Bulls likely to have Derrick Rose Thursday vs. Heat
The potential top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs is on the line Thursday night as the Miami Heat visit Chicago for the final time this regular season, and the big question is whether the Bulls will have reigning NBA MVP Derrick Rose against their biggest rivals. Bet on the game at WagerWeb.com.
Rose missed 12 games with a strained groin but returned Sunday in a loss to the Knicks. Rose was rusty, shooting just 8-for-26 from the field, missing two key free throws with 19 seconds left and also turning the ball over eight times. And apparently he injured an ankle in the game as Rose then missed Tuesday’s game in Chicago against the Knicks. The Bulls won that one 98-86 thanks to 20 points from Richard Hamilton, who himself has been injury-plagued this year. Chicago improved to 16-7 overall with Rose.
It does look like Rose will play tonight. He practiced on Wednesday and is officially being called a game-time decision. The swelling in the ankle, which Rose injured in the second quarter of Sunday’s game in New York, is gone. Rose was seen warming up before Tuesday’s game, but the Bulls wanted to err on the side of caution.
Rose didn’t play the last time the Bulls and Heat faced off. That was March 14 in Chicago, with the Bulls winning 104-100 thanks to 24 points from third-string point guard John Lucas. Dwayne Wade had 36 points and LeBron James 35 for Miami – the Heat beat the Bulls by four points earlier this season in Miami, but Chicago didn’t have All-Star Luol Deng in that game. The Bulls have played only 11 games with their true starting five on the floor together to begin the game.
Chicago has eight games left including this one and a magic number of eight to clinch the top seed in the East for the second year in a row (the Heat have 10 left including tonight). The Bulls also hold a two-game lead over Oklahoma City for the NBA’s No. 1 overall record. Of course Chicago had the No. 1 overall seed last year and fell to the Heat in the East Finals.
Miami is struggling, going just 5-5 in its past 10 games and has been nothing short of lousy on the road since the All-Star break. The Heat were beaten 115-107 at home by Boston on Tuesday night – the second time in 10 days the Celtics had dominated the Heat. Boston shot 61 percent on Tuesday — no team had shot better than 55 percent against the Heat this season, and Boston’s 115 points were two shy of matching a season-high against Miami.
LeBron has led the team in scoring six consecutive games, the longest streak by any Heat player this season. It’s clear 100 points is a magic number for Chicago as the Bulls are 19-0 this season when reaching triple-digit points. The Bulls and Heat face off for the final time in the regular season next Thursday in Miami.
Tuesday NBA: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat
It’s a potential preview of the Eastern Conference semifinals when Boston visits Miami on Tuesday night with the Heat as 6.5-point betting favorites on WagerWeb.com.
Miami enters two games behind Chicago for the top seed in the East. After seeing their 17-game home win streak snapped Friday vs. Memphis, Miami crushed the Pistons 98-75 on Sunday. The Heat limited the Pistons to 30.2 percent shooting in the half court, the lowest half-court field goal percentage they’ve allowed this season. Detroit’s 75 points were the second-fewest allowed by Miami this season.
The Heat won easily despite playing without All-Star guard Dwyane Wade. He sat with a sore ankle but expects to play tonight after practicing on Monday. The ankle had swelled up after that loss to Memphis. The Heat have played without Wade for 11 games this season and are 10-1 in those games with the most recent win on Sunday against the Pistons. Wade is averaging 22.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists this season with a player efficiency rating of 26.8.
The Heat likely will be looking for payback after they humbled in a 19-point loss in Boston, where they managed a measly 72 points on April Fool’s Day. The Celtics are playing as well as anyone since the All-Star break. They crushed the 76ers 103-79 on Sunday to take a three-game lead in the Atlantic Division. Kevin Garnett scored 20 points and Rajon Rondo dished out double-digit assists for his 17th consecutive game, finishing with 15. The Celtics are 20-9 when forward Garnett starts at center.
