Despite losing the jump, Miami started out strong following a Hassan Whiteside defensive rebound that would in turn end up as a Luol Deng offensive putback. Dwyane Wade looks to still be finding his way, with Goran Dragic controlling the tempo.
With that being said, it's apparent that Dragic is a lightning-fast magician constantly able to find an open man while pushing the ball on offense every time. The Heat struggled defensively early allowing Tobias Harris to score five straight points, before they managed to convert on a Dragic jumper on the other end.
Miami was dominated in the paint, but often times it wasn't by Nikola Vucevic who I thought would be the game's largest threat. Wade couldn't get it going from a scoring perspective and appeared to be lacking lift on his shot. One positive note was that Deng finally seems to be asserting himself offensively -- incredible what having a true point guard can do. With the acquisition of Dragic, Miami is displaying Improved ball movement, yet still forcing shots on occasion. Mario Chalmers looks to be thriving as a an off-the-bench type player, he looks very content with more room to operate.
Henry Walker is earning his minutes, as he demonstrates a lot of hustle especially in loose ball opportunities. Miami's shooting was very ugly to start the game, ending this quarter shooting just over 29% from the field.
The start of the second was no better than the latter half of the first. Obviously the second unit is still working to find their groove, as they often settle for contested jumpers or forget their roles on defense. As a result of their woes, Miami elected to go small early in this period, but still couldn't hit the side of a barn or contest defensively.
Following a necessary timeout, Miami came out to a Shabazz Napier turnover and allowed Orlando to complete a 10-0 run before Deng went to the free throw line. Deng was the lone bright spot for Miami in the first half of this period, as he carried the load on offense. Wade looked to facilitate, which is a familiar role for him when he can't get scoring.
The Heat still appeared stagnant on offense, but were bailed out by luck on various possessions. There were multiple well-executed plays however, including a preview of a potential Dragic-Whiteside two-man game. Speaking of Goran, it's interesting to see how Dragic uses his court vision, this was made evident when he passed up forcing a shot and elected to hit Rio in the corner. The Heat managed to pull back within two with an effort led by Wade, but ultimately would give up an easy basket to end the half entering halftime down by four.
The third quarter started a bit better for the Heat as they showed some backbone despite faltering on defense. Udonis Haslem is going through a sight resurgence as he displays similar jump shooting to that of four years ago. Alongside their defensive woes, Miami continued to struggle on offense failing to capitalize on chances, and making very silly mistakes resulting in multiple turnovers.
Around the 5:30 mark, Whiteside managed to spark a small run that would keep the Heat in striking distance. They would also reciprocate their offensive effort on defense, finally managing to get at least a couple of stops. Walker displayed impeccable court vision finding Deng, and really looks like he belongs in the rotation. The Heat surged to end the quarter on a 10-1 run finally tying the game up on some memorable plays, in a forgettable period.
The Heat struggled to score coming into the fourth, with
Bill Henry Walker missing two three pointers in a row. Birdman also found his wings on a beautiful block of Harris, that unfortunately turned into a flying elbow into the neck of Deng. Napier looked comfortable hitting a quick three-point shot, but Miami would follow his make with two botched defensive possessions.
The Heat would continue to struggle, scoring sporadically until Wade went on a small redemption run bringing Miami within two. In the final two minutes the Heat looked scared to shoot, probably a testament to their atrocious shooting efficiency. The Heat however would battle back on defense and force their way back within two on a 7-1 run, thanks to a three from Henry Walker (he had missed all of them until this one). Victor Oladipo would miss a free throw in the final seconds allowing Miami one more chance to tie the game, and Walker would do just that by sending the Heat to overtime with another three.
The overtime period started on a terrible possession for the Heat, but Whiteside became a factor right away as he swatted away a shot attempt and tangled up with Victor Oladipo underneath the hoop. With that being said, Miami still struggled shooting, missing their first five shots of the period. This would eventually change on an lob from Wade to Whiteside.
Sloppy play however wasn't lost as Wade turned the ball over on a pass to a cutting Deng, but fortunately Miami's shooting woes seemingly transferred to the Magic. They were never able to capitalize, allowing the Heat to use experience to their advantage and outlast them.
Luol Deng: He was fantastic until falling victim to a head injury courtesy of our own Chris Andersen. Whatever the case, he sported a terrific stat line of 21 points and 7 rebounds.
Hassan Whiteside: Whiteside was fantastic once again delivering in crucial moments for Miami as well as sporting a stat line of 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Henry Walker: Walker, was going into my "The Bad" section until he absolutely redeemed himself, hitting two crucial threes to send the game into overtime. He's definitely working to earn his contract and right now, he deserves one.
Dwyane Wade: Wade was terrible to start this game, and could barely hit the side of a barn as he took way too many jumpers. However, he managed to play through his shooting struggles and deliver on key plays to work his way to 18 points.
Shooting Efficiency: The Heat shot the ball horribly in this game, so much so that they actually looked scared to shoot the ball in the latter half of the contest. The Heat would end this game shooting 38% from the field. While a lot of this has to be a response to playing with new people, it is still inexcusable for world class basketball players to be so inefficient.
Allure: Excluding the final 30 seconds and the overtime, this has to be one of the worst games I've watched this season for Miami. Everybody seemed off-tempo and there were hardly any redeeming factors for the Heat. I kept hoping Miami would turn things around, but every time things looked to be changing they immediately reverted back to their atrocious defaults... well of course until they managed to bring the game to overtime and win it.
Initially this section was going to be filled with complaints, but Miami managed to win the game and thus this section remains blank while I celebrate.