3 Things to Like and Dislike from the Miami Heat’s Preseason Opener

What to Like

The New Guys

Want a reminder of just how lacking the Miami Heat were in depth last year? Michael Beasley’s was this team’s second-highest scorer off the bench, following Mario Chalmers’ 10.2 PPG on 40%.

Michael put up 8 PPG. Trailing him at 7.3 PPG was Henry Walker, who shot 35%. In fact, if you go down the Heat’s bench, you’ll find that a lot of players have the same thing in common: They aren’t in the NBA anymore.

Outside of only having the minor task of having to keep the main core together, the front office also faced the cold, hard truth that a bench starring Walker and Beasley wouldn’t be much of a bench at all.

In come Gerald Green, Justise Winslow, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Josh McRoberts, whose spacing, passing, and athleticism were missed in a year where the Heat severely lacked spacing, passing, and athleticism.

The opener told us that we were dealing with a different caliber of players from last year. You know? Actual NBA players?

Before I get too ahead of myself, let me preface this by recognizing a few of these players’ fatal flaws that allowed them to have such inexpensive deals; Green’s defense and questionable shot select (although he probably could have signed a larger deal elsewhere) and Stoudemire’s defense and health.

Since Amar’e played 78 games in his first season with New York back in 2010-’11, he has missed at least 17 games in the past three years.

Until then, let’s just appreciate them for their strengths, which involve scraping their knuckles across arena ceilings.

I didn’t think I could go on much longer without watching an All-Star game on the Heat floor. These two, as well as Josh McRoberts and Justise Winslow, are freak athletes that will put on a show, for more reasons than one whether it be a Green windmill or a McRoberts no-look pass.

The four combined for 38 points and gave us a taste of what we can expect from the second unit; a fast game with four players that can handle the ball and will score in volume, but probably give up just as much. Even if Justise is the Ron Artest Dwyane Wade has made him out to be.

Offensive Creativity

Miami may have lost the war, but it won the battle in the paint, crushing a Charlotte team that was missing Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Al Jefferson 40-18.

Miami also recorded 19 on their 30 made shots, 27 of which were two-point makes as the Heat stray away from the perimeter and put an emphasis on easy makes off of ball movement.

For a night, we saw the benefits of having multiple ball-handlers, a few of whom were newcomers: McRoberts and Winslow.

McRoberts brings an unparalleled brand of basketball. He won’t make a normal pass, but he can get away with it most of the time because he knows how to lead players and fool defenders because of his multi-faceted offensive repertoire.

Sounds like something you’d miss, right? You can find all of his behind-the-back passes here. My favorite is the last one:

Winslow, despite his shooting shortcomings, was touted so highly leading to the draft on account of his maturity. You saw it last night when he turned forcing a fastbreak layup, electing instead to pass it to a cutting Gerald Green, who made a layup and-one on an easier look than Justise would have seen.

Justise finished with three assists and zero turnovers in 28 minutes. Goran Dragic had a game-high six assists, while Mario Chalmers followed with three.

Bosh Return to Normalcy

Finishing with 14 points and 7 rebounds, Chris Bosh gave us no indication that he had not played basketball since early February.

Scoring on an array of post moves, driving lay-ins, and mid-range jumpers, Bosh looked all the part of the versatile, swiss-army velociraptor we’ve come to recognize him as.

His only real blemish of the night came when he back rimmed what would have been a nasty poster dunk over Cody Zeller.

Of course, preseason and starting against Marvin Williams can only reveal so much about Bosh. For now, however, we at least now know that he has not forgot how to play basketball.

What I Didn’t Like

Three-Point Offense and Defense

Miami entered familiar territory last night when it came to three-point shooting, yielding 12-of-29 shooting to a Charlotte team that ranked near the bottom in percentage last year. That robust shooting effort was met by a 3-of-16 bricklaying performance by Miami.

Green, Chalmers and McRoberts each made one.

Miami is going to stray away from the three-point line. As Ethan Skolnick has pointed out on his radio show, the Heat plan on being a team near the bottom in three-point attempts.

They’re going to create spacing without actual spacers, all of whom start the game by riding the bench. The starting lineup’s best shooter, and least reluctant, three-point shooters is probably Chris Bosh, who has only recently started shooting from three.

