Posts Tagged ‘March Madness’

No Wade? No Problem For Heat As Streak Stretches To 26 With Win Over Charlotte





MIAMI – You could hear Dwyane Wade‘s voice bellowing through the Miami Heat locker room in the final seconds.

“Ballgame,” he yelled as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

That was hours before Wade’s Miami Heat had finished off the Charlotte Bobcats for their 26th straight win. That yelling came from the Heat training room, where Wade was parked for treatment on the sore right knee that kept him out of the Heat’s 109-77 demolition of the lowly Charlotte Bobcats, who had the unenviable task of bringing the worst record in the NBA to AmericanAirlines Arena Sunday night for their matchup against the team with the best record in the league.

Wade’s college coach, Tom Crean, and his Indiana Hoosiers needed all the energy they could get, even from afar, to get past Temple and clinch their Sweet Sixteen berth in the NCAA Tournament.

The Heat obviously didn’t miss a beat without Wade in the lineup, the extent of his work here Sunday night included him subbing for Fox Sports Florida’s Sun Sports courtside analyst Jason Jackson and interviewing James on the court seconds after the game ended.

When asked how Wade compared to Jackson as an interviewer, James was brutally honest in his assessment.

“He’s got a lot of work to do,” James said before cracking a smile. “Jack is one of the best, so he shouldn’t feel bad. D-Wade did a good job, though. He looked good, too.”

Just as they have every game since Feb. 3, the Heat found just the right formula to brush the Bobcats aside. And therein lies the beauty of what’s going on with this team. No matter the circumstance or situation, they continue to handle their business by any means necessary.

“Our guys get it,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They get when it’s time to go.”

They also know when it’s time to let go. All the fun that comes along with the streak is a product of a team that’s more comfortable in its own skin than they have been since they were assembled.

“We’re having a blast,” Chris Bosh said after celebrating his 29th birthday with win No. 26 in the streak. “Best team I’ve ever been on. Best team I’ve ever been on. People like to say it, but we always have fun. And we work hard but we played hard, too. That’s something when it’s always hard to find that balance. It’s just something we do a fantastic job of here is just knowing that we have a chance to win. That’s huge. But having a good time at the same time, it’s important. Those are the things we’ll remember.”

The challenge of maintaining this streak grows considerably tougher with the last extended road trip of the Heat’s regular season. They’ve run the gauntlet during the course of the streak. Seventeen different teams have tried to solve the Heat during this run and 17 have failed. The Lakers’ record 33-game streak looks as attainable as ever with the Heat braced for a four-game road trip that kicks off Monday in Orlando and makes stop in Chicago (Wednesday), New Orleans (Friday) and San Antonio (Sunday).

“Well, I’d rather be home,” Bosh said. “We just got back. But it’s okay. We have to continue to play well on the road. We have some huge challenges ahead of us. A lot of places where you can’t just come in and mosey in and think you’re going to win the game. We’re playing a Orlando team that has pushed us to the brink twice. New Orleans beat Memphis the other night. Chicago is Chicago and San Antonio is San Antonio. We have our work ahead of us. But it’s like I’ve always said, we can’t get too ahead of ourselves. We take care of our business one game at a time.”

That becomes increasingly difficult with all of the outside attention paid to the streak in the places the Heat will visit over the course of the next seven days. The Heat already have the burden of being the reigning NBA champions and now they show up with streak, cranking up the intensity of each game even more.

“Yeah, that’s all they hear about even when they are not playing us,” Bosh said. “It’s ‘What do you think about the streak?’ First they get pissed and then when they finally play us it’s, ‘hey, let’s knocks these guys off.’ That gives them extra incentive. But I think it’s a healthy exercise for us because we are playing with something to lose. And that’s how it is every night in the playoffs, so we’ll have a good rhythm when we get there.”

Only time will tell if they get there, to the postseason, with the streak intact. As crazy as it sounds, it’s not outside the realm of possibility for a team that continues to win at a record-setting pace.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 109) Featuring Isiah Thomas and Ira Winderman

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – How long does is take to get over the dreaded agony of defeat, that one shining moment that goes horribly wrong for college basketball stars who have dreamed of conquering the March Madness spotlight all their lives?

