Miami Heat kick off the New Year with the Mavericks


Game preview for the Miami Heat vs the Dallas Mavericks.

Heat (18-13) vs Mavericks (19-13)
Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida
When: Friday, Jan. 1, 7:30 PM ET
Watch: FSSW, FS-SUN, NBA League Pass

Happy New Year!

With 2015 in the books, it’s time for the Miami Heat to start the grind that 2016 has in store for them, as they play 12 of their next 17 games on the road to start the new calendar year. But their first game of the year starts at home with a renewal of acquaintances with an old Finals rival in the Dallas Mavericks.

The Heat are limping into January falling to sixth in the Eastern Conference and losers of their last two, a terrible loss vs. the Nets at home and a tough loss on the road in Memphis, so Miami is looking to bounce back before they jump into the teeth of the month of death. They face off against a Mavericks team that has won four in a row, and sees itself in the fifth seed in the Western Conference.

Related Story: Goran Dragic frustrated with 4th quarter offense

Matchup to Watch: Dirk Nowitzki vs. Chris Bosh

Nowitzki is just an ageless wonder, as he’s still the centerpiece of what the Mavericks want to do on offense. While his counting stats have dipped – scoring 17.1 points, and 6.9 rebounds per game –  he’s still shooting 47% from the field and 39% from three, so Bosh will have to keep him in check.

But on the other end, Nowitzki will have to contend with Bosh, who’s not to shabby himself, shooting 47% from the field, and leads the Heat with 41% shooting from downtown. Nowtizki was never really known for being a great defender, so Bosh should be the focal point of the Heat’s offense in a matchup that should favor him on that end.

X-Factor: Chandler Parsons

In the Heat’s last ten games, they’ve given up 37.1% shooting from beyond the arc – 11th worse in that span – so putting the clamps on the Dallas shooters will have to be a priority. While Parsons hasn’t found his stroke quite yet from long distance – 34% this season – the Heat’s defense as of late has made everyone look like Ray Allen (*tear*). If Parsons gets into a groove early on, the Heat are going to be in for a long night. The presumed return of Justise Winslow should help, as the Nets and Grizzlies shot 39.6% from three in the two games he missed, and he will probably see a lot of time on Parsons.

More heat: Justise Winslow is working with a shooting coach

Key Stats: 96.0

We often talk about points per 100 possessions as a barometer for how well a team does on both ends of the floor, but the Heat’s lack of possessions is still their Achilles heel. Miami is second to last in possessions at 96 per game, as their slow pace (29th in the NBA), inability to rebound (22nd), and lack of success in generating turnovers (25th) can’t help create more possessions for a team that is fourth in the league in field goal percentage (46.3%).