Miami Heat 'Fast 5': LeBron Chasing MJ, Jones' Value, Allen on Control and More

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Miami Heat 'Fast 5': LeBron Chasing MJ, Jones' Value, Allen on Control and More
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Five quick-hitting Miami Heat items in advance of Game 2 against Charlotte:

 

1. LeBron James isn't Larry Bird's biggest concern at the moment.

Bird's focus is on his role as the president of the plummeting Indiana Pacers and trying to do or say something, anything, to steady them. But the Celtics legend was in the news for another reason Sunday, as James passed him for eighth on the all-time playoff scoring list with 3,898 points.

James did it largely from the perimeter, taking 16 shots, half from behind the arc, and driving just once, compared to Dwyane Wade's 10 times. This came in contrast to his regular season, when he took a higher percentage of his shots from the rim, and made a higher percentage of those attempts, than in any previous season.

So, how much higher can James climb on the all-time list?

He has a shot to pass Jerry West this postseason, provided that the Heat reach the NBA Finals. Each of the past two postseasons, Miami has needed 23 games to win 16. If that "23" total holds again, James would need to average 25.5 in the next 22 to nudge aside The Logo.

Next on the list? Tim Duncan, who is still adding to his legacy but may not stick around long enough to create comfortable distance. If Duncan retires after this postseason, it's conceivable James catches him in the next one.

By the time he's done, James will certainly chase down Karl Malone (4,761) to move into the top five.

That will leave Michael Jordan (5,987), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (5,762), Kobe Bryant (5,640) and Shaquille O'Neal (5,250), though perhaps not in that order, if the Lakers can make a major leap in either of Bryant's final two seasons. James has a higher scoring average (28.0) than Abdul-Jabbar (24.3), Bryant (25.6) or O'Neal (24.3), though his rate will certainly slip as he ages.

So can he catch Jordan?

He needs 2,089 points, which—even if he averages 25.0 the rest of the way—would require 84 games. If he averages 22.0, it will take 95.

That's not impossible, considering that he's hinted at playing until age 40.

And he has an advantage over his predecessors who played shorter playoff rounds. Jordan's Bulls, for instance, played at a time of three-out-of-five first-round series. In the six postseasons that ended in championships, they played the minimum 18 games in those series.

So that's the odd thing about this record.

To challenge Jordan, James will need to stay healthy and play on outstanding teams—though not so outstanding that they eliminate opponents too quickly.

 

2. James Jones has been active this season, even on the days and nights when the box score insisted he wasn't.

His pregame regimen has featured intensive weightlifting and sprinting, three-on-three participation and even some Pilates elements. But when the game has started, he's usually been planted on the bench, rising only to offer pointers to teammates returning there.

Jones needed 34 minutes in the final regular-season game just to get to 236, which was 15 more than the season before and gave him a three-season total of 1,123 minutes—or 426 less than in the first season of the "Big Three." So no one, including Jones himself, was expecting him to get so much run Sunday, logging 14 minutes and scoring 12 points.

Teammates have called him "Champ" since his All-Star three-point contest win in 2011. And the cerebral veteran recognizes that many see him simply as a shooting specialist—he decided a few years back to devote his energy to perfecting one skill rather than to marginally improving others.

But he was hardly a liability in other ways in Game 1. Sure, he got crossed over once by Kemba Walker, but he befuddled Cody Zeller with his own drive to the hoop.

And Miami was plus-18 while he was on the floor.

Lynne Sladky

It helped that James was out there with him, but it shouldn't surprise that they had success together. James is comfortable playing with floor spacers. They played only nine games (and 129 minutes) together this season, but they were a plus-74 in those minutes, according to the NBA's official stats site, which computes to a plus-27.5 per 48. By comparison, James and Greg Oden were flat in plus-minus in 150 minutes.

What about James with other floor spacers? James and Rashard Lewis were a plus-46 in 486 minutes, James and Ray Allen were plus-141 in 1,236 minutes, and James and Shane Battier were a plus-201 in 1,217 minutes.

