One week into the season doesn’t provide a huge sample size of games, but we are starting to get a sense of how the offseason has impacted the Miami Heat and their Eastern Conference rivals. The stage is set for a competitive and interesting season. Let’s take a look at how the Heat measure up with this week’s Eastern Conference power rankings.
1. Boston Celtics (Last: 2)
The Celtics are 2-0, with wins over the Knicks and Heat. Jayson Tatum has laid the foundation of a potential MVP-caliber season by averaging 28 points on 50% shooting, 9.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists. New additions Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday have been a seamless fit, with Porzingis providing an immediate boost in rim protection and Holiday chipping in all the winning things on the margins (and an impressive 3.0 assist-to-turnover ratio). Derrick White has 40 points through two games, including 14 in the fourth quarter on Friday against the Heat.
2. Milwaukee Bucks (Last: 1)
Damian Lillard made a statement in his Bucks debut, scoring 39 points and hitting the game-clinching 3 in the team’s season-opening win against the 76ers. The two-man game between Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo is still a work in progress, as evidenced by the team’s loss to the Hawks on Sunday. The defense, built around a staring backcourt of Lillard and Malik Beasley, has leaked points. The top-end talent of this group is undeniable but there are still plenty of things to be worked out under new head coach Adrian Griffin.
Knocking on the door
3. Philadelphia 76ers (Last: 4)
It’s been a week of close calls for the 76ers, who lost to the Bucks by one point, then beat the Raptors a few nights later by seven and blew out the Trail Blazers by 28 points on Sunday. But ignoring the wins and losses, it’s clear Tyrese Maxey has taken a leap. The 22-year-old guard is averaging 30.3 points on 50% shooting, starting in place of James Harden, who has yet to play this season. Joel Embiid has played well — though a notch below his MVP standards — but has gotten help from the likes of Kelly Oubre Jr. (27 points at Milwaukee) and Tobias Harris (20 points at Milwaukee, 24 points against Portland). If the Sixers can come out of the other side of this Harden situation, there’s enough talent here that they can’t be counted out.