Heat still waiting, working toward 2nd round
MIAMI (AP) — Savannah James will not have a say in scheduling for the Eastern Conference semifinals. In the interim, her husband seems to be letting her call plenty of shots.
And if she decides that “Spider-Man 2” trumps watching more first-round NBA playoff games, LeBron James will be spending a night off at the movies.
“It’s up to what she wants to do,” James said, smiling.
Such are the perks of having idle time during the postseason. But those date nights better get squeezed in quickly, since the latest long break between playoff games for the Heat will finally be ending soon enough. Off since finishing off their first-round sweep of Charlotte this past Monday, the Heat will open their next postseason series at home on Tuesday against Toronto or Brooklyn.
With no opponent to lock in on, the Heat practiced Friday focused on one team - the Heat.
“We’re just working on what we do,” Heat forward Chris Bosh said Friday afternoon. “That’s the best thing we can do right now, work on our defense, spacing, offensive characteristics, working on our habits and everything and staying in shape. That’s what it’s about. We can’t worry about anybody because we don’t have an opponent right now. We’ll see what happens.”
It’s not like the time off has been uneventful.
There were some very significant events. James had some of the sharpest comments offered by any player after the NBA decided to ban Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life over racist comments. And all that happened while the organization mourned the death of Hall of Fame coach Jack Ramsay, a one-time Heat broadcaster who was revered within the team’s inner circle.
There were also many ordinary-seeming items: Samsung Mobile released an app giving fans another way to track James’ doings, the four-time NBA MVP was getting plenty of treatment on a bad thigh bruise that he said was vastly improved by Friday, the latest collection of Wade-designed socks were unveiled, Mario Chalmers’ daughter had a birthday and Shane Battier fought off an illness.
Battier returned to work Friday, which meant he missed a mandatory - and, word was, grueling - conditioning session the previous day.
“I heard about that,” Battier said. “If nothing else, it was an opportune time to get sick, so I hear. A lot of teammates were using choice four-letter words to describe me and my absence. I assured them it was not planned. It was serendipitous from that standpoint.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra likened Friday’s practice to one more akin to training camp, with plenty of contact, mouthguards in and knee-pads up because of all that hitting. Bosh said he didn’t mind, even adding that practice went longer than planned because of how competitive things were getting.
Clearly, an off day was no day off.
“This probably made us all feel a little bit more normal, having a full-padded, braced, mouthguarded practice,” said Spoelstra, whose team dealt with two breaks of about a week during last year’s playoff run. “Guys got after it.”
Spoelstra said there was no mention of things specific to planning for Toronto or Brooklyn during the practice - which James called a “Hunger Games” style session, with 10 minutes of warming up and then nothing but “straight contact” the rest of the way.
Spoelstra said his staff had about 80 percent of the scouting work done for both potential second-round opponents. Plus, by now, the Heat are plenty familiar with both anyway, James said.
So if his wife wants one more movie night before he goes back into playoff mode, that’s fine with the four-time MVP.
Because Brooklyn topped Toronto on Friday night to force a Game 7 of that series, the Heat will take Saturday off. Back to work they go on Sunday, when they’ll finally find out if it’s the Raptors or Nets who will be on their way to Miami on Tuesday.
“Our coaching staff will have us ready,” James said.