Insider: Heat Notebook 4-4-12

Turiaf Newest Trial at Center

The center position has been somewhat of a revolving door for the Miami Heat throughout the past two years.  While Joel Anthony has held the starting spot down low for the majority of the season, a new face got the nod Tuesday night against Philadelphia.

Recently acquired Ronny Turiaf started his first game since he was a member of the Knicks last year during their first round playoff matchup against Boston.  Turiaf has had a strange year, playing sparingly for Washington until being traded and subsequently released at the deadline by Denver.

Despite only having played seven games for Miami, he already feels comfortable and is prepared for whatever role is handed to him.

“I am not here to ask questions,” said Turiaf.  “My job is to play basketball.  I want to win basketball games.  If coach thinks in order for us to win I should start, that is what I’m going to do.  If coach thinks it’s better for me in long run to be the third big, then that is what I’m going to be. I’m a good soldier and I follow orders pretty well.”

On Tuesday, the Heat went right to Turiaf and he scored the team’s first points.  He finished with six points and six rebounds and exhibited some of the qualities head coach Erik Spoelstra was looking for.

Spoelstra says he has been pleased with the progress Turiaf has made only two practices into his Heat regime.  However, the coach would also make no commitments to his role for the future, suggesting that the revolving door in the middle for Miami might continue to spin.

“Everyone always looks at the change never the layers behind it,” said Spoelstra.  “It certainly is not an indictment on Joel Anthony.  He does so many things that anchor our defense.  I thought Ronny played well, but this is not in cement either.”

Necessity Becomes Opportunity for Harris

One of the most unlikely candidates to make the Heat roster out of camp was former Oklahoma State guard Terrel Harris.  After all, Harris was undrafted in 2009 and had been bouncing around the NBA’s Development League since.

A 16-point effort in Miami’s opening preseason game against Orlando certainly turned some heads, and while it helped get Harris a roster spot, he has only played in 12 games since.  An injury to Mike Miller and having Dwyane Wade sit out Tuesday has provided a new opportunity.

Harris has been inserted into the lineup in three straight games, showing flashes of his skillset and hoping those tools he has honed in practice will help him crack the regular rotation.

“I think definitely practice has helped me, in the few practices we have had” said Harris.  “In this playoff run, I think I can give guys a break.  I can give them positive minutes when they need them.  However they need me, I think I can produce.”

One game that shows perhaps the extent of what kind of reprieve Harris can provide was the Heat’s triple overtime victory over the Hawks in early January.  With Wade and LeBron James out, he played 44 minutes, scored nine points, and pulled down 14 rebounds.

On Tuesday, Harris logged 18 minutes, the most since that Atlanta game.  While the public has not seen much of the rookie, Spoelstra says performances like he turned in in January are commonplace on the practice court.

“He always shows us something at team practices,” said Spoelstra.  “He has fresh legs.  He is hungry and as eager as any player we’ve had here.  He’s earned these minutes because of circumstances.  Will that happen if we’re fully healthy, I don’t know, but you need speed and quickness.”

Benchmark Game Awaits With Oklahoma City

In this revised and shortened NBA schedule there have been some oddities.  While the Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder were set to play each other twice in the regular season, they will be meeting up for the second time in a week and a half.

The previous meeting with the Thunder did not go well for Miami on the road.  They played sloppy, committing 21 turnovers, and lost 103-87.

That loss is one that weighs heavy on the Heat tonight as they come in to prove something in what could be an NBA Finals preview.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to continue to get better and succeed,” said James.  “You know how much we want to get better against a really tough team.  They pretty much beat up on us in Oklahoma City not too long ago so we are looking forward to it.”

Even though things did not go well two Sundays ago on national television, this time things could be far different.  Miami has won 16 games in a row at the American Airlines Arena and Oklahoma City is coming off a loss two days ago to a streaking Memphis club.

Chris Bosh has seen many games like this however and downplayed the factor those successes have on the outcome.

“We all know what we’re capable of,” said Bosh.  “You always want to have a win with a good team coming in, but tomorrow is an elite game.  We definitely want to play well because we didn’t have a good outing last week against them.”