The wait is finally over for Heat fans, and that's after a long summer of doing a lot of just that; waiting. We had to wait for Dwyane Wade to announce his re-signing, we had to wait for LeBron's ‘decision', we had to wait for Udonis and the rest of the roster to be locked up and after all that there has been this long and anxious wait for the day that is finally here...the highly anticipated season opener against the defending Eastern Conference champs.
Call it irony or whatever you want, but the Heat get to begin their new season in the same building where the last one ended. It seems like years, but it was only six months ago when Dwyane Wade and his teammates were abruptly ousted from the 1st round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics. Outside of D-Wade, the Heat players had a very hard time scoring. Miami's only win in the series came during a 46-point effort by Wade who led the Heat in scoring in all 5-games of the playoffs.
The Heat finished 25th in the league in scoring during the 09-10 season, putting up 96.5 points per game. That got significantly worse in the playoffs against a defense oriented Boston squad, when Miami scored just 87.6 points per game. There were several contributing factors to the scoring woes, but the main reason was that there was nobody on the team outside of Wade who could be counted on as a consistent scorer. Opposing teams knew they could shadow defenders towards D-Wade and make other guys on the team beat them.
All that is in the past now, and Dwyane Wade is no longer going to have to put this team on his back. Pat Riley's ultimate free-agent plan came to fruition when he landed both Chris Bosh and LeBron James over the summer, the two most coveted players on the market. The Heat also brought back Udonis Haslem and signed Mike Miller, Eddie House, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Juwan Howard and most recently Jerry Stackhouse.
Unfortunately the Heat lost Mike Miller to a thumb injury last week and will be without him until at least January, which is why they signed Stackhouse over the weekend. Now Miami features a roster which is full of guys that can put the ball in the basket...other then a couple of our centers, of course. Still though, I think it's a safe bet that Miami won't be having the scoring problems they dealt with last season.
Looking ahead to tonight's game, the Heat will have to face a couple of their former centers in Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal. Boston signed both of them during the off-season to make up for Kendrick Perkins being out until at least February after having surgery to repair a torn right ACL suffered during the NBA Finals. Jermaine is already dealing with injuries, and while he should be in the lineup tonight you can expect Shaq to start the game.
As for Miami, they'll get Dwyane Wade back in the lineup for the first time since their preseason opener against Detroit on October 5th. Wade played all of 3:17 in that game before suffering a hamstring injury that kept him off the court until Saturday. After practicing all weekend, Wade has shown no signs of anything lingering from the injured hammy should be his normal self for tonight's game.
Starting at point guard for the Heat will be Carlos Arroyo. Both he and Mario Chalmers had to deal with injuries over the summer and during the preseason. Chalmers was held out of practice on Saturday because he's still dealing with a troublesome ankle that he sprained in July. Despite that, Rio should be in the lineup and backing up Arroyo tonight.
- Including the playoffs, the Heat has lost 8 games in a row at Boston.
- Looking at regular season games, Miami went 0-3 against the Celtics last year and has lost 10 of 11.
- Mario Chalmers (ankle) and Juwan Howard (shoulder) are listed as questionable for Miami.
- For the Celtics, guards Delonte West (suspension), Avery Bradley (ankle) and center Kendrick Perkins (knee) are all out. Center Semih Erdan (shoulder) is questionable.
- The Heat are 11-11 on opening nights during their franchise history. After losing 3 straight season openers from 2006 to 2008, Miami started last year with a victory and began the season 6-1.
- After practice on Monday, Erik Spoelstra brought out the Larry O'Brien trophy that the Heat won in 2006 to show his team.
Tipoff from the TD Garden is set for 7:30. The game will be broadcast nationally on TNT. Are you guys ready for this?!?!?!? LETS GO HEAT!!!!!