Archive for May 25th, 2012

Heat might want 76ers to beat Celtics

But honestly, the Heat will not be rooting for the Celtics on Saturday. It may have less poetry and glamour, but the Heat most likely would much rather see the 76ers pull the upset.

It is true that the 76ers are younger, more athletic, deeper and healthier than the Celtics at this point. But the Heat have dominated Philadelphia like no other team in the East over the past two seasons; the two teams have played 12 times, including the first round of last year’s playoffs. Eleven times the Heat have won, including sweeping this season’s series 4-0.

The Heat haven’t beaten Boston since the first week of the season back in late December in their home opener. The Celtics are 3-0 against Miami since, though the last meeting was in the final week of the season and neither team played its full lineup. Boston beat the Heat twice in a two-week span in April as Rajon Rondo exploited them in both games. Even with Ray Allen and Paul Pierce limping and Avery Bradley out for the season, it’s not a comfortable matchup for the Heat.

Meanwhile, Miami used the 76ers like an elixir, beating them coming off losses all four times. The Heat held what proved to be a pivotal early-season team meeting on Philly’s own practice court. The last time the teams played, also in April, the Heat gave Wade the night off to rest ahead of a big game with Oklahoma City and won anyway.

– Reported by Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com

The New York Knicks announced today that Head Coach Mike Woodson has been given a multi-year contract extension.

“Mike took over the team under challenging circumstances and made it clear, starting on day one, that he was going to hold every player on our roster accountable,” said James Dolan,Executive Chairman,The Madison Square Garden Company. “We saw a significant improvement since Mike took over and believe our team will only keep improving under Mike’s direction.”

Woodson, who had served as New York’s interim head coach since Mar. 14, 2012, guided the Knicks to an 18-6 regular-season mark and the franchise’s second consecutive playoff berth. Over the last 24 games of the regular season, the Knicks posted the second-best record in the NBA and the team’s defense ranked fifth in the NBA in points allowed (91.8) and eighth in opponents’ field goal percentage (.440). Woodson became the first head coach in franchise history to win his first five games and posted the second-best winning percentage ever by an NBA coach who took over a team midseason.

“Mike has the respect of every person in this organization,” Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations and General Manager Glen Grunwald said. “He and his staff led the team in an impressive push into the playoffs over the last 24 games and we believe he is the right man to lead the franchise as we move forward.”

“I’m very humbled and honored to continue coaching the franchise where I started my NBA career,” Woodson said. “Our goal is to build off the success we had at the end of last season and to continue our quest of bringing an NBA Championship to Madison Square Garden.”

Woodson joined the organization as an assistant coach on Aug. 29, 2011 after six seasons as the head coach of Atlanta (2004-05 through 2009-10). He improved the Hawks win-loss record in each of those seasons, leading the franchise to the postseason in each of his final three years. Previously, he served eight seasons as an assistant coach with Milwaukee (1996-97 through 1998-99), Cleveland (1999-2000 through 2000-01), Philadelphia (2001-02 through 2002-03) and the NBA Champion Detroit Pistons (2003-04).

He enjoyed an 11-year NBA playing career, averaging 14.0 points over 786 games with New York (1980-81), New Jersey (1981-82),Kansas City/Sacramento (1981-82 through 1985-86), L.A. Clippers (1986-87 through 1987-88), Houston (1988-89 through 1990-91) and Cleveland (1990-91). He was originally selected by the Knicks in the first round (12th overall) in the 1980 NBA Draft.

NBA fines Heat coach Erik Spoelstra

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra has been fined $25,000 for critical public comments about how the Miami/Indiana playoff series was being officiated, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President Basketball Operations.

Spoelstra’s comments were made to the media following Miami’s shootaround on Thursday, May 24.

Miami Heat happy for time to rest

dwyane wade

Dwyane Wade has been battling knee soreness. LeBron James was hobbling after a falling into a courtside cameraman. Chris Bosh remains sidelined indefinitely with an abdominal strain. Mike Miller looks to be in agony whenever he moves.

An extra day of rest doesn’t sound like much, but it means plenty right now to the Miami Heat.

Now halfway to their goal of an NBA championship, the Heat took a welcomed — and needed — day off Friday after closing out their Eastern Conference semifinal matchup with the Indiana Pacers.

The East finals open Monday in Miami against either Philadelphia or Boston, teams that will settle their second-round series with a Game 7 on Saturday night.

