Dribbles: Heat look like real deal; Nuggets miss three starters, and altitude
A few random thoughts following the Miami Heat's 125-105 blowout victory over the Denver Nuggets in Orlando on Saturday.
1. When I'm asked during radio guest spots who I think could reach the Finals out of the East, I need to start remembering to mention the Heat.
2. They really do have a little of everything -- a true star in Jimmy Butler, a veteran and wily coach in Erik Spoelstra, plenty of outside shooters (starting with Duncan Robinson) and a healthy dose of good, old-fashioned determination.
3. Oh, and let's not forget the underrated Kelly Olynyk. He scored all 20 of his points in the fourth quarter. Or just six less than the entire Nuggets team in the fourth.
4. Overall, the Heat had six players reach double figures in scoring -- Butler and Bam Adebayo (22 points each), Olynyk, Robinson (17), Goran Dragic (13) and first-team All-Rookie candidate Kendrick Nunn (11).
5. It's hard to believe the Nuggets led this game by a point at halftime, because the Heat almost immediately turned the second half into little more than 24 minutes of garbage time.
6. In the Nuggets' defense, they were missing three starters -- Jamal Murray, Gary Harris Jr. and Will Barton. That's like three-fourths of their offense. But as coach Mike Malone pointed out on ESPN, the Nuggets' lost this game because of a lack of defense.
7. It's really a shame that the Nuggets can't move the high altitude from their Denver arena to Orlando for these "home" games. I say that jokingly, but it really is an advantage.
8. Honestly, with all games being played on neutral courts, playoff seeding won't matter in the slightest. That could make the NBA playoffs just about as unpredictable as the NCAA Tournament.
9. I have never seen anyone at NBA game clap as quickly as the virtual fans inside the Disney gyms. That probably a good thing.
10. Lisa Salters(ESPN) is the best sideline reporter in the business. Just thought I'd throw that in there. Also, my man Chris Haynes (TNT) is definitely on the rise.
11. For more on Miami, check out SI Heat writer Shandel Richardson right here. We don't have anyone on the Nuggets yet, so I'll handle as much of it as I can on my SI page.
12. Nikola Jokic and Jerami Grant each scored 19 to lead the Nuggets. Bottom line is they need those other three starters back before we can make a real assessment.