A positive trend for basketball in South Florida has continued in 2018 NBA Finals

Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James, right, looks up at a replay during the first half of Game 3 of basketball’s NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, Wednesday, June 6, 2018, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

MIAMI — The Heat haven’t been in the NBA Finals since 2014, but that doesn’t mean South Florida has stopped watching the championship series.

The television ratings through the first three games of this year’s NBA Finals continue a positive trend for basketball locally. According to Nielsen, the television ratings for Sunday’s Game 2 in the Miami market ranked sixth with a 15.8 rating behind just San Francisco, Cleveland, Memphis, Columbus and Sacramento — four of those five markets have an obvious tie to the Finals between Golden State and Cleveland as cities in either California or Ohio. Continue reading “A positive trend for basketball in South Florida has continued in 2018 NBA Finals”

NBA Finals: What’s it like to face the Warriors? LeBron James says it’s ‘like playing the Patriots’

Stephen Curry #30 and Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors celebrate with Kevin Durant #35 against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second half during Game Three of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 6, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

How big is the gap between the Cavaliers and Warriors? Just look at Cleveland’s razor-thin margin for error and Golden State’s not-so-small margin for error.

The Cavaliers got a triple-double from LeBron James and a combined 48 points from Kevin Love, Rodney Hood and JR Smith. But that wasn’t enough in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night, and neither was a 51-point performance from James in Game 1.

The Warriors got a 3-of-16 shooting performance from Stephen Curry and a 4-of-11 shooting performance form Klay Thompson, as the Splash Brothers combined for just 21 points on 3-of-15 shooting from 3-point range. But that was actually enough because Golden State also has Kevin Durant. Continue reading “NBA Finals: What’s it like to face the Warriors? LeBron James says it’s ‘like playing the Patriots’”

Tonight’s matchup: Heat face high scoring Warriors without defensive anchor Hassan Whiteside

Miami’s Goran Dragic goes up for a shot on Golden State’s Andre during the Warriors victory at ORACLE Arena on November. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS VS. MIAMI HEAT

When: Sunday, 7 p.m.

Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami.

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

Records: Miami 11-11, Golden State 17-6

Line: Golden State favored by 10 points.

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS

Heat

F: Justise Winslow

F: Josh Richardson

C: Bam Adebayo

G: Dion Waiters

G: Goran Dragic

Warriors

F: Kevin Durant

F: Draymond Green

C: Zaza Pachulia

G: Klay Thompson

G: Stephen Curry

Scouting report: The Warriors defeated the Heat, 97-80, in Oakland one month ago. Kevin Durant scored 21 points to lead Golden State. James Johnson led Miami with 21. … Golden State won 6-of-7 in the series, the lone Heat win 105-102 last January thanks to Dion Waiters’ 3-pointer in the final second. … The Warriors are coming off a 133-112 victory on Orlando Friday in which they scored 78 points in the first half. They had a season-high 46 assists. They had three players with at least 20 points; Klay Thompson, 27; Durant, 25; Stephen Curry, 23. … Thompson leads the league with 11.7 catch-and-shoot points per game. He has made at least one 3-pointer in 77 consecutive games. … The Warriors top the NBA in scoring (118.0 ppg), field goal percent (.512), opponents’ field goals percentage (.435) and 3-point field goal percentage (.401). … Curry is third in the NBA with 26.0 points per game, Durant is ninth at 24.9. Durant leads all players in blocks with 2.11 per game. … Tonight is the third game of the Warriors’ season-long six-game road trip. … The Warriors are 9-2 vs. teams from the Eastern Conference. … The Heat will be without center Hassan Whiteside (left knee bruise) for the third straight game. Also, Rodney McGruder (stress fracture, left leg) and Okaro White (left foot facture) remain out. … The Heat have allowed the seventh fewest points per game, 102.8, in the league. … Miami has won its last two home games after losing 5-of-6. … Leading scorer Goran Dragic has just 20 points in his last three games while shooting 7-of-29.

[Why did Heat decide to sign Josh Richardson to extension? Just look at what he did vs. Hornets]

[Bam Adebayo shines on defense vs. Dwight Howard]

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How valuable is a win over the Golden State Warriors? Just ask the Miami Heat

MIAMI — It’s a new season with new challenges.

That’s the cliche players and coaches around the NBA will use when asked about seasons past. But ask the Heat about their dramatic 105-102 home win over the Warriors in January of last season, and they will admit that it felt different than other victories.

Different not only because it came against the eventual NBA champions. But because of how it ended, on Dion Waiters’ game-winning 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds remaining in the contest. Continue reading “How valuable is a win over the Golden State Warriors? Just ask the Miami Heat”

Tonight’s matchup: Heat face Warriors high-powered offense after notching first road win of season

Hassan Whiteside and the Heat celebrate last season after Dion Waiters’ game-winner over the Warriors. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

MIAMI HEAT VS. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

When: Monday, 10:30 p.m.

Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, Calif.

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

Records: Miami 4-5, Golden State 7-3

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS

Heat

F: Okaro White

F: Justise Winslow

C: Hassan Whiteside

G: Josh Richardson

G: Goran Dragic

Warriors

F: Kevin Durant

F: Draymond Green

C: Zaza Pachulia

G: Klay Thompson

G: Stephen Curry

Scouting report: Miami’s most thrilling victory last season was over Golden State, 105-102 capped by a Dion Waiters’ 3-pointer with less than a second to play. Now, the Heat may have to face the defending World Champions without their starting shooting guard as Waiters returned to Miami on Saturday to witness the birth of his daughter. The team says Waiters will return during this trip, which still has four games remaining, but when is the question. … Miami plays its first back-to-back set of the season after defeating the Clippers on Sunday without Waiters, 104-101. The Heat blew a 23-point fourth quarter lead before rallying. The win was Miami’s first on the road this season and evens this six-game road trip at 1-1. … The Warriors have won three straight, all on the road. … Golden State is the only team in the league with three players averaging at least 20 points per game – Stephen Curry at 26.7, Kevin Durant at 25.3 and Klay Thompson at 21.0. … The Warriors lead the league in points per game (120.7), FG percentage (.526) and are second in 3-point FG percentage (.414) … Thompson has made at least one 3-pointer in 64 consecutive games, ninth longest streak in NBA history. … The teams split the series last season with the Heat losing for the third straight year in Oakland.

[A look at Sunday’s Willie Reed-Miami Heat reunion]

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After riding out Irma, Udonis Haslem joins Erik Spoelstra, Nick Arison to help South Florida’s pet population

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, captain Udonis Haslem with dogs that were flown to the Bay Area to help make room in South Florida shelters (Photo Tom D’Angelo)

MIAMI – Leave it to the Captain and the Heat’s only Miami native to ride out Hurricane Irma.

While the rest of his teammates were evacuating, Udonis Haslem remained in his Southwest Ranches home with his family and three dogs.

“It’s not that I don’t respect the power of Mother Nature because I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mother Nature,” Haslem said. “But I built a bunker. I paid a lot of money for it. I’m going down with my ship.”

Haslem, like many, was spared with the most damage coming to his trees and fence. My yard took a beating,” he said. So he did what most of us have been doing for the last three days, rolled up his sleeves and went to work.

“It’s been a long time since I did that kind of work,” he said. “I just saw everybody in my neighborhood cleaning out trees and I said ‘Let me get out there and clean out my trees.’

“Why not?”

But Haslem knew his work was not done even when he finished cutting and dragging tree limbs to the curb. Before the storm hit he had called around informing the Heat and anyone else that he was available to be called into action.

On Friday, Haslem, coach Erik Spoelstra, CEO Nick Arison and several Heat employees helped load 150 pets into crates at Miami International Airport so they could be transported to Oakland, Calif., where members of the Golden State Warriors were waiting to unload the pets. Haslem, an admitted animal lover who said he walked his three dogs as much as he could during the storm, assisted in giving the dogs a little outdoors time before their flight took off.

The pets were being transported to Bay Area shelters to make room in the Miami area shelters for pets abandoned during Irma.

“There are so many areas that need help,” Spoelstra said. “This is an area that often gets forgotten, the displaced animals, and some of the horrific stories about animals getting left behind in the storm. Many of the animals would have been euthanized this weekend.”

    The project is a joint effort by the Heat, Warriors and Federal Express. Additionally, Heat owner Micky Arison and his wife Madeleine will make an immediate donation of $2.5 million from their foundation to Direct Relief, UNICEF and the United Way of Miami-Dade County to support the most timely and urgent relief needs in the wake of Irma.

Carnival Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Arison’s company, and the Miami Heat Charitable Fund are each pledging to raise a combined $5 million in funding for relief and recovery efforts. The Arisons will match that commitment up to a total of $5 million, including the organization’s initial $2.5 million donation, bringing the total to $10 million.

Spoelstra, who evacuated his Coconut Grove home, said the families of Micky Arison and president Pat Riley are behind the Heat’s community involvement, especially in times of need. On Thursday, Riley drove to a Publix, without notifying the organization, and started pushing a cart up and down the aisles, purchasing items to hand out in the Little Haiti section of Miami.

“(They) don’t know any different,” Spoelstra said. “I’ve seen their example. And the Arison family has been so deeply rooted in the community for so long that as soon as something happens they activate and they get everybody else motivated to do something.”

