Five takeaways: Heat will have to wait to clinch playoff spot after painful overtime loss to Nets

Heat’s Goran Dragic drives ahead of the Brooklyn Nets’ D’Angelo Russell (1) and Jarrett Allen (31) during the first quarter at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Saturday, March 31, 2018. (David Santiago/El Nuevo Herald/TNS)

MIAMI — The Heat will have to wait at least one more day to clinch a playoff spot.

Miami (41-36) wasted an opportunity to secure a spot in the postseason with a painful 110-109 overtime loss to the Nets (25-51) on Saturday at AmericanAirlines Arena. A win over Brooklyn would have punched Miami’s playoff ticket. Continue reading “Five takeaways: Heat will have to wait to clinch playoff spot after painful overtime loss to Nets”

What to know about tonight’s game: Heat attempt to avenge blowout loss vs. Nets

D’Angelo Russell #1 of the Brooklyn Nets drives to the basket against Josh Richardson #0 of the Miami Heat in the second half during their Pre Season game at Barclays Center on October 5, 2017 in the Brooklyn Borough of New York City. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

MIAMI HEAT AT BROOKLYN NETS

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.

TV/Radio: Fox Sports Sun/WAXY 790AM, WQBA 1140AM (Spanish)

Records: Miami 26-18, Brooklyn 16-29

Line: Miami favored by 3 points

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS

Heat

F: Josh Richardson

F: James Johnson

C: Hassan Whiteside

G: Derrick Jones Jr.

G: Goran Dragic

Nets

F: DeMarre Carroll

F: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

C: Tyler Zeller

G: Allen Crabbe

G: Spencer Dinwiddie

Scouting report: Miami is without Tyler Johnson (left ankle sprain), Dion Waiters (left ankle sprain), Rodney McGruder (left tibia surgery) and Okaro White (left foot surgery). … Brooklyn point guard D’Angelo Russell is listed as probable for Friday’s game. Russell has been out since suffering a left knee injury Nov. 11 at Utah and undergoing arthroscopic surgery Nov. 17. He’s missed the past 32 games. … The Nets will be without point guard Jeremy Lin (ruptured patella tendon in right knee). … Brooklyn has lost six of its past seven games, but four of those losses were by six points or less. … The Nets are playing at the fifth-fastest pace in the NBA this season, averaging 102.19 possessions over 48 minutes. By comparison, Miami ranks 27th in pace with 96.95 possessions over 48 minutes. … The Heat have posted a 15-5 record over the past 20 games. … Heat point guard Goran Dragic is averaging 21.1 points on 46.0 percent shooting to go with 5.0 rebounds and 6.9 assists over the past nine games. … Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has posted a 27-7 (.794) regular-season record against the Nets, which is his highest against any Eastern Conference team and his third-highest overall against any team. … The Heat and Nets have already faced off twice this season, with the teams splitting those games — the Heat beat the Nets 101-89 in Mexico City on Dec. 9 and the Nets beat the Heat 111-87 in Miami on Dec. 29.

[The case for Heat guard Goran Dragic to be an All-Star]

[Behind the numbers: Heat playing like one of top teams in NBA]

[Justise Winslow settling into role as facilitator. … clutch 3-point shooter?]

[Heat’s Hassan Whiteside after best game of season: ‘Coach really trusted me’]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

What do you say after 24-point home loss to the Nets? Heat describe their play in loss as ‘perplexing’ and ‘unexplainable’

Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside, left, and Goran Dragic watch during the second half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Friday, Dec. 29, 2017, in Miami. The Nets won 111-87. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI — It’s hard to explain some of the Heat’s bad performances this season.

The 25-point home loss to the Pacers. The 29-point loss to the Knicks. The six-point loss to the struggling Hawks. But Friday’s 24-point home loss to the Nets was especially disappointing. Continue reading “What do you say after 24-point home loss to the Nets? Heat describe their play in loss as ‘perplexing’ and ‘unexplainable’”

Tonight’s matchup: Rising Heat looking for seventh consecutive victory over Nets

BROOKLYN NETS at MIAMI HEAT

When: Friday, 8 p.m.

Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami

TV/Radio: Fox Sports Sun/WAXY 790AM, WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Records: Miami 18-16, Brooklyn 12-22

Line: Miami is favored by 6.5 points.

