Preview: Heat visit Magic in first of home & home series

Mike Ehrmann

The Heat and Magic face off in Orlando in the first of a home & home series with the second game in Miami on Saturday.

The Heat have silenced much of the criticism surrounding their poor start to the season. After a 4-3 start out of the gate for the season, Miami has reeled off 4 wins in a row, seemingly all in different ways. Now, at 8-3, Miami isn't too far behind the Indiana Pacers who are 9-1 and play in New York tonight.

For the Heat, they will face rookie Victor Oladipo for the first time who is averaging 11.7 PPG so far for the 4-6 Magic who are currently 8th in the Eastern Conference. The Magic are led by Aaron Afflalo who is averaging 21.7 PPG this season. But Miami's biggest nemesis on the other side with be Nikola Vucevic. Right now, Vucevic is averaging 15.8 PPG and 11.4 RPG but he has always given the Heat countless troubles on the glass. Jameer Nelson still runs the point for the Magic.

The Heat are coming off a Tuesday night victory over the Atlanta Hawks that saw Dwyane Wade sit out, LeBron James only score 13 points and Ray Allen return from a 3 game absence and score 17 points off the bench. Chris Bosh led the way with 19 points. Wade said he had every intention on playing last night, so chances are that he will play in this game. It was the third time this season that James hasn't scored 20 points, but the Heat have won all three of those games.

That victory improved the winning percentage of Heat coach Erik Spoelstra (268-137) to .6617. If the Heat win tonight, he would pass Boston Celtics legend Red Auerbach (.6619) on the NBA's career list among coaches with more than 400 games.

The Heat and Magic will play again on Saturday night in Miami. The Magic have lost for of their last five games and they have dropped five straight to the Heat.

The Heat will need to make a very concerted effort to keep Vucevic in check. When he is going, it makes the game that much more difficult for the Heat. On the road, the Heat will need to take care of the ball, and LeBron will need to be more effective than he was last night. Overall, the Heat should win this game, but it won't be easy because the Magic offer some challenges that the Heat haven't mastered yet. That doesn't mean it will be close, but the Heat will need to play good ball to leave with a victory.




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