Miami Heat Index: Orlando Magic

Heat's defensive gambles curtail Howard

February, 19, 2012
Wallace By Michael Wallace

MIAMI - Dwight Howard wore stylishly, sophisticated spectacles as he dressed and prepared to leave AmericanAirlines Arena on Sunday after the Orlando Magic had their four-game winning streak snapped.

This time around, the NBA's most dominant big man certainly lacked 20-20 vision against the Miami Heat. How did the Heat solve their biggest problem against Orlando?

Easy. They went small.

A week after carving through the Heat with 25 points and 24 rebounds in a home victory, Howard ran into a more rugged defensive effort Sunday and was relatively contained as Miami cruised to a 90-78 win. The Heat extended their winning streak to six consecutive games, all by a double-digit margin.

Miami improved the league's best record to 25-7 and hasn't lost a game since that 102-89 setback on Feb. 8 in Orlando. In that game, there were no answers for stopping either Howard's inside play or the Magic's shooters, who nailed 17 3-pointers on 42 attempts.

The Heat made some minor adjustments to tame Orlando's inside and outside threats this time. Howard was guarded by as many as five different defenders, and the Heat mixed single coverage with varying double-team efforts from different angles. Howard was limited to 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting, but finished with a game-high 15 rebounds.

Miami also held the Magic to a rather pedestrian 37.9-percent shooting on 3-pointers, with Orlando missing 18 of 29 attempts.

"What they did do well tonight was they clogged the paint up and forced me to pass the ball out," Howard said. "It was pretty good defense. They just played harder than us."

Sunday marked only the second time in the past 20 games that Howard attempted 10 or fewer shots. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said his strategy was to mix up the coverages on Howard, and Miami gambled by playing smaller but quicker defenders on him in key stretches of the game to obstruct passing lanes inside.

At times, that led to 6-foot-8 Udonis Haslem - who is undersized even at power forward - taking on the Howard assignment. LeBron James, at 6-foot-8 and 260 pounds, also had a shift or two against Howard. Orlando was unable to exploit the matchup as Howard, Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu combined for nine of the team's 15 turnovers.

Spoelstra acknowledged the Heat got away with a few risky moves.

"Our guys were committed, and much more disciplined in this game," Spoelstra said. "All of us were disappointed the last time we played them. We had so many breakdowns. We didn't really give ourselves a chance. Our activity level throughout (Sunday's) game was very good, very consistent."

'Temp Check' Show: Heat 107, Cavs 91

February, 8, 2012
Wallace By Michael Wallace

MIAMI - LeBron James and Dwyane Wade combined for 50 points and 12 assists, Chris Bosh grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, Mario Chalmers maintained his hot 3-point stroke and the Heat got boosts off the bench from Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem to shut down the Cleveland Cavaliers 107-91 on Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena.

The Heat (19-6) used one of their strong defensive blitzes early in the fourth quarter, forcing the Cavaliers to miss 13 of their first 15 shots, and turned a contested game into a blowout to win for the eighth time in nine games.

The highlights? Bosh actually got a bit of payback from the last matchup and dunked on Samardo Samuels, who slammed on the Heat five times when the teams met two weeks ago. Mike Miller also got up high enough Tuesday night to dunk a putback attempt - but whiffed on it when he realized he had no business with his hand that far above the rim.

"I knew something was wrong when I was actually looking down at the rim," Miller joked after the game of his fourth-quarter putback attempt gone wrong. "I haven't been that high up in a long time. I didn't know what to do."

Unless it's against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Heat can't seem to do much wrong these days. Since Jan. 17, Miami is 0-2 against the Bucks, but 11-0 against the rest of the league.

So where do the Heat go from here? Orlando for Wednesday's game to start a potentially grueling six-game road trip that includes Miami's lone back-to-back-to-back set early next week.

In our latest edition of the Heat Index's 'Temp Check' postgame show, we break down the victory over Cleveland, address your questions and concerns about the team moving forward, and set up Miami's longest trip of the season.

Heat 'Temp Check' Postgame Show returns

February, 7, 2012
Wallace By Michael Wallace
MIAMI - With LeBron James set to face his former team again, and the Miami Heat then scheduled to embark on their longest and potentially most grueling road trip of the season, now seems to be the perfect time to run another installment of our Heat Index 'Temp Check' postgame show.

Here's how it works. You watch the Heat-Cavaliers game tonight, then send us your thoughts, questions, concerns and feelings about the team.

You're ticked off about the Heat playing down to the level of competition? Tell us why. You're wondering why LeBron isn't getting the MVP hype he's deserving? Holler at us.

Are you confident after seeing Shane Battier or Mike Miller bounce back with a solid game tonight? Let us know.

You want to know whether we'd trade Erik Spoelstra for Byron Scott straight up right now as Heat coach? Just ask.

It's that simple. Whether you want to rant or rave about the Heat, I'll be there to address your issue and give you a shoutout to go with it. Just hit us on Twitter, Facebook or reply in the comment section of this post with your questions/concerns during and immediately after the game. I'll pick a few to feature in the 'Temp Check' show, and ...

It's on.

In the meantime, check out our last episode below.



Dwyane Wade
22.8 5.5 1.0 32.7
ReboundsC. Bosh 8.2
AssistsD. Wade 5.5
StealsM. Chalmers 1.8
BlocksC. Bosh 0.8