Well Miami Heat fans...it's here. Well, not exactly. But the NBA preseason is tipping off for the Miami Heat on Saturday night as they play the New Orleans Pelicans on a neutral site in Louisville, KY.
For the Heat, it's a chance for head coach Erik Spoelstra to continue to use his 20-man roster and help determine what the team needs to work on and fix before opening night on October 29 against the Washington Wizards. But it's also an opportunity for the team to evaluate the players who are fighting to make the roster. Ultimately, the Heat will have to cut five of them.
The venue is nearly sold out already at the KFC Yum! Center for a state that has no professional basketball team (although plenty of college options). This will be the first of three neutral site games for the Heat during the preseason, as they will play in Brazil on October 11 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and also in Missouri on October 17 against the Golden State Warriors.
The Pelicans are obviously led by their young star, Anthony Davis. Davis spent the summer with Team USA capturing a Gold Medal in Spain at the FIBA World Cup, and his talent was all on display. Davis is an emerging superstar, and this will be a big year for him. The Heat likely will have no answer for him, especially if Josh McRoberts, Chris Andersen and Justin Hamilton sit again as they are expected to. All three were held out of the scrimmage on Wednesday and Spoelstra indicated after Friday's practice session that it would indeed be the case.
If you've forgotten what the Pelicans have, they will also be running Omer Asik, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, and Ryan Anderson as their main core...plenty for the Heat to deal with. It will be a homecoming for rookie Russ Smith who graduated from Louisville last year.
The Pelicans missed the playoffs last year, but have a strong aim to get in this year if all goes right.
For the Heat, this will be the first real chance we get to see what Spoelstra will plan to do on both ends of the court with a newer roster. Will the offense focus more on Chris Bosh or Dwyane Wade? We likely won't see them play many minutes, but we should get a taste early on what the plan looks like.
Unfortunately, this is the only preseason game that isn't going to be televised in some way. So you'll have to either go to the game or listen to it.
|Mario Chalmers||PG||Jrue Holiday|
|Dwyane Wade||SG||Eric Gordon|
|Luol Deng||SF||Tyreke Evans|
|Udonis Haslem||PF||Anthony Davis|
|Chris Bosh||C||Omer Asik|