Well, at least now we can move onto the real games.
LeBron James and Chris Bosh rested as the Brooklyn Nets blew out the Miami Heat 108-87 in the two-time defending champions' final preseason game. Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson scored a flurry of points to close out the second quarter, turning a game that was 43-42 with five minutes left before the half to 64-48 by intermission. Earlier in the period, Pierce swiped Dwyane Wade across the face. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Marquette body-checked Pierce on the ensuing possession. During Brooklyn's game-shifting run, Wade picked up a technical foul after Johnson stole the ball from him. It indeed appears that the sentiments from the Miami/Boston rivalry have not gone anywhere.
Now, two exhibition blowouts at the hands of the Nets has no significance for the Heat. Shane Battier's driving and-one banker illustrates the fact that this was a preseason game. Miami's defense was clearly subpar -- Brooklyn shot 16-for-26 from beyond the arc, an inexcusable mark for any meaningful NBA game. But the Heat also didn't play particularly good defense in the opening months of the 2012-13 season, and Miami wound up with a 27-game winning streak and an NBA title. Brooklyn will definitely stand as a playoff contender, but Deron Williams and his revamped cast will have to prove that they can improve on their underwhelming first-round exit from last year. As an aside, it was cute to see Jason Terry spread out his arms after making a 3 in a preseason game.
If one looked for positives, Udonis Haslem had a very nice game. He started off the night making two jumpers and finished with 16 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field. Haslem is as especially interesting case on the Heat. Erik Spoelstra's loyalty and commitment to him is unquestioned -- just look at how he started over a No. 2 draft pick in 2008-09. But Spoelstra didn't play Haslem at all in Games 6 and 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals, partly because Bosh and Chris Andersen are simply better than the post-2010 foot injury Haslem. But if the 6-foot-8 Miami native can consistently hit that jumper, he'll have a firm spot in the rotation.
Mario Chalmers added 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field and dished out six assists. He looked especially good tonight and seemed to relish the opportunity to showcase his offense with James and Bosh out, even making a Rajon Rondo-like move in the third quarter.
The Heat will have to make their final round of cuts before the regular season. My guess is that Eric Griffin and Justin Hamilton will be out, and Roger Mason and Michael Beasley will make the team. Both Mason and Beasley have the potential to make solid offensive contributions off the bench for Miami.
Miami players from the 2013 championship run will receive their rings Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. before hosting Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls.