Heat without Wade: Less slashing, more shooting

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Against Milwaukee on Sunday, the Heat role players shot the ball like, well, the Heat role players from last season. Take LeBron James and Chris Bosh out of the equation and the Heat shot 25.7 percent for the game, and were just 2-of-9 from three.

That stood out because it had not been the case for the six games prior — which is why the Heat have looked good without Dwyane Wade.

It is not that the Heat are better or more dangerous without Wade — Erik Spoelstra put it well calling that discussion the “theater of the absurd” — but they have a newfound depth that allows better floor spacing and had been better at shooting (until Sunday). Rather than two guys who are best at slashing, they roll out a lineup that has a combination James Jones, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier and Mike Miller. Their roster is filled with better shooters this season, something James often lacked in Cleveland.

That is why they started 6-0 without him. Look at this quote from Philadelphia coach Doug Collins, via ESPN’s Heat Index.

“They are a different team without Dwyane,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said. “They space the floor a little bit more and they use the 3-ball a little bit more.”

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst explains the lineup situation while Wade is out well.

Instead of having two slashers who like to create their own shot but aren’t great shooters, the Heat now generally have multiple shooting specialists on the court next to James and Bosh. It is never easy to defend James or Wade when they are on the attack, but it is challenging to have them attack at the same time. But shooters have to be guarded or you’ll often pay the price…

Wade’s latest injury has coincided with the return of Mike Miller from his own injury, which has allowed Spoelstra to play Miller, Shane Battier and James Jones all at once.

When Wade returns that lineup will have to shift. But look for Spoelstra to go to this shooter-heavy lineup for stretches when Wade and LeBron rest. It works.

The Heat are not better without Wade — their pressure and up-tempo attack had then with the most efficient offense in the NBA before Wade went down. Having Wade, Bosh and James brings a diversity to their attack that is very difficult to defend.

But what they have found with him out is another, different way to score. Which is going to make them better come this spring.

Boston offense stumbles, Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic scores 24 in Magic upset win

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BOSTON (AP) — Nikola Vucevic had 24 points and 12 rebounds while the Orlando Magic survived two 3-point attempts by Boston in the closing seconds to beat the Celtics 93-90 on Monday night.

Jonathan Isaac added 18 points and 12 boards for the Magic (2-2).

Kyrie Irving led the Celtics (2-2) with 22 points. Al Horford had 15 and Gordon Hayward 11. Irving and Hayward each missed a 3 in the final seconds. Boston shot 9-of-40 from three on the night and 40.7 percent overall, looking out of sync as they have much of the season (and preseason).

The Celtics, who never led in the game, trailed by at least five points from the midway point of the final quarter until Jaylen Brown nailed a 3-pointer from the left corner, closing it to 89-86 with 71 seconds left.

But Isaac answered with a foul-line jumper on the next possession.

Horford and Irving then had consecutive baskets 32 seconds apart, slicing it to 91-90 with 14.2 seconds to play.

With Boston forced to foul Evan Fournier after Orlando inbounded the ball after a timeout, he stepped to the line and made both free throws with 7.8 seconds left.

Irving then missed his 3 from the right corner, and after Horford grabbed the rebound and fed it out – Hayward’s rimmed out just before the buzzer sounded.

Orlando had pulled ahead by 13 points twice late in the third quarter before Boston closed the period by scoring 10 of the final 12 points to slice it to 75-70 at the break.

 

Watch Stephen Curry get the volleyball set assist from his mom during warmups

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Wherever the Warriors are, home or road, fans are filling the building long before tip-off just to watch Stephen Curry warm up. With good reason, he’s a show even before the ball goes up.

Curry’s mother, Sonya, was courtside for his warmups before the Warriors hosting the Suns. Curry played a little volleyball with her, got a good set, and hit the corner three.

Pretty sure rules prohibit him from doing that during the game, but it’s impressive nonetheless.

Warriors say DeMarcus Cousins making “good progress,” will participate in part of practice soon

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Don’t confuse this with “DeMarcus Cousins is almost back on the court.” The Warriors are going to be CSPAN call-in show host patient in bringing Cousins back, and a return date is still well down the schedule. There is no official timetable.

Cousins is, however, making progress and will be part of some segments of team practice shortly, the Warriors announced Monday.

“DeMarcus continues to make good progress with his rehabilitation program. After spending the last few weeks doing various individual on-court activities and drills, he will, in the near future, be integrated into controlled aspects of team practices, although not scrimmages at this point. Additionally, he will continue with his off-court strength and conditioning program.”

The Warriors want to keep Cousins happy but also know they don’t fully need him yet — they need him in the playoffs as another option to punish switches. Golden State needs Cousins healthy, back in shape, rust off and ready to go in April, but he doesn’t need to be on the court in October, or even by Christmas, to get there. Cousins wants to play, but as a guy looking to get paid next summer, he needs to come back right and show what he can do, not come back too early and damage his stock. It’s a fine line.

The Warriors and Cousins are moving closer to that line, but there is still a long way to go.

Report: Nuggets’ starter Will Barton out 5-6 weeks with surgery to repair groin muscle

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Non-contact injuries can be the worst.

Against Phoenix over the weekend, Denver’s Will Barton went in for a relatively uncontested reverse layup, but as soon as he lands he grabs his hip and goes to the floor in obvious pain. It did not look good.

There wasn’t much in the way of information from the team.

However, a report from Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated gives us more details.

The adductor muscles are traditionally called the groin muscles. It’s a series of muscles that help the hips move and are connected to the thigh.

That’s bad news for Denver, a team off to a fast 3-0 start including a win over Golden State. Barton has averaged 16.5 points per game and five rebounds a night in 27 minutes per game through the first three, and he’s been hot from three shooting 55.6 percent. Expect the defensive-minded Torrey Craig to get the bulk of the minutes with Barton out, but both Juancho Hernangomez and Trey Lyles could see a little extra run as well.