Dragic is a career 36% 3-point shooter, but you’d much rather have him driving or setting up a shot than taking what would likely be an isolation three. Seeing as you’d want him setting up shooters, rather than taking the shot itself.

Deng would like to move his shot selection further in, despite being 44% corner-shooter last year, as well.

Green is this team’s only gunner, leaving Mario and Josh McRoberts as your only other shooters. Passing needs to be heavily emphasized for this thing to work, as will be fastbreak points if this team plans on scoring along most teams that employ taking a massive amount of threes.

On the other end, Miami wasn’t exactly lacking in defense. Charlotte got a 3-of-4 night from Brian Roberts, 32% last year, a 2-of-2 night from Cody Zeller, he had made only one his two-year career, 3-of-4 from Kemba Walker, 30% last year, and 3-of-5 from rookie Frank Kaminsky.

In other words, the Heat got #ofcoursed. It didn’t take long for it to happen.

Justise Winslow’s Shot

It’s way too early, Justise is way too young, and way too talented to get too much flack for his jump shot.

But, even after a freshman season at Duke where he shot above 40% on threes, we may have to wait for the shots to start falling.

Confidence in his shot early on could have been an issue as a few shots came up not even close. He finished 0-of-3 on threes, and his two makes on a night where he went 2-of-9 were a driving layup and a fastbreak dunk, both of which were wildly impressive.

Justise will get his share of open looks when he plays with a second unit that can create space with four players who can run point and three who can stretch out to the three-point line.

Mario Being Mario

We should already know what’s to come. In only 16 minutes, we still got just about everything we’d expect from Mario.

Making a desperate three at the buzzer? You got it.

Stepping out of bounds before making a shot at the buzzer? Naturally.

Perfect pass on a pick-and-roll to Stoudemire for a dunk? That’s there.

Getting his layup blocked and having it lead to a Charlotte three? Of course.

Three points, three assists, one rebounds, two fouls, and three turnovers for Chalmers, who will move back to his natural point guard position. He had played some at shooting guard last year, throwing his game out of whack as he struggled with his identity.

His three-point shooting will also be a necessity. With the lack of shooters this team has, they cannot afford to have another year where Mario struggles to shoot 30% from three.

We can only hope the Law of Averages comes into play. Miami will need it.

2015 Free Agent Primer: Who Should the Miami Heat Target



Cleveland’s going to have their hands full bringing back LeBron and Kevin Love. Maybe Iman shakes loose? Only a 34% three-point shooter, but an excellent defender that would make for the perfect backup to Wade the Heat desperately need.

Aaron Brooks

Diminutive point guard that can get really hot really quick. Having one of the best seasons of his career with Chicago, averaging 11.6 points on 42% shooting and 3.1 assists, and is hitting 39% from three. Defense is a problem, as is his finishing ability at only 51%.

Alan Anderson

Streaky shooter that has shot less than 35% from three in three consecutive seasons. Plays solid defense, but is inconsistency and poor shot selection what you want right now? Check out his game log last year if you want to talk yourself out of him.

Jeremy Lin

Runs an excellent pick-and-roll and does a great job at finding his teammates. Shooting career-high 37% on threes this year, while averaging 15.7 points and 6.4 assists per 36 minutes. Would make for an excellent backup to Dragic. 60% finisher at the rim. Not bad for someone playing on this Lakers roster.


39% career three-point shooter you can rely to hit threes and mid-range jumpers. Great in catch-and-shoot situations after shooting 38% on 3.7 threes per game. One of the best shooters available.

Wayne Ellington

A great shooter and not much else, but that shouldn’t be an issue to the Heat. He’s shooting 37% from three this year and 38% over his six-year career. Averaging career-high 10 points per game thanks to playing fill-in role for Kobe Bryant.


Would be perfect for Heat, but would be difficult to see him leaving San Antonio. Extremely underrated defender that also happens to shoot 42% from three in his career. Has shot better than 41% from three in past four years.


Has fallen off the map since leaving the Spurs. After shooting better than 35% from three in each of his first four years, he’s shooting 31% this year in stints with Charlotte and Minnesota. That could be good for Heat, though, as he could come cheap. Stunningly bad finishing at the rim converting 36% this year.