“We can use it,” James said after the Heat ousted the Pacers with a Game 6 win in Indianapolis on Thursday. “Any team in the postseason, any extra day that you can get, it definitely helps us. So we’re going to take advantage of it.”

– Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press

nick young

According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the Clippers are interested in re-signing Nick Young this offseason.

The Clippers acquired Young this past season right before the trade deadline, picking up the 6-foot-6 swingman from Washington for Brian Cook and a future second round pick as part of a three-team trade. In 22 games with the Clippers’ this regular season, Young averaged 9.7 points.

In the playoffs, Young helped lead the Clippers to a 27-point comeback win over Memphis, scoring nine quick points in the fourth quarter.  In 11 postseason games, Young drained over half (17-33) of his three-point shots.

– Reported by Dan Woike of the Orange County Register

kevin durant

Kevin Durant was just three minutes into his 10-minute session with reporters Wednesday when he grew a bit testy.

Of the first seven questions lobbed at him, Durant was forced to field five about the San Antonio Spurs.

And he didn’t like it. Didn’t like it one bit.

Once that fifth question came — a reasonable query about what he anticipates from the Spurs defensively against him — Durant tried to supply an answer but soon found himself swerving off script.

“I’m just going to play my game,” Durant started. “I can’t really think about how those guys are going to defend me. They’re a tough defensive group. But every question is about how the Spurs are going to come and how the Spurs are going to play. But you got to ask me how we’re going to come at them. We’re a tough team as well. We come out and play hard. We have a lot of weapons as well. I know they’re the No. 1 seed, they’re a tough group and they haven’t lost in a couple of months but I think that we bring another dimension to the table as well. And we can come out and compete.”

– Reported by Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman (Blog)

jerry sloan

A person familiar with the situation says the Charlotte Bobcats will interview Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan on Friday for their vacant head coaching position.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team hasn’t made its list of candidates public.

The 70-year-old Sloan spent 23 seasons with the Utah Jazz before resigning in February 2011. He hasn’t coached since.

– Reported by the Associated Press

grant hill

Although he’ll turn 40 during next fall’s training camp, Hill has zero plans to end his career while on the mend. One of the few Suns who hasn’t skipped town this offseason, Hill has been a consistent visitor of the the team’s training and weight rooms throughout the week.

“I’m just focusing on being healthy,” the veteran small forward said. “One of the exciting things of being able to spend most of my time here this summer is that I could work with our training staff and get myself right and ready for next season.”

Most of the games that he missed came in late March, when Hill underwent minor right knee surgery to repair a medial meniscus tear. He also had surgery on that same knee last offseason, which hampered him during training camp and the beginning of the season.

Despite the surgery, the former Dukie worked diligently to return to the lineup by the end of the season, as the Suns fought for one of the final playoff positions. However, he never became completely comfortable.

– Reported by Stefan Swiat of Suns.com

vinny del negro

The fate of Los Angeles Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro won’t be known until next week at the earliest, according to sources close to the situation.

But Del Negro’s status must be resolved by next Friday at the latest thanks to the June 1 deadline in his contract for the Clippers to either pick up or decline their third-year team option.

Sources told ESPNLosAngeles.com that the decision rests largely with Clippers owner Donald Sterling, which could help Del Negro. The embattled coach has enjoyed a largely positive relationship with Sterling over the past two seasons, with Sterling issuing a public vote of confidence in Del Negro in March after an ESPN.com report that his job was in jeopardy.

The Clippers then followed up Sterling’s backing by winning 14 of their final 19 regular-season games and toppled the No. 4-seeded Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs in a grueling seven-game series before getting swept in the second round by the San Antonio Spurs with the star duo of Chris Paul (hip) and Blake Griffin (knee) trying to play through injuries.

– Reported by Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN.com

Knicks guard J.R. Smith took his talents to South Beach and got arrested.

Miami Beach police say Smith was arrested last night on a bench warrant for not having a valid driver’s license. Police told The Post that Smith was recognized on famed Washington Avenue in South Beach. Police originally said that Smith was pulled over while driving a scooter, but after reviewing the arrest report have now said that is not the case.

The warrant stemmed from Smith, 26, being cited last year in Miami for driving a scooter without a valid driver’s license.

