Look out NBA, the Miami Heat are ready for their title defense. While the biggest story line from Wednesday night’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans was Greg Oden’s return to professional basketball, the biggest take away from the game was just how ready the Miami Heat are for the upcoming season. The Heat used last night’s game as a dress rehearsal for the regular season, and played the game to rave reviews. Although the defensive intensity often looked at preseason levels, the offense was mostly seamless.
Dwyane Wade is back. Showing many flashes (pun intended) of brilliance, Wade posted 25 points, 7 assists and 3 steals. He looked quick off the dribble, decisive and explosive. At one point in the second quarter, amid one of two huge Heat runs, Wade abused Pelicans shooting guard Austin Rivers to the point of embarrassment. If this is the Wade of 2014, Heat fans are going to have lots of fun.
Ray Allen can still shoot. We haven’t seen a lot of Ray this preseason (three-straight DNP’s). Up until Wednesday, what we did see were bricks. But last night was vintage Allen. He buried three out of four shots from distance and helped lead the team on its decisive run.
Chris Bosh had seven assists. Seriously, check the box score. Bosh has had a terrific preseason, but seven assists in 30 minutes of action? That is Bill Walton-like stuff. Don’t expect that kind of performance often in the regular season, but maybe that rebound and assist he picked up at the end of last season (you remember Game 6, right?) whetted his appetite for more.
Greg Oden returns. Wow. What a great site that was. Whether or not you’re a Heat fan, seeing Oden return after so long had to give you some warm fuzzies. This is only one step in a long process before Oden actually makes real contributions to the team. But for what it was, it was great.
The New Orleans Pelicans look to have a bright future. This young team was fun to watch. Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon provide a nice threesome for the Pelicans.