Heat Keep Pace in Standings With Win Over Nets

The Heat came out with authority on Monday night and asserted dominance over the Brooklyn Nets in Miami with a 110-99 victory. With the win, the Heat improved their record to 43-30, just one game behind Atlanta for the 3-seed in the Eastern Conference.

Dwyane Wade led the charge with 30 points on a very efficient 14-19 shooting. Wade took advantage of the Nets’ weak defenders by getting to the free throw line consistently while also shooting lights-out from midrange.

The Whiteside Factor:

Hassan Whiteside came off the bench and provided the defensive anchor that kept the Nets under 100 points. Whiteside was also a force offensively, as he scored 27 points on 12-16 shooting and eight rebounds. Over his last 10 games, Whiteside has averaged almost 19 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks per game. Without his improved and vital play off the bench, the Heat would not be in good position as the 4-seed in the Eastern Conference.

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Rook Coming Through:

On a night where starting point guard Goran Dragic was out with a cold, Rookie guard Josh Richardson filled in spectacularly. Richardson scored 16 points on 9 shots, and went 3 of 4 from three-point range. For Richardson, an increase in playing time in the absence of Beno Udrih and Tyler Johnson has opened the door for the Rookie. Over his last 10 games, Richardson has averaged over 15 points a game in just over 30 minutes played per game. Richardson is also shooting an incredible 50% from three-point range this season, highest among all qualifying rookies.

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Wade and Whiteside:

Overall, the Wade-Whiteside duo was too much to handle for the Nets. The tandem was a force both offensively and defensively, and connected for plenty of Whiteside slams.

If they can stay healthy and continue to lead the Heat through the final stretch run of the season, the Heat have real hopes of earning the 3-seed and making some real noise in the postseason.

Brooklyn:

On the Brooklyn side, Brook Lopez led them offensively with 26 points on a 12-20 shooting night. Thaddeus Young also added 20 points on 10-12 shooting, while leading the Nets in rebounds with nine. The Nets fell to 21-52 with the loss as they continue their abysmal season.

Notes:

Hassan Whiteside, Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, and Tyler Johnson create an exciting new core for the Heat moving forward. If the Heat are able to resign Whiteside this offseason,this core will only help the Heat recruit more high-profile free agents in the future. For this offseason, the Heat are known to be targeting Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant in free agency. Only time will tell is Pat Riley and company will be able to lure another one of the game’s great players to Miami.

 

 

Heat’s Kitchen Too Hot For Hawks In Atlanta

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Luol Deng makes a pass against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, February 19, 2016. 

Without All-Stars Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, the shorthanded Miami Heat took on the Atlanta Hawks last Friday in Atlanta. In a game that was within five points for a majority of regulation, the Heat were able to make clutch stops along with big shots to win 115-111. With only nine players available, the Heat were able to come out with intensity and tenacity on both sides of the floor to tie the Hawks for the number four seed in the Eastern Conference. The win also ties the Heat with the Hawks for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Luol Deng broke out and had a huge game with 30 points. Goran Dragic also had a  big night for the heat in the absence of Wade, chipping in 17 points and 10 assists. Off the bench, Heat forward Josh McRoberts contributed 19 points and 10 assists as well. As a team, the Heat were able to take a step up in the absence of their top two scorers and franchise players.

For the Heat, it was a true team effort. With each reach of the team stepping up on the road, one position that stepped up especially well were the Heat’s forwards. Justise Winslow and Luol Deng led the team in minutes played with just over 37 each. Josh McRoberts added a double-double off the bench. For Deng, the game was an especially efficient one. With his 30 points on just 17 shots, Deng was able to solidify a Heat offense that had struggled before the all-star break.

Looking forward, the Heat need to continue this solid play to move up as a top-4 seen in the East. With the return of Hassan Whiteside, Dwyane Wade, and hopefully Chris Bosh in the future, the Heat can become a team that no one wants to match up against in the playoffs.

Heat – Hawks Preview of Friday Matchup

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This Friday, February 19, the Miami Heat will take on their division rival Atlanta Hawks at the Philips Arena in Atlanta. Teams in the middle of the pack of the Eastern Conference are in need of a big push for the postseason. For the Miami Heat, the situation is no different. At 29-24, the Heat find themselves positioned at the 5 seed in the East.

To give an idea of how congested the standings are, the Heat are only two games out of the 3 seed and two games ahead of the 8 seed. As the season wears on, every game holds an immense amount of weight. The Heat’s upcoming game against the current 4 seed Atlanta Hawks carries extra importance for their division race as much as their conference race.