Miami’s Bam Adebayo splits two members of the the Brooklyn Nets in the Heat’s victory in in Mexico City. (Carlos Tischler/Sipa USA/TNS)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS

Heat

F: Josh Richardson

F: Kelly Olynyk

C: Hassan Whiteside

G: Tyler Johnson

G: Goran Dragic

Nets

F: DeMarre Carroll

F: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

C: Tyler Zeller

G: Allan Crabbe

G: Spencer Dinwiddie

Scouting report: The Heat defeated the Nets in their only other meeting this season, 101-89, three weeks ago in Mexico City. Miami has won six straight and 11-of-12 against Brooklyn. … The Nets have lost 7-of-8 and are 5-12 on the road. … Brooklyn is the fourth worst defensive in the league, allowing 110.7 points per game. … The Nets bench scored 80 points in their last game, a 128-113 loss at New Orleans. … The Nets are without guards Jeremy Lin (knee) and D’Angelo Russell (knee). … Miami still is missing Dion Waiters (sprained left ankle), Justise Winslow (strained left knee), James Johnson (right ankle bursitis), Rodney McGruder (left tibia surgery) and Okaro White (left foot surgery). … Miami has won 7-of-10, averaging 110.5 points while shooting .475 and giving up 95.4 points on .441 shooting during the 10 games. … Josh Richardson is averaging 17.8 points and shooting 47.5 percent from three-point range in December

[Hassan Whiteside, the facilitator? He may have to accept that role to adjust to new Heat offense]

[Fewer practices, no problem for Miami Heat]

[Sixth man Tyler Johnson making most of opportunity as Heat starter]

[Heat have (big) problem: How will Erik Spoelstra handle crowded power rotation?]

[Want more Heat news sent directly to your Facebook feed? Make sure to like our Heat Facebook page]

 

 

What to know about tonight’s matchup: Heat look to get back on track vs. Nets in Mexico City

MIAMI HEAT VS. BROOKLYN NETS

When: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Where: Arena Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico City

TV/Radio: Fox Sports Sun, NBA TV/WAXY 790AM, WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Records: Miami 11-13, Brooklyn 10-14 Continue reading “What to know about tonight’s matchup: Heat look to get back on track vs. Nets in Mexico City”

NBA schedule 2016-17: 10 most important games for the Miami Heat

Goran Dragic #7 of the Miami Heat takes a foot to the chin as he is defended by Jeff Teague #0 and Al Horford #15 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on February 19, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Goran Dragic #7 of the Miami Heat takes a foot to the chin as he is defended by Jeff Teague #0 and Al Horford #15 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on February 19, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Many experts are suggesting the Miami Heat could be fighting for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference in 2017, and as a result every game takes on greater significance.

From winning the games they are expected to win, to handling their divisional opponents, the Heat will need to capitalize on every opportunity to pick up wins, both at home and on the road.

Following Thursday night’s release of the 2016-17 NBA schedule, here are the 10 most important games on the Heat’s docket:

Nov. 10, 2016: Heat vs. Chicago Bulls

Beyond the Dwyane Wade element of the Heat’s home matchup against the Bulls, the game will be played between two teams likely to be on the fringe of the playoffs. If both teams were fighting for a postseason spot at year’s end, holding court at home could help Miami ease its worries about potential tie-breakers.

Nov. 15, 2016: Heat vs. Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks finished second in the Southeast Division last season with the same record as the Heat. Though Atlanta lost center Al Horford in free agency, they did add Dwight Howard. Miami will need to protect its home court against a Hawks team many are picking to finish ahead of them in the standings.

Dec. 12, 2016: Heat vs. Washington Wizards

The Wizards struggled to a 41-41 record last season, good for fourth in the Southeast Division. But they added Trey Burke via trade and are expected to be better as Bradley Beal gets healthier. Much like their season series with the Hawks, the Heat will need to protect home court against a solid divisional foe.

Like the Heat, the Los Angeles Lakers will have many new faces in 2016-17. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Like the Heat, the Los Angeles Lakers will have many new faces in 2016-17. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Jan. 6, 2017: Heat @ Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers are coming off of a 17-win season and — although they have good, young talent and added veterans like Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov — they are unlikely to improve significantly next year. Though the Lakers are not an Eastern Conference team, this is a game that Miami should be expected to win, therefore making it important that they do so.

Jan. 25, 2017: Heat @ Brooklyn Nets

The Nets won just 21 games last year and, despite adding Jeremy Lin, are expected to bring up the rear of the Eastern Conference. The Heat won three of four matchups against Brooklyn last season, but did drop a home game to the Nets just after Christmas. The Heat will need to handle Brooklyn, who are perceived as a lesser opponent, on the road.