Over the last few weeks as they have amped up for the playoffs and taken over the Atlantic Division lead, the Celtics’ defense has tightened and they have leapt in the rankings. They now lead the NBA in defensive field goal percentage and defensive efficiency. Smothering the Heat was perhaps their finest defensive outing of the season. The Heat were outscored 31-12 in the third quarter. They shot 34 percent from the field. They scored 28 points in the second half. And then there was the embarrassing block Celtics guard Avery Bradley had on Wade, who fell to the floor after the play. And Rondo dominated with a triple-double.
“Guys are looking forward to this game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Heat’s LeBron James iffy for Thursday vs. Mavericks
The Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks meet for the second and final time this regular season in a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals series victory by Dallas, but the visiting Mavs might catch a huge break in this one as Miami star LeBron James reportedly has a dislocated finger on his non-shooting hand. Bet on Dallas-Miami at WagerWeb.com.
James apparently injured his left ring finger in the first half of Monday’s 105-90 loss at Indiana. The Heat confirmed James did have the finger taped by trainer Jay Sabol during the game but offered no further comment. Miami did not practice Tuesday but will Wednesday. James never left Monday’s game, and he scored a team-high 24 points in 41 minutes. The potential setback comes on the heels of him playing through elbow soreness that has bothered him since March 20 after colliding with Phoenix Suns forward Grant Hill. James is shooting a career-high 53 percent from the field but has made just 23 of 54 shots in the three games after the collision.
James had missed just one game so far this season, sitting out a January 5 game at the Atlanta Hawks because of a sprained left ankle. During a nine-year NBA career, James has been one of the NBA’s most durable superstars. He has played in 674 of a possible 704 regular season games, has missed more than three games in a season just twice and has never missed more than seven games in a season.
On Monday, Miami lost for the fourth time in eight games overall and is running out of time to catch Chicago for the best record in the East. The Heat were outrebounded 49-33 and scored just four fast-break points. With one more loss this month, Miami will have equaled its loss total from December through February. The Heat are averaging 9.6 PPG fewer this month while their advantage on the boards has nearly been flip-flopped.
The Mavericks enter on a two-game winning streak. They beat Houston 90-81 on Tuesday night. The Mavericks fell behind by as many as 16 in the first quarter, and didn’t overtake a short-handed and worn-out Rockets team until Jason Terry’s seven consecutive points started a 21-6 run in the third quarter.
Dallas lost to Miami 105-94 in Big D in the Christmas Day opener. The game wasn’t that close as Miami led by 35 at one point in the third quarter. James was awesome in that one with 37 points, 10 boards and six assists.
Antoine Walker forced to sell NBA Championship ring
TMZ.com is reporting that Antoine Walker was forced to sell his NBA Championship ring, which fetched $21,500.
Walker — who won the ring as a member of the 2006 Miami Heat — filed for bankruptcy back in 2010 after racking up more than $12.7 million in debts.
According to court docs, Walker had to liquidate his property to pay back his creditors, and that included his ring.
This is the saddest thing I’ve read today.
Thursday NBA: Miami Heat at Portland Trail Blazers
The Miami Heat were the hottest team in the NBA entering the All-Star Break, and they take the court for the first time in a week tonight as 4.5-point NBA basketball bets favorites at Portland, where they have won their past two games.
Miami enters on an 8-game winning streak, having won each of those games by at least 12 points – and covering seven of the eight. The Heat are the first team to win eight straight games by at least 12 points since the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers won nine straight in 2008. Miami finished February with a record of 11-2 and with 10 of the wins coming by at least 12 points. Among the hundreds of teams over the years that have played 13-or-fewer games in a calendar month, the Heat are the first team ever to post 10 such wins.
It’s the second of a back-to-back for Portland, which lost 104-95 at Denver on Wednesday night. It was Portland’s ninth straight loss in Denver. The Blazers didn’t pose much of a threat Wednesday despite 21 points from Jamal Crawford and 20 points and nine rebounds by LaMarcus Aldridge. Their offense wasn’t enough to offset Denver’s 54-36 edge in rebounding, including a 21-11 advantage of the offensive glass.
