While we still may be two months away from the Miami Heat season opener at home against the Boston Celtics, there are still plenty of reasons as to why we should be excited for the 2012-’13 NBA season.
Not only do we get a look at the defending NBA champions play with blaring confidence, while shedding some pressure off in the meantime, but we also get a firsthand look at Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, the Heat’s two acquisitions of the summer.
We’ll watch those two get acclimated to their new surroundings, while continuing to watch the progression of the likes of Norris Cole and Dexter Pittman. Both players had their moments during the Summer League, but Pittman still showcased a great deal of trouble staying out of foul trouble–a recurring problem he encountered throughout last season.
Mostly, we’ll be on the edge of our seats at the anticipation of watching LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh do what they do best for a third consecutive season. These three have captivated viewers in their first two years and with great improvement made last year and riding the high of a championship, this could very well end up being the best year of Heat basketball in the franchise’s history.
Before we get there, however, we need to take a look at the 2012-’13 Miami Heat schedule and point out a few notable games worth marking down.
October 30th, vs. Boston Celtics
Of course this game was going to be here. How could you expect otherwise?
This is arguably the biggest rivalry in the league at the moment with the two team’s meeting each other in the postseason three consecutive years, with the Heat prevailing in the past two. Most recently, the Heat are coming off a memorable run against the Celtics where they won in seven games after falling behind 3-2. Thanks in part to captivating performances by LeBron James in Games 6 and 7, as well as a necessary contribution from Chris Bosh in Game 7, the Heat were able to pull through.
The rivalry has only heated up since then. It’s obvious to see these teams don’t really care for each other, but it’s sure to only boil over with Ray Allen now on the Miami Heat. The Celtics management threw a few jabs in Allen’s direction upon his decision, yet it could only be the tip of the iceberg of a long-standing feud. Allen surely shows displeasure in the team for treating him unfairly amongst Pierce, Garnett and Rondo and for also attempting to trade him.
Allen is only going to be motivated for a game like this.
The Celtics have only gotten stronger. While they won’t have Avery Bradley back due to recovery from shoulder surgery, they will be welcoming back Jeff Green, who missed all of last season due to heart surgery, Jason Terry who signed as a free agent and took over Allen’s job, and their draft pick in Jared Sullinger.
However, the real fun happens on January 27th, where the Heat will visit Boston. Since it’s a day after St. Patrick’s Day, it’s plausible to see a few angry faces in the crowd.
November 7th, vs Brooklyn
Although they may not have acquired Dwight Howard, the Brooklyn Nets still have the potential to be a dangerous team come postseason time.
Alongside point guard Deron Williams will be the recently re-signed Brook Lopez, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries, as well as their biggest splash of the offseason in Joe Johnson, who was acquired in a trade that sent Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro and DeShawn Stevenson among others to Atlanta.
The Nets don’t exactly have a ‘Big Three’ capable of taking on the Heat’s, but they do have the pieces to taking advantage of the Heat’s shortcomings. Lopez happens to be one of those advantages due to his offensive repertoire; a big his size with his scoring ability could present trouble for the Heat. Williams also will be of concern due to the Heat’s notoriety of being unable to defend quick and dynamic point guards, with the exception of Derrick Rose somehow.
Joe Johnson will also be a tough guard for Dwyane Wade, who stands three inches shorter. Gerald Wallace’s defense could also become of use when it comes to defending LeBron James.
The Nets have made the most significant moves of the offseason and their date with the Miami Heat early in the season will give us a way to gauge how well they play early on.
December 8th, vs New Orleans Hornets
Yeah, who would have guessed a mid-season game against the New Orleans Hornets would ever be worth seeing.
The Hornets aren’t a team that should be worried about at all, but they could be one in the future. After an excellent draft that included the selections of standout’s Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers, as well as the signings of Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon, the Hornets have the potential to become a team that could crash the playoff party in the near future out West.
They’re a good team to keep an eye on, but the main reason this is a game to watch is solely because of Davis to see how well he has become acclimated with the NBA culture early on.
Davis has shown some skills with the USA Baskteball Team, but hasn’t gotten nearly enough time for us to truly place a prediction on how well he’ll respond to NBA competition. Needless to say, having to guard Chris Bosh and dealing with the drives of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James should prove to be a formidable test for the number one draft pick.
December 25th, vs Oklahoma City Thunder
The Heat have always been the type to deliver on Christmas for its fans, especially when you include last year’s spoiling of the Dallas Mavericks unveiling of their banner.
For the second consecutive season, the Heat will play their NBA Finals opponent on Christmas. In case you haven’t been around for the past few months, that opponent will be the Oklahoma City Thunder.
While the Thunder may have faltered in only five games, they still provided to be a tough matchup for the Heat with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook having incredible performances along the way. Fortunately for Miami, James Harden proved to be inconsistent and Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins hardly made as significant an impact as hoped for. With Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers and Mike Miller having career game’s on the other end, the Thunder didn’t stand a chance.
This will be the first matchup between the two team’s since the Heat drubbed the Thunder 121-106 in Game 5, a contest where the Heat recorded 14 three-pointers and Miller set an NBA Finals record with most three-pointers by a non-starter with seven.
Their second meeting takes place on February 14th. Readers, you have until then to either convince your significant other to spend the night inside and watch this game or muster up the strength to tell them you want to see other people.
January 17th, @Los Angeles Lakers
Since Shaquille O’Neal left the Lakers for Miami, these two teams have created quite the heated rivalry.
While O’Neal hasn’t been with the team since 2008, a rivalry between Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade quickly developed. The two players both play at shooting guard and both make it a conscious effort to go after each other as much as possible in their meetings. There is an honest effort by both players to one-up each other and it can get heated sometimes. Even in the All-Star game, where Wade broke Bryant’s nose last occasion.
Not only is this a story between two players, but it’s also a potential NBA Finals matchup. The Lakers picked up arguably the greatest point guard of our generation in Steve Nash and pairing him up with a scorer like Bryant and two towers in Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum may be a bit daunting. The Heat like to run small-ball, but could run into problems going against Bynum and Gasol.
With this being the favorite for the 2013 NBA Finals, it’ll be an excellent way to see just how far the Lakers have gelled with Nash and how well the Heat have acclimated Allen and Lewis into their system.
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