The Other Side: Miami Heat
Remember that 16-game winning streak the Heat once had over Washington? Feels like ancient history, especially after last season, when the Wizards were able to pad their record, winning all four meetings as Miami made the most rapid tumble in recent memory -- from NBA title to 15 wins in just two seasons.
It was a miserable year in South Florida. Dwyane Wade missed a good portion of the season with shoulder and knee troubles. Pat Riley gave up on Shaquille O'Neal, shipping him off to Phoenix for Shawn Marion, before the Hall of Fame coach stepped down at the end of the season.
The Heat is no longer the boogey man for the Wizards, but it also is no longer the league's bottom-feeder.
That awful season helped Miami land Washington native Michael Beasley with the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft. Riley handed over the reins to 39-year-old Erick Spoelstra, a long-time assistant who happens to be the first Asian American to coach a major sports team (Spoelstra's mother is Filipino). Spoelstra brings the same defensive philosophies as his predecessor and also shares his no-nonsense, no-excuses attitude about the game.
Miami is 4-4 and coming off a home loss against Portland on Wednesday. The Heat is starting two rookies in Beasley and Mario Chalmers, and it may not have Shawn Marion on Friday against the Wizards. Marion has missed the past two games with a strained right groin. He is listed as a game-time decision, but here is what else you need to know about the Heat:
1. Dwyane Wade is back!
Anyone who happened to watch the Olympics this summer knows that after two injury-plagued seasons, Mr. Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight has returned to his 2006 NBA Finals MVP form. He rescued Team USA in the gold medal game, but he has a much more daunting task carrying a Miami team with limited depth, a rookie point guard, a rookie small forward, and a 6-9 center in Udonis Haslem.
Wade was "out of rhythm" trying to adjust to his new surroundings early this season, leading the Sun-Sentinel's Dave Hyde to speculate that Wade will bolt in 2010.
Then, he just exploded. Wade scored 36 points against the Trail Blazers on Wednesday, giving him 30 or more points in four consecutive games, which is a new career high. Wade had scored at least 30 points three games in a row on 13 occasions without extending the streak to a fourth game. He's averaging 28.3 points and credits his strong start to playing this summer in Beijing.
2. Michael Beasley won't win the MVP award, but he is doing okay.
Beasley had a rough opener, but he has settled into familiar territory, scoring in double figures in seven consecutive games. The youngest player to play for the Heat on opening night, the 19-year-old Beasley is the second-leading scorer and rebounder, at 16.4 and 5.9 rebounds.
3. The Heat is dealing with its fair share of injuries, too.
In addition to Marion, the Heat is without sharpshooter James Jones (torn tendon in his right wrist) until January, center Jamaal Magloire has yet to play this season because of a broken left hand. Dorell Wright hasn't recovered from left knee surgery. And oh yeah, not-yet-retired Alonzo Mourning is out until January. He is not on the roster, the Heat expects him to return. The injuries, however, have created an opportunity for second-year guard Daequan Cook.
By the way, I will out of the country this weekend, so you won't get the Monday Morning Point Guard next week. I promise it'll be back on Nov. 24. Have a great weekend, folks.
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