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The Miami Heat are one of the league's worse teams, and were jubilant after ending a 15-game losing streak against the slump-busting Indiana Pacers. The happiness was short-lived, though, as they suffered a 117-87 defeat against the Boston Celtics last night. The margin of defeat is made even more disconcerting for the Heat considering the Celtics were without Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Worse still, the Heat lost starting power forward Udonis Haslem to a sprained ankle. Dwyane Wade scored just 7 points last night on 1-of-9 shooting, clearly bothered by the flu. He'll
probably definitely sit out tonight. Clearly, Miami has no shot at the playoffs this season, even in the inferior Eastern Conference. Their probable starting lineup tonight -- no Shaq, no Wade, no Haslem -- resembles something they'd use in a preseason game. It's that bad.
The storyline for this game could have been Dwight Howard vs. Shaquille O'Neal, but Shaq is dealing with a sore hip and will be out for a few more games. He's vowed to keep playing until his contract expires in 2010, citing his upbringing as the son of an army drill sergeant as the reason. David Friedman thinks the more honorable thing for Shaq to do is retire to free up the $40 million of salary-cap space his contract will take up over the next two seasons. Thing is, Shaq isn't going to walk away from $40 million in guaranteed money, and Heat coach/GM Pat Riley isn't going to insult the future Hall-of-Famer by offering a buyout. So yeah, the Heat are a terrible team with no salary cap space. At least they have the lottery to look forward to.
The Magic will get a nice, long look at Heat point guard Jason Williams tonight. Williams has a contract that expires at season's end, and as Tim Povtak suggested yesterday, he could be a free-agent target for us. I'm not super anxious to use even part of the mid-level exception on a backup point guard, especially one who shoots miserably (.378) from the field. From a running-the-offense-capably standpoint, he's probably on-par with Carlos Arroyo. Unfortunately, Williams is 3-and-a-half years older and not as quick. In short: no thanks, Tim. I'll pass on Williams. For what it's worth, G.L. Rawx of the Howeva Files likes the idea of White Chocolate in a Magic uniform, mostly because he doesn't like Jameer "the Meerkat" Nelson.
And speaking of Nelson, he'll will be back in action tonight, albeit off the bench, says Brian Schmitz. Nelson practiced with the team yesterday and feels well enough to play.
Be sure to check out Ira Winderman's blog for more Heat coverage. Winderman has been the Sun-Sentinel's Heat reporter since the team's inception, and is one of the best reporters in the NBA at balancing his print work with his online pieces. He understands the difference between a news article and a blog entry, which is important.
The game is in HD tonight, so you'll be able to get a great sense of just how large Mark Blount's ears are. Go Magic.