Beat up, bruised, frustrated, mad, and upset. These are all words that can describe the 2014-2015 Miami Heat season. Dwyane Wade, Chris Andersen, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh, Hassan Whiteside, and even the new guy Goran Dragic are just a few of the injuries that the Heat have had to deal with this season. While the injuries have continued to mess up the Heat, a last minute trade by Pat Riley has really saved the team from being a complete train wreck.
Goran Dragic wanted out of Phoenix, which was announced to the media a few days before the NBA’s trade deadline. His preferred destinations were the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the team he ended up with, the Miami Heat. You can pretty much guess what Dragic’s reaction was to being traded to the Heat.
NOW it's #heatnation time and I'm excited to bring the Dragon's fire to Miami!!
— Goran Dragić (@Goran_Dragic) February 19, 2015
My number. 1 wish was to go to Miami, who I found out later had tried to get me a couple of years ago when I was in Houston. Miami offered everything. A great market, great players, their championship mentality. They always want to do well, and I think that it was a good fit for me. I was pushing for this situation, but I still didn’t know if the Suns were going to send me there. I was in a tough spot, but things worked out in the end.
Everyone in Heat Nation is also glad that Dragic is a member of the team.
“We are incredibly pleased to take another step in getting the Miami Heat back to real championship prominence with the acquisition of Goran Dragic,” Heat president Pat Riley said in a statement. “Goran is an All-NBA player, including the Most Improved Player last season, and we felt that once he became available, we would do all that we could to acquire him.”
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) February 20, 2015
Since Dragic was acquired by the Heat, the team has been doing all it can to make Dragic feel comfortable in South Beach, which is sounding successful thus far.
“One of my biggest priorities will be to make Goran feel comfortable, as soon as we can with the team and what we’re trying to do.” – Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra.
The Heat originally planned to have a starting lineup of Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh, and Hassan Whiteside, which was the most efficient lineup in the NBA, a lineup no one wanted to face in the playoffs according to most.
At the time of the trade, the following five Heat players were ranked in the top 90 in player efficiently rating, which no other NBA team had more than.
- PG: Goran Dragic 88th
- SG: Dwyane Wade 13th
- SF: Luol Deng 86th
- PF: Chris Bosh 40th (tied)
- C: Hassan Whiteside 4th
Unfortunately, just a few short hours after the Heat sent two first round draft picks and Danny Granger to the Suns for Dragic to set up this ‘stacked’ lineup, disaster struck. Heat all-star Chris Bosh was sent to the hospital with what was being called chest pains, after the Heat just thought Bosh was sick, or they really didn’t know.
“I don’t know if he was sick [in Haiti]. I’m not a doctor,” Wade said. “I just know he wasn’t feeling good. He wasn’t coughing or throwing up, but he just wasn’t feeling good. So I don’t know when it happened. It could have happened in New York.”
Erik Spoelstra described Bosh’s condition as “under the weather” think that Bosh would be find to play for the Heat once he was over the alleged sickness. That however, tuned out to be way worse for the Heat, as when Bosh was in the hospital undergoing tests, doctors discovered that Chris Bosh had a blood clot on his lung. The blood clot has forced Bosh to be out for the remainder of the season, leaving the Heat without their 100 million dollar all-star until the 2015-2016 season, when Bosh will once again play.
Goran Dragic didn’t even know about Bosh’s condition until he was on the plane to Miami with his wife.
“I was on the plane and I was texting with my wife and that’s when the news [was on] Twitter,” Dragic said. “I mean, first I talked with my brother, I said, ‘Is that true?’ I mean, we didn’t know. But then a couple of hours after that all the media was saying what kind of condition he is in. And at that moment, it’s tough because we wish him all the best to his family, and hopefully he recovers well and comes back even stronger.”
The lost of Bosh has clearly shown in the Heat’s offense at power forward. While Heat fans have to appreciate what Udonis Haslem has done over the years for the Heat, he is no Chris Bosh. Josh McRoberts is also another member of the Heat power forward group that has missed significant time as McRoberts has been battling a torn meniscus since November.