Rodney Stuckey

Having an unbelievable year shooting the ball. He’s a 31% career three-point shooter, but is hovering around 40% this season to go along with 12.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3 assists per game. He’d make for an excellent backup, but might be too expensive after excellent year.

Marcus Thornton

Former Heat draft pick has been bouncing around the league, playing for four different teams in past two years. Has been awful in 9 games with Phoenix (2-for-19 from three), but was hitting 42% of his threes earlier in the year with Boston. He’s a 36% career three-point shooter. Should come cheap after finishing overpaid contract.

Lou Williams

Undersized for a shooting guard at only 6-2, but makes up for it with great isolation play. He’s having a career-year coming off of Toronto’s bench, averaging a career-high 15.3 points per game (22 points per 36 minutes), and is shooting 34% from three. He should be a priority.


Gerald Green

Would be ideal for Heat. Solid shooter, 37% from three for his career, and a freak athlete that would make fastbreaks with Goran even more fun than they already are. Has fallen off a little after breakout 2013-14 year with Phoenix when he averaged 15.8 points and shot 40% from three.

Dorell Wright

Bring him home! Minutes in Portland have dipped to only 12 MPG this year, so it shouldn’t be that difficult to pry him away. 38% three-point shooter that would give the Heat a serious spot-up threat. Not versatile at all, though. He’s a spot-up shooter and that’s it.

Brandon Bass

Would be a quality replacement for Udonis. Excellent mid-range threat, shooting 46% in the 18-24 foot range, that can power to the rim. Averaging 10.7 points on 51% shooting to go along with 4.8 rebounds per.


Would be surprising to see him leave Atlanta, but would definitely be worth going after if Luol Deng doesn’t return. Excellent defender with great lateral quickness that can shoot the ball well, hitting nearly 40% of his 4.3 three-point attempts per game this year.

Thomas Robinson (SIGNED WITH BROOKLYN for 2 years, 2 million)

The 5th pick of the 2012 draft has already played for four different teams. Has played well in 19 games with Philadelphia, averaging 8.7 rebounds and 7.6 in only 18 minutes per game. Great athlete that just turned 24-years-old. Would be a solid third-string power forward behind McRoberts and Bosh.


Excellent veteran shooter that provides a much needed, consistent touch from three at the three and four spots. Has shot between 38-43% from three for the past five years and would be ideal off the bench. Turns 35 at the start of the year. Makes up for defensive limitations with physical play. 41% in catch-and-shoot situations last year.


Unathletic and turning 30-years-old by the start of next season, but a great shooter (40% from three over his eight-year career) that would serve nicely as a veteran backup at the two and three positions.


Joel Anthony

Bring him along with Dorell Wright and you’ll have the 2008-09 Heat but with more experience. Hasn’t been able to receive consistent minutes in Detroit and Boston. Pick-and-roll defense would be hugely appreciated in Miami, as would his shot-blocking prowess backing-up Hassan. Miami hasn’t won a title since he left. COINCIDENCE?

Kosta Koufos

True 7-footer that can score reasonably well around the rim. Solid rebounder averaging 5.2 boards per, 11.2 per 36 minutes, with Memphis. Could shake loose with Memphis likely to invest all their interest in free agent Marc Gasol.

32 Free Agents the Miami Heat can Still Sign this Summer

The abandoning of the Miami Heat ship that has been taking place over the past two days (TWO. DAYS.) has forced me to come out of retirement.

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Miami Heat Game 3 Stats of Significance


For as much as the Indiana Pacers, namely one player in particular, are making about the free throw disparity, it may only be a copout of owning up to their mistakes and flaws that continue to get exposed.

The Heat’s offseason rating of 115.3 per 100 possessions against the Pacers, and their top-ranked defense, this series far exceeds the rating they posted up in the regular season.

So, what does the 13.3% have to do with anything? It’s the percentage of points the Pacers scored their points from the mid-range. That includes David West and Luis Scola both having over 30% of their shots come from the mid-range, and Paul George having 8.7% of his points from the same area.

The Heat, meanwhile, only had 9.8% of their points from the mid-range, instead electing to take more of their two-pointers near the basket. Over 29% of their points came from the foul line, where Dwyane Wade scored nearly half his 15 points.