Blazers forward Kurt Thomas left with a mild concussion in the first quarter after getting inadvertently kicked in the head by Faried when he jumped to save a ball from going out of bounds. He did not return. Denver’s 62 points in the first half were the most given up by Portland this year.
Look for a big game tonight by LeBron. James in his career at the Rose Garden is averaging 30.4 points, 9.8 rebounds and 7.1 assists while shooting 49.7 percent from the field and 46.9 percent from three-point ranage (15-of-32). Only Michael Jordan, who had a 30.8 scoring average in just four games at the Rose Garden, has a higher scoring average.
In James’ first Rose Garden appearance – his third NBA game – he was held to eight points on 3-of-12 shooting. The next time he set foot in the Rose Garden, he made history in 2005, becoming the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple double, finishing with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists at the age of 20 years and 20 days. Since then, he hasn’t scored less than 23, and his last four games have been 37, 34, 41 and 44 points.
Miami, which leads the NBA in scoring (103.74 points per game) has scored 100 or more points in 21 of 34 games this season, including in seven of the last eight games. The Heat has won five consecutive road games and is 12-5 away from Miami this season. The Heat claimed six road wins in February and the average margin of victory was 19.0 points.
Thursday NBA: Heat get first crack at Jeremy Lin
It’s arguably the toughest ticket in Miami since the Big 3 merged forces in South Florida as the New York Knicks and Jeremy Lin visit for the first time, with the Heat opening as 9-point NBA basketball bets favorites on WagerWeb.com.
The Knicks have visited the Heat once this year, losing 99-89 on Jan. 27. LeBron James and Dwayne Wade combined for 59 points. It was Miami’s eighth straight win in the series.
Bill Walker scored 21 points for New York, which took 43 shots from 3-point range, the most in the NBA this season and a total that had the Knicks flirting with Dallas’ NBA record of 49 set in 1996. The Knicks connected on 18 from beyond the arc, Walker making seven of them. Amare Stoudemire finished with 12 for New York, which tried more 3′s than 2-point shots (41).
But those Knicks didn’t have Carmelo Anthony, who was out with an injury, and Lin wasn’t playing back then – he didn’t even get on the court. With Wednesday’s easy home win over Atlanta, the Knicks are now 8-2 since Lin became the starting point guard. Anthony did struggle again in his second game back from injury with just 15 points and having only 11 on Monday. Over the past 11 games, Lin is averaging 23.9 points and 9.2 assists. Prior to Lin taking over, the Knicks were seven games under .500 and had lost 11 of 13. The Knicks have played and beaten the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks during Lin’s run, but Miami will be their toughest test.
The Heat have won seven straight games, all by at least 12 points. During that run, Wade is shooting 58.8 percent from the field (63 of 107) and averaging 23.4 points per game.
LeBron has done his part to fuel the buzz for tonight’s TNT game, calling the second meeting this season between the Heat and Knicks “electrifying” and saying “it could be one of the most watched games we’ve had in a long time.”
Wade out, LeBron questionable Thursday night vs. Lakers
One of the NBA’s most anticipated regular-season games is tonight when the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Miami Heat in what many believe will be an NBA Finals preview. The Heat opened as 5.5-point WagerWeb.com NBA basketball bets favorites but that line is in major flux right now because of the status of two Heat stars.
For sure out is Miami guard Dwyane Wade. He will miss a second straight game with a sprained ankle. The Heat are 4-0 without Wade this season, including Tuesday’s 120-98 home blowout of San Antonio – a game in which Miami was down 14 points at halftime before going crazy in the third quarter.
Things could get worse for Miami. LeBron James was sent home from the Heat’s morning shootaround with flulike symptoms. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said James will be a game-time decision.
“He didn’t feel good last night,” Spolestra said. “That bug has been going around.”
