Miami Heat Begin Life Without Wade Against Dallas


Tonight’s game between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks will provide a glimpse of how the team will hold up over the next few weeks without their leading scorer. Check out the start time, TV info, preview and more.

Start Time: 8 p.m. EST
Location: Game will be played in Miami at the AmericanAirlines Arena
Radio: 104.3 The Ticket

Miami’s season has been a constant reminder to expect the unexpected; just as things are going one way, there’s always something waiting to change it. The optimism of recent wins over Indiana and Chicago – plus the continued emergence of Hassan Whiteside – was replaced almost immediately by news that Dwyane Wade would be out of service for 2-3 weeks.

And now an anticipated matchup against a former NBA Finals opponent is a fight just to survive.

When the Dallas Mavericks (now 30-17) faced the Heat in November, it was one of the team’s signature wins this of the season, a glimpse of what could be. Miami was using an offensive system that relied heavily on ball movement and, against the Mavs, it worked to perfection. The Heat recorded 31 assists on 42 made field goals and Luol Deng was the beneficiary, notching 30 points in the 105-96 win.

What a difference a few months can make in the NBA.

That pass-heavy system has been scrapped as injuries continued to their toll. Wade, who led the team with 10 assists in that first contest, is out and so is Deng, nursing a calf injury that kept him out of Tuesday’s game to Milwaukee. And now the Heat is trying to find some cohesion in order to maintain their spot in the Eastern Conference standings. As Chris Bosh said to reporters earlier this week (via

"“While we’re having one part play well, we can’t even get the other parts on the court, let alone play well. It’s so disappointing not to be at full strength or at least 75 percent. We don’t have room for injury.”"

But they’ll have to find ways to adjust – again – if they want to hold the fort until Wade’s eventual return. Part of that falls on Bosh, who will face Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki at his more natural power forward position. Bosh, named an All-Star reserve on Thursday, will have an advantage over Nowtizki with his athleticism and versatility.

The other unexpected advantage will be Whiteside.

The young center has been productive in his limited time with Miami, making an impact on offense and defense. Without Wade to perfectly execute the pick-and-roll that has led to easy looks at the rim, Whiteside must find a way to create shots for himself. He’ll need to avoid foul trouble while likely seeing increased touches in the low post and you can guarantee that the Mavericks’ Tyson Chandler won’t make things easy for him.

Dallas has gone through their own struggles this season as well. Once considered a legitimate title contender, they’re in the midst of a four-game losing streak. They had averaged 109.5 points per game to lead the NBA but have since only managed 99.6 PPG while shooting just 44.8 percent from the field. The acquisition of Rajon Rondo via midseason trade might be part of the reason.

Rondo’s numbers have plummeted and he went scoreless in his most recent outing, the first time in his career that he’s logged zero points despite playing over 34 minutes. Dallas’ head coach, Rick Carlisle, explained how the teams is different with Rondo in the lineup:

"“Some of the dynamics have changed. But our guys are learning that if Rondo has the ball and he’s attacking, they either need to get to open spots or cut and he’s going to find them. I just think that’s a little adjusting. In some ways, we’re on track and making progress.”"

Miami’s point guards have had their problems all season long so how they fare against a solid defender like Rondo will be worth watching. Ultimately, the trio of Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole and rookie Shabazz Napier will have to be more productive in order to give the Heat a chance at victory. Perhaps Tyler Johnson could provide a boost in the backcourt with his athleticism and long-range shooting. Johnson, signed to a second 10-day contract earlier this week, might provide the latest upswing for the team and its fans.

One knows they could certainly use it.

Check back with All U Can Heat for a post-game grades, a full recap and more.

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