Also, Indiana only had 5% of their points come on fastbreaks, compared to 10% for the Heat.

The Pacers have been talking this season from start to finish, and these accusations of “home-cooking” are not a good look after three consecutive losses. If they blame everyone but themselves, and attempt to play mind games that backfire horribly, they’ll never be able to figure out how to keep LeBron James from shooting above 60%, which he’s done in three of the four games.


The trend of subpar shooting teams hitting their contested shots against the Heat has trudged well into its seventh month.

The Pacers drained 52.2% of their contested shots last night, with Paul George and David West combining to shoot nearly 60% on 22 contested shots. Luis Scola was 4-for-4, George Hill was 3-for-6, and Lance Stephenson was 2-for-5 on a night where they shot 44% on uncontested shots.

Miami managed to best Indiana, though, shooting 55% on contested shots, but failed to hit 40% of their uncontested shots, with Ray Allen, Dwyane Wade and Rashard Lewis combining to miss all 12 of their open looks.

Indiana shot 55% on contested shots in Game 3 and 49% in Game 1. They only struggled in Game 2 when they shot 39%. Remember, this was a team that failed to score a point per minute in a game against the Atlanta Hawks this season.

They’re also shooting 40% from beyond the arc for the series after being a middle-of-the-pack three-point shooting team all season. They shot 41% in their previous season with Washington.

They also have an offensive rating of 105.3 points per 100 possessions this series, which is a substantial improvement from the 101.5 points per 100 possessions they were garnering in the regular season.

These numbers don’t mean much more now, either than it makes the possibility of a three game winning streak by Indiana all the more improbable, once you consider they’ve shot extremely well on tough shots in three out of four games.


You don’t need to see Indiana’s scouting report on Miami to know they have to keep Miami in the half-court as much as possible.

It’s not an indictment on the Heat’s half-court offense, which is arguably the best in basketball, but it’s just more practical to keep them there than to allow them in the open court.

In Game 4, this, not free throws or Frank Vogel’s coaching, was why Indiana lost.

The Pacers gave the Heat 20 points on their 14 turnovers, with Rashard Lewis, who continues to destroy Indiana passing lanes somehow, LeBron, and Dwyane Wade each recording two steals. Indiana, meanwhile, had one steal the entire game.

Miami outscored Indiana 10-4 on the fastbreak.

LeBron James contributed to 11 of those 20 points the Heat got off turnovers, as well as eight of the Heat’s 10 fastbreak points. He has led the forefront of suffocating pressure on ball-handlers in the pick-and-roll, but has had plenty of help from the likes of Rashard, who continued to tip passes intended for Pacer players.

His defense has stepped up to a level we haven’t seen since last year’s postseason run, and it’s been a breath of fresh air from having to hear critics of LeBron’s defense this year.

They’re still allowing David West to beat up on them in the paint and in the mid-range, but the Heat are forcing the Pacers to take the shots they usually miss.

Roy Hibbert returned to his usual non-scoring self in Game 4, while Lance failed to score a field goal until the midway point of the fourth, thanks in part to foul trouble throughout the first half.



LeBron James’ Return to Ohio is One Cleveland Steaming Pile of Garbage

We knew the irritation ringing in our ears of the ‘LeBron going back to Cleveland’ narrative would be strong. The Cavaliers winning the first pick earlier this week, however, has transferred that attention meant for the offseason to the Eastern Conference Finals.

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Miami Heat: Game 2 Stats of Significance


Bearing a striking resemblance to the third quarter from Game 4 of the 2012 semifinals, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined to stifle any hope of Indiana taking full control of the series.

Had the dynamic duo not come through then, the Heat would have faced a 3-1 deficit. This time around, it would have been a 2-0 deficit, with 94% of teams previously going on to win series’ when they win the first two games.

Wade and James wouldn’t let that happen. In a critical fourth quarter, which featured Miami outscoring Indiana 25-20, Wade scored ten points on a perfect 5-for-5 from the field, while LeBron dropped 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting.

Norris Cole’s three, off a LeBron assist, with 10:45 left were the only Heat points in the quarter not scored by either Dwyane or LeBron.

Those two alone combined to outscore Indiana in the final frame. And with 7:18 left and the Pacers holding a four-point lead, it became the LeBron James show.

