|As playoffs loom, Heat enduring some troubles|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 09 April 2007 12:39|
MIAMI (AP) -The collective thought among the Miami Heat for the past few weeks was that when Dwyane Wade returned, everything would fall neatly into place for another NBA title run.|
Well, Wade's back from his dislocated left shoulder, and the Heat still seem to be on the cusp of turmoil.
Miami's season took another nasty turn Monday morning, when forward James Posey was arrested in Miami Beach on a DUI charge - less than six hours before the Heat were supposed to report for the day's practice. Posey's status is unclear, but his absence Monday just added to the litany of issues facing the Heat with the playoffs less than two weeks away.
``We just have to weather the storms and bounce back,'' Heat center Shaquille O'Neal said Monday. ``There's still enough time to get it going. I've been in the league 15 years and I've been through and I've seen all the situations. Nothing can break me. I've seen it all. Been here before.''
Posey was not with the Heat on Monday; he bonded out of Miami-Dade County jail at about the same time Miami was finishing practice. It's not known if he'll accompany the team to Charlotte on Tuesday morning for the game there against the Bobcats that night.
Either way, there will be a few empty seats on Miami's charter plane.
- O'Neal's not be going. He'll be in Newark, N.J. for his paternal grandfather's funeral service and intends to rejoin the Heat for Wednesday's home game against Washington.
- Starting forward Udonis Haslem missed practice Monday because of a bruised groin from Sunday's 111-103 overtime home loss to the Bobcats, and Heat coach Pat Riley expressed concern over the severity of that injury.
- Backup guard Gary Payton also missed practice with a left calf injury, and his status is day-to-day.
So, a season filled with problems, including injuries to O'Neal, Wade and Riley's 30-game absence to recover from surgery, isn't exactly getting easier for the defending NBA champions.
``It has not been the picture-perfect season. It's been the total opposite of that,'' Wade said. ``But we understand at the end of the day we have to come together no matter who is playing and who is not playing and do our job.''
Posey did not comment as he left jail Monday, accompanied by a team security official after posting $1,000 bond. His was the second DUI arrest involving a Heat player in Miami Beach this season; rookie Robert Hite was charged in January, but that was later dropped when tests showed Hite's blood alcohol level was well within legal limits.
The Heat decided Hite should take some time away from the team and ultimately released him to sign Eddie Jones. Riley said Monday he wouldn't make any quick decisions with Posey, a key member of Miami's rotation.
``Until we get the facts, absolute, total facts, we don't want to make the same mistake we made with Robert,'' Riley said. ``I was wrong. So until we get the facts, we really don't have anything to say. ... It's typical of wrong-place, wrong-time or whatever. It's unfortunate. But we have to wait until we get the facts.''
After Hite was arrested, the team announced he would take an absence the next day, and Hite never returned. He's now playing in South Dakota for an NBA Development League team.
``I should have waited a little longer before I sent him home,'' Riley said. ``I'm not going to do the same thing with James. We'll find out the facts, the facts, the facts, the facts, and I'll make a decision based on the facts, real facts, and the league will make a decision based on real facts.''
Posey - who will be a free agent after the season and could command a deal worth more than the $6.4 million he's earning this year- was arrested after an officer pulled him over for stopping in the middle of a double-lane road.
According to police, Posey was talking to occupants of other vehicles and pedestrians. Once out of the car, Posey displayed ``bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath,'' the police report said.
``We're all old enough to know the rules and to know the laws,'' said O'Neal, a reserve police officer in Miami Beach. ``I don't drink personally, so I don't have to worry about that problem. The only thing I drink is water.''
The timing of Posey's arrest, the death of O'Neal's grandfather and the Haslem and Payton injuries couldn't come at a worse time.
The Heat are in fourth in the Eastern Conference, yet aren't in position for home-court advantage in the opening playoff round. To earn home-court, Miami probably needs to make up two games on Toronto over the next week; both teams have five games left.
``One thing good about this team, and I've probably said it numerous times, we've got a lot of guys that can play the game,'' Jones said. ``We're so deep that guys can step in and be sufficient, help this team out and help this team win.''
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