While Bosh’s injury has clearly effected the Heat, Goran Dragic has done his part to try to help make up for Bosh’s role in the offense, as you can tell by his stats over the last ten games which he has played in, as it looks like Dragic has found his stride with the Heat.
- March 2nd vs. Suns: 21 points, 4 rebounds, 55.6% field goal
- March 4th vs. Lakers: 21 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 60% field goal
- March 6th vs. Wizards: 18 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, 58.3% field goal
- March 11th vs. Nets: 17 points, 3 assists, 55.6% field goal
- March 13th vs. Raptors: 18 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 47.1% field goal
- March 16th vs. Cavaliers: 20 points, 5 rebounds, 9 assists, 53.8% field goal
- March 18th vs. Blazers: 20 points, 3 rebounds, 11 assists, 56.3% field goal
- March 20th vs. Nuggets: 18 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 64.3% field goal
- March 22nd vs. Thunder: 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists 40%, field goal
- March 24th vs. Bucks: 16 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, 58.3% field goal
Goran Dragic is one of just three players, joining LeBron James and Kevin Durant averaging at least 18 points and five assists a game while shooting 50 percent from the field since the start of last season.
In terms of efficiency when it comes to field goal percentage when talking about back courts, the Heat would have the best because of Goran Dragic, as him and Dwyane Wade combine to shoot the best field goal percentage out of any other starting back court in the NBA, which wouldn’t have even been thought about coming into this season for the Heat I am sure.
Goran really recalls a time with Dwyane Wade on March 2nd after the Heat beat his former team the Suns, in which he felt like he really belonged in South Beach.
I already feel different in Miami, and something clicked. After we beat the Suns, I spent time with one of my old coaches and other friends from Slovenia, who were in Miami all week for vacation. I had fun showing them inside the locker room. Then later that night, I had dinner with Zoki [Zoran Dragic]at Prime 112 on Miami Beach, and the manager of the restaurant welcomed us to Miami. D-Wade was there, too, and it was a great time. We were laughing together, happy from the win. He thanked me for having his back in the game.
At that moment, I really felt like Miami was home.
Making Goran Dragic feel at home can be traced back to the success all the way from Pat Riley to even players on the floor, as they want Dragic to stay here long term, and Dragic hopes he could stay with the Heat, as he is set to become a free agent this off-season.
“That’s my wish,” Dragic said on staying with the Heat long term. “Right now I’m focused on doing as much as possible this season and make the playoffs, but of course this first 10-15 days here has been a great feeling for me. Unbelievable.”
“One of my main wishes was to come to Miami, and so far it’s looking good,” Dragic said. “I’m happy right now. There’s still 22 games, but at this point, that’s what it is.”
Dragic has also spoken about when he first arrived in Miami, to what he was feeling and meeting “the godfather” Pat Riley, who is the Heat’s president.
The day after I arrived in Miami, on February. 20, I had my physical, and then toured the arena and practice facility. I also met team president Pat Riley in his office, and it was unbelievable. I still remember that meeting.
I got goose bumps when he was talking about everything that we try to do in this organization to win a championship, and that we’re one step closer with me. That meant a lot. He even gave me a hard plastic card about the size of a business card that had a picture of the Larry O’Brien trophy and said on the other side, “We are family.” I put it in my wallet right away. Pat said, “This is what it’s all about. You can have it with you all the time.”
What’s impressed me about the Heat is that everybody is so connected. It doesn’t matter if you’re working in the front office or you’re just a security guy at the game, it looks like they’re in this to win a championship. You can see they’re one big family, a lot of interesting characters, like Michael Beasley, who I played with in Phoenix. They’re always going to be there for you, they’re going to have your back.
I felt that right away when D-Wade texted me as soon as I landed in Miami. He is just unbelievable. He’s a future Hall of Famer and he’s such a nice guy, humble guy. I already have a close bond with him and spend a lot of time talking to him about basketball.
Kudos to Pat Riley for pulling off the trade for Goran Dragic and kudos to virtually every Heat player on the team for making Goran Dragic feel at home. I’d say the chances are that Dragic and the Heat will be able to strike a long term deal this off-season due to the fact the Heat know how to serve their players well, as that’s a direct quote from Mr. Dragic.
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