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Preview: Heat begin preseason hosting Hawks; Cole and Battier ready for action

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The Heat open the preseason with Monday night game versus the Atlanta Hawks at the AmericanAirlines Arena. Check out what Erik Spoelsta, Shane Battier and Norris Cole had to say after today's shootaround.

Surya Fernandez - Hot Hot Hoops

The Miami Heat finally return to (semi) competitive action with a Monday evening preseason game opener against the new-look Atlanta Hawks at the AA Arena.

While Heat fans are a bit spoiled due to their team having the shortest offseason in the NBA (along with the second-place San Antonio Spurs), it still feels like a long time has passed since that Game 7 victory at home 15 weeks ago.

"It seems like a lifetime ago," Shane Battier remarked after today's morning shootaround as he looked around the assortment of new photos from the NBA Finals that adorn Championship Alley outside the Heat locker room.

When asked about today's preseason opener, Battier sounded relieved for a return to some real action.

"It'll be good to play against somebody else. We had a very competitive training camp and practices but we're ready to try out where we are tonight against the Hawks."

As for yesterday's team scrimmage, Battier was excited to return to the main floor since the Game 7 victory and play in front of their supporters.

"It was good to get in front of our fans again. It re-energized us. When you're away in training camp you sort of forget how passionate our fanbase is and it was great to come back and feel the love. So we're excited to perform for our fans tonight and for our season."

Coach Erik Spoelstra won't be playing his regulars too often tonight, as he indicated after the shootaround.

"I don't know how many guys I'll play tonight," he admitted. "I'll play some of our regulars enough to get a feel for it but not long minutes and I'll try to take a look at as many guys as possible but I'll probably have to make changes."

Reserve point guard Norris Cole was one of the better players in Sunday's scrimmage and he's taking his preparation seriously as he transitions from rookie to veteran. Cole joked that no matter what he'll always be one of the younger guys on the team for the time being but was serious when it came to talking about this upcoming season.

"When you work hard, you want to go out there and show what you've been working on. You want to be polished. This is my third year so it's time to put for me to put my game all together.

"I wanted to come into camp ready. Our team, we all came into camp with our weight and body fat lean. So that means we prepared all offseason. So with training camp, it's just to continue those habits that we're going to need later on this season to make our run."

When asked on how he'll approach tonight's game, Spoelstra revealed more about what tonight can realistically offer as he prepares his team for the regular season while getting a look at some young talent.

"It'll be more about managing minutes tonight rather than trying to see different rotations," he explained. "And we'll get into that as we go - we have a couple of back-to-backs - that will allow us to do a little bIt more of that. Tonight, I want to get some of our regulars at least some rotation minutes for them to blow it out. Then I'll just try to take a look at some of the guys we want to take a look at, but I won't be able to do all those guys tonight. To be fair, we'll have to split it up some so the guys have enough minutes to show what they can do."

The savvy veteran Battier, for one, is more than ready to get ready for the season already.

"I think for every player, you're trying to get your sea legs under you," he says as he chuckles. "Just trying to get the movements that you're so used to for 9 months of the year back in rhythm. So the next level is the mental side, (that) comes later but right now it's about getting the physical side working again."

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