Five takeaways from Heat-Pacers: Road struggles continue for Heat in loss that drops them to No. 8 in East standings

Indiana Pacers forward Trevor Booker (20) fouls Miami Heat forward Kelly Olynyk (9) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Sunday, March 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS — Another road game, another loss.

The Heat’s struggles away from home continued in a 113-107 overtime loss to the Pacers (43-31) on Sunday at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse. Miami (39-35) has now won just one of its past 12 road games. Continue reading “Five takeaways from Heat-Pacers: Road struggles continue for Heat in loss that drops them to No. 8 in East standings”

Tonight’s matchup: Heat, Pacers play important game for playoff seeding

The Heat lost for the 10 time in 11 games on the road Friday in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

MIAMI HEAT AT INDIANA PACERS

When: Sunday, 5 p.m.

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis

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

Records: Miami 39-34, Indiana 42-31

Line: Indiana favored by 4 points.

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS

Heat

F: James Johnson

F: Josh Richardson

C: Bam Adebayo

G: Tyler Johnson

G: Goran Dragic

Pacers

F: Bojan Bogdanovic

F: Thaddeus Young

C: Myles Turner

G: Victor Oladipo

G: Darren Collison

Scouting report: The Heat are seventh in the East three games behind No. 5 Indiana. … Miami leads the season series, 2-1, including a 114-110 victory at Indiana on Jan. 10, the last time they met. … Miami has lost 10 of 11 on the road. … The Pacers have lost 3 of 5 overall. … The Heat are averaging 114.0 points per game since the All-Star break, fourth in the league, but were held to 99 points in a six-point loss at OKC on Friday. … The Pacers are the fourth-worst scoring team in the league since the break, averaging 101.5 points. … The Heat will be without Hassan Whiteside (hip) and Dion Waiters (ankle). … Dwyane Wade (hamstring) returned Friday and after missing five games because of a mild hamstring strain and scored seven points in 20 minutes. … Victor Oladipo leads the league with 2.2 steals per game and is 14th in scoring with a 23.2 average. He is the only player in the league averaging more than 20.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.0 steals. … In three games against the Heat this season he is averaging 23.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists.

[Dwyane Wade on March for Our Lives rally: ‘The magnitude was great’ and ‘the goal was accomplished’]

[Erik Spoelstra calls Dwyane Wade’s play in his return from injury ‘very encouraging’]

[How big is Sunday’s game vs. Pacers for Heat? A look at the matchup and what’s at stake]

[A strength in numbers? Here’s why Heat believe their balanced offensive attack is a key to their success]

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

 

How big is Sunday’s game vs. Pacers for Heat? A look at the matchup and what’s at stake

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra gestures to his team during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, in Miami. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Earning home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs has been the Heat’s ultimate goal all along.

To accomplish that, Miami must finish as one of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference. That looks less likely after Friday’s loss to the Thunder, but that target is still within reach with nine regular-season games remaining. Continue reading “How big is Sunday’s game vs. Pacers for Heat? A look at the matchup and what’s at stake”

A strength in numbers? Here’s why Heat believe their balanced offensive attack is a key to their success

Miami Heat’s Tyler Johnson (8), James Johnson, second from left, Kelly Olynyk (9) and Josh Richardson (0) talk on the court during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Saturday, March 10, 2018, in Miami. The Heat won 129-102. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Heat believe there’s a strength in numbers.

Not the number of points scored, but the number of players who are a threat to score. Miami’s balanced offensive attack features a league-high nine players averaging double-digit points this season (including injured guard Dion Waiters). Continue reading “A strength in numbers? Here’s why Heat believe their balanced offensive attack is a key to their success”

Tonight’s matchup: Heat looking to lock down surprising Pacers and their 3-point shooting

INDIANA PACERS VS. MIAMI HEAT

When: Sunday, 5 p.m.

Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami.

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

Records: Indiana 8-8, Miami 7-8

Indiana Pacers’ Cory Joseph drives to the basket as Miami Heat’s Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow defend during the Heat’s victory against the Pacers this season. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS

Heat

F: Justise Winslow

F: Josh Richardson

C: Hassan Whiteside

G: Dion Waiters

G: Goran Dragic

Pacers

F: Bojan Bogdanovic

F: Thaddeus Young

C: Myles Turner

G: Victor Oladipo

G: Darren Collison

Scouting report: The teams met the first week of the season with the Heat winning 112-108 at home behind Goran Dragic’s 23 points. … The Pacers have won 3-of-4 after a four-game losing streak, including a 107-100 victory over Detroit Friday after trailing by 22 points in the third quarter. … The Pacers are third in the league in 3-point percentage (40.0), fifth in overall field goal percentage (47.5) and 10th in scoring (108.4). They are shooting 45.6 percent on threes in the last four games. … Victor Oladipo is among the early favorites for most improved player. The fifth-year forward from Indiana University is averaging 23.1 points and 5.1 rebounds up from 15.9 and 4.3 last season in OKC. Oladipo was acquired in the trade that send Paul George to the Thunder. … The Heat are coming off their biggest road win of the season, 91-88, at Washington. Miami hopes to keep James Johnson going after the reserve forward scored 20 points against the Wizards, three more than his three previous games combined. … Hassan Whiteside has 31 points and 37 rebounds in his last two games. … The Heat are seventh in the league with a defensive rating of 102.4. … The Heat are without swingman Rodney McGruder (stress fracture left leg) and forward Okaro White (broken bone left foot).