Spoelstra was behind many of his players leaving town, saying he made the suggestion, especially considering most had never experienced a hurricane.

Spoelstra and his wife, Nikki, evacuated their Coconut Grove home. They returned to find it in good shape.

“It doesn’t make you more courageous to stay. I think we all learned a lesson from Houston,” he said, referring to Hurricane Harvey. “If you can get out early and secure your house and secure your properties discretion is the better part of valor oftentimes.

“I think we were all very fortunate with this storm but I think the numbers were roughly 7 million that evacuated. That was the smart thing to do. Once everybody is able to come back safely now we all have to lace up our boots and get to work and build back this community.”

[Goran Dragic helps power Slovenia past Spain to advance to EuroBasket championship]

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Miami Heat president Pat Riley’s theory on the best way to catch the Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors have won two of the last three NBA Championships. Heat president Pat Riley isn’t sure the best way to catch them is the way they were built. (Getty Images)

Pat Riley remembers the feeling, how his organization once was the gold standard, the one every team was trying to chase and build to unseat.

Now it’s Golden State. And Riley understands what it will take to catch the Warriors.

Riley recently spoke about how the Warriors were built. “Organically,” he said. The Warriors original foundational pieces – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green – all were acquired through the draft.

Once Golden State became a contender it started supplementing and building depth by acquiring players through trades and free agency.

[Pat Riley kept his word and Wayne Ellington is ‘ecstatic’ he did]

[Former Heat center Willie Reed’s decision to decline option results in less money with Clippers]

[Two Heat players make a list of the league’s worst contracts. … and they have the same name]

“They drafted well, but they also made some very good acquisitions via trade and free agency,” Riley said last week. “They got (Andre) Iguodala, they ended up getting (Andrew) Bogut in a trade. The very first championship they won, they signed Shaun Livingston. They drafted Draymond Green in the second round. So they had a very low contract with Steph, they got Klay, so they grew organically. … They used all three areas.”

After their first title the Warriors slipped before deciding they needed one more final piece to truly separate them from the rest of the league.

That was Kevin Durant.

Now, everyone is chasing the Warriors and Riley has an interesting take in how that should be done.

Riley is not sure the best way to beat Golden State is to build your team the way Golden State did. His reasoning. … it will take too long.

“I think today in order to catch them, if you want to do the organic trip, it’s going to take you a long time,” he said. “Because the organic trip obviously is through lotteries and draft, and maybe some real good trades. But to be able to pick off the free agent that can change that organic trip and make it a little faster, I think will always be there.”

Which lends more insight into the way Riley has been thinking as he attempts to rebuild the Heat.

Riley isn’t interested in tanking and trying to rebuild through the lottery. What he wants is to remain competitive and then hit on another superstar free agent signing or a blockbuster trade.

Riley attempted that last summer in his pursuit of Durant and again this month by unsuccessfully going after Gordon Hayward. But even Hayward alone would not have been enough.

Still, he has put together a competitive team with a core of Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Justice Winslow, Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson and Wayne Ellington.

But the Heat remain a star player (or two) away from becoming a true contender, one Riley always believes will be out there to chase.

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NBA Finals: Should this Golden State Warriors team be considered among the all-time greats?

The Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant carries his MVP trophy as he celebrates with fans a championship after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers, 129-120, in Game 5 of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, June 12, 2017. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group/TNS)

The Warriors have earned another spot in the NBA history book.

With Monday’s 129-120 win over the Cavaliers, Golden State didn’t just claim its second NBA championship in three seasons. The Warriors also posted a 16-1 record (.941 win percentage) in these playoffs to go on the best title run ever, percentage points better than the 2001 Lakers (15-1, .938). Continue reading “NBA Finals: Should this Golden State Warriors team be considered among the all-time greats?”

NBA Finals: What does it take to beat the Golden State Warriors? A historic offensive performance

What does it take to beat Golden State?

Just take a look at the incredible offensive numbers Cleveland had to put up to avoid a sweep in the NBA Finals on Friday night.

The Cavaliers made an NBA Finals record 24 3-pointers on their way to defeating the Warriors 137-116 to force a Game 5. Cleveland also set a new NBA record for the most points in the first half of a Finals game with 86 points. Continue reading “NBA Finals: What does it take to beat the Golden State Warriors? A historic offensive performance”

Heat mailbag: How important is this offseason for Justise Winslow?

Heat forward Justise Winslow has his full range of motion back in his right shoulder. ‘I feel great,” he said. (Anthony Chiang/Palm Beach Post)

MIAMI — This is an important offseason for Justise Winslow.

How important? We answer that question and more in this week’s installment of the Heat mailbag.

If you weren’t able to ask a question this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44). Continue reading “Heat mailbag: How important is this offseason for Justise Winslow?”