Should homecourt be a priority for the Heat next season?

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Typically, after you win the NBA title, you reach a new level of confidence. You know you can get there, you know you can win it. You have an extra gear and an awareness of that gear most teams don’t have. So homecourt advantage may not mean as much. The Heat won the title last year without homecourt advantage in the Finals, but will that be enough this year?

Ira Winderman, writing for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, fielded a question on that:

Q: Watching the Heat try to win their way to another championship will be fun. Once again, home court could prove vital: What if Game 7 against the Celtics was in Boston? — Roland, Portland.

A: Uh, then the Heat would have won in Boston? But I appreciate your overall point. Homecourt throughout the playoffs could be a particularly intriguing issue this coming season, based on the potential threat of the Lakers. But I wonder if it truly can be a pre-determined organizational decision, to play for the league’s top overall regular-season record? I think it’s something that just happens. That said, I can’t see the Heat wearing out players just for that goal, considering they didn’t have home court against the Thunder in the NBA Finals. Finishing at the top of the league could come down to the Heat’s supposed improved depth. Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, and, to a degree, even a healthier Mike Miller could go a long way toward determining the Heat’s role in the overall race for No. 1.

via Miami Heat, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh commentary from Ira Winderman – South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com.

I’m not sure you can so easily say they would have won in Boston in Game 6. Part of the reason the Celtics seemed to buckle emotionally was the fact that with a chance to close out Miami at home in Game 6, LeBron James instead stole the lease and then burned the floorboards down. If the Celtics had had another crack at it, at home, in a Game 7? Might have been a different story. Maybe not. But it’s worth considering.

But his bigger point stands. The Heat need to focus on being healthy and making the right decisions for the club to where they can play as they need to in May and June. They can beat any team in the league, even the Lakers, if they bring the whole house. But they have to be healthy enough to.

With Dwyane Wade’s injury history, LeBron coming off the wear and tear of the Olympics, and the age of the supporting cast, it’s hard to see them taking the overall top seed. But even if they have to go on the road to get a few, there’s no reason to change the opinion that they are the favorites.

At least in the East.

One last look back: Best dunks of All-Star Weekend (VIDEO)

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Defense? That’s one thing that rarely makes an appearance All-Star weekend.

Combine that with the game’s best athletes and what you get are three days of insane dunks.

The NBA put this together, the best dunks of All-Star weekend in Charlotte. Enjoy.

Wizards’ Bradley Beal: ‘Recruiting process is really going alright…I’m trying’

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LeBron James went out of his way to say he was not recruiting guys on his free-agent heavy All-Star Team.

Bradley Beal had no such hesitation, he tried to recruit guys, as he told Chase Huges of NBC Sports Washington.

“The recruiting process is really going alright. It’s going alright. I’m trying,” Beal said. “This is new for me. I’m definitely getting some ears and seeing what guys are looking for.”

Beal was too smart to name names — that would have brought a fine from the league — but he said some guys asked if he was happy where he was, while other guys he talked to about the possibilities in Washington.

The problem is while the Wizards will have some cap space after trading Otto Porter and Markieff Morris (and assuming they don’t pick up the option on Jabari Parker) but they will be nowhere near the max cap space needed to land the elite free agents at the All-Star Game (Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, etc.). Even the second-tier All-Star free agents such as Khris Middleton will get max offers. Same with players who just missed the game, such as Tobias Harris.

If the Wizards renounce free agents they can get to $9 million in cap space, stretch and waive Ian Mahinmi and they can get to $18 million. That’s the top end. Meaning the Wizards will have room to make moves for good rotation players, but with John Wall‘s supermax extension kicking in at $38 million next season flexibility is limited. Genuine upgrades will be hard to come by.

Predicting what Washington GM Ernie Grunfeld will do next summer is a fool’s errand, but Beal is doing his part to try and bring more talent into Washington.

Kevin Garnett says 2000 Olympic team had $1 million bounty to dunk on Yao Ming

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Team USA earned a Gold Medal in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, led by Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, and Alonzo Mourning. Lithuania made the Americans work that year, losing by just nine in pool play then by two points in the semi-finals.

That’s not what anyone remembers from those Olympics, they remember Vince Carter doing this to 7-footer Fredric Weiss of France.

Recently Garnett sat down with Dwyane Wade for an interview (which airs on NBA TV today) and he told a fantastic story about that dunk. (Hat tip to Yahoo Sports)

Everything just paused. First of all, people didn’t know, we had a bounty out on Yao Ming. The whole USA team had a bet. We had a million dollar bet on who was going to be the first person to dunk on Yao Ming. None of us did. We all tried to dunk on Yao, but he would block it or we would miss. So, the first thing I thought of when I saw Vince dunk over Frederic was oh s***, you won the million dollars. But then I realized it obviously wasn’t Yao. I pushed Vince, and if you look at the clip, he almost punches me in the face by accident. But my first thought was, oh s***, you won, you got the million.

KG has the best stories.

MSG denies rumor James Dolan looking to sell Knicks

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Rumors that James Dolan is considering selling the Knicks — which elicits a “Hallelujah” chorus from Knicks fans — have been cropping up for a couple of years now. There were rumors he wanted to spin off the Knicks and Rangers into their own company to be sold. That’s just one, there are others — he confirmed he got a feeler $5 billion, but never a firm offer, for the Knicks — and each time he has shot them down.

This is no different.

On his latest Podcast, the Ringer’s Bill Simmons said he had heard that Dolan wanted to focus more on concerts/in-game experiences in Madison Square Garden and that the Knicks were “available.”

The Madison Square Garden Company released this statement (hat tip New York Daily News).

“The story is 100% false. There has been nothing. No discussions. No plans to have discussions – nothing.”

That’s pretty unequivocal.

While Dolan may entertain the idea on some level of selling the Knicks, until he takes concrete steps to do so — not rumors, but actual, documented moves — I’m not buying it. He’s sitting on a gold mine that keeps going up in value, despite how he manages it, so why sell now? Knicks fans that buy this rumor will likely end up like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football.