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Heat Playing Less 'Hero Ball' During Streak

The Heat offense has thrived since Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Erik Spoelstra said the main factor is that the team is playing less "hero ball" and not that they are without Chris Bosh.

But Miami's ball movement in the halfcourt has improved without Bosh.

“It’s not something that happens overnight,” Spoelstra said. “This is two years of habits and learning each other’s strengths and learning what’s effective for us. We’ve had to change a lot of habits that guys have had for years for the improvement of our team.”

James and Wade have increased their interplay without Bosh also on the court.

“When Bosh went out, the package got smaller and when [Spoelstra] calls sets, he only calls them for me and LeBron instead of calling it for all three of us,” Wade said. “So, I’m more involved in the offense, and our team can kind of know exactly what we’re going to get out of us two.”

During the Heat’s four-game postseason winning streak, Wade and James have combined for 251 points (an average of 62 points per game).

Via Joseph Goodman/Miami Herald

Ibaka Expected To Return To Normal Minutes In Game 2

Serge Ibaka sat on the bench for the final 16:01 of Oklahoma City's 101-98 Game 1 loss to the Spurs.

“I think every decision you make, if it doesn't work out, you say, ‘Why'd you do that?' and I'm right (there) with you on that,” said Scott Brooks.

Brooks used a smaller lineup, playing Kevin Durant at the power forward spot to stretch the defense and also forces the opponent to matchup smaller.

“We've done it in the past and have had a lot of success, so you can't really look back and beat yourself up too much … but I will,” Brooks said. “It was nothing against what Serge did.”

The Thunder were outscored 16-2 in terms of points in the paint in the fourth period.

“Going into the next game, I see him playing his normal minutes,” Brooks said.

Via John Rohde/Oklahoman

Heat Vary Defensive Looks Against Rondo

The Heat varied their defensive looks on Rajon Rondo during their 93-70 win over Boston.

Rondo was held to 16 points and seven assists as the Heat made sure to have help defenders in the paint waiting for him.

“He’s one of the most unique players I have seen in this league," said Erik Spoelstra. "We know what he is. What is part of his greatness is his utter unpredictability. You don’t know where he comes up with that great play. He has great timing, knows the moment and what his team needs most. And it can be anything.”

Via George Richards/Miami Herald

LeBron Leads Heat In 'Activity' Points

Erik Spoelstra tracks Heat players with an "activity chart," which awards points for statistical categories such as fouls drawn and block outs on rebounding.

"It's basically all the tangible things you do that you don't see on a stat sheet," Heat video coordinator Dan Craig said. "It could be taking a hit or not getting a charge [on offense]. It could be a deflection on a pick-and-roll, you get a deflection but you don't get the steal. It could be everything from a hard close out, running guys off a shot and not necessarily getting a block but taking them off an open shot. He is always at the top of our team's activity chart at the end of every game.

"I think that's what makes him great. He does so much more out there on the court than the average person will see."

James is averaging 9.8 free throw attempts per game in the postseason.

"The average fan might not notice that he's picked up eight fouls for the game," Craig said. "That helps us get in the bonus at the end of the games. You get those attackers attacking and now we're at the free throw line shooting … He really just does so much."

Via South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Rondo Takes Blame For Not Controlling Pace

Rajon Rondo took responsibility for allowing the Sixers to speed up the pace during their 15-2 third quarter run.

“They sped us up a little bit,” said Rondo. “They took some quick shots, we had some turnovers in that stretch, and they made shots.

“In that stretch I had to do a better job of slowing us down and getting us into the next set. I had to demand that guys get into the right spots offensively. It’s a calculation for me of when we’re doing a good job in random and when we’re not in that stretch. And in that 15-2 run we didn’t do a good job.

“But in the first half we did make those shots. In the second half when we weren’t making those shots we had to slow it down. But it all comes down to defense. We may have lost our composure, but we’re a veteran team and we’re better than that. We should have responded better.”

Via Mark Murphy/Boston Herald

Lavoy Allen Again Effective Defending Garnett

The Sixers limited Kevin Garnett to just nine points on 3-for-12 shooting from the floor.

Lavoy Allen defended Garnett for much of the game.

“Lavoy, once again, defensively just did a tremendous job,’’ Doug Collins said.

Philadelphia has been successful in taking away Garnett's deep post-ups.

“He’s an amazing guy,’’ Collins said. “There’s never a change with him. He’d be the greatest poker player in the world, because you never know whether it’s going good or bad for him. He is very, very smart.’’

Collins added, “My goal in life is to have one Lavoy Allen day. Just one. Just not give a [expletive] about anything.’’

Via Amalie Benjamin/Boston Globe

Heat Make Two Changes To Starting Lineup

Erik Spoelstra mixed up his starting lineup in Game 3 with Chris Bosh unavailable.

