The Miami Heat hit the main court at the AmericanAirlines Arena for the annual Red, White and Pink game in their first public appearance as a team since Dwyane Wade’s farewell on April 10.
The game was a charity event in honor of breast cancer awareness and to extend support to survivors of breast cancer. Players also walked out with breast cancer survivors during player introductions.
While not a standard NBA game of basketball, with players switching teams and four quarters of 10 minutes each, it did provide an interesting look into what the Heat have to offer this season.
To begin with, the Heat split into two teams: Red team and White team. Starting for Red team was Justise Winslow, who ran point, Dion Waiters, Jimmy Butler, Duncan Robinson and Bam Adebayo. Meanwhile, the White team started Goran Dragic, Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro, Derrick Jones Jr. and Meyers Leonard. Kelly Olynyk was held out of the scrimmage with an injury, while James Johnson has not returned to the team since failing to meet the Heat’s weight goals for the start of the season.
These distinctions between teams immediately began fan speculation. The Red team certainly looks like what many believe the starting lineup will be, save for Robinson, who would likely be replaced by Olynyk in this scenario. There is still competition for the starting spots, as the only “guaranteed” starters on the roster are Butler and Adebayo, and likely Olynyk once healthy. This leaves an open backcourt for grabs, and many questions for fans.
Winslow starting with the Red team added fuel to the possibility of starting at point guard in the regular season, and he displayed a strong playmaking ability in the game, finishing with 11 points, four rebounds and four assists, while shooting two-for-two from downtown. Meanwhile, Dragic finished the game with just two points, two assists and four turnovers.
Waiters also impressed for the Red team, finishing with 17 points and five assists, on 50% field goal percentage.
Guaranteed starter and team star Butler came out of the gates strong, starting off the game with six points, five rebounds and three assists, one of which was a particularly nice dish to Winslow, who hit a three. Butler finished with nine points, five rebounds and five assists.
The White team starting lineup looked as if it could be the bench rotation, at least until James Johnson returns. Nunn and Leonard in particular stood out as starters on the White team, with Nunn finishing with 15 points and two assists on 54.5% shooting and 42.9% from deep. Leonard flashed an amazing ability to shoot from deep, making four of seven shots from that mark, and 16 points to boot. He also set a few impressive screens and really got the offense moving, something that gives Miami a nice one-two punch with their centers.
Almost every player that played in the scrimmage looked impressive, and it provided even more intrigue as to who will make the roster on two-way contracts. Each NBA team is allowed to carry two players on two-way contracts, which allow the players up to 45 days in the NBA, and the rest in the G-League. Among those competing for these spots are guards Daryl Macon, Davon Reed, Jeremiah Martin and Mychal Mulder, and big men Chris Silva and Kyle Alexander.
Silva played the most out of the fringe roster guys, recording an impressive 13 points, 12 rebounds and five assists on nearly perfect shooting from the floor. However, Macon played exceedingly well in more limited time than Silva, finishing with seven points, three rebounds and four assists, including a nice lob to Silva.
Also of note is the impressive play of KZ Okpala and Robinson. Okpala flashed incredible athleticism and length that got him drafted, and also had a strong dunk over the aforementioned Silva. Robinson, who likely started in place of Olynyk and was one of Miami’s two-way contract players last season, finished with 17 points, which tied with Waiters for leading all players, to go along with five assists on 45.5% shooting from deep on 11 shots.
Udonis Haslem was the only active player to not play, despite “We want Haslem!” chants that resonated throughout the building towards the end of the game.
The Heat will kick off preseason play on Tuesday, October 8 vs. the San Antonio Spurs in AmericanAirlines Arena at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets for home preseason games can be purchased on HEAT.com or Ticketmaster.com , with prices starting at $10. All Heat home games are mobile entry only, with e-tickets showing up on the Heat app or the Ticketmaster app.
For fans that cannot make it to the game, or do not live in South Florida, the game will likely be streamed on Fox Sports Sun, though nothing has been officially announced yet.