Five quick-hitting Miami Heat items to start the final week of February:
1. Dwyane Wade, unlike some of his teammates, has never been an avid follower of advanced statistics.
So, naturally, he wasn't aware of a number that runs counter to his reputation: 43.1 percent.
That's what Wade is shooting from what NBA.com characterizes as "mid-range."
He's never shot that well in any season.
It's really good.
Last season, he was at 38.9 percent.
But it's not just a significant jump from 2012-13. It's a rather large leap from earlier in his career, when he was lauded for his mid-range ability, not criticized for his supposed lack of it.
"That's very surprising," Wade said. "Because I know I've had some years where I was, like, money."
Most consider 2008-09 to be his strongest overall season. He shot 41.6 percent from mid-range.
Others would look at the season of his first NBA championship. He shot 38.4 from mid-range.
"That's interesting," Wade said. "That shocked me right there."
Maybe it shouldn't be so shocking, if you consider that Wade takes fewer forced shots now, with LeBron James around, and is shooting a career-best overall, at 54.7 percent. But it does run counter to the conventional wisdom, that he needs to develop a jumper.
Apparently, it's working well enough.
On jump shots from any area, he's at 36.2 percent, compared to 31.2 percent last season, 31.8 percent the season prior and 31.4 percent three seasons ago.
He's been especially deadly on pull-up jumpers (15-of-21) and has even made a high percentage (54.2) of his fadeaways. And he's been extremely efficient from the left side just outside the paint (26-of-47) and deep from the right wing (16-of-30).
Those numbers should jump off the page.
2. Shane Battier is known for taking charges.
There's one he can't accept, one he hears all the time.
When asked for the most annoying narrative about the Heat, he quickly cites this one:
"I think the most unfair is that our practices consist of just unlocking the closets where they keep the basketballs, and we have open gym for 45 minutes, and we go home.
"I was surprised how many times people say that: 'Spoelstra unlocks the closets with the basketballs and goes home, and somebody else locks them?' No, we actually work. Actually get after it in practice and engage in some basketball theory here."
He's got company in complaining about that critique.
In fact, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Mario Chalmers all mentioned the same assumption as the one that bothers them most.
"Probably that we don't work hard, that we just expect everything comes easy to us," Bosh said. "That we just think we show up and that's it. That whole Hollywood thing. Dudes work hard. We put a lot of time into this.
"And you can't be a champion without going through hardship and heartbreak. You play with that pain and that chip on your shoulder. We try to do it every day, but it gets more difficult the more we win."
"That we're a Hollywood team," Chalmers said. "Definitely not true."
And it irks Haslem.
"A lot of people think that, because this is a talented group of guys, that means that we don't work hard," Haslem said. "It's ridiculous. It's not true at all. People feel that we have a sense of entitlement, which we don't. But we're willing to do whatever we need to do to get it done. We've proven that."
"The Bulls give always, give us hell," Haslem said. "I mean, we've had to battle to get where we're at. People still think we don't want to work hard, and we're still arrogant. Look at the battles that we went through, the series that we went through.
"We've been out, we've been everything but out, we've found ways to get it done. It's a little bit from the media, it's a little bit from the fans, it's a little bit from other teams. That we're Hollywood. But it's more Holly-hood."
Bosh is annoyed by another assertion, one that—based on all the losses to losing teams—has a bit more basis in fact.
"Or lately, it's that we 'turn it on,'" Bosh said. "They think they can turn it on. If we think we could turn it on the whole time, you think we'd do that? But it's not easy, man. You've got to muster up that energy and have that concentration the whole thing. For 82 games, it's impossible. But we try to play as close to perfection as we can."
3. Chris Bosh considers himself a man of the world, a frequent traveler who is up on current events.
But he didn't need to go far to find his latest cause.
Bosh's wife Adrienne is half-Venezuelan, and they discussed the growing crisis in that country.
"Kind of brushing up on it in the past week," Bosh said. "Crazy. Government kind of stopping everything. Inflation. Exports and imports have pretty much stopped. I know a couple of people that just came down from there, and work for me, and it's just bad. You go to the grocery store, and there's no groceries. No medicine."
Bosh can't offer a remedy.
But he did offer some exposure to their plight, by scribbling "SOS Venezuela" on his shoes for Sunday's win against Chicago, a win in which he scored 28 points.
4. Mario Chalmers recorded 12 points and nine assists against the Bulls.
But it was another number that stuck out and gives you the best sense of how he's playing: 40.
Those are the minutes that Erik Spoelstra gave him, which is about as close to a compliment as Spoelstra comes.
"I think it's the first time all season," Chalmers said, smiling. "Maybe first or second."
"So it's good to be out there and control the tempo of the game," Chalmers said. "Spo set me up with good plays in the offense."
And Chalmers continues to set himself up for the offseason. He's a free agent, and while he insists he's not thinking about it, his strong start to the 2014 calendar year—coupled with Norris Cole's recent struggles—are certainly increasing his value.
In January, Chalmers shot 54.7 percent, while averaging 4.8 assists and 2.5 turnovers, and in February, he's shooting 49.3 percent while averaging 5.0 assists and 2.0 turnovers.
Compare that to Cole, who shot 43.8 percent in January but now 33.9 percent through the first nine games of February. And his assist-to-turnover ratio isn't near Chalmers' rate of late, either.
If those trends continue, Chalmers' minute count will increase...and so might his asking price.
5. Dwyane Wade once had his eyes on an executive post.
Earlier in his career, he spoke of his interest in joining an NBA front office after he retired, possibly even working his way up to a general manager position. He's even spoken of his increased study of the NBA salary cap.
But he no longer has that ambition.
"When I retire, I don't want to do anything that has me traveling like I do now," Wade said.
Plus, it doesn't seem like Pat Riley's going anywhere anytime soon.
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