TORONTO - After a few years away, Courtside, a popular Sun staple for hoops fans that ran every Tuesday is back and itís bigger than ever!
The Miami Heat remain a work in progress, but the pieces appear to be coming together.
An injury to former Finals MVP Dwyane Wade limited the time the ďBig ThreeĒ was able to play together in the pre-season to just a handful of minutes. That made it logical to expect a couple of weeks of sloppy play from the Heat as they adapted to each other and their new roles.
Indeed, the rust showed opening night when Boston upended Miami 88-80 but it has quickly disappeared.
Miami rebounded from the loss by finishing Week 1 on a 3-0 run with an average win margin of just under 20 points ó including a 26-point blowout over Orlando ó arguably the Eastís second-best team.
Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh seem OK with scoring less ó Boshís 13.0 PPG average is the lowest since his rookie season while James and Wade are also almost 10 points a night off of their norms ó and the teamís defence is meshing far better than expected.
In fact, in the past two games, Miami has held the starting forwards on Orlando and New Jersey to 0-for-21 shooting from the field (the first time since the NBA/ABA merger that has been done, according to the Elias Sports Bureau).
Centre Dwight Howard had his way with Miami, as expected, but with Rashard Lewis and Quentin Richardson firing blanks it was of little consequence.
Outside shooting remains a concern until Mike Miller is able to return in a couple of months, but the ability of James, Wade and Bosh to score at will negates a lot of those fears. Eddie House and Mario Chalmers are pretty reliable when given good looks as is Udonis Haslem.
Even with little besides veteran depth up front, it is already clear that the revamped Heat will be the force everybody expected them to be.
Once the so-called Miami Thrice gets on the same page, 26-point victories might become the norm.
It has been a while since Chris Paul, Steve Nash and Deron Williams had competition in the best point guard in the NBA race, but Bostonís Rajon Rondo has at worst entered the conversation with his spectacular start to the season.
Nash is aging, Williams has been poor, Paul has been spectacular but Rondo has been unreal.
Arguably the best defensive and best rebounding point guard in the NBA for a while now, Rondo has compiled 50 assists (16.7 per game, five per more than second-place Jason Kidd) through three games, including a 24-assist triple double against the Knicks.
The Eastern Conference player of the week has been controlling games despite shooting just 42% from the field and 37.5% from the line).
Bostonís Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen has been surpassed by its floor general and new main man. Itís hard to believe Rondo fell to 21st in the 2006 draft and is now arguably its best player (with apologies to Brandon Roy). Also hard to believe, (A) Rondo is just 24 and (B) the Celtics thought long and hard about dealing him away before last season.
Around the rim
Charlotte is struggling but owner Michael Jordan would like to sign veteran head coach Larry Brown to a contract extension. Brown never lasts long in one spot and the betting is he wonít take an extension from the Bobcats ... One-time Raptors draft pick Roy Hibbert (traded for Jermaine OíNeal) is having a breakout season. Known for his shot-blocking and aversion to rebounding, Hibbert has been hitting the glass harder but also making a big enough impact offensively that Indiana plans to run its offence through him. Hibbert has responded with 14 assists and six turnovers to go along with his 18.3 point, 10.0 rebound season averages through three games ... The Knicks didnít even bother to trot (wheel) out behemoth centre Eddy Curry for season introductions at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. He was the only Knick not presented. Curry claims to be ready to practice this week ... Coincidence? The two teams atop the power rankings are the two most experienced in the league. According to the annual NBA survey, the Heat lead with an average of 8.07 seasons per player while the Lakers are next at 7.86.