The Miami Heat have a challenging week ahead of them, but it is one they will embrace.
Over their next four games, the Heat will play the Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, and Philadelphia 76ers — pretty much every major team that could stand in their way of winning the East.
The Heat are 40-21 and at the top of the East with all of them looking up.
But...not all of these games will be equal. The Nets will be without Kyrie Irving (vaccine mandate), but possibly the return of Kevin Durant. The Bulls are still without Alex Curoso and Lonzo Ball. And the Sixers are acclimating to new roster composition. Regardless, this string of games will be a challenge and teach us about the Heat.
Before we get too far, let’s just acknowledge that we know who the Heat are. These games, even with an 0-4 record wouldn’t change the direction of where they are headed, but it can reveal or magnify some issues that we know they have. Let’s take a closer look at their week.
Monday, vs Chicago Bulls
Chicago is second in the East and has been right alongside the Heat for a while. The Bulls have been riding the stellar play of DeMar DeRozan, who cooled off a bit in their loss to the Grizzlies on Saturday night.
Miami is 2-0 vs the Bulls, but this will be their first time playing against both DeRozan and LaVine, so the Heat will have plenty of opportunities to show who they are. Chicago will be a tough game, and a win would seal a tie-breaker and give the Heat a 2 game lead on them.
Wednesday, @ Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks have had their ups and downs. They are a pretty good team, but they are beatable every night. They just lost at home to the Nets, who are missing a few players. The Bucks are a challenging matchup for the Heat, but these teams haven’t seen each other healthy since opening night. This will be a good matchup.
Many people think the Bucks are the lone threat to the Heat in the East, and they are at least the strongest. Miami was the first team to beat the combo of Giannis, Middleton, and Holiday and they did it behind Caleb Martin. Time for Jimmy Butler to stack up against the Bucks.
Thursday, @ Brooklyn Nets
A back-to-back set is never ideal when facing teams as tough as these two. And we aren’t sure what Nets players we will see — maybe Kevin Durant will be available (was rumored to be ready sometime this week). And Kyrie Irving will likely be out unless something changes between now and then with the vaccine mandate in New York.
But let’s talk about the real issue: the Heat will be facing Goran Dragic for the first time this season. I’m sure it will be all love between the two, but it will be bittersweet seeing him play against Miami with one of their strongest competitors. The Heat needs to get out of Milwaukee healthy and not overloaded to give the Nets enough attention.
Saturday, vs Philadelphia 76ers
James Harden, Joel Embiid, and the 76ers will be a challenge for Miami. Embiid, when engaged is a really tough cover for the Heat. Bam, as good as he is, is just small enough to not be bothered much by Embiid. If he’s on, the Heat need to work harder on everyone else.
The Heat doesn’t have a problem keeping James Harden from scoring a ton, but he is an able creator that has hurt them moving the ball. This matchup will give us a great glimpse of how these two teams match up after that trade.
A BIG WEEK
We will have you covered every step up the way! But go ahead and COMMENT and let us know what you are looking to see from the Heat this week!