Miami Heat game previews between October 24 and October 30, including games against: Charlotte Hornets, San Antonio Spurs, Orlando Magic.
The first thing you’ll notice about this Miami Heat team is that its two all-stars, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, are not playing. Although Bosh is technically on the 15-man roster, he won’t be suiting up for Miami this season and will be waived after his monster contract officially comes off the books. Expectations for the 2016-2017 are tempered for the Heat, who will instead use this season to develop their younger promising players (e.g. Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, and Tyler Johnson).
The projected starting line-up for Miami consists of Goran Dragic (PG), Josh Richardson (SG), Justise Winslow, (SF), Derrick Williams (PF), and Hassan Whiteside (C).
Wednesday, 26 October 2016 at 07:00 PM ET Away
In the preseason, the Heat shut down the Magic, winning their matchup by 30 points, 107-77. Miami held Orlando to 34% overall shooting on the night, with especially poor three-point efficiency (2/19). In contrast, the Heat shot just north of 50% overall, while making 10 of their 24 attempts from long-range. With the reigns of Miami’s offense, Goran Dragic led the heat in both points and assists with 17 and 5, respectively. Miami handily won without their newly paid star, Hassan Whiteside, and upcoming sophomores, Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson. But, as they say, the preseason has no bearing on the regular season; this season opener is still up grabs.
While Josh Richardson continues to miss playing time with a right knee injury, newcomer Dion Waiters will take his spot in the starting line-up. At only 24-years-old, Waiters has a chance to prove himself worthy of the 2012 NBA Draft’s 4th overall pick with a new, fostering environment in Miami. Orlando will have their expected starting five of Payton, Fournier, Gordon, Ibaka, and Vucevic ready for Wednesday’s opener. Expect a much closer game than what we saw in the preseason.
Friday, 28 October 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Home
On Friday, the Heat will make their home-opener debut against the Hornets. Last season, these two teams had a back and forth playoff series that stretched to seven games. Thanks to Dwyane Wade’s heroics (and Purple Shirt Guy’s antics), the Heat came out on top. While Wade’s clutch gene will be sorely missed this season, the Hornets have also lost their capable backup point guard, Jeremy Lin, along with Al Jefferson. The Hornets addition of Roy Hibbert may prove to be a challenge for Whiteside, but don’t expect much after a lackluster year with the Lakers.
In their preseason matchup with the Heat, the Hornets came out on top 96-88. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had perhaps the most impressive overall outing for Charlotte with 10 points and 14 boards, but it was Kemba Walker who leads the team in scoring with 17, picking up where he left off against the Heat last season. Ex-Skyforce player and now the 15th man for the Heat, Rodney McGruder, made the most of his 36 minutes of playing time with 19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. With both teams depleted after last year’s playoff battle, I’d expect a close game.
San Antonio Spurs
Sunday, 30 October 2016 at 06:00 PM ET Home
With all the buzz surrounding the Golden State Warriors, many still overlook the Spurs phenomenal 67-15 2015-2016 season. Although both the Heat and Spurs are far different teams compared to when they met in the 2014 NBA Finals, the Spurs will still be a top seed in the Western Conference. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are yet another year older, but Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge are only improving under Pop’s system. Combine that with the addition of one Pau Gasol and a Danny Green resurgence and you have another elite team in the West.
Goran Dragic will need to take advantage of an aging Tony Parker and a smaller Patty Mills at the PG position. And with Hassan Whiteside likely guarding Gasol, someone will have to step up to guard the 6’11” Aldridge (perhaps the newly-appointed lone captain and veteran, Udonis Haslem?) Regardless, home court advantage won’t be enough to give the Heat a win in their third game of the season.