The NBA will announce its All-Star Game reserves Tuesday night at 7 p.m. on TNT.
Will the Miami Heat – the fourth place team in the Eastern Conference even after Monday’s 99-90 loss to the Rockets – have a representative selected? Or, will Miami (27-20) become the first team since the 1993 New Jersey Nets to be seeded at least fourth or higher not to have a player make the All-Star team?
The answer, coach Erik Spoelstra said, depends on which version of his team gets judged for that distinction.
Will coaches who have the final votes for the remaining reserve spots view the Heat as the team that started 11-13? Or, will they reward the one that has gone 16-7 since then to take first place in the Southeast Division?
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He hopes the latter.
“We think we’re trending in the right direction,” Spoelstra said before Monday’s game. “I think if we had started out the way we’re playing the last six weeks we’d probably been on more people’s radars. Then again you never know.
“You have to win, you have to sustain it. You have to play at a high level for a long period of time before people notice.”
Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni doesn’t have to worry about such problems.
Houston (33-12) owns the second-best record in the league and James Harden, the league’s leading scorer, was voted in among the starters.
Would D’Antoni be shocked if the Heat don’t have an All-Star selection?
“No, nothing surprises me in the league. A lot of it comes late in the notoriety,” he said. “The All-Star is some of what you did this year but a lot of it is the reputation you have over the years. That happens. It wouldn’t surprise me. It’s too bad, but that’s the way it is a lot of times.”
The last Heat players to make the All-Star game were Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade in 2016.
The last time a player not named Bosh, Wade or LeBron James represented Miami at the All-Star game came in 2007 when Shaquille O’Neal was selected.
“They’re always trying to say we don’t have All-Stars,” Heat center Hassan Whiteside said. “No, you all just don’t vote them in. We have All-Stars. A lot those All-Stars are not even in the playoffs, so that’s where I’m going to leave it.”
One of the favorites on the Heat roster to possibly be chosen as a reserve and break the drought on Tuesday is Goran Dragic.
Dragic – who was held out of his second-straight game on Monday because of a left knee bruise – is leading the Heat in scoring 17.3 points per game.
“I would love to see Goran Dragic on that team,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t know how he’s viewed. I don’t personally campaign with organizations and other coaches. I don’t know if people have viewed us worthy to have an All-Star. That’s a shame.
“He’s been very consistent and he’s been playing at an extremely high level. He’s playing at a level at least what he was playing when he was All-NBA. So, to me that means you’re an All-Star. There are some really good perimeter players in the Eastern Conference so it’ll be interesting to see how it goes.”
If the Heat doesn’t have a player chosen to play in the Feb. 18 All-Star Game in Los Angeles there’s a chance the team could send a representative or two to compete in the three-point contest (Wayne Ellington) or dunk contest (Derrick Jones Jr.).
“I hope one of these guys’ name is called for sure,” Ellington said. “It’s a great accomplishment. I think we’re deserving, whether it’s Goran, whether it’s Hassan. One of those guys is deserving.”