The second half of the preseason is when among other things, roster cuts are made. Whether they fail to impress or don’t have the talent or physical presence necessary to succeed in the NBA, some players are forced to look elsewhere for employment. Also, as the regular season draws near the lineups and rotations become more rigid, as the focus shifts from experimenting to defining the roster. And while the Miami Heat may be the current NBA champions, there’s nothing wrong with altering the blueprint a little bit. Erik Spoelstra now has a championship pedigree, so he knows what it takes to get to and win the NBA finals once again, and will make changes if necessary. In addition, it never hurts to have a collection of players able to knock down open 3-point shots, as we’ll likely see with Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Shane Battier, Mike Miller and James Jones the main catalysts. With that established, here is my recap of Miami’s last 4 games of the 2012-13 preseason.
October 20th, 2012
San Antonio Spurs 101 – 104 Miami Heat
Score By Quarter: 26-30, 31-32, 28-15, 16-27
After falling behind by double digits in the second half, the Heat made an inspired 4th quarter rally to improve to 3-2 in the preseason. As LeBron James was rested, other players had to step up. Rashard Lewis was the biggest beneficiary, totaling 15 points on 6-9 shooting (11 of these in the 4th quarter), and 3-6 from behind the arc to go along with 3 rebounds and 4 steals. Mike Miller was also hot from distance, as he finished 4-5 from 3-point range for 12 points, and also picked up 5 rebounds and 4 assists in just 19 minutes of action. Shane Battier also chipped in with 3 3-pointers and 2 steals. The team as a whole shot an impressive 48.1%(13-27) on 3-pointers, and 52.7%(39-74) overall. It was balanced, however by Miami’s difficulties to hold on to the basketball, as they were responsible for 26 turnovers, with Ray Allen, Dwyane Wade and Norris Cole each being responsible for 4 of them. This turned out to be the last game for Robert Dozier and Mickell Gladness in Miami, as both were waived the day afterwards. Dozier did not feature at all in this one, while Gladness got just 4 minutes, and finished with a rebound and a turnover. A nice win for the Heat, whose bench here proved they can step up when needed.
October 23rd, 2012
Miami Heat 98 – 92 Charlotte Bobcats
Score By Quarter: 31-22, 18-22, 32-21, 17-27
With Dwyane Wade sitting this one out, it was Chris Bosh’s turn to step it up as Miami traveled to Charlotte. And he did just that, scoring 21 points on 8-12 shooting, hauling down 7 rebounds and picking up 5 assists in just 25 minutes! This was a complete performance from the big man, showcasing why Miami’s big three is just so dangerous. Terrel Harris started in Wade’s spot, and turned in a solid effort with 12 points (4-8), 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. Garrett Temple also impressed off the bench, playing 27 minutes and he hit a couple of 3-point shots of his own, finishing with 8 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a block. Ray Allen bounced back from a poor showing against San Antonio by going 6-9 for 15 points, including 2 3-pointers, though he did have 5 turnovers. LeBron may have filled up the stat sheet, with 8 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and a block, but shot poorly with a 2-8 performance for 10 points. After a solid showing three days earlier, Dexter Pittman was largely ineffective on this night. In just 10 minutes he was responsible for 3 turnovers, and committed 4 fouls without scoring a single point. As the Heat emptied the bench for the 4th quarter, the game looked closer than it really was as they were clearly the better team on this night.