The last time the Heat matched up with the Hawks, the game was played at American Airlines Arena in Miami. The Heat came out with fire and intensity, leading to a spirited 105-87 win on their home floor. Chris Bosh led all Heat players with 18 points while also adding seven rebounds in his 34 minutes played.

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As the Heat look forward to their Friday matchup, the team is coming off a rough game against the Spurs. The Heat were handily beaten 119-101, and Heat Center Hassan Whiteside was ejected for elbowing Spurs Center Boban Marjanovic.

The team has much to improve on in order to beat a Hawks team coming off of a big win in Chicago against the Bulls last week. For the Heat to win, they will have to make three point shots, rebound, and not commit an excess number of turnovers.

In terms of health, the Heat will officially be without backup guard Tyler Johnson, who may miss the rest of the regular season due to shoulder surgery. Johnson is a key component of the team as one of the only two consistent three point shooters along with guard Gerald Green. The Heat will also be monitoring the minutes of Chris Bosh, who had to withdraw from participating in All-Star Weekend due to a strained calf.

Important Note:

The NBA Trade Deadline is set for this Thursday, February 18. A number of Heat players have been featured in trade talks, such as Center Hassan Whiteside, Forward Luol Deng, Forward Jarnell Stokes, and Guard Beno Udrih. As a result, a major trade could change the outlook of this game along with the Heat franchise’s outlook on the rest of this season.

Deirdre Pearsall Profile

While you may leave the game, the affects the experience has on you can linger in a positive way for years to come. That can be said about 20 year old Deirdre Pearsall, currently a third-year public relations major at the University of Florida. As a soccer player growing up, Pearsall quickly showed that she was a gifted athlete and a natural fit on the soccer pitch. In the 8th grade, she began to play travel ball. Her freshman year of high school, Pearsall already found herself on the Women’s Varsity High School team. From that point, she got better. After playing on the Varsity team her sophomore year, Pearsall was named and acted as the Varsity team captain both Junior and Senior year. At the end of her senior year, she had a decision to make: Continue pursuing soccer as a college athlete, or focus on being a student and betting on her work in the classroom and not on the field.

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Sometimes, it’s best to go out on top.

 

Pearsall decided that the life of a collegiate athlete was not one she wanted to live while also trying to manage her academics, her job, and her overall development while at UF. As a PR major, Deirdre has shown initiative and a robust work ethic that has allowed her to graduate in August 2016, two semesters early. When asked what she looks forward to as a Public Relations professional, Pearsall said she loves the world of branding. Whether it’s building someone’s personal image, or helping them create a profile that appeals to the line of work they are going into, she loves having the ability to make tangible change in a a difficult field.

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As Pearsall looks forward, she gains confidence from an internship she completed in the summer of 2015. While working for Orchid Island Events in North Carolina, she learned the ins and outs of event management that fit in perfectly with her minor in that field. After working for a few years, Pearsall believes that a graduate program, maybe even law school, could be a real option. As of now, she is ready to move on from the classroom and put her experiences and education to the test. All of the hours spent studying, working, and training have molded her into exactly the type of individual who could finish school early and never miss a beat.

1 TIMOTHY 4:12

“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.”

Everybody Drops The Ball

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By Fernando Juncadella

The whole basis of this website is to make sense of the numbers on the field of play. However, this time I’m going to look at alarming numbers off of the field. So for those of you reading this to escape the real world, I suggest you stop now. What you are about to read is going to make you think, or at least I hope so.

What sparked my interest to write this piece was the national debate about Greg Hardy. To put it in a nutshell, Hardy was arrested and found guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend (he appealed and the witness in the case never appeared in court), was suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and was controversially signed by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2015 offseason.

Recently, images from the police report of Hardy’s ex-girlfriend were leaked and displayed the severity of her injuries from the domestic dispute Hardy was found guilty of. This stirred the national media into a frenzy of outrage and disapproval. A whole other article can be written about the Hardy situation and its’ public reaction, but let’s focus on college football.

In each of the past three years, athletes in college football were arrested, charged or cited 100 more times than any other sport, professionally or collegiately. Yes, the numbers are skewed toward athletes playing college football, but that is still alarming considering the fact of how structured these athletes’ schedules are.

Very similarly to what people are saying about Greg Hardy, opposing college football fans love to rag on each other about how many “criminals” the other team has. The bigger the school, the bigger the criticism.

