I’ve always said to never let anything that happens in the preseason dictate my feelings towards the regular season.
After all, the effort is extremely low, the rotations are purely experimental, players sit out with minor injuries that they could deal with if the game had higher stakes, and the star players play up to 30 minutes max. The preseason isn’t a time to begin making predictions of a player’s regular season success nor is it a time to begin determining who has the better roster. Exhibition games are purely for the use of creating rotations and filling out rosters, while also allowing the players to get back into the rhythm of playing professional basketball.
This Miami Heat team, however, really makes it difficult to not watch in awe of how good they can be. Because when you see LeBron James throw down putback slams as if he’s already in mid-season form or Ray Allen converting multiple three-pointers without effort, it becomes incredibly easy to get excited over a team that is oozing with the confidence that came from winning the 2012 title. This is the best Heat team to date; fully capable of breaking the franchise record for wins at 61, as well as the NBA’s record of 72 wins.
Still, this is only the preseason, so take the Heat’s 94-80 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers–a Clipper team without Chauncey Billups and Chris Paul–with the tiniest grain of salt.
The Clippers may have missed out on their superstar, but the Heat played with their three superstars for the first time this preseason, following the return of Dwyane Wade. The Heat shooting guard has been limited in training camp because of recovery from knee surgery he received on July 9th, also causing him to miss the team’s first preseason game against last Sunday.
Wade looked like someone who was in his first game since receiving knee surgery. Dwyane finished the game converting only 2-of-9 from the field for a mere five points in 23 minutes, missing a breakaway dunk in the process. However, his defense was encouraging as he finished the game with four steals and two blocks, including a tremendous steal that led to a LeBron dunk in the open court.
Speaking of LeBron, the three-time MVP already appears to be in mid-season form. In 26 efficient minutes, James effortlessly recorded 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting, five rebounds, five assists and one steal, while continuing to establish an excellent connection with the team’s myriad of three-point threats.
James led the charge in the blowout win, creating a margin of 18 points by the half and leading by as much as 25.
Ray Allen was a big-time contributor of the Heat’s three-point barrage. After making his first three-pointer as a member of the Heat, Allen would hit three more, finishing the night with 15 points off of 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc and 5-of-11 from the field in 26 minutes. Shane Battier and Norris Cole both went 2-of-2 from beyond the arc, while Rodney Carney impressed with 3-of-4 shooting from deep.
Chris Bosh had 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting in 22 foul-plagued minutes. Rashard Lewis finished with five points on 1-of-2 shooting, but committed four fouls in 14 minutes.
The Heat were without Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem, and Jarvis Varnado for a second straight game. Dexter Pittman (toe), Joel Anthony (hamstring), and Mike Miller (rest) sat out as well.
Miami also got to see the debut of an on-the-fence player in Garrett Temple, who missed four of his five field-goal attempts but tied LeBron James for the most assists with five in 24 minutes. Among other performances from the hedge players include Josh Harrellson shooting 2-of-8, Robert Dozier shooting 1-of-5, Mickell Gladness converting 1-of-4, grabbing four rebounds and blocking two shots, and Terrel Harris missing his two shot attempts in only 9 minutes worth of action.
Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 19 points on 8-of-6 shooting. He was supported by Jamal Crawford’s 16 off the bench and Caron Butler’s 13. The team collectively shot 11-of-27 from the foul line, including an abysmal 1-of-10 from center DeAndre Jordan.
The teams will meet up one more time on Sunday in Shanghai.