Miami Heat finds harmony amid NBA discord

Dwight Howard is divorcing Orlando.

Chris Paul is contemplating litigation to get out of New Orleans.

The defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks have been forced to make major changes to their starting lineup.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ initial attempt at a free-agency overhaul was thwarted by NBA commissioner David Stern.

All around the league, rosters are in flux, new faces are being introduced and new chemistry is being established with less than two weeks before the start of the season. The NBA’s lockout and truncated preseason, which coincides with a shortened period for free agency, has turned the league into a tempest of discord. While chaos swirls elsewhere, all is calm on the shores of Miami.

“Give it time,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said on Sunday. “I’m sure there will be something right around the corner.”

Spoelstra’s wry comment came as an answer to a question about the Heat’s relative calm amid the dizzying swap meet taking place throughout the league before the season begins.

Perhaps superstition prompted the Heat’s young coach to sidestep the question. Why jinx it?

Unless something drastic upsets the Heat’s training camp, the team and its ultra-talented roster will coast to Christmas Day while other teams arrive there in fits and starts.

“Time is of the essence and we do have the core of our guys back and it helps,” Spoelstra said.

House in order

The Heat endured its growing pains last season, which now, in hindsight, is playing out like a bit of managerial genius.

The Heat’s house is in order while other major contenders have been dealt a house of cards by the lockout.

Consider: With only two weeks to prepare for a hectic, 66-game season, the Heat’s biggest free-agent move was bringing in a player (Shane Battier) considered one of the league’s most valued “glue guys.”

“We’re going to go much quicker in camp,” Spoelstra said. “A little bit less teaching of some of the minutiae that we had to do last year because we had so many new players.”

Unprecedented for training camps of the past, the Heat held a five-on-five scrimmage on its first full day of practice. Meanwhile, several coaches around the league still don’t know exactly who will be on their rosters when the season begins Dec. 25. Under the circumstances, a veteran team returning mostly intact is priceless.

Instead of wasting valuable time teaching Chris Bosh the Heat’s sophisticated defense, Bosh arrived to training camp bulked up and ready to play center in a pinch.

Team chemistry

Instead of waiting for the on-court chemistry to click between LeBron James and Udonis Haslem, the two already have learned each others’ tendencies.

“OK, so we’ve had almost six months off, but that experience is invaluable and oftentimes experience is what it is — it takes time to fast track it and we went through a lot of those growing pains last year and really made tremendous strides,” Spoelstra said. “We’re hoping that we what learned we’ll be able to recognize much quicker here and I anticipate that.”

On Saturday, Spoelstra reviewed “big-picture” concepts that the Heat used during the NBA Finals.

On Sunday, the Heat held two practices — a light session in the morning and a more strenuous workout in the afternoon.

Big advantage

Meanwhile, the Dallas Mavericks, the Heat’s opponent on Christmas Day, are waiting for disgruntled ex-Laker Lamar Odom to report to camp while offensive sparkplug J.J. Barea is likely headed out of town.

Advantage, Heat.


Source: Miami Herald