[Interesting facts and stats: Heat are one of the NBA’s best defensive teams]

[Erik Spoelstra says there’s no need for Heat to make roster move after Okaro White’s injury]

[Why haven’t Hassan Whiteside and Kelly Olynyk played together since the opener?]

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

 

 

Five takeaways: Behind Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters the Miami Heat hold off the Indiana Pacers in home opener

Indiana Pacers’ Cory Joseph drives to the basket as Miami Heat’s Josh Richardson (0) and Justise Winslow (20) defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI – After hearing for three days how their defense let them down in their season-opening loss at the Magic, the Miami Heat came out with energy and effort in their home opener Saturday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

But after building a 21-point lead in the third quarter, Miami (1-1) allowed the Pacers (1-2) back into the game and held on for a 112-108 victory. Indiana got within two points with 13 seconds to play, but James Johnson’s two free throws with 11.7 seconds remaining sealed the win.

Goran Dragic led the Heat with 23 points and backcourt mate Dion Waiters added 19. The two combined for three consecutive baskets late as the Pacers were making a push, helping the Heat maintain their lead.

“It felt good,” said Kelly Olynyk, playing in his first regular season home game as a member of the Heat. “I think as a team we played better together, helped each other on both ends of the floor. We are able to get in a little bit of rhythm.”

The Heat were playing without center Hassan Whiteside, who suffered a bruised left knee in the season opener Wednesday in Orlando. He remains day-to-day.

The game was the start of a six-game home stand for the Heat. They face Atlanta on Monday.

Here are our five takeaways:

Surprise five: With Whiteside ailing, coach Erik Spoelstra was forced to make a change to his starting lineup. But nobody expected him to switch out two starters from Wednesday’s opener. Spoelstra went small, starting 6-foot-8 forwards Jordan Mickey and James Johnson down low, bringing Kelly Olynyk off the bench. Olynyk and Whiteside, two 7-footers, started the season opener. The unit outscored the Pacers by a point at the start of the game, then lengthened Miami’s 63-50 halftime lead by outscoring Indiana 21-16 in the first 6 ½ minutes of the third quarter. Mickey, signed in August, scored eight points and had six rebounds in his Heat debut.

“With Hassan out, I just didn’t feel like we could mess around and J.J. needs to get out there and be out on the floor as many minutes as possible,” Spoelstra said. “I didn’t want to risk that having him coming off the bench. Jordan has been doing enough to impress us and short minutes just to get the game going, but those are always important minutes.”

Backcourt is back: Dragic and Waiters had a miserable opening night, combining to shoot just 13-of-36 with a minus-15. The backcourt mates, bounced back Saturday with solid efforts. They combined to score 42 points on 17-of-29 shooting. Waiters came up big in the fourth quarter, with consecutive field goals as Indiana was making its charge. Dragic had extra motivation. It’s rare his parents, who live in Slovenia, see him play an NBA game, but they were in the stands Saturday, visiting their son for a few weeks. They also got to see a touching video tribute the Heat put together that honored Dragic for leading Slovenia to the 2017 EuroBasket championship and being named MVP of the tournament.

Waiters said winning without Whiteside is more difficult because his presences helps the guards. “(Whiteside) makes the game easier for us, especially for attacking guards who are able to get down in the paint and at the end of the day, the big got to make a decision,” Waiters said. “Most of the time, a lot of bigs don’t want their guy scoring. So it opens up the floor for us.”

Defense tightens, somewhat: Spoelstra was not happy with the defensive effort in the season opener. The Magic shot 48 percent and had 56 points in the paint. Saturday didn’t start much better with the Pacers scoring 31 in the first quarter. But the defense (and the overall energy) definitely picked up starting in the second quarter as the Heat outscored Indiana 37-19 and even though the Pacers picked up the pace, Miami played well enough defensively to hold on. The Pacers shot 44.8 percent but they matched the Magic’s total from Wednesday with 56 points in the paint, a number that is more understandable without Whiteside in the lineup.

“When we built the lead our defense was active, our deflections, hands, multiple efforts, that was more in the direction of where we want to get with our identity,” Spoelstra said.

Nice first impression: Between the preseason and regular season, Olynyk has bounced back and forth between the bench and the starting lineup. After starting the season opener, he came off the bench in the home opener and sparked a 13-0 run in the second unit with eight points and a steal. Olynyk finished with 13 points, nine rebounds and four assists. He made half of his 10 field-goal attempts and was 3-of-5 on 3-pointers.