Naturally, other factors—like time, score, opponent and the other three Heat players on the floor—play a part. And the James-Jones sample size has been small the past two seasons: In 2012-13, they played just one game (eight minutes) together, after playing 332 (plus-79) and 943 (plus-241) in James' first two Heat seasons.

Still, it seems like something Erik Spoelstra should explore further.

If so, Jones will be ready.

Spoelstra compared him to a bullpen pitcher, and Jones understood the comparison.

"I like it," Jones said. "I have an uncle who played professional baseball, so I have an appreciation for the mental toughness it takes to play 162 games. I think it's a good analogy, and I think it's very fitting for what all of our guys on our bench will be required to do."

And he might even fit in the rotation after all.

 

3. Ray Allen didn't score in Game 1, though the Heat did play well with him on the floor.

And you can bet that as soon as the contest concluded, he was already formulating a plan for Game 2.

After all, Allen appears to prepare and plan for everything, whether it's a game, meal, moment or a word, measuring his actions, portions, movements and responses, with little ever seeming rash or reactionary.

Recently, I asked the 2013 NBA Finals savior if he's always been that way, inside and outside of basketball.

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

"For as long as I remember," Allen said. "Obviously, you learn along the way, and you pick up the habits of others. But there's just something about knowing what you need to know and being in control of it at any given time."

Call it comfort.

"Because so many times, you're not in control," Allen said. "So when it comes to what you put out there, you can control every single moment. For as long as I can remember, I feel like I've always been that way, and that's one of the reasons why I never drank alcohol in my life. I don't have to make all the decisions, and be the end all, be all. I love the people around me to make those decisions. But as far as the world around me, you control who you have in your life, you control what you put out there for yourself."

Allen admits that he's been tempted to drink, and that people "have put me in tempting situations," including when he attended the University of Connecticut.

"My first day on campus, I was in a weird situation that I didn't know which way it was going to go," Allen said. "I felt like I survived. From here on in, I said, I'll continue to be in pretty unique situations my whole life. And even now. I think kids think, when you get older, you don't have to make choices anymore because everything is laid out for you. But you have to continue to make the right choices every single day."

So what, if anything, is he spontaneous about?

"Since our season, our schedule is the way it is, when we get to the offseason, I might go to my wife, 'What do you want to do today? Where do you want to eat? Where do you want to go? Let's take a vacation,'" Allen said. "Things like that, when you don't have a schedule, then I can say, let's go do something where we can just decide it on the fly."

But not during the season. Then he stays strict to structure.

"Because my body has to understand and not be tricked," Allen said. "I mean, it goes for all of us. I think everybody learns it at a different pace. But when we go out there, you never know what's going to happen. So coming into it, you've got to give yourself the best opportunity, the best chance."

He gets another chance in Game 2.

 

4. Mario Chalmers may be the Sexiest Man from Alaska, or so People magazine said. 

Anchorage wasn't the only place he spent his childhood, however.

His father, Ronnie, was a 22-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force. When Mario was seven, Ronnie was stationed in Charlotte, and the family lived there until Ronnie was reassigned to Alaska four years later. Mario spent most of his free time running around at the park, and he still has fond memories of his childhood in the city.

"I was always able to acclimate because I played basketball," Chalmers said. "I would always find someone who was playing basketball."

One of those kids was Steph Curry, son of Dell, who was playing for the Hornets. Chalmers was a fan of that team back then, when they also had Alonzo Mourning, Larry Johnson, Kendall Gill and Muggsy Bogues. He went to games at the old Charlotte Coliseum, known as "The Hive," and he won a raffle to play on the court.

Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

"I did good," he said.

Much of his family still lives in the Charlotte area, and Saturday and Monday, they'll be on hand to see him in playoff games there for the first time.

"Kind of a hassle," Chalmers said, laughing. "Got to get tickets."

 

5. Chris Andersen had 12 rebound opportunities in Game 1, according to SportVU.

He grabbed 10 of them.

Miami was a plus-28 in his 22 minutes.

He's done this sort of thing all season, which is why he grabbed something else last week—the third-place slot on my Sixth Man of the Year ballot, behind Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford.

 

Ethan Skolnick covers the Heat for Bleacher Report.

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