Winderman: Heat would like mulligan on expectations hype

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The Miami Heat would like a do-over.

No, not on the offseason haul of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. But rather on the approach.

Uh, yeah, perhaps they did get just a wee bit ahead of themselves.

“It’s not easy putting this kind of talent together,” Wade acknowledged in the wake of losses to the Grizzlies and Pacers. “The easiest part was making the announcement and that seemed like it was hard, right? And that was the easiest part.”

To recap:

July 7: Wade and Bosh announce at midday on ESPN they will play for the Heat.

July 8: LeBron announces in prime time on ESPN he will play for the Heat.

July 9: Wade, Bosh and James celebrate their signings rock-star style at AmericanAirlines Arena, forecasting multiple championships.

Today: A middle-of-the-pack reality.

“It’s going to take time,” Wade said of the revised forecast, amid the cold front that has Erik Spoelstra’s future under increased scrutiny. “I think inside, in here, most of the team has communicated with each other to keep our goal that we have in mind first and don’t really get into the outside expectation.”

It is, of course, an “outside expectation” that the Heat created, one that Spoelstra said during training camp that he and his team embraced.

Now Wade is taking the long view, with each of the three under contract for six seasons, albeit with escape clauses after four.

“We’re together for six years, and outside expectations of what this team can be one day might be (realized),” he said. “Right now, at this moment, it’s not that. And we’ve got to understand that and keep working toward that.”

Already Jeff Van Gundy has backed off his prediction of the Heat challenging the all-time best record of 72-10. Of course, Van Gundy also had forecast that the Heat might go the entire season without consecutive losses, something that has happened twice already.

No, this has not been easy, will not be automatic.

“A lot is going on right now with myself and D-Wade; we’re playing passive,” James said. “And then when we take a shot, it almost looks out of rhythm. It looks very out of rhythm.”

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

Patty Mills hits game-winner in Spurs’ NBA-record fourth straight OT game (video)

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich pioneered resting players.

But San Antonio has played an NBA-record four straight overtime games, meaning the Spurs have had to play an extra 25 minutes.

Popovich, via ESPN:

“It’s awful,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich

At least Patty Mills spared San Antonio a sixth overtime period in these four games. After DeMar DeRozan missed a free throw, Mills hit the game-winner in a 121-119 victory over the Suns yesterday.

And at least the Spurs are mostly winning these longer games. In this span, San Antonio beat the Rockets in double overtime, beat the Kings, lost to the Cavaliers and now beat the Suns. I’d also argue the Cleveland result was worth it.

 

Report: Luka Doncic might return to Mavericks within a couple weeks

Luka Doncic
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Luka Doncic sprained his ankle during the Mavericks’ loss to the Heat yesterday.

Whether this timeline constitutes good news or bad news depends on your perspective.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Doncic’s injury is a blow not just to Dallas, but the NBA. He’s one of the league’s brightest stars. In the next eight days, the Mavericks make their only appearances of the season in Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Toronto.

Though Doncic has played like an MVP candidate, the Mavericks also boast considerable depth. They’ve outscored opponents by 8.0 points per 100 possessions without Doncic.

Those non-Doncic lineups will be thrust into more difficult situations now. That net rating will likely drop, especially against a tough upcoming schedule. Dallas might have been in line for some losses, even with Doncic. So, don’t overreact to that.

But the Mavericks can remain at least competitive without their best player.

Bucks’ Eric Bledsoe out two weeks due to right fibula avulsion fracture

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The Milwaukee Bucks keep right on rolling, they won their 18th straight on Saturday night, cruising past the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now they’re going to have to keep this winning streak going without point guard Eric Bledsoe.

Bledsoe will miss at least two weeks with a right fibula avulsion fracture, the team announced Saturday. The injury happened Friday night in a win against Memphis.

An avulsion fracture is where a strain to ligament pulls a little bit of bone off where the two connect. It sounds worse than it is medically, and while it hurts rest is usually the only treatment needed.

Bledsoe is averaging 15 points and 5.7 assists per game for the Bucks, shooting 34.4 percent from three, playing solid defense, and providing another ball handler and shot creator next to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee has been +4.1 points per 100 possessions this season with Bledsoe on the court.

George Hill, who has had a strong season for Milwaukee off the bench, will step into the starting role for now.

The injury comes at a rough time as the Buck hit a tougher part of the schedule this week, facing Dallas (which may be without Luka Doncic) and the Lakers on Thursday.

Hornets’ rookie P.J. Washington out weeks with fractured little finger

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In what has been a disappointing rookie class so far, Charlotte appears to have a steal drafting P.J. Washington at No. 12. The power forward out of Kentucky has started every game for the Hornets this season and is loving the spacing in the NBA game, scoring efficiently in the paint while shooting 40.6 percent from beyond the arc on 3.4 attempts per game, plus is averaging 5.3 rebounds a game.

Now the Hornets are going to be without him, likely for a couple of weeks, due to a fractured fifth finger on his right hand (pinkie). He suffered it in the fourth quarter against Chicago Friday night.

While the Hornets officially only list him as out for Sunday against the Pacers, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports he’s going to be out through Christmas, which would mean at least five games.

Usually this would mean more minutes for Marvin Williams, but he is out with a sore right knee. Most likely, coach James Borego slides an undersized Miles Bridges over to the four — which had been the preseason plan until Washington surprised everyone — but he has a variety of small-ball players who likely will get a little run there.

The 12-16 Hornets are hanging around the playoff picture, just 1.5 games out of the eight seed (Orlando).