick Beverley, NBA reveals Skills Challenge bracket

Houston Rockets' Patrick Beverley (2) knocks the ball away from Denver Nuggets' Emmanuel Mudiay (0) in the first half of a NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
AP Photo/Pat Sullivan
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Out: Defending champion Patrick Beverley.

In: Emmanuel Mudiay Emmanuel Mudiay.

The NBA confirmed the Rockets guard would miss the Skills Challenge and that Mudiay would replace him. The league also release the bracket:

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My picks:

Quarterfinals

Semifinals

  • Isaiah Thomas over C.J. McCollum
  • Anthony Davis over Draymond Green

Final

  • Isaiah Thomas over Anthony Davis

NBA suspends Hassan Whiteside for elbowing Boban Marjanovic’s head

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Hassan Whiteside lost his cool and elbowed Boban Marjanovic in the head Tuesday.

The Heat center received a flagrant 2 and an ejection, and now he’s getting the rest of his punishment.

NBA release:

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside has been suspended one game without pay for throwing an elbow and making contact with the head of San Antonio Spurs center Boban Marjanovic, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, for which Whiteside was assessed a Flagrant 2 and ejected, occurred with 9:35 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Spurs’ 119-101 win over the Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena on Feb. 9.

Whiteside will serve his suspension when Miami plays the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 19 at Philips Arena.

The suspension will cost Whiteside $8,921. As a result, the Heat – in line to become the first team in NBA history to pay the repeater luxury-tax rate – trim their impending tax bill by $24,534.

More importantly for Whiteside, this will be a strike against him for teams considering offering him a big contract in free agency this summer.