Miami Heat

On outside looking in, Miami Heat starts playoff push

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade share a laugh as the Miami Heat host the Cleveland Cavaliers at the AmericanAirlines Arena on Thursday, December 25, 2014.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade share a laugh as the Miami Heat host the Cleveland Cavaliers at the AmericanAirlines Arena on Thursday, December 25, 2014. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Lazy Sundays don’t exist this time of year, especially when you’re suddenly on the outside looking in at a playoff spot and LeBron James is coming to town.

So the Heat stayed long at the arena Sunday after watching video that focused primarily on two things it can control — and will have to if it stands a chance when it hosts Cleveland on Monday: No. 1 limiting turnovers; and No.2 finding Hassan Whiteside when he’s on the floor.

Coach Erik Spoelstra said the two go hand-in-hand.

“It’s tough to say how it would have played out if we would have had a more competitive turnover ratio,” Spoelstra said of the Heat’s whopping 20 turnovers in Friday’s loss to Toronto. “If those possessions would have gone where they were supposed to go, that’s all it takes. A handful of possessions can change the complexion of the offense.”

“Sometimes you have to come back and simplify,” Spoelstra added. “And tighten things up.”

Whiteside attempted just six shots in his return from suspension Friday, compared to combined 22 from Henry Walker and Michael Beasley.

He said Sunday that he has been receiving more double- and triple-teams as his season has continued to soar.

“Normally when I roll [off a pick]there are like four guys there. Even when I’m rebounding there are like three guys there. I guess ya’ll [the media] did a good job of getting my name out there,” he said.

Personnel changes such as the acquisition of facilitator Goran Dragic and loss of Chris Bosh have prevented the Heat from any prolonged periods of lineup consistency. Every shakeup is a start over.

“We have a lot of new faces, a lot of moving parts,’” Spoelstra said. “We’re trying to put the system in on the fly.”

Whiteside added: “Sometimes the guards, they just miss me. I’ve only been playing with these guys for a couple of months, so its not like we have years of chemistry. Every day is a learning process.”

If they don’t learn quickly, the next stretch could turn into a death sentence for this team.

Upcoming games with Oklahoma City, Atlanta and San Antonio litter the schedule like landmines. Of course, Miami has to first get past Cleveland.

Just like during their last matchup, the Heat and Cavaliers are both very different teams than they were during their previous meetings.

The Cavaliers were underachievers during the first two matchups; the Heat understandably were learning about life without LeBron. Then on Feb. 11, the Cavaliers revamped their roster. Since then, they have won 13 of 17 while the Heat have struggled despite new star Whiteside.

Now the Cavaliers have overtaken the entire Eastern Conference except Atlanta, and Miami has lost a star, traded for another and fallen into ninth place.

It’s not just LeBron the Heat have to worry about. Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving set a franchise record with 57 points Thursday against the Spurs.

“They are a totally different team from the last time we played them,” Dwyane Wade said. “They want to win, [we] want to beat each other, that hasn’t changed.”

Whiteside upset

Whiteside went to Twitter Saturday to voice his displeasure with a controversial no-call from Friday night in Toronto.

Whiteside retweeted a video replay in which he appears to be tackled out of bounds by Raptors guard Kyle Lowry during a fight for a rebound.

No whistle results from the referee positioned right near the play on the baseline. The original tweet, posted by a Heat fan site, accused Lowry of getting away with a flagrant foul.

“If you think that was an accident, I question your judgment,” Whiteside said Sunday. “I just wanted the NBA to see it. Day in day out, guys beat me up. But they only see what I do.”

Whiteside served a one game suspension last week and has been fined $40,000 by the league this season for committing hard fouls.

Zoran recalled

The Heat recalled guard Zoran Dragic from Sioux Falls after he averaged 16.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists over four games with the Skyforce.

Dragic has appeared in two games for the Heat since he and brother Goran were acquired from Phoenix in February.

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