Opening night could not have gone any better. It began with a wonderful ceremony for Tim Hardaway who got to watch his #10 jersey get lifted up into the American Airlines Arena rafters. It's very true that Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning made the Heat what they are now, a team with a winning history and dedicated, loyal fans.
Those fans were rewarded tonight, as the Heat dominated the Knicks on both ends of the floor, cruising to an easy 22-point victory. As we saw in the second half of the preseason, the Heat continued to shoot the lights out, shooting 56% from the field as a team, and 7-of-15 from 3.
Every player shot the ball well last night. The Heat's worst shooter was actually their leading scorer, as D-Wade shot 10-for-22 for 26 points. He still struggled with his jumper, missing his first 5 long-range shots, but found his stroke late and hit back-to-back 18-footers.
Jermaine O'Neal was definitely the player of the game for the Heat. He opened the game with turnaround jumper, then made a very nice pass to D-Wade for an easy layup. He was also the force we have been begging for on the glass, grabbing five 1st half rebounds.
He wasn't done there, grabbing another 5 in the first six minutes of the 3rd quarter. Jermaine was also scoring at ease, finishing the game 10-of-12 from the field and starting the season with a 22-12 double double. Games like this will be HUGE for the Heat if O'Neal can consistently bring this kind of effort.
-Mario Chalmers started out very aggressive, hitting 3 of his first 4 shots. He finished a solid 5-of-7 (11 points) and dished out 4 assists as well. He looked good running the point, and defensively his positioning was much improved, but that can be said for several of our young guys. Good job, coaches.
-Speaking of the Heat coaches, you know they were loving the two new guys (Richardson and Arroyo) drawing offensive fouls in the 1st quarter. Richardson would take another charge in the 3rd quarter.
-One cool moment was when Dwyane Wade stole a Knicks inbound pass, did a mid-air 360 to lay it in and put the Heat up by 22. In the first game of their 22nd season the Heat had a 22-point lead. What could be cooler then that? How about winning by 22!
-I could really get used to Udonis Haslem coming off the bench and playing just like he always does. He was drilling his outside J's but was still getting dirty in the paint. 8 points and 9 boards along with his usual great defense; it seems for at least one night Erik Spoelstra looks like a genius.
-Quentin Richardson had a solid debut, despite not taking a shot until the 2nd half. He drilled his first two jumpers, including a trey, and his D was up to par.
-Daequan Cook showed us a little bit of the improved ball handling that was advertised throughout training camp, but his shooting was just as good as ever. He was confident when putting the ball up and I thought he moved very well without the ball. We just have to hope that he keeps it going for an entire season, as opposed to the 2nd half sputter of a year ago.
-The Heat must have played well if it's this late in the post and I'm just getting to Michael Beasley. Beas looked good playing both the 4 and the 3, but the best part of Beasley's game was his defense. His positioning and footwork made him look like an entire different player.
-Offensively, Beasley is such a natural scorer it's difficult for him to look bad. Now that he is driving the ball as much as shooting from the outside, he'll get that much more room to maneuver.
-Wasn't it nice to see someone other then Chris Quinn coming off the bench in relief of Mario Chalmers?
-James Jones only made it into the final 2 minutes of the game, but still drilled his first and only trey of the night. Spoelstra said after the game that guys like Jones will get more minutes, that tonight it was just the beast of the rotation.
-Joel Anthony: solid bench D. 2 blocks and 3 boards in 19 minutes don't do him justice.
Next game is Friday night when Jermaine O'Neal leads the Heat back into his old stomping ground, Conseco Fieldhouse, to face the Pacers.