Miami Heat defense far from standard coach Erik Spoelstra has set

MIAMI – This is not what the Heat expected after four games:

A defensive rating of 107.1, 22nd in the league.

Allowing 108.5 points per game, 19th in the league.

Not after both of those numbers were fifth best last season and Miami brought back virtually the entire team from 2016-17.

“We just need to get just a little bit more acquainted with each other,” James Johnson said following Miami’s 117-100 loss to the Spurs on Wednesday.

“Maybe a little bit more talking, a little bit more eye to communication. The Spurs are a great team and they taught us a lot about ourselves.”

LaMarcus Aldridge of the San Antonio Spurs posts up James Johnson of the Miami Heat during Wednesday’s game at American Airlines Arena. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Yes, training camp was shortened this year, but shouldn’t three weeks of preseason and one week of the regular season be enough for that ‘getting-to-know-you’ period? Especially for a team returning 11 players from last season’s roster?

And just when the Heat appeared to be improving defensively holding the Hawks to 93 points Monday, along come the Spurs, who shoot 55.3 percent while rolling out a 1980s style front line of LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol.

How bad was the defense? Consider last season the Heat allowed an opponent to shoot better than 55.3 percent once. … and just barely. Cleveland made 55.4 percent of its shots on Dec. 9. And this was a Heat team that started 11-30.

Plus, that was on the road and Miami had eight available players that game. This was at home against a team missing its best player in Kawhi Leonard and veteran point guard Tony Parker.

But it wasn’t just the paint where the Heat’s defense shriveled. While big men Aldridge and Gasol were shooting 17-of-28, perimeter players Rudy Gay and Manu Ginobili were coming off the bench to shoot 12-of-12.

“They set the tempo of the game,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Post-ups, getting paint catches, pick-and-rolls. We just gave up a ton of easy ones and now they are in their rhythm and then you have to react. Then Rudy Gay started to get going as well and their 3-poiint shooters took over from there.

“We didn’t get a handle on our defense for basically the entire game.”

Johnson, who at 6-foot-8 has started at power forward the last three games, called it a “learning experience” for the Heat’s big men.

“Aldridge is a great player, probably one of the best down on the block and (Wednesday) he gave it to us,” Johnson said. “More showing us where we were at as big men. Letting us know the techniques we really need to play with on a daily basis and practice on a daily basis. He gave us everything tonight and I took a lot of that.”

Perhaps the better way to put it is learning how to play against a bigger team without Hassan Whiteside, because for anybody who believes the Heat do not miss their 7-foot-last-line-of-defense center when he’s out, this was exhibit A.

Sure, Miami can get away with not having Whiteside against Indiana and Atlanta – two teams expected to be on the lower half of the weak East – but against playoff teams, Whiteside needs to be on the court.

Whiteside has missed three games with a bruised bone in his left knee and is it not known if he will return for Saturday’s game against the Celtics.

“We need to learn,” guard Goran Dragic said. “We need to regroup, watch the tape and see what kind of mistakes we did. Of course, it was a different team out there than we used to play. They have a really good post-man. Big. He was scoring at will. But, we need to find a way to play better defense as a team. It’s not only individuals. Everybody needs to help each other.”

[Heat rookie Bam Adebayo’s starting debut a ‘big ask’ against Spurs front line]

[Goran Dragic, Pau Gasol to have EuroBasket reunion tonight when Miami Heat host San Antonio Spurs]

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Tonight’s matchup: Miami Heat face early-season test vs. San Antonio Spurs without Hassan Whiteside

Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside (21) dunks over San Antonio Spurs’ Pau Gasol (16) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

SAN ANTONIO SPURS VS. MIAMI HEAT

When: Wednesday, 8 p.m.

Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami

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

Records: San Antonio 3-0, Miami 2-1

STARTING LINEUPS

Spurs

F: Kyle Anderson

F: LaMarcus Aldridge

C: Pau Gasol

G: Danny Green

G: Dejounte Murray

Heat

F: Josh Richardson

F: James Johnson

C: Bam Adebayo

G: Dion Waiters

G: Goran Dragic

Scouting report: Heat center Hassan Whiteside will miss his third consecutive game with a bone bruise in his left knee, and wing Rodney McGruder is out indefinitely after left tibia surgery. Point guard Goran Dragic will play despite a right thigh bruise, and shooting guard Dion Waiters will play despite lingering left ankle soreness. … The Spurs will also be shorthanded, as All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard (right quadriceps tendinopathy), point guard Tony Parker (left quadriceps tendon surgery) and forward Joffrey Lauvergne (sprained right ankle) will miss the contest. … The Spurs have won seven consecutive regular-season matchups with the Heat, a streak that began in the 2013-14 season. … Seven Heat players are averaging double-digit points this season, led by Whiteside (26.0 ppg). Dragic is second with 19.7 points per game … Kelly Olynyk leads the Heat with four charges taken this season, which is three more than any other player on the roster … The Heat’s paint defense has been subpar to start the year, as they entered Tuesday’s slate of games allowing the third-most paint points in the NBA at 52.0 per game. Meanwhile, San Antonio is attempting the second-most shots from within the restricted area this season at 35.7 per game. … San Antonio is 12-1 when Aldridge records 25+ points and 10+ rebounds in a game. Aldridge is averaging 24.3 points and 9.3 rebounds this season.

[Heat 3-point specialist Wayne Ellington has a shadow, and it’s rookie Matt Williams Jr.]

[Finally healthy, Josh Richardson says: ‘I want to dunk on everybody now’]

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Five memorable moments during Chris Bosh’s Miami Heat career

Chris Bosh spent seven years with the Heat playing in just 97 games his last three seasons. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

One week into the 2010 free agency period the first bombshell was dropped: Chris Bosh had agreed to join Dwyane Wade and play for the Miami Heat.

Within 48 hours LeBron James then famously announced he was taking his talents to South Beach. The Big Three was formed and the history of the Heat forever was changed.

Now, seven years later, with today’s announcement that the Heat have waived Bosh the last member of the Big Three Era has officially departed the Heat. The dismantling was slow with James returning to Cleveland in 2014 and Wade shunning Miami after 13 years last summer and signing with Chicago. And today’s news is nothing more than a formality considering the unofficial conclusion to Bosh’s Heat career was last September when he failed his Heat physical and President Pat Riley announced Bosh’s career with Miami “probably is over.”

After all, it has been nearly 17 months since Bosh last wore a Heat uniform or even played an NBA game.

But now, after a full season with Bosh’s $23.7 million salary on its books despite the 33-year-old not playing a game or even being around the team, Bosh officially is a free agent and able to sign with any team, health permitting.

Bosh’s seven years and six seasons with the Heat were memorable. He averaged 18.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and shot just under 50 percent. He was a part of two title teams, made four trips to the Finals and was an All-Star in each of those six seasons.

Bosh had plenty of memorable moments while playing in South Florida and here are five:

The Rebound

Game 6 of the 2013 Finals forever will be remembered for Ray Allen’s 3-pointer in the final seconds that tied the game and gave the Heat the chance to win in overtime.

But Bosh was the reason Allen even had that opportunity.

With the Spurs leading 95-92, James had the first crack at knotting the score but his 3-point attempt from the left wing with about 11 seconds to play bounced off the rim. Bosh, with nobody boxing him out, pulled down the rebound, wrestling it way from Manu Ginobili and had the presence to find Allen in the right corner.

Allen then made the most celebrated shot in Heat history setting up overtime for. …

The Block

Well, actually, there were two blocks by Bosh that helped seal the win and force a Game 7.

With 34 seconds remaining and the Heat leading by one, Bosh switched onto Tony Parker. Parker then created some space with a jab step and rose for the 20 foot jumper. But Bosh, from about five feet, lunged and blocked the shot. James grabbed the ball and was fouled.

The Spurs had one more chance trailing 103-100 with 1.9 seconds remaining and inbounding in the ball from the side. The pass went to Danny Green in the far corner and Bosh, sprinting from the top of the circle to the corner, blocked the potential game-tying shot just before the buzzer, setting up the dramatic Game 7 which would lead to Miami’s second title in two years.

The return

The franchise was at a crossroads in July of 2014 when James penned his ‘I’m coming home’ letter, ending his four seasons in Miami. Bosh now was in the spotlight and had a decision to make: Return to Miami and team with Wade or take Houston’s max offer and join James Harden and Dwight Howard in his home state.

Bosh became the anti-LeBron and was praised for his loyalty when he opted to return to Miami on a five-year, $118 million deal. Of course, nobody could have predicted what would happen. Bosh never again played a full season and wound up suiting up in just 97 more games with the Heat.

The Bad News

Just days after playing in his 10th All-Star Game, in which he scored 10 points in 11 minutes, the basketball world was stunned to hear Bosh was hospitalized and then even more so when it was learned he had developed blood clots in one of his lungs.

Bosh spent a week in the hospital after being diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism. Basketball became secondary as Bosh was fortunate to be alive. Still, he worked his way back into shape and started the 2015-16 season like he had his previous 12, a force on the court and good enough to be voted to another All-Star Game.

But nobody knew it would be the last season in which he would play a game for the Heat, and possibly in the NBA. Bosh once again developed a blood clot that was diagnosed around the All-Star break, this time in his left leg.

Now, Bosh’s career truly was in jeopardy and after a summer of working out and hoping he could return for the 2016-17 season, Bosh failed a Heat physical prior to the start of training camp and never again would wear a Heat uniform.

The Bosh Game

With James, Wade and Mario Chalmers all nursing minor injuries, the Heat went into San Antonio late in the 2012-13 season to face a healthy Spurs team.

The Heat stayed with the Spurs despite a starting lineup of Bosh, Norris Cole, Rashard Lewis, Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem. The Spurs had the ball and a one point lead late but Haslem forced Tim Duncan to miss a short jumper and Allen grabbed the rebound with about 10 seconds to play. Allen took it himself and was double teamed on the left side of the court. He found Bosh wide open at the top of the circle and Bosh let it fly as Duncan lunged toward him. The ball went in giving the Heat an 88-86 victory.

Bosh led all scorers with 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

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