James was one of several Heat players who got sick following Miami’s five-game road trip, which ended last week. He battled through it during Tuesday’s victory over the San Antonio Spurs, scoring 33 points, though he started the game 1-of-7 shooting before settling in. James was able to practice with the team Wednesday.
Spoelstra also said that Wade will miss his second consecutive game with a sprained ankle. The Heat are 4-0 without Wade this season. James Jones is expected to start in his place.
Mike Miller, who went 6-of-6 on 3-pointers in his first game of the season Tuesday, is expected to play after spraining his ankle in the game. If James is in the lineup, the game will feature the NBA’s top two scorers this season — Kobe Bryant at 30.8 points per game and James at 29.8.
In the past 11 meetings, James is averaging 27.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7 assists, while Bryant is putting up 28.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.6 assists. James’ teams has gone 9-2 against the Lakers, winning the last four.
If James cannot play, the Heat will use Shane Battier and James Jones as the primary defenders against Bryant.
”It’s always a luxury having such great players on your team,” Chris Bosh said. ”But sometimes they’re out. This is why we made moves this season, was to be a deeper team.”
Heat likely won’t have Dwyane Wade on Tuesday vs. Spurs
The Miami Heat bring in a shocking three-game losing streak into Tuesday night’s home game against the San Antonio Spurs in a possible NBA Finals preview, and the Heat will almost surely have to beat San Antonio without star guard Dwyane Wade. Place your NBA basketball bets at WagerWeb.com.
Wade suffered a sprained ankle in the fourth quarter of Friday’s 117-104 loss at Denver when he landed awkwardly and turned his ankle while pursuing a loose ball. He immediately left the game and did not return. X-rays of the ankle were negative, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he wouldn’t speculate as to how long Wade, the Heat’s second-leading scorer, might be out of action.
“He’s up walking around … but we’re not going to put a timetable on when he’ll come back,” Spoelstra said. “Thankfully, he’s not in a cast or a boot. So we’ll see how he responds each day, and we’ll go from there.”
Wade, already dealing with a strained calf, missed three consecutive games last week with a bruised left foot — a stretch when the team went 3-0. Miami has since lost three games in a row to finish its recent five-game road trip. Wade told reporters in Denver that he had never experienced pain from a sprain as severely as what he felt Friday. He also made light of his recent rash of injuries being a sign that he’s getting older. Wade turns 30 on Tuesday.
Amid the early season adversity, Wade’s teammates are preparing as if he probably won’t be in the lineup for Tuesday’s game against the Spurs — and possibly longer.
“He needs to get healthy,” forward Chris Bosh said. “That’s the most important thing. He’s been pushing it. He’s been giving us everything he has. And unfortunately in the last game, he turned his ankle. But sometimes things happen. He probably needed to sit down and rest in the first place. Sometimes an injury will do that to you. It’s a blessing in disguise. We need to be healthy when it’s time to make a run in the playoffs.
“He needs to just chill out right now, get better and we’ll hold it down until he can come back.”
Look for a big night from LeBron James on Tuesday. Already he has shown he can be dominant without Wade in the lineup, putting up 32.5 points, 11 assists, 7.5 rebounds and shooting 61 percent from the floor in two games he played without Wade earlier this season (James also sat out one game Wade missed). Without Wade on the floor as an additional option, LeBron could be forced into carrying the load in fourth quarters and shaking that unwanted reputation he picked up last June. James acknowledged that he alters his approach in games when Wade is not available. That has led to some criticism, such as when James did not attempt a shot in the fourth quarter after Wade returned for last Wednesday’s overtime loss at Golden State.
James said he doesn’t intentionally “dial it back” when he’s playing with Wade. Instead, it’s a matter of making use of all of his options as a facilitator and playmaker.
Wade’s potential absence could pave the way for swingman Mike Miller to make his season debut after recovering from offseason hernia surgery. Miller went through scrimmage drills at the end of Sunday’s practice and said he is ready to play. The Heat have another practice scheduled for Monday before they open a stretch in which they will play eight of their next nine games at home.