While the Miami Heat have had an almost flawless start to their 2011-2012 season, the first 9 games have gone by in a blur. That's probably because of how few days those 9 games had been played in, and for those wondering, the number of days between the start of the season and Miami's last game is just 16. 9 games in 16 days for the Heat, which combined with a rigorous travel schedule has left no time for any full practice sessions.
That will finally change today. Erik Spoelstra will march his troops onto the court at the University of San Francisco where the Miami Heat's first full practice of the season will be held. Of course there have been game-day shootarounds and drill workouts and things of that nature, but Monday will be the first time there will be a true, dedicated practice session.
Under normal circumstances, the Heat don't hold practices the day after back-to-back games or the day after a road game. Taking that into account, combined with the lockout-shortened 66-game schedule, that would leave Miami with 22 opportunities to hold practice this season. However, coach Erik Spoelstra doesn't see it that way.
"Out of 22, I counted 11½, maybe, that we can have full scale, full contact, that we're used to at the Miami Heat. Now, we can have 22 where you can do something and shooting, but maybe not contact. So it's considerably less (then last season). Last year we had 76 practices."
The practice time, and more importantly the multiple days in between games, couldn't come at a better time for the Heat. Dwyane Wade has missed 3 straight games with a bruised left foot, LeBron James is still nursing a left ankle injury and Mario Chalmers appeared to hurt his left shoulder during Miami's win over New Jersey on Saturday.
The Heat are hoping to have all three of them in the lineup tomorrow against the Warriors, along with injured sharpshooter Mike Miller who has yet to play this season. Miller has been targeting Tuesday night for his return from off-season hernia surgery, but neither he or the team are in any rush to get him back in the lineup.
Whether or not Miller is available for tomorrow night, just knowing that he is close to returning is a shot in the arm for the Heat. That, combined with allowing D-Wade, LeBron and Chalmers some extra time to heal up, makes this day of practice ideal for Miami. We'll see how much it pays off when the Heat takes the court against a disappointing Golden State team on Tuesday.