Dexter Pittman started at center, while Shane Battier received the call at small forward and that setup LeBron James for a matchup at power forward against David West.

Pittman played just 3.5 minutes before Spoelstra sent in Joel Anthony.

Udonis Haslem and Ronny Turiaf started Game 2.

Via Joseph Goodman/Miami Herald

LeBron Finds Power Forward Position More Physically Taxing

LeBron James is playing more minutes at power forward due to the injury to Chris Bosh.

James admitted before Game 2 that significant minutes at the position takes its toll on him physically.

“It’s a lot more taxing being in there with bigger guys,” James said. Defensively “is the biggest difference. When you’re on the perimeter, there’s more space. The interior is more cramped and physical. … But I’m ready for the challenge.”

James also said that he has played more positions this season than any of his seven with the Cavaliers.

Via Barry Jackson/Miami Herald

Allen Effective With Injury, Even As Decoy

Ray Allen continues to play through his ankle injury and didn't score a field goal in the fourth quarter.

But his presence on the floor is effective even if it is as a decoy. Because the Sixers must respect his three-point shot, they are limited in their double-teaming opportunities and are spaced more throughout the halfcourt.

“I mean, I thought 10 different times he was hurt again,’’ Doc Rivers. “He hit the floor four or five times. Ray is just tough. I mean, I don’t think we realize how - his foot’s bothering him and he’s playing terrific. The stretch when he came in again with the second unit, that was a big stretch for us. It gave us some hope.’’

Via Frank Dell'Apa/Boston Globe

Celtics, Sixers Series Expected To Be Low-Scoring

The Celtics and 76ers were two of the NBA's better and more rugged defensive teams this season.

Boston led the league in defensive field percentage, while Philadelphia ranked third.

Doc Rivers expects the series to be low-scoring.

“What Philly did was, they defended Chicago,’’ Rivers said before Friday’s practice. “Chicago really struggled scoring. We talk about Philly and their athleticism and their running, but what people keep forgetting is they’re not a good defensive team - they’re a great defensive team.

“They’re going to try to make us struggle scoring and we’re going to make them struggle scoring, too.’’

Via Frank Dell'Apa/Boston Globe

Fredette Plans To Work On Pick-And-Roll Situations

Jimmer Fredette struggled as a ball-handler in the pick-and-roll during his rookie season with the Kings.

Stoudemire Stresses Importance Of Knicks Finding Roster Stability

Amar'e Stoudemire stressed the need for the Knicks to create stability.

Thunder Run 'Angie' Play 16 Times During 4th Quarter

James Harden was used on the pick-and-roll to score 15 of his 29 points in the fourth.

Gasol Tried To Look For Own Offense More In Game 3 Loss

Pau Gasol had 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting with seven rebounds and three assists.

Woodson Pushing For Carmelo To Improve Fitness

Mike Woodson is pushing for Carmelo Anthony to be in better shape next season.

Carmelo Has Worst Playoff Winning Percentage In NBA History

Anthony is 16-36 (.308) during his playoff career with the Nuggets and Knicks.

Leonard Playing Like Veteran In First Two Playoff Games

Kawhi Leonard has had an excellent first two games to help lead the Spurs to a 2-0 series lead against the Jazz.

Wall Spending Offseason Studying Tempo

John Wall will focus his ability to control the tempo, studying the likes of Tony Parker and Chris Paul.

Bryant, Bynum Have Grown Closer Since All-Star Weekend

Andrew Bynum has played excellent basketball over the second half of the season and into the playoffs for the Lakers.

Kobe Feels Physically 'Brand New' Compared To Last Season

When Kobe Bryant finished the 10-11 season, he wondered how his arthritic knee would ever let him play basketball again.

GM Predicts Davis Will Be Better Than Griffin; Another Believes He Could Rival KG

Not only is Anthony Davis an excellent two-way talent and has been lauded for his character and commitment to improving his game.

Casey: Valanciunas' Worst Case Scenaro Is Noah

Dwane Casey is optimistic of how much Jonas Valanciunas will improve the defense of the Raptors.

Kemba Walker Happy With Rookie Development

Kemba Walker is pleased with the progress he made during his rookie season.

Miami Big 3 Out-Assists New York's By 17-1 Margin

The Miami Big 3 put up similar numbers to New York's in Game 2 in terms of points and rebounds, but had 17 assists to just one for the Knicks.

Bulls Have Confidence In C.J. Watson

The Bulls will lean on C.J. Watson to play the majority of point guard minutes with Derrick Rose injured for the remainder of the season.

Raptors To Search For Better Perimeter Shooters

The Raptors finished the season ranked 19th in three-point shooting percentage and 22nd in three-pointers made.

Carmelo Continues To Believe Amar'e Pairing Can Work

Carmelo Anthony continues to believe that he can coexist and succeed with Amar'e Stoudemire.
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