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With the Miami Heat in the midst of a two-game home series against the Indiana Pacers, and with the NBA trading deadline looming on Thursday, the scheduling is a reminder of a need for perspective at times such as these.
For four seasons, as the Heat moved Stitched Detroit Pistons Jerseys through the Eastern Conference with their Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh at the start of last decade, the Pacers Cheap Anthony Tolliver Jersey constantly fought the good fight, banged their heads against the wall that was LeBron, and came up short.
The reality was they didn’t have a shot.
Now there is similar reality for Pat Riley and the Heat to contemplate as they consider both short and long views with roster revision.
The closest thing to that Heat’s Big Three Cheap Christian Wood Jersey these days is what the Brooklyn Nets have built.
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James Harden. Kevin Durant. Kyrie Irving.
Is there any trade, or trades, this week that would better position the Heat, with their, at-times, pop-gun offense, to get past those three four times in a best-of-seven series?
Then there are the Milwaukee Bucks, with their offseason upgrade with Jrue Holiday, hardly with the same look as the team Cheap Isaiah Stewart Jersey the Heat vanquished in five games in last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals.
Is a playoff repeat against the Bucks doable? Certainly, but there is more now to the equation for Milwaukee, plus what would be expected, this time, to be a fully ambulatory Giannis Antetokounmpo.
And that’s not even getting to a Philadelphia 76ers team that has shown what a healthy Joel Embiid means, a team that, this time, should have Ben Simmons for the playoffs, and now is getting something closer to All-Star Tobias Harris.
By now, there has become a clear delineation of the elite of the East. There are the Nets, 76ers and Bucks . . . and then the rest of the Cheap Delon Wright Jersey conference. Two of those teams appear overwhelming favorites to hold homecourt advantage in the second round. This time, with actual homecourt advantage.
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That’s not to say that the right bracketing can’t position the Heat for a run similar to last season’s, particularly if the Nets can be avoided in the second round, or eliminated by someone else along the way.
(Sorry, but it is difficult envisioning this Heat offense keeping pace with Harden-Durant-Irving, no matter the devious defensive developments Erik Spoelstra conjures when given time. As an example, consider the Heat’s Friday night game against the Pacers.)
So that brings it back to Thursday’s trading deadline and whether to live in the moment, or scheme for a revised plan of attack down the road.
Consider that the Heat never appeared more vulnerable in the East during their Big Three era than they did in their second season together, when it took the best of LeBron to get past the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the 2012 conference finals and then a Game 7 victory to advance. (Yes, they went seven in the East finals the following year against the Pacers, but it never felt as tenuous, the Heat never trailing in that series.)
That’s why, as the Nets coalesce with their new big three, and as the Bucks play with a desperation to finally make it out of the East with Giannis, there could be something to be said about not sacrificing too much future for the moment.
Yes, Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic will be a year further into their 30s next season, same with Andre Iguodala and Trevor Ariza, if they are back. But if there is a piece available that can be bought low at the moment (hello, Spencer Dinwiddie) and then evolve going forward, it could be the best path to get back to last season’s path.
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No, the Heat are not shying from the Nets, yet to play them at full strength this season, with an April 18 nationally televised meeting awaiting at AmericanAirlines Arena.
And there certainly are the anti-Antetokounmpo blueprints that can be dusted off.
Beyond that, neither the 76ers nor Doc Rivers have been playoff givens in recent years.
But what Brooklyn is building looks like something that will endure, likely to eventually get their versions of Shane Battier, Ray Allen and Chris Andersen in support, just as the Heat did along the way with the Big Three.
So that at least gives the Heat a target, aware of how difficult a breakthrough can be against a colossus gaining steam.
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And if there are any doubts about the need to target a conquest, consider the past of the Heat’s opponent this weekend, and the futility for the Pacers of four years of banging their heads against the Heat’s Big Three, with Paul George, Roy Hibbert, Lance Stephenson and Frank Vogel never getting their breakthrough.
IN THE LANE
ALL FOR ARIZA: So what is a Trevor Ariza worth on the NBA market? A look at some of the players Ariza has been dealt for in his record-setting 11 trades over his career: For Steve Francis in 2006 (in going from the Magic to the Knicks with Penny Hardaway). For Brian Cook and Maurice Evans in 2007 (in going from the Magic to the Lakers). In a four-way trade in 2010 that included Troy Murphy, Courtney Lee, Darren Collison and James Posey (in going from the Rockets to the Hornets). For Rashard Lewis in 2012 (in going from the Hornets to Wizards with Emeka Okafor). In a three-team trade in 2014 that included Omer Asik, Omri Casspi, Alonzo Gee, Scotty Hopson and Melvin Ely (in going from the Wizards to the Rockets). For Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers in 2018 (in going from the Suns to the Wizards). For Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver in 2020 (in going from the Kings to the Trail Blazers with Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan). For Robert Covington in 2020 (in going from the Trail Blazers to the Rockets with Isaiah Stewart). For Christian Wood in 2020 (in going from the Rockets to the Pistons with Stewart). In a three-team trade that included Delon Wright, James Johnson and Justin Jackson in 2020 (in going from the Pistons to the Thunder). And for Meyers Leonard this past week (in going from the Thunder to the Heat). Along the way, Ariza signed free-agent contracts with the Rockets, Suns and Kings.
ISRAELI PRESPECTIVE: Before Leonard was excised by the Heat for salary-cap purposes in the trade for Ariza, Washington Wizards rookie forward rookie Deni Avdija, currently the league’s only Israeli player, offered his perspective on the anti-Semitic slur recently uttered by Leonard while livestreaming video-game play. “Listen,” Avdija said during a post-practice video interview, “I don’t really want to get into those kinds of things. But I think Meyers didn’t have those kinds of intentions. I think he did a mistake; we know that. We don’t accept those words. But, I know he’s a good dude and he didn’t mean to do that. And hopefully, he understood the mistake.”
DEAD LEGS: The Cleveland Cavaliers weren’t making excuses as they dealt with another road loss to the Heat this past week, but they did offer insight on pandemic life in the NBA when it comes to playing on the road. “It’s not just for us, it’s every team,” forward Larry Nance Jr. explained. “We meet in the morning and guys just go back to their rooms, because we’re not really allowed to do anything else, and lay there for six hours until it’s game time. You don’t got any legs. You’re tired. Anybody that’s laid in bed for six hours during the day knows you can’t get up and feel normal, that’s just what it is. Whether it’s sleepy legs, I think the whole league is feeling that. Said Cleveland guard Collin Sexton, “Just sitting around all day and not being in the gym, that’s terrible.” Given more freedom at home the next day, the Cavaliers then went out and defeated the Boston Celtics the following night.
DULY IMPRESSED: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he found it intriguing that former Heat star LeBron James is now a part owner of the Boston Red Sox. “You knew that he has a great eye and passion for business,” Spoelstra said, “and he doesn’t set any boundaries on where he can take it.” Spoelstra then noted a particular interesting element of the equation, “He’s a big Yankees fan, so I think that makes it fun.”
2nd. Where the Heat’s 19-game home winning streak against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which was extended Tuesday, ranks in the NBA among active streaks. The longest remains the San Antonio Spurs’ ongoing 21-game home winning streak against the Wizards, which will endure into next season, with the Wizards’ lone visit of the season complete. The Heat again host the Cavaliers at AmericanAirlines Arena on April 3. The Milwaukee Bucks also have a 19-game home winning streak against the Utah Jazz, with that streak to continue into next season.