James, who had struggled to score ten points going into the final frame, would score nine consecutive Heat points, and then assist on a Wade dunk to give his team an 80-75 lead with 3:17 left.

For all the early criticism he was bludgeoned with for most of the contest, LeBron still ended with a well-rounded 22 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 steals on 50% shooting. He struggled from beyond the arc, but hit his only three of the night to cut Indiana’s four-point lead to one.

For as much attention as Lance Stephenson received for his five minute stretch of uncharacteristic brilliance, Wade was better, finishing with 23 points on 63% shooting, and also saving his best for last.

Stephenson, who had 23 points going into the fourth, scored two points in the final 12 minutes. You can thank Norris Cole, as well as the law of averages, for that.


Things certainly look your way when the uncontested shots you’re taking are actually falling.

While this wasn’t the case in Game 5 against Brooklyn or Game 1 against Indiana, it was in Game 2, with the Heat converting 58% of their 31 uncontested attempts.

Norris Cole, who finished with 11 points and his both of his three-point attempts, was a perfect 3-for-3 on uncontested shots. Mario Chalmers also hit both of open threes, while Dwyane Wade supported the squad with 4-for-6 shooting on uncontested shots.

Miami’s 40% shooting from three marked the first time they’ve shot better than 34% from three since Game 2 against Brooklyn. Bosh and James combined to shoot 2-for-9, but it was the supporting cast who led the way, with Chalmers and Cole combining to shoot 4-for-4.

Even Shane Battier entered the fray, knocking down one of his two threes.

The Pacers, meanwhile, who shot 60% on uncontested shots in Game 1, were only 41% this time around. David West and Paul George were a combined 4-for-12, while Luis Scola went 0-for-3.

Lance Stephenson and George Hill were the only players to thrive on their open makes for Indiana, going 8-for-14.

Indiana was no better on contested looks, shooting 38%, while Miami shot 44%. However, they still managed to shoot near 50% on 19 three-point attempts, converting on better than 40% of their threes for a second consecutive game.

The Pacers were a middle-of-the-pack shooting team in the regular season. One has to wonder how much they continue to rely on George Hill going 3-for-5, Stephenson going 2-for-4, and Rasual Butler going 2-for-3.


The Heat were a travesty on the defensive boards last night. Although they somehow won the rebounding battle, they were annihilated going after defensive rebounds, and gave up 16 offensive rebounds, including eight alone to Roy Hibbert.

Roy had more offensive rebounds than the entire Heat team. He also had 12 points to go along with his 13 rebounds, furthering the now well-known anomaly of Roy Hibbert going completely insane when he plays the Miami Heat.

Naturally, it was his first double-double of the playoffs, and first since March 21st. The eight offensive rebounds was also a season-high.

But his numbers hardly measured up to that of Chris Andersen’s, who once again proved he deserved more recognition for Sixth Man of the Year. In 29 minutes, Birdman brought down a team-high 12 rebounds, the third-most he had this year.

Although he only scored three points on 1-for-4 shooting, he was a game-high plus-25 and was instrumental, alongside fellow bench member Norris Cole, in Miami’s fourth quarter run.

His 28% rebounding percentage was a game-high, as was his net-rating of 49.3 and defensive rating of 77.4.

In a season where apathy and malaise was a repetitive theme, Birdman has been the lone consistent source of energy, even at the age of 36, the second-oldest on the team behind Ray Allen.

It’s for that exact reason why he shouldn’t start, either. Miami needs that energy off the bench, and also doesn’t need him picking up cheap, early fouls against Roy Hibbert, either.



Miami Heat: Game 1 Stats of Significance

54 points in the paint

As poor as the Miami Heat played on the defensive end, their offense beat up on the Indiana Pacers’ interior as it rarely has before, dropping 54 of their 96 points in the paint.

56% of their total points came from the painted area, with both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade scoring at least 59% of their points in the paint. Chris Andersen also thrived in the paint with 14 points on 6-for-7 shooting and a pair of free throws.

Miami shot an impressive 51% against Indiana, the best field goal percentage they’ve given up in these playoffs, and was getting plenty from their two slashers. Unfortunately, their shooters, for a fourth straight game, shot well below 35%, despite, according NBA.com/stats, getting a fair number of open looks.