October 24th, 2012
Washington Wizards 101 – 94 Miami Heat
Score By Quarter: 26-32, 21-29, 26-17, 28-16
The first half went extremely well for Miami, but lots of turnovers doomed the Heat in the second half, and spoiled the returns of Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem. Dwyane Wade suited up and poured in 23 points, via 7-14 from the field and 9-10 from the free-throw line. He also grabbed 7 rebounds, but was responsible for 4 giveaways. Chris Bosh also had a good shooting night, going 8-11 for 18 points, in addition to 4 rebounds, 2 steals and a block in 25 minutes. LeBron James put in another solid day at the office, with 13 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals, although his decision-making proved costly, as he coughed up 5 turnovers. In their first games of the preseason, Mario Chalmers hit 2 3-pointers and picked up 5 assists, while Udonis Haslem pulled down 8 rebounds but was a non-factor offensively as he finished with just 1 point. Rashard Lewis and Rodney Carney were also laying bricks, as they were a combined 0-7 and 0-5 from 3-point range for 3 points. This turned out to be Carney’s last game for Miami, as he was waived the two days later. Joining him was Jarvis Varnado, who didn’t see a minute of action on the court all preseason due to injury problems. Other factors in the Heat’s loss was the rebounding battle, which they lost 47-39 and transition defense, which gave up 24 fast break points to the Wizards. This was a very winnable game for Miami which was ultimately lost due to reckless turnovers.
October 26th, 2012
New Orleans Hornets 96 – 89 Miami Heat
Score By Quarter: 21-19, 26-28, 25-23, 24-19
The Heat’s last preseason contest was a close one throughout, with both teams trading blows for most of the game until the Hornets pulled away late. There were two injury scares for LeBron James, as he sprained his ankle on the opening play of the game, and then later got an inadvertent kick to the face from Robin Lopez. He did not return to the court after the latter injury, but is alright and will be good to go for Tuesday night’s clash with Boston. LeBron finished with 19 points on 8-17 shooting, 8 rebounds and 4 assists, though by his own admission, he “missed 8 layups”. Again, Chris Bosh lit up the scoresheet, dropping 21 points (8-17) and 10 rebounds for the double-double, and really looks confident as the starting center going forward. Mike Miller was a sparkplug off the bench, knocking down 3 3-pointers to keep the game close. He was also hustling for every loose ball, and eventually finished with 11 points and 9 rebounds. Dwyane Wade tallied up 15 points, but took 19 shots to get there, and he was very suspect with his ball-handling, giving it away 7 times. Ray Allen also had an off-night with his shooting stroke, as he was a dismal 3-10 from the field despite scoring 13 points. Rashard Lewis missed all 3 shots he took and finished scoreless. As did Shane Battier, who missed both of his 3-point attempts. Terrel Harris, Garrett Temple and Josh Harrellson did not feature in this one, with each player fighting to make the opening-day roster. Temple ended up being future endeavored the day after, allowing Harris and Harrellson to grab the final two spots on the 2012-13 Miami Heat. In the end, efficient shooting or lack thereof was Miami’s worst enemy on this night, as they had several open shots yet failed to capitalize.
Overall, I’d say there were a lot of encouraging signs in this year’s preseason. Chris Bosh proved that he can be just as deadly with his shooting prowess as a Center. Ray Allen is still as good as it gets when it comes to 3-point shooting. Mike Miller is still willing and able to go into the trenches for Miami even with him being prone to injury. Udonis Haslem can always be counted on to pull down the important rebounds. Shane Battier’s two-pronged style of defense and long-range shooting is still a threat. Dwyane Wade looks like he’s back up to speed after the knee surgery, and is ready to carve up opposing defenses. LeBron is LeBron.
All of this just proves that the versatility of the team as a whole is outstanding, especially considering what the roster looked like two years ago! The Miami Heat can certainly repeat last year’s triumph, no question. It comes down to adjusting for the new season, as there will be 29 other teams out to get them. In addition to that, staying healthy is key, even though it’s an arbitrary thing for any team. Finally, after the ring ceremony, the celebration ends. Miami will be at ground zero, and will have to fight their way to the top once again, hopefully without the championship hangover that tends to plague certain teams.
And given what I’ve seen so far, I have no reason to believe that the Heat will not have another magnificent season. It’s only two more days until tip-off, but to me, it feels like an eternity. I’m very excited to see this revamped group take the court!