“I though he was really comfortable playing with the second unit,” Spoelstra said. “I thought it was his best game on both ends since he’s been with us. This is what we were hoping for, his full skill set.”

Tri-captains: The Heat have appointed three captains this year, none being their highest-paid player. Udonis Haslem, in his 15th season with the team, remains a captain and he is joined by Dragic and James Johnson. Neither have been with the Heat as long as Whiteside, who is starting his fourth season in the organization and is in the second year of a four-year, $98 million contract. Dragic has been with Miami 2 ½ years and Johnson is starting his second season in the organization.

“UD will be a lifetime captain for however long he plays,” Spoelstra said. “He’ll be the forever captain. We all felt  that it was just time to add more captains. Everyone was looking for Goran because he’s ready for that next step of leadership. JJ was on the most special things that I’ve been a part of in my coaching career.  To people on the outside it might have been surprising but when we actually named him captain it was a no brainer””

[Miami Heat to start Jordan Mickey, James Johnson tonight vs. Pacers. Kelly Olynyk to bench, Hassan Whiteside out]

[Add Hassan Whiteside to long list of injuries around the NBA. Is shortened preseason to blame?]

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Tonight’s matchup: Miami Heat face Indiana Pacers in home opener without Hassan Whiteside

INDIANA PACERS VS. MIAMI HEAT

When: Saturday, 8 p.m.

Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami

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

Records: Indiana 1-1, Miami 0-1

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra reacts to a play during a game against the Indiana Pacers last season. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS

Pacers

F: Thaddeus Young

F: Domantas Sabonis

C: Bojan Bogdanovic

G: Darren Collison

G: Victor Oladipo

Heat

F: James Johnson

F: Josh Richardson

C: Kelly Olynyk

G: Dion Waiters

G: Goran Dragic

Scouting report: Each team will be without a key frontcourt player. Heat center Hassan Whiteside aggravated a bone bruise in his left knee in the season opening loss in Orlando and will sit out tonight. He is day-to-day. Whiteside averaged 24.7 points and 20.0 rebounds against the Pacers last season. The Pacers have lost forward Myles Turner, who was diagnoses with a concussion following Wednesday’s season-opening victory Wednesday. Turner averaged 20.0 points and 7.3 rebounds against the Heat last season. … The Heat won the 2016-17 season series, 2-1, and have won five straight at home against the Pacers. . … The Heat also will be without Rodney McGruder (leg) but Dion Waiters was feeling better Friday after re-injuring his left ankle Wednesday and is expected to play. … The Pacers are playing their third game in four days. They defeated the Nets, 140-131, in their season opener Wednesday and dropped a 114-96 decision to Portland Friday. … Glenn Robinson II (ankle) and Edmond Sumner (ankle) are out for the Pacers.

[Erik Spoelstra says Heat won’t lower defensive standards ‘just because other teams are scoring’ a lot of points]

[Dion Waiters’ ankle feeling better, expected to play against Pacers]

[Heat to honor Goran Dragic for EuroBasket MVP award before Saturday’s home opener] on opening night]

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Mailbag: Should the Heat pursue a trade for Paul George?

Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers reacts to a late foul call while playing the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on April 17, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland won the game 117-111 to take a 2-0 series lead. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

It looks like the Pacers are now open to trading Paul George.

Does it make sense for the Heat to pursue the 27-year-old forward? In this week’s installment of the Heat mailbag, we took a closer look at George’s situation and why it would be risky to trade for him.

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 “Mailbag: Should the Heat pursue a trade for Paul George?”

How can the Heat make the playoffs? Everything you need to know about the Heat’s playoff dreams

Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside (21) and Goran Dragic (7) walk to the bench together during a timeout in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, April 5, 2017. The Heat won 112-99. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

So, here we are.

With two games and three days left in the regular season, Miami is still fighting to make the playoffs. The Heat can still finish anywhere from ninth place and out of the playoffs to the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference — the No. 8, No. 7 and No. 6 playoff seeds are still up for grabs (COMPLETE STANDINGS).

Here’s everything you need to know about the Heat and their playoff dreams at the start of this critical three-day stretch … Continue reading “How can the Heat make the playoffs? Everything you need to know about the Heat’s playoff dreams”

Five takeaways: Heat have overcome a lot, but can’t overcome grueling back-to-back in loss to Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS — The Heat have overcome a lot this season. The loss of Chris Bosh, a long list of injuries and even an 11-30 start to the season.

But the Heat (32-35) could not overcome their unfavorable schedule Sunday, falling 102-98 to the Pacers (34-32) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on the second night of a challenging back-to-back set. With an 8 p.m. tip on Saturday night and Daylight Saving Time taking away an hour, Miami had just 21 hours in between start times. Continue reading “Five takeaways: Heat have overcome a lot, but can’t overcome grueling back-to-back in loss to Pacers”