Miami Heat

Miami Heat is ready to make another postseason push

 

With the team mostly healthy and in the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference, the defending champion Heat is poised to make a run after the All-Star break and defend its title.

 
Heat guard Dwyane Wade sat out Wednesday night’s game, his second scratch in two nights.
Heat guard Dwyane Wade sat out Wednesday night’s game, his second scratch in two nights.
Rick Bowmer / AP

jgoodman@MiamiHerald.com

Micro pulses of stimulating electricity rehabilitated LeBron James’ thigh and calf muscles after Tuesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns while he recounted his latest gravity-defying dunk.

Near James’ locker stall, Chris Andersen jokingly pushed reporters out of the way so he could get dressed. Next to Andersen’s locker, Shane Battier chatted with reporters and next to Battier, newcomer Toney Douglas talked shop with Ray Allen.

In other words, it was just a typical night on the road for the team. Of the Heat’s 15 players, only Dwyane Wade was absent from the postgame locker room scene. A chronic sufferer of migraine headaches, Wade had an episode on Tuesday morning and missed the victory against the Suns because of fatigue.

Wade didn’t start Wednesday night and wasn’t expected to play against Golden State because of a sore foot. He was replaced in the lineup by Douglas.

With the All-Star break officially here, the most significant development of the regular season for the Heat isn’t the No. 2 position in the Eastern Conference standings, or, as coach Erik Spoelstra likes to say, the team’s commitment to defensive purity. The Heat is completely healthy heading into the season’s home stretch and ready for the postseason push.

There couldn’t be a more positive sign for the defending back-to-back champs at this point in the season.

“With 30-something games left, hopefully we’ll have an even better time with guys being healthy as we get ready for the playoffs as we start getting our game ready,” Wade said. “So, it has been a pretty good first half of the season with our coaches and the team being on the same page and not having anything major happen to us yet.”

Wade pointed to better lines of communication between players and the coaching staff compared with years past.

“You’ve got an older team and guys who have been playing into late June for multiple years in a row, and no team has played more basketball than these individuals in here, so you have to be a little smarter and understand that the body will shut down when the body wants to,” Wade said.

“You have to listen to your body a little bit, and I think we’ve done that this year.”

Entering Wednesday’s game, Wade has missed 14 games this season, mostly to rest his right knee. Battier and Michael Beasley have also missed significant time to prevent strained muscles from lingering.

James is averaging a career low in minutes per game (37.3). The cautious approach of trainers and Spoelstra was planned before the season.

“We have guys who have been healthy, who are getting better, who made strides during the course of the season,” Spoelstra said.

James has played more basketball than anyone over the past two years, and the extra mileage, not to mention his wedding and extended honeymoon in the offseason, contributed to some inconsistencies on defense early in the season. But James has rounded into shape leading up to the All-Star break. He had five steals, including two that sprung him for dunks in transition on Tuesday against Phoenix.

“I’m feeling really good right now,” James said. “My legs are starting to come back to me, and I’m able to get out on the break much faster right now.

The Heat had 12 steals overall against the Suns and forced 16 turnovers for 24 points.

“It helps when we’re able to load our defense and I’m able to be a recipient of guys putting pressure on the ball,” James said. “I was able to get a couple [steals]. We want to create turnovers and put pressure on the ball and pressure on the weak side and, when we have an opportunity, guys shoot the gaps.”

Expect that type of intensity more often during the final third of the season.

Read more Miami Heat stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
MIami Heat’s LeBron James shoots over Charlotte Bobcats’ Bismack Biyombo in the second quarter during the Miami Heat's game against the Charlotte Bobcats at AmericanAirlines Arena on Monday, March 3, 2014.

    Game 1: Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Bobcats

    Live updates: Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Bobcats, Game 1

    Read live updates from sports writers, columnists and photographers from the Miami Herald and Charlotte Observer at Game 1 of the Miami Heat's NBA Playoff series against the Charlotte Bobcats.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">An easier time:</span> Chris Bosh, left, and his Heat teammates rejoice after winning the second game of last season’s first-round playoff series against the Bucks. They said the Bobcats are a bigger test.

    Series preview

    Miami Heat expects dogfight from Bobcats

    Even if the Heat appears to be in a different class than the Bobcats, the players aren’t preparing as though they are

  •  
Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, left, and center Chris Bosh watch from the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wednesday, April 16, 2014 in Miami. The 76ers defeated the Heat 100-87.

    IN MY OPINION

    Greg Cote: Dynasty or dismantling for the Miami Heat?

    A Heat playoff run is the annual gift we slowly unwrap together, our two-month emotional thrill ride ever since LeBron James grandly announced he was “taking my talents to South Beach” that summer night in 2010. Well, buckle up again, South Florida. Prepare for exhilarating highs and work-productivity lows. Prepare for late nights walking drained from the downtown bayside arena. Prepare for hearts to soar or plunge on whether a basketball swishes through a nylon net or bonks off a painted rim.

Get your Miami Heat Fan Gear!

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category