That’s especially true for the Florida State Seminoles. In 2014, eight football players were either arrested, charged or cited with a crime. None were bigger than Heisman trophy winner, James Winston, who was accused of rape (not calculated as an arrest/charge/cited). What was calculated, however, was his theft of crab legs. Head coach Jimbo Fisher and the entire Florida State football program was the center of national scrutiny for having an atmosphere where bad behavior was tolerated. But keep this in mind:

Most College Football Players Arrested/Charged/Cited By School In 2014

University of Tennessee – 11

Texas A&M University – 10

University of Georgia – 8

University of Kentucky – 7

University of Mississippi – 7

Florida State University – 7

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Did Butch Jones, Kevin Sumlin, Mark Richt, Mark Stoops, or Hugh Freeze receive close to half the criticism as Fisher did? No. Obviously, the severity of each crime ranges. The profile of each player ranges, the significance of each crime ranges, and a host of other factors. But, the gist of this piece is to understand something much bigger.

A part of college football that makes it special is how high schoolers all over the country play for their respective colleges and become one common force on the football field. Everybody has different nuts and bolts installed in their brain that make each person unique. Next time you attempt to dish out blind criticism at someone, try to understand everything about that person’s life. Certain people and programs get highlighted, but there is a greater sense of disappointment to be shared.

We all make mistakes. Just because some are bigger than others and are made by people who make a ton of money doesn’t warrant unrelenting criticism.

All statistics were recorded by Arrest Nation, The Sports Arrest Database.

The Growth and Improvement of Dee Gordon

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Players can get better at baseball. No matter what the metrics say about their previous season, players can make adjustments and improve. This is where traditional scouting and training has its place in Major League Baseball. While metrics do a great job accounting for players regressing to the mean and other averages, metrics cannot account for a player making mechanical changes or being more comfortable in a certain environment.

In spring training of 2014, Dee Gordon was fighting for a roster spot. In this environment, it is hard to imagine he was particularly comfortable with his situation or confident. Gordon didn’t have a position and he hadn’t shown that he could even hit at the major league level.

Fast forward seven months and through the Dodgers run to an NL West crown, and the biggest knock on Gordon became his miniscule walk rates and on-base percentage. Gordon showed that he could hit major league pitching. His shortcomings in the field and drawing walks were quickly dispelled by his improved ability to hit the ball hard and cause havoc on the bases. Gordon put pressure on every team he faced from the moment he stepped into the batter’s box and at any point he could run.

Here’s a good example on the aforementioned pressure:

Let’s back track. Gordon went from a fringy big league starter to an all-star second baseman with a legitimate future in the league. Gordon, through all of that pressure in LA, won a spring training battle at a new position, improved on his already impressive stolen base percentages, became an above-average fielder, and also proved that he didn’t just have to use his speed to get on base. Gordon absolutely raked for the first half of the season in 2014, and while he did tail off, the production was still there.

Here are his stats from 2014:

.289/.326/.378

101 wRC+

64 Stolen Bases

3.2 WAR

Here are his stats from 2015:

.333/.359/.418

113 wRC+`

58 Stolen Bases

4.6 WAR

2015 NL Batting Champion

Wondering how much his skills could takeover a game in 2015? Here’s a nice example of Gordon tormenting the Phillies and starter Cole Hamels:

Entering spring training this year, Gordon had better confidence in himself, job security, and now the ability to focus more on drawing more walks and becoming an elite level defender. While Gordon didn’t improve much on his walk rate, his overall production shot through the roof.

Needless to say, Gordon was the lone bright spot for the Marlins during the first half of the 2015 season. Martin Prado, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, and a host of other Marlins had disappointing starts to their season for the fish. While Giancarlo Stanton was able to blast 27 homeruns in 74 games, his overall health was a constant question mark.

Dee Gordon was the main constant for the season. A torrid April lead into a terrific May where Gordon still managed to keep his average close to .400. Then, Gordon became an all-star for the Marlins. The all-star game wasn’t new, as Gordon has been voted in the season before with the Dodgers, but Gordon was proving a point. 2014 wasn’t a fluke, and he was worth much more then Andrew Heaney and change in any trade.

Moving forward, Gordon will be looked at as a top MLB second baseman in extension talks. It’s up to the Marlins to pay him like one and keep Gordon in Miami.

Sport Psychologists to Aid Miami Dolphins for Game Preparation

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After practice Monday, Mike Pouncey went through his normal routine.

He showered, dressed, spoke to the media and then left the locker room for a meeting.

The catch: His appointment wasn’t with the Dolphins’ line coach or his offensive coordinator.

It was with the team of health professionals employed by the franchise to get the most out of its players — mentally as well as physically.

Stephen Ross has directed his organization to find non-traditional ways to improve the team’s performance, and mental health — once a taboo subject around the league — is part of the initiative.

The Dolphins have contracted the work out to Mastery Technologies, an Oklahoma-based outfit led by Curt Cronin, a former Navy Seal, and Dr. Jay Ferraro — a partnership packaged as “the Seal and the Shrink.”