Heat notebook

Erik Spoelstra plays Miami Heat point guards more

 
WEB VOTE Should Dwyane Wade keep playing despite a chronic knee injury?

bjackson@MiamiHerald.com

During key moments in the past year, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra often would navigate key late-game stretches without a natural point guard, opting instead for Shane Battier and Ray Allen to play alongside the Big 3.

But the performance of the Heat’s point guards has made Spoelstra confident about using one of them virtually all the time.

The two have combined to average 20.3 points in the team’s Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Bulls: 12.5 for Norris Cole, 7.8 for Mario Chalmers.

“We felt we had one of the younger point guard tandems in the league that we can build on and offer us championship minutes now,” Spoelstra said.

“We felt very good about moving forward with them. That’s one of the main reasons we didn’t sign a veteran point guard. We’ve moved in a direction of playing more point guard basketball this year than we have the last two years. Less with hybrid point guards, more with them.”

Cole has been the Heat’s third-leading scorer in this series, connecting on 9 of 10 three-point shots. But he also has more turnovers (eight) than assists (seven).

Chalmers has 17 assists and six turnovers in the series.

“They are both diligent, steady workers,” Spoelstra said.

“They had to earn it, which is a tough thing to do playing with some of the players we have.”

This and that

Though Spoelstra remained noncommittal about Dwyane Wade’s availability for Game 5 on Wednesday night, he said Wade hasn’t needed an MRI on his bruised right knee since March and hasn’t had his knee drained, unlike last year’s playoffs, when Wade had an injury to his other knee, the left one. That injury required arthroscopic surgery in July.

“It’s much different than last year,” Spoelstra said Tuesday. “Structurally, his knee is in a good place. We’ll reevaluate him [Wednesday].”

Spoelstra said he is frustrated that “everyone is just waiting to see that final column on the boxscore” showing Wade’s points and shot attempts.

“That’s all anybody is looking at,” Spoelstra said, opening his eyes widely for effect, to mimic people looking at boxscores. “Everyone is losing focus on his contribution.”

Spoelstra noted that the Heat has outscored opponents by 49 points with Wade on the court in the series, tied with Battier for best on the team.

• Spoelstra said he told his players before this series that statistics would take a back seat.

“That was one thing we had to have a discussion about,” he said. “Throw out whatever your perceived notions are about averages. Different people will have to have an impact on each game. For us, our point guards have been very important in this series and will continue to be because of certain coverages.”

How long did it take to get that message across about the boxscore? “Two years ago, this team wasn’t ready for that,” he said. “We had not developed that type of trust.”

• Bulls guard Nate Robinson’s 0-for-12 shooting performance in Game4 was the worst in a playoff game since Allen went 0 for 13 for Boston in 2010. Worst 0-for ever in a playoff game: 0 for 14, which happened twice, most recently by Dennis Johnson in 1978 with the Seattle SuperSonics.

• Spoelstra, on Wednesday’s game: “Our guys have built up perspective that these closeout ones are the toughest one. You’re going to get their last-breath effort.”

•  Chris Bosh confirmed late Tuesday night that his wife Adrienne is pregnant with their second child. “We’ve known for a while,” he said.

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