Smith was taken to the Miami-Dade County jail and booked under his legal name of Earl Joseph Smith, shortly before midnight and later was released on bond. Smith has had past transgressions with the law, including vehicular manslaughter charges that were dropped.

– Reported by Marc Berman of the New York Post

jr smith
dwayne wade

Miami’s Big Two was more than enough to finish off the Indiana Pacers.

Dwyane Wade and LeBron James turned around a season on the brink with perhaps the most remarkable week of their high-powered partnership, capped off by a 105-93 victory in Game 6 Thursday night that sent the Heat back to the Eastern Conference finals.

Wade scored 41 points, James had 28 and Miami wrapped up the series 4-2, advancing to face either Boston or Philadelphia.

But this was about more than one game.

This was a dazzling trilogy, Wade and James taking control when the Heat were down and looked like they might be out.

”In the regular season, we’ve had some good games,” Wade said. ”But I don’t know if we’ve ever had three in a row like that in the playoffs.”

Seven days earlier, Miami trailed 2-1 in the series after getting routed 94-75 in Indianapolis. The fired-up Pacers had another game on their home court and a chance to build a commanding lead.

Instead, the Big Three-Turned-Two took over.

With Chris Bosh sidelined by an abdominal injury, James and Wade soared to new heights in their two-man game. Over the course of three dazzling games, James scored 98 points, grabbed 34 rebounds and dished out 24 assists. Wade had 99 points, 22 rebounds and 11 assists.

– Reported by Paul Newberry of the Associated Press

lebron james

“When Wade and James are going like they were tonight and in this series, they’re going to be tough to beat by anybody,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “They were just spectacular in this series, and they were too much for us.”

The Pacers got every conceivable break they could possibly want in this series. They saw Chris Bosh leave the series at halftime of Game 1. They got the one-game suspension of Udonis Haslem for Game 6. They should have taken this thing to seven games, making this a bit of a disappointment in the end.

So there will be regret.

Regret they didn’t take more advantage of the mismatches with Roy Hibbert and David West, the fact they continually failed to feed Hibbert in the post.

Regret they failed to take advantage of Haslem’s one-game suspension in Game 6.

Regret they were sloppy — not soft, but sloppy — turning the ball over 22 times, leading to 26 Heat points.

– Reported by Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star

Miami, led by James and Wade, turned the Pacers’ 22 turnovers into 26 points.

The Pacers averaged 14 turnovers a game during the regular season.

“For whatever reason, we weren’t strong enough with the ball,” Pacers forward David West said. “We didn’t take care of it enough. They’re too good. They capitalize on mistakes. We just got too loose with the ball. They put pressure on you all over the court. We just made some bad plays.”

Three of the five starters had at least three turnovers.

These weren’t normal turnovers, either.

Paul George sent a pass sailing about five rows into the stands on a fast break. Leandro Barbosa attempted to throw a skip pass that landed in the stands.

“I felt the guys were pressing a little bit too much,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “Some of them came from being a little too excited. A lot of these guys are new to this level of play, this level of the playoffs. It’s growing pains.”

– Reported by Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star

“Chris Bosh is an awesome basketball player,” Vogel said, “but when he goes down that means more touches for LeBron and Wade and that’s not necessarily an advantage.”

Then there was the absence of Haslem due to his flagrant foul in Tuesday’s Game 5 free-for-all. While that allowed Pacers power forward David West to step forward with a series-high 24 points, the Heat got enough to offset that with 15 points from point guard Mario Chalmers and 12 from reserve forward Mike Miller.

“I think we’re getting more comfortable playing with a different starting lineup, playing without Chris,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Miller had scored 10 total points in the series’ first five games, before draining four 3-pointers Thursday.

– Reported by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

But these weren’t the show-stopping, glitz-heavy Hollywood Heat this series in the manner some think them. They lived the Sean Connery line from The Untouchables in this series: “They pull a knife, you pull a gun. They send one of yours to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue.”

Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough bloodied Wade in the lane? Udonis Haslem bodyslammed Hansbrough to the ground.

Lance Stephenson gave the “choke” sign to LeBron. Dexter Pittman pole-axed Stephenson to the floor in another game.

They came in undermanned without Bosh and the suspended Haslem this Game 6. They fell behind early, kept their composure and ultimately left no doubt who was the better team.

As they should have. As their talent demands. But down 2-1 in this series they faced the kind of crossroads no one expected and Indiana tried to take advantage of.

– Reported by Dave Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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