For some, a lifetime. For others, namely a certain North Carolina Tar Heel alum (Rick Fox), it took nine years, to be exact. And still for the select few, they never have to worry about it because they captured that moment in college and again in the NBA, leading to a lifetime spent reliving those magical moments every time the NCAA Tournament or The NBA Finals come around.

That’s the life NBA TV’s Isiah Thomas has known, as a champion in college at Indiana and twice in the NBA with the Detroit Pistons of Bad Boys fame, and now a Hall of Famer.

He joins us on Episode 109 of the Hang Time Podcast to discuss his journey from Chicago schoolboy star to All-American college star and how he handled that transformation, and plenty more.

One thing Thomas never did in his storied career was win 23 straight games, a feat the Miami Heat have accomplished and will try to continue to build on in Cleveland later tonight. Longtime Heat beat writer Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel drops in as well to share his observations and thoughts on the Heat’s monster streak and all things Heat.

Check out all of that and more on Episode 109 f the Hang Time Podcast.

LISTEN HERE:


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business,  Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

The Race For No. 8: Western Conference

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – March Madness?

You want March Madness, try being the Hang Time Grizzlies this month. Try losing Rudy Gay for the rest of the season to a shoulder injury,  playing a vicious late-season schedule and having the Houston Rockets and Phoenix Suns chasing you with their playoff lives on the line, too.

The pressure would be enough to drive a weaker team mad.

The Grizzlies, however, have bowed up to the challenge … their win over the Celtics in Boston last night being the latest example of the rock-solid resolve that has marked this season for Lionel Hollins and his team.

They are in the midst of trashing that myth that regular season games don’t mean anything in the NBA. That’s never been true. And it certainly doesn’t ring true for an outfit like the Grizzlies,who are hunting their first postseason berth since the 2005-06 season.

So what if all you get is an all-expenses-paid trip to San Antonio for a first-round playoff date against the league’s best team (in the standings)? This is one of those instances where the journey is just as important as the destination, where the fiber of each man — and the team as a whole — will be tested along the way.

The Race For No. 8 always separates the (playoff) contenders from the pretenders, and that’s never been more true than it is this season in the Western Conference.

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Be Careful What You Say

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Now is not the time to turn into some cliché monster, spouting basketball-related terms from now until the end of the June until you hear a voice inside your heard screaming for you to stop.

It’s a virus many of us catch this time of year. The minute March Madness begins and until the NBA playoffs end, there can be an annoying parade of hoops conversations that revolve around certain phrases contained here in the 10 Most Abused Basketball Clichés You’ll Be Hearing This Month … and beyond if you are not careful.

Our favorite here at the hideout is easily this one:

No. 5 — They’re getting some good open looks: Is there such a thing as a bad open look? Well, perhaps if they’re shooting from midcourt. It would do college basketball telecasts wonders if the broadcast teams would simply explain their clichés. How is the team getting open looks? Is it the dribble-penetration from the slashing point guard. Are the offensive sets being executed to perfection? More college basketball analysts should be like Jay Bilas — he doesn’t shy away from offering detailed breakdowns during the action.

So be careful what you say this month. You don’t want to be that guy!

Player Development 101

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Whenever March Madness hits, friends and acquaintances that consider themselves aficionados of the college game love to tell me about how much more fundamentally sound college hoops is compared to the NBA.

“They work so much harder on the basics,” I always hear. “In the NBA they just isolate the best player and let him go to work.”

This, of course, couldn’t be any more ridiculous than thinking a 20-hour-per-week practice limit is enough time to for college programs to properly mold players into the sort of ready-for-the-pros prospects people assume they should be.

The fact is, there is three times as much fundamental skill work and player development that goes on in the NBA ranks, mostly because there is no limit to how much time a player is allowed to improve his game.

That’s why this little gem from the Hornets, featuring lead assistant and my main man Mike Malone, will be used in my next debate: