The Heat had a full team practice today at the AAA in preparation for their busy week. Miami will play three games in the next four nights and they will play a game every other day after that over the next two weeks. That's eight games in the next fourteen days...six of which are at home.
After today's practice Coach Erik Spoelstra, Udonis Haslem and Dwyane Wade spoke to the media, mostly about the situation with guard Rafer Alston. For those unaware, Alston was suspended indefinitely by the team for failing to show up for practice last Friday after the Heat's win over Golden State, then failing to show up for the Heat's game the next day against Atlanta.
He was likely upset because he was benched after playing just 6:41 in the Heat's win over Golden State, and then lost his job as the Heat's starting point guard to Carlos Arroyo for their next game against the Lakers. He didn't just lose the starting job though; Mario Chalmers remained the primary backup, leaving Alston with whatever garbage time minutes may have been available.
Follow the jump for the comments from Spo, Udonis and D-Wade, as well as Rafer's stats while playing for the Heat this season.
- "It's unfortunate that it came to this. The time (he spent) here I would say was relatively positive. He gave us good minutes; his spirit, his energy, his enthusiasm and interaction with the guys were all positives."
- "I can imagine he probably wasn't happy with his minutes in the Golden State game and that wasn't necessarily my intention. That's just the way the game went and Carlos (Arroyo) was playing well so I went with that lineup, but there was no indication, certainly not from (Alston's) behavior, that this was going to happen."
- "It is unfortunate because we're going through a major playoff push right now and what we've emphasized since the very first day of training camp is the purity. You're either in or your out, and I guess he's declared that he's out...so we know who our group is now."
- "We have our group now and we're moving forward. We feel good about the last three games but we don't want to be complacent. This is going to be a dogfight all the way until the end."
- "It's unfortunate. I really didn't know what was going on, I just know I haven't seen (Alston) so it's hard to speak on it. It's not really a distraction, nobody knows nothing about that situation. I know we've won 3 in a row, and we've gotta continue to try to move forward."
- "We've been playing well of late, I think (team) chemistry has been good and we just wanna keep it up. We know going down the stretch and going into the playoffs that we wanna be playing our best basketball now. It's very important to have the locker room in good order."
- (Talking about Michael Beasley) "I told him ‘I need you'. You know, I need him. I think him hearing me say that really hit home for him. We really all need Michael to be a player. You cant control the ball going in the basket but you can control other things about the game of basketball, and that's what he's gotta start doing. Hopefully he gets it...if he don't then we'll still try to make him get it because we believe in him."
Rafer Alston started all 25 games that he dressed in a Heat uniform. He missed 3 games in late January with a hand injury, but other then that didn't miss any time since signing with Miami on January 7th. His stats were not very impressive while playing for the Heat, and almost all his numbers were down when compared to his career stats.
He averaged 6.6 points on 35.5% shooting (career stats: 10.1 points on 38.3% shooting). He grabbed 2.1 rebounds and dished out 2.8 assists (career stats: 2.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists). Those numbers were pretty darn close to his career stats, and he actually shot better from 3-point range this year (37.0%) then his career average (35.5%).
On the other hand, his foul shooting was significantly worse then usual. He hit just 55.6% of his foul shots in a Heat uniform, but his career free throw percentage is 72.9%. His foul shooting struggles haven't been season long because he hit 81.5% of his free throws when playing for New Jersey earlier this year.