On the same evening the Miami Heat mailed in a game versus the Portland Trail Blazers, the Sioux Falls Skyforce became the only team to ever win 40 games in the NBA D-league. Kudos to Dan Craig's team for making NBADL history.
Professionals do not whine about how tough life is or deserve pity when they collect multi-million-dollar paychecks for their performances. Granted the Heat played three games in four nights, but not bothering to jump for rebounds or making chip shots at the basket shouldn't be excused by being tired. Losses to the L.A. Lakers and Trail Blazers served as useful reminders for what would happen in the postseason when full effort is missing.
A couple of takeaways from the Saturday's game. The evening 10 healthy Heat players saw action, including Udonis Haslem with five minutes, Justise Winslow was the only one not to score a single point in almost thirty minutes of floor time. That fact puts tremendous amount of pressure on his teammates to compensate for his lack of offensive production. Once the second season begins, the Charlotte Hornets, or whomever Miami faces in the first round, will trap Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic, Joe Johnson, etc., knowing they will not pass to Winslow for an open shot. Six games still remain in the regular season for Justise to earn the trust of his teammates to score by hoisting up more than one attempt per quarter.
A video from last year's Summer League illustrates he's NOT a shot-up shooter at this stage of his career. His low-center stance, ball-handling skills, deceptively quick first step all make him a threat in the painted area for contested lay-ups. Add to that, Winslow is strong enough to rebound his own missed shots for a put-back scores. Perfecting the difficult art of shot and pump fakes at the rim could garner him the trust of his team to get more touches. At 20 years-old, mastering shot fakes would be the first weapon step in his arsenal.
The second observation from that game is only one player made multiple 3-point baskets: Josh McRoberts. Over the course of this season though, Winslow has been a better shooter than McRoberts. Given more minutes McRoberts may shake the rust off his shot to regain his 0.361 3PT% shooting stroke in last season in Charlotte. His history indicates starting a few games together with Hassan Whiteside could form a high-assist duo physically taller than their defenders, allowing entry passes to the rim.
Players eligible for the "real season" include either NBA players waived before March 1, 2016 or ballers who were not in NBA at all this season at all. Help for the first round of the playoffs may come from the Skyforce, since the Heat have two roster spots available to be filled later this week. A previous article highlighted several prospects for Miami's second season. Jarnell Stokes cannot be added due to CBA rules until after July 1st.
"If a player is traded and subsequently waived by his new team, he cannot re-sign with his original team for one year following the trade or until July 1 after the last season of the player's contract, whichever is earlier."
Briante Weber continues to intrigue. In the Skyforce's final game, Weber had 7 steals to go along with 15 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. His 1 for 4 3-point shooting doesn't space the floor, but his knack for steals brings a disruptive and energetic presence to the team.
Another notable was DeAndre Liggins who shot 6 for 7 from the floor, with 8 rebounds and 5 assists. Both Weber's and Liggins' training under coach Dan Craig has them ready to contribute immediately, because they know the Heat's system by heart. Having played on a team that went 40-10 during the regular season also instilled intangible winning habits.
Dorell Wright and John Lucas III are mentioned as veteran additions. Chemistry may be an issue due to an unfamiliarity with the current Heat locker room as this article mentions when a outsider does not "click" with younger players, who are from another generation.
"Lucas was brought it with the idea of being a stabilizing force. He played well at times but didn’t click with the younger players, and he was waived later in the season."
The regular season ends next week, so by then Heat fans will know by then the final word on the return of Tyler Johnson and Chris Bosh. Both of them take up valuable roster spots that leave the team only 13 deep, if they don't come back. After a sighting of Udonis on the court, Spoelstra may be preparing to give his heavily-used players time to catch their breath to face the other weary teams on April 16 and thereafter.
Home court advantage only matters if the series go to seven games. The Heat's main goal in postseason may be to take care of business in six games or less. Accomplishing that objective makes finishing in the East's top six the end to a successful regular season.