James, Wade bracing Heat in post


James, Wade bracing Heat in post

MIAMI For all that the Miami Heat has done to bolster their roster, there still remains a gaping hole in the middle which you would think might hinder their ability to score in the paint.

But the Heat have done what the Heat tend to do when they need something -- go to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Although both have made a killing off their ability to score in transition and beat players off the dribble, each has an emerging low-post game, making them -- and the Heat -- a lot tougher to contend with.

"The way this team is built, we need (Wade) and LeBron to be a post presence for us," said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra. "They need to establish that game down there so that we can play inside-out and not be an exclusive pick-and-roll, penetration team."

Spoelstra added, "You can still play in and out as well as any big team when you think of teams that post their 4s (power forwards) and 5s (centers). We just do it a little inverted with our perimeter players."

The idea of James becoming more of a post threat makes sense when you consider he's 6-foot-8 with the strength of a power forward and blessed with the skills of a point guard.

But the evolution of Wade into a post player takes a little more time to wrap your arms around conceptually.

At 6-4, Wade's ability to slash into the lane has made him one of the league's most dynamic players, a former NBA Finals MVP.

But Wade understands as well as anyone the need for his game to continue to grow if the Heat are to achieve their ultimate goal which is to win another NBA title.

"It's something I've developed, something I'm comfortable with," Wade said.

But when he does go into the post, Wade's not necessarily looking to score.

Consider him akin to Kevin Garnett -- but seven inches shorter -- in terms of going into the post to be more of a facilitator to the offense either as a scorer or passer.

"Sometimes posting gets you closer to the rim, and I'm a willing passer out of the post as well," Wade said. "If I have a matchup where they feel the need to come and double, I'm able to get my shooters, cutters, other opportunities to the basket. I'm very comfortable playing in the post, mid-post area."

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

Blakely: This could be the start of something big for Celtics

BOSTON -- Prior to this year, the Celtics hadn't been to the Eastern Conference finals since 2012. That trip served as a curtain call of sorts for the last great C's dynasty.
But this one, which ended with Cleveland's emphatic 135-102 Game 5 victory Thursday at TD Garden, is very different.
Rather than closing another chapter in the Celtics' longstanding legacy of greatness, it could serve as the beginning of a new narrative in the franchise's steady growth.
"For us to be in the Eastern Conference finals after the first year of this team really being together, adding additions like Al Horford and Gerald Green . . . I can go down the list of guys that we needed to learn to play with, and for us to talk about where we wanted to be and actually make it, it's a big-time accomplishment," said Avery Bradley.
Boston has been among the younger teams in the NBA, with the 31-year-old Green being the oldest player on the roster.
But what the Celtics lacked in experience, they made up for with great effort.
"The great thing about this is the experience," Bradley said. "We were able to go to the Eastern Conference finals, learned a lot about being in this position, and I feel like it's going to help us for next year."
But as we all know, the Celtics will look to strengthen themsevles this offseason, which means there's a very good chance they'll have a different look when they gather again in the fall.
How different is anyone's guess.
"It's difficult every year whenever you don't have guys back," said coach Brad Stevens. "I think you share a bond (over the course of a season)."
Stevens and this group have been together for eight months. Eight months of struggles, successes, frustrating defeats and euphoric victories that brought them to the conference finals, which is where their season came to an end.
But as disappointed as the players and coaches are inow, there's definite excitement about this franchise in the very near future.
Boston has the No. 1 overall pick in next month's draft, with all indications -- for now -- pointing to Washington's Markelle Fultz as their choice.
And their top first-round pick from a year ago, Jaylen Brown, seemed to steadily improve as the season progressed. It was one of the few times in his life where minutes weren't just handed to him, which he admits was a learning experience unlike anything he had ever had, yet he adjusted and played better as the year went along.

"I've had ups, I've had downs, I've had opportunities, I've had mistakes," said Brown. "So I've been learning and growing and improving all year and I'm going to continue growing and improving and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong."
Having the season end the way it did has indeed left a bad taste in the mouths of many Celtics.
"I can use it as fuel," Brown said, adding: "I want to get back to the same place I'm at now."
Bradley, who was on the 2012 team that lost to the Miami Heat in the conference finals, knows the Celtics are going to do whatever they feel is necessary to give them the best chance at competing for a title.
"It's out of our control as players," Bradley said. "We had a great year together. If guys are here, if guys aren't, we all wish the best for each other.

"But I do feel this is a special group. We all gave our heart every single night, played as hard as we could. I respect all my teammates, and I really appreciated playing with all the guys I had a chance to play with this year; a special group."