The Heat shot 44% on uncontested shots, just days after nearly dropping Game 5 against Brooklyn thanks to 34% shooting on uncontested looks. Lowlights from Game 1 included 1-for-7 shooting from Chris Bosh, who struggled heavily finding his stroke from beyond the arc, and Mario Chalmers going 1-for-5, including a pair of wide-open threes from the same corner.

The Heat were 0-for-6 overall on corner threes. LeBron James, 1-for-5 from beyond the arc, shot a pedestrian 4-of-8 on uncontested shots.

Meanwhile, the Pacers, who only took 21 uncontested shots to Miami’s 36, shot 57%, with Lance Stephenson, David West and Paul George combining to shoot 9-for-14.

Plain and simple, the Heat are going to need their shooters to step up if they want a shot at winning another title. Norris Cole, Ray Allen, Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, James Jones, and Chris Bosh all had their moments in the past three playoff runs with their shooting.

The same obviously applies to this season. LeBron James already had to score 49 points for a below average shooting effort in Game 4 against Brooklyn. They can’t rely on him to be better than great every night. At some point, more of his passes need to turn into assists.

For a moment there, the Heat looked poised to begin shooting the ball at an elite level after such an uncharacteristic year from beyond the arc. Expectations certainly rose as the Heat crushed Charlotte with 43% shooting from three, with Bosh, Chalmers, Cole and Jones all shooting 44% or better.

The shooting kept up in Games 1 and 2 against Brooklyn, but has petered off with four consecutive games of sub-34% shooting. Miami shot less than 36% overall against Brooklyn, but, as stated prior, it nearly cost them Games 4 and 5.

Miami opened up the Conference Finals with 26% shooting in Game 1. Although Indiana has held the Heat’s three-point shooting at bay over the course of the season, Miami has also failed to capitalize on open looks in just about every meeting.

Needless to say, it’ll be tough to see the Heat’s uncontested shooting percentage continue to teeter around 40%.

26 bench points

More strong numbers from Miami, but from too few of names. Miami may have gotten 26 points from its bench, but all of those points were scored by two players, with Andersen scoring 14 and Ray Allen scoring 12.

Ray was the only Heat player with more than one three-point conversion, although he was only 2-for-6.

Norris Cole and Udonis Haslem were the only other bench players to play more than ten minutes, but both responded with no points to contribute to the effort. James Jones missed his only shot attempt and went scoreless in four minutes.

After hitting at least one three-pointer in his first seven playoff games this year, Cole has gone scoreless on 0-for-8 shooting in the past three games. He also has only two assists and is losing trust from the coaching staff, playing less than 15 minutes in the past three games with the team electing to go without a point guard entirely for stretches.

By comparison, Norris Cole scored a point in all but two games of last year’s playoffs, and those came in the NBA Finals. He was imperative in Miami’s semifinals victory over Chicago, shooting 9-for-11 from three, and played well in the Game 7 victory over Indiana, contributing eight points and four assists.

Without Mike Miller, and with Michael Beasley perpetually in the doghouse (as he should be), it’s going to be up to guys like Cole to step into a role that asks of him to occasionally make threes and make wise decisions.

Shane Battier, who will likely come off the bench next game in favor of starting Udonis Haslem, will also be asked to shake the malaise of the entire season. After failing to shoot 35% from three this season, the second worst 3-point percentage of his career, Battier has had his playoff moments already, but not nearly on a consistent basis.

He only has one made three-pointer, on only three attempts, in the past four contests, and is becoming increasingly more hesitant when it comes to shooting. Too many times has he already dribbled or passed out of a feasible shot, which only leads to a hitch in the team’s offense on that possession.

Even if the Heat aren’t shooting well, you have to believe something has to got to give in the near future. The team that was mediocre all year shooting from three, after finishing second in 3-point percentage last year, will need guys like Battier and Cole to begin making their shots if they want to get through Indiana, and then face off with the well-balanced, well-oiled machine of San Antonio.

Miami is still reluctant to unleash James Jones for too long to fully scrap any Battier minutes.

Cole, too, has yet to lose complete trust. Although he’s losing minutes, the Heat have not trotted out Toney Douglas in his place. There still hope that he’ll catch fire as he has done in the playoffs many times before.