Feb. 11, 2017: Heat @ Philadelphia 76ers

Much like the Nets, the 76ers are coming off of a disappointing campaign. Only Philadelphia fared much worse, winning only 10 games last year. The Sixers seem as though they are in a perpetual rebuilding mode, and the Heat need to take advantage of every matchup they have against the young and developing squad. While Ben Simmons may grow into one of the league’s top stars one day, the Heat will look to capitalize on his growing pains.

Mar. 3, 2017: Heat @ Orlando Magic

Another important divisional matchup, the Heat will need to win up the road in Orlando if they hope to remain near the top of the Southeast. The atmosphere isn’t as hostile in Orlando as in several other NBA cities, meaning that the Heat will need to capitalize. The Magic are an improved team, having added both Bismack Biyombo and Serge Ibaka to their frontcourt. Nikola Vucevic also traditionally plays well against Miami.

Goran Dragic and the Miami Heat will have several important matchups with the Charlotte Hornets during the 2016-17 NBA season. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Goran Dragic and the Miami Heat will have several important matchups with the Charlotte Hornets during the 2016-17 NBA season. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Mar. 8, 2017: Heat vs. Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte, another divisional opponent, finished last year with the same record as Miami, and the two teams even met in the first round of the playoffs. Winning at home against the Hornets will be imperative for the Heat, who will be hard-pressed to win on the road at the Time Warner Cable Arena. The Hornets are expected to again compete for a playoff spot in the East and will represent a home challenge for Miami.

Mar. 28, 2017: Heat @ Detroit Pistons

The Heat won one of their two games last season in Detroit, losing the first by 23 points. Miami will have to at least duplicate that feat of winning at least one road game against a team that they will likely be jockeying for position with in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The New York Knicks have added both Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah from the Chicago Bulls this offseason. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
The New York Knicks have added both Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah from the Chicago Bulls this offseason. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Mar. 31, 2017: Heat vs. New York Knicks

The Knicks made several moves in the offseason to bring in veteran talent. While it is no guarantee that their new additions stay healthy, on paper, the Knicks legitimately did improve their roster. Winning in New York — especially on the back end of a home-and-home series — will be a challenge for a young Miami team, meaning that they will need to take advantage of home court. Sending a message at AAA against a potential playoff team could pay dividends for the Heat down the road.

Why the Heat were smart to match Tyler Johnson’s offer sheet

Tyler Johnson (Getty Images)
Tyler Johnson (Getty Images)

After Tyler Johnson signed a four-year, $50 million offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets, it appeared that his days as a member of the Miami Heat were numbered.

Then, all of a sudden, the stunning departure of Dwyane Wade opened the door for Pat Riley and company to match Johnson’s contract and keep the 24-year-old North Dakota native in a Heat uniform. The Heat took advantage of their new financial freedom and matched the offer sheet, which contains a poison-pill provision that guarantees that Johnson will be paid $18.9 million and $19.6 million in the final two years of the deal.

While a nearly $20 million annual salary may cause some to question whether the Heat were wise to match the offer for a player who started only five games last season, it is easy to see why the Heat were eager to retain Johnson’s services.

The undrafted guard out of Fresno State is set to enter his third year in the NBA after averaging 8.7 points, three rebounds and 2.2 assists per game last season. The stats don’t jump off the page, but Johnson’s age and potential do.

In his two NBA seasons, Johnson has shot above 37 percent from three for a Heat team in desperate need of shooters. He has also played solid defense, thanks in no small part to his athleticism.

Another factor to consider is the market in which the contract was signed. NBA owners backed up the Brinks trucks this offseason, giving away billions of dollars to the league’s free agents. As a result of the rising salary cap, role players were awarded contracts with annual salaries in the $10-$15 million range.

Johnson’s deal should be considered a bargain in the current NBA economy, as the Heat will pay him under $6 million annually in the first two years of the deal. There is also a chance that he plays into the final two years of the deal, producing well in an expanded role, and that the Heat have a max-contract-level player locked up for significantly less than he would demand on the open market.

The Heat always have the option of trading Johnson should they feel as though his play won’t match the value of his contract. Finding a taker for the contract may prove difficult, however, and that is a risk the Heat had to take as they attempt to restock for the future with a solid young core.

The young core, more than anything else, was the reason that the Heat’s financial investment was worthwhile. Under the tutelage of head coach Erik Spoelstra, young Heat players have thrived. Last season, draft picks Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson showed steady progression, and the year prior, Hassan Whiteside came out of nowhere to become one of the league’s better centers.

The Tyler Johnson contract is a risk for the Miami Heat, but it’s not fair to say that it’s completely undeserved. His ability to shoot from distance, his as yet untapped potential and the Heat’s need to retain key pieces of their young core all factor in to why the Heat needed to match Johnson’s offer sheet.

