The Sioux Falls Skyforce (4-2) beat the Maine Red Claws 111-96 on Saturday night for their fourth straight win. Miami Heat assignee Jarnell Stokes shot 10/16 with 10 rebounds, Greg Whittington went 6/10 with 13 rebounds, DeAndre Liggins shot 6/13 (with 6/8 3pt) and 4 rebounds, plus Keith Benson went 6/11 with 9 rebounds.
Coach Dan Craig is teaching these young prospects good habits by doing things the Miami Heat way. Stokes already is on the roster, while the others would need a player cut from the current roster to join the Heat. Their contribution may be needed when least expected. The youthful energy of the second unit is a big part of the Heat's success so far.
The vintage performance by Dwyane Wade in New York and Chris Bosh's continued leadership role with the rotation players demonstrates that having Wade and Chris Bosh rested is paying dividends. The upcoming difficult games versus the Thunder and Cavaliers will show whether the Heat are contenders or pretenders.
Having a not only deep, but quality rotation allowed players like Luol Deng time to fully heal. The prospect of having intriguing players in Sioux Falls gives the Miami Heat more options to shuffle the roster for the looming December 10 lifting of the moratorium on trading free agents signed this summer.
Josh Richardson and Amar'e Stoudemire are having difficulty getting floor time, so Skyforce call-ups would have an almost impossible time to find minutes. Wade and Bosh not missing time due to injury is an unexpected development this deep into the season. Spreading the workload had a big factor in that.
Playing a 19-year Justise Winslow for 30 minutes a game may not be wise or sustainable in his first year as a professional, so he might require some time off later on to keep him in top shape -- given the fact that he's never played more than 50 games a season (and a potential trip to the Conference Finals means a 100-game season).
Gerald Green proved that sharing with Winslow the energy needed to limit a Hall Of Fame scorer like Carmelo Anthony to 11 points works. That feat could not have been accomplished alone, but only by committee. They were kept from wearing down and able to contribute on the offensive side.
With 67 games yet to play, the current emphasis on health will play a big role for a sustainable path for a top-four seeding. Having Dan Craig keep a vigilant eye on D-league personnel allows a margin of safety to keep the Heat squad get their needed rest and have players with a Miami Heat mindset ready to be called-up if needed.
The betting sites such as VegasInsider has upped the Heat's odds for a Eastern Conference from 25/1 to 10/1 (tied with the Chicago Bulls), well behind the Cavaliers odds of 1/3. The Heat are gaining traction as serious threats to win the East, if they first prove they can defeat the Thunder and/or Cavaliers. Monitoring the gaming sites gives a good idea of how pros with money on the line regard the Heat team.
The Heat offence is suspect, but Miami's 10-5 record out-of-the-gate speaks for itself, as does the Warriors 18-0 and 76ers 0-18 start. The Heat still have room for improvement and keeping an eye in Sioux Falls is part of an insurance policy to keep minor problems from becoming major ones.