The Miami Heat and the poor 2014-2015 campaign that they put together highlighted the irreplaceable play of LeBron James. As Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh grow one year older, time is quickly running out for Pat Reilly to orchestrate one last championship run in this era. Entering this season, the Heat’s projected starting line-up of Dragic, Wade, Deng, Bosh and Whiteside looks fantastic on paper. However as we’ve seen from their most recent injury-riddled campaign, nothing is guaranteed.
Health will be the most important factor for this aging roster. Whether it was Wade’s nagging issues, Bosh’s blood clots or McRoberts’ right meniscus, the Heat’s core was just never able to find any sort of chemistry playing together. The good news for Miami fans is that through 16 games in October/November, there are no back-to-back sets and with most of their core pieces on the wrong side of 30, this may go a long way in preserving their legs. A key stretch to pay attention to will be a 7-game home stand from November 8th to the 23rd. During this period of time, the Heat will see action from the visiting Raptors, Lakers, Jazz, Timberwolves, Kings, 76ers and Knicks. Erik Spoelstra led his squad to a 20-21 losing record at the American Airlines Arena in 2014-2015, after finishing 32-9 the year before.
The most intriguing storyline throughout this first month of action will be the maturity of Hassan Whiteside. The fragile center is still just 26-years old and has seemingly not even tapped his true potential yet. Whiteside was 6th in the league (1st among centers) in PER at 26.26 and 1st in rebound rate at 25.4. Though his free throw shooting remains a legitimate cause for concern, his production in points, rebounds, field-goal percentage and rim protection makes him a intricate cog in the Heat’s success.
An entertaining head-to-head battle that will occur in this first month of action will come on October 30th, when the Heat march into Cleveland to take on an old friend in LeBron James. Heat fans have a mixture of emotions when it comes to LeBron James and those emotions have historically carried over onto the play between the two teams. Dwyane Wade finished 3rd in total USG last season, next to only Russell Westbrook and Kobe Bryant, and it will be interesting to see how he adjusts his play this time around. Miami has a lot more depth entering this season, so Spoelstra will have seemingly endless options (including Amare Stoudemire and Gerald Green) to bring in a spark off the bench.
Courtesy of Heatnation.com