Report: Miami Heat decide to keep Tyler Johnson, match $50 million offer sheet

Tyler Johnson #8 of the Miami Heat posts up Michael Carter-Williams #5 of the Milwaukee Bucks during a game at American Airlines Arena on January 19, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Tyler Johnson #8 of the Miami Heat posts up Michael Carter-Williams #5 of the Milwaukee Bucks during a game at American Airlines Arena on January 19, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Heat worked hard Sunday in an effort to keep Tyler Johnson.

With Johnson’s offer sheet from the Nets looming over Miami, the Heat had until Sunday at midnight to decide whether to match the offer or let the guard join Brooklyn.

It benefited the Heat to use their cap space before matching the offer sheet and that’s what they did, adding free agents Wayne Ellington, James Johnson and Udonis Haslem, and acquiring Luke Babbitt from the Pelicans earlier in the day. After those moves, Miami decided to keep Johnson and matched the 24-year-old’s four-year, $50 million offer sheet from the Nets.

“We are extremely happy to re-sign Tyler,” Heat president Pat Riley said in a statement. “He, Hassan, Justise and Josh have grown together as an exciting, athletic, highly skilled young core over the last couple of years. They are going to have a tremendous opportunity this season and we are looking forward to watching them play together on the floor.”

With the Heat using their cap space before matching the offer sheet, Johnson’s cap hit will be limited to $1.2 million next season with Miami exceeding the cap to keep him. Johnson’s cap hit would have been $5.6 million if Miami matched with cap space still remaining.

Johnson comes at a cheap price over the first two years of the contract, as he’s set to earn $5.6 million the first year and $5.8 million the second year. But the poison-pill structure of Brooklyn’s offer sheet could make it a painful deal for Miami down the road, as Johnson will make $18.8 million in the third year and a $19.6 million in the fourth year of the contract.

Johnson’s cap hits will be $5.8 million for the 2017-18 season, $18.8 million for the 2018-19 season and $19.6 million for the 2019-20 season.

The Heat now have 14 players under contract for next season: Chris Bosh, Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, Josh McRoberts, Wayne Ellington, Tyler Johnson, Derrick Williams, James Johnson, Udonis Haslem, Justise Winslow, Luke Babbitt, Briante Weber, Josh Richardson and Rodney McGruder.

Even though Miami has used all of its cap space, the Heat can sign additional players using the $2.9 million room exception and minimum contracts.

With Johnson returning to the Heat, he will compete with Richardson to be the team’s starting shooting guard next season and can even play some minutes at point guard. Miami also has Ellington and McGruder to provide depth at a shooting guard position that has belonged to Dwyane Wade for the past 13 seasons.

The Heat signed Johnson as an undrafted free agent out of Fresno State in 2014 and he’s preparing to enter his third NBA season.

Johnson, who made $845,000 with the Heat last season, has played in 68 regular-season games over his first two years with the Heat. He was a key part of Miami’s rotation last season before undergoing rotator cuff surgery in February to repair an injured left shoulder.

Johnson recovered in time to return for the playoffs, appearing in five postseason games. Johnson averaged 8.7 points on 48.6 percent shooting to go with three rebounds and 2.2 assists last season.

With Dwyane Wade gone, should Heat match Tyler Johnson’s offer sheet?

Tyler Johnson #8 of the Miami Heat looks on in the second half of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Raptors during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on May 15, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Tyler Johnson #8 of the Miami Heat looks on in the second half of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Raptors during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on May 15, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

The Heat are on the clock.

Restricted free agent Tyler Johnson signed a four-year, $50 million offer sheet with the Nets on Thursday morning, according to The Vertical. The Heat will have three days to decide whether to match the offer or let Johnson go to the Nets. Continue reading “With Dwyane Wade gone, should Heat match Tyler Johnson’s offer sheet?”

Will Heat match Tyler Johnson’s $50 million offer sheet with Nets?

Tyler Johnson (Getty Images)
Tyler Johnson (Getty Images)

With the salary cap jumping to $94.143 million this summer, a long list of free agents are reaping the benefits of that extra money this summer. Add Tyler Johnson’s name to that list.

Johnson has agreed to sign a four-year, $50 million offer sheet with the Brooklyn Nets, according to a report from The Vertical. Once the 24-year-old guard signs the offer sheet at the end of the free-agent signing moratorium on Thursday, the Heat will have three days to decide whether to match the offer or let Johnson go to the Nets. Continue reading “Will Heat match Tyler Johnson’s $50 million offer sheet with Nets?”