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For the first time since winning the Larry O'Brien trophy June 21, the Miami Heat will play in its first exhibition game of the season, visiting the Atlanta Hawks Sunday at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Sun Sports.
Dwyane Wade (knee), Mario Chalmers (quad) and Joel Anthony (hamstring) are out. That means Norris Cole will get the starting position, hoping to improve on an uneven rookie campaign. Udonis Haslem has a minor leg injury and may not play. Rodney Carney and Garrett Temple have ankle issues and are questionable to play.
Erik Spoelstra said that LeBron James and Chris Bosh will see limited action.
Miami has not signed Juwan Howard, but he was in Heat warmup gear before the game. The team clarified that he joined the team in an "advisory role."
What to watch for:
- Having traded Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams, the Atlanta Hawks are now in a rebuilding mode. Nonetheless, it may be interesting to see how Cole matches up against Jeff Teague.
- Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis both will make their Heat debuts today. Will Lewis offer anything more than his brutal performance in Wednesday's scrimmage? How will James and Bosh mesh with Allen, someone who is expected to stand as the fourth option on this team?
- The Heat carry 20 players into this game, and will need to trim the roster to 15 by the start of the regular season. It will be interesting to see if 2010 second-round pick Jarvis Varnado can match up athletically with Josh Smith. How will Josh Harrellson, Dexter Pittman and Mickell Gladness defend Al Horford, an All-Star center who will see the ball in his hands a lot more frequently this season? Can Garrett Temple, Rodney Carney or Terrel Harris offer anything to convince Pat Riley that he deserves a spot on a team already loaded on the wings?
- As mentioned in his player profile, Udonis Haslem worked on his 3-point shot over the summer. Will we see him begin to knock down open jumpers with regularity again, or will his shot appear broken? Speaking of broken, will Mike Miller finish the game with all of his body parts intact?
Enjoy the game, Heat fans.