Basketball is back.
/Does happy dance
/Cabbage patches like Dwyane Wade
Opening night is a great night every year, but even more so when you get to watch your team get their championship rings from the season before.
While opening night brings large amounts of excitement to basketball fans everywhere, it also causes us to forget one small detail: It's just game one. There are 81 more just like it. And they all count the same.
Regardless, since this is the first real game, there are real observations to be made, and I'm here to make them for you.
* The Heat looked very aggressive on defense, especially early in last night's game. The Bulls were forced in to 18 turnovers last night, including 5 by Derrick Rose. Mario Chalmers had 5 steals for the Heat.
* Norris Cole was everywhere last night. In 21 minutes, Cole had 11 points (5-7 from the field), 7 rebounds (!!!) and 3 assists. The downside, as we've grown accustomed too with Cole, was 3 turnovers, which tied for the team lead with Chalmers, Wade, Haslem and Ray Allen. (Unintended note within the note: That seems like a lot of guys with exactly 3 turnovers, doesn't it?) Perhaps most importantly, Cole was +17 in his 21 minutes, and while this stat is a bit flawed, it does show that Cole was a pretty positive force for Miami last night.
* Ray Allen and Shane Battier combined to shoot 7 of 10 from beyond the arc, while the Heat as a team shot 11-20. The three-point shot is where the Heat have made their living in the Big 3 era, and it's nice to see the team come out hot in that regard instead of rusty.
* Chris Bosh only took two threes (and he hit one of them), but him proving to be a consistent threat from beyond the arc could be huge for the Heat come playoff time. If Bosh can force Centers to guard him that far away from the rim, it will open up driving lanes like never before for Lebron, Wade and even guys like Shane Battier, who had not one, but two dribble drives last night. I'm not an advocate of Bosh living at the three-point line, but Spo keeping him out there just enough to keep defenses on their toes is a nice wrinkle.
* As a team, the Heat did an excellent job of getting everybody involved. Every player who got minutes scored at least 6 points, 8 players were in double figures, and nobody scored over 20 points. Moving the ball is critical against any opponent, but particularly against Chicago, who does such a great job on defense. Keeping the Bulls rotating on defense and making the extra pass on offense allowed the Heat to finish the night shooting 51% from the field after starting 1-10 (they proceeded to go 36 for 62, good for 58%. Stat courtesy of @ByTimReynolds).
* The Bulls have some issues. Rose looked healthy last night - he was fast, and played fearless, like we're used to seeing out of him. Even though the stat line doesn't reflect it, he looked like he was back. After that, though? Boozer had 31 points, which is an effort I wouldn't expect to see replicated very often this season. And the bench? After Mike Dunleavy and Taj Gibson, who is going to be able to score consistently?
Their brand of defense will help carry them through the regular season with a great record, like it always does - that's why I predicted them to finish 2nd in the conference in my official predictions. However, as we've seen in the past, to beat the Heat in the playoffs, you'll eventually need to outscore them, and can this roster do that? I don't know.
In the long run, the result of last night's game won't matter. The Heat are 1-0, and the Bulls are 0-1. Three weeks from now, we'll forget exactly how opening night went. Three months from now, we'll barely remember who played. In spite of the games impact on the rest of the season, the observations mentioned above are all worth monitoring as things progress.
More from Hot Hot Hoops:
- 2013 Miami HEAT Player Intro video released
- Heat vs Bulls - Player of the Match: LeBron James
- HHH GameTime Preview: Miami Heat Vs. Philadelphia 76ers
- Heat get their rings, raise Championship banner, and wipe out Bulls 107-95 on Opening Night
- Heat outlast Bulls 107-95 on Opening Night after receiving their Championship rings
- Heat unveil 2013 NBA Championship Ring; limited edition Jostens collection now available
- So it's in writing: NBA Season Predictions