3 Things to Like and Dislike from the Miami Heat’s Preseason Opener

What to Like

The New Guys

Want a reminder of just how lacking the Miami Heat were in depth last year? Michael Beasley’s was this team’s second-highest scorer off the bench, following Mario Chalmers’ 10.2 PPG on 40%.

Michael put up 8 PPG. Trailing him at 7.3 PPG was Henry Walker, who shot 35%. In fact, if you go down the Heat’s bench, you’ll find that a lot of players have the same thing in common: They aren’t in the NBA anymore.

Outside of only having the minor task of having to keep the main core together, the front office also faced the cold, hard truth that a bench starring Walker and Beasley wouldn’t be much of a bench at all.

In come Gerald Green, Justise Winslow, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Josh McRoberts, whose spacing, passing, and athleticism were missed in a year where the Heat severely lacked spacing, passing, and athleticism.

The opener told us that we were dealing with a different caliber of players from last year. You know? Actual NBA players?

Before I get too ahead of myself, let me preface this by recognizing a few of these players’ fatal flaws that allowed them to have such inexpensive deals; Green’s defense and questionable shot select (although he probably could have signed a larger deal elsewhere) and Stoudemire’s defense and health.

Since Amar’e played 78 games in his first season with New York back in 2010-’11, he has missed at least 17 games in the past three years.

Until then, let’s just appreciate them for their strengths, which involve scraping their knuckles across arena ceilings.

I didn’t think I could go on much longer without watching an All-Star game on the Heat floor. These two, as well as Josh McRoberts and Justise Winslow, are freak athletes that will put on a show, for more reasons than one whether it be a Green windmill or a McRoberts no-look pass.

The four combined for 38 points and gave us a taste of what we can expect from the second unit; a fast game with four players that can handle the ball and will score in volume, but probably give up just as much. Even if Justise is the Ron Artest Dwyane Wade has made him out to be.

Offensive Creativity

Miami may have lost the war, but it won the battle in the paint, crushing a Charlotte team that was missing Nicolas Batum, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Al Jefferson 40-18.

Miami also recorded 19 on their 30 made shots, 27 of which were two-point makes as the Heat stray away from the perimeter and put an emphasis on easy makes off of ball movement.

For a night, we saw the benefits of having multiple ball-handlers, a few of whom were newcomers: McRoberts and Winslow.

McRoberts brings an unparalleled brand of basketball. He won’t make a normal pass, but he can get away with it most of the time because he knows how to lead players and fool defenders because of his multi-faceted offensive repertoire.

Sounds like something you’d miss, right? You can find all of his behind-the-back passes here. My favorite is the last one:

Winslow, despite his shooting shortcomings, was touted so highly leading to the draft on account of his maturity. You saw it last night when he turned forcing a fastbreak layup, electing instead to pass it to a cutting Gerald Green, who made a layup and-one on an easier look than Justise would have seen.

Justise finished with three assists and zero turnovers in 28 minutes. Goran Dragic had a game-high six assists, while Mario Chalmers followed with three.

Bosh Return to Normalcy

Finishing with 14 points and 7 rebounds, Chris Bosh gave us no indication that he had not played basketball since early February.

Scoring on an array of post moves, driving lay-ins, and mid-range jumpers, Bosh looked all the part of the versatile, swiss-army velociraptor we’ve come to recognize him as.

His only real blemish of the night came when he back rimmed what would have been a nasty poster dunk over Cody Zeller.

Of course, preseason and starting against Marvin Williams can only reveal so much about Bosh. For now, however, we at least now know that he has not forgot how to play basketball.

What I Didn’t Like

Three-Point Offense and Defense

Miami entered familiar territory last night when it came to three-point shooting, yielding 12-of-29 shooting to a Charlotte team that ranked near the bottom in percentage last year. That robust shooting effort was met by a 3-of-16 bricklaying performance by Miami.

Green, Chalmers and McRoberts each made one.

Miami is going to stray away from the three-point line. As Ethan Skolnick has pointed out on his radio show, the Heat plan on being a team near the bottom in three-point attempts.

They’re going to create spacing without actual spacers, all of whom start the game by riding the bench. The starting lineup’s best shooter, and least reluctant, three-point shooters is probably Chris Bosh, who has only recently started shooting from three.

Dragic is a career 36% 3-point shooter, but you’d much rather have him driving or setting up a shot than taking what would likely be an isolation three. Seeing as you’d want him setting up shooters, rather than taking the shot itself.

Deng would like to move his shot selection further in, despite being 44% corner-shooter last year, as well.

Green is this team’s only gunner, leaving Mario and Josh McRoberts as your only other shooters. Passing needs to be heavily emphasized for this thing to work, as will be fastbreak points if this team plans on scoring along most teams that employ taking a massive amount of threes.

On the other end, Miami wasn’t exactly lacking in defense. Charlotte got a 3-of-4 night from Brian Roberts, 32% last year, a 2-of-2 night from Cody Zeller, he had made only one his two-year career, 3-of-4 from Kemba Walker, 30% last year, and 3-of-5 from rookie Frank Kaminsky.

In other words, the Heat got #ofcoursed. It didn’t take long for it to happen.

Justise Winslow’s Shot

It’s way too early, Justise is way too young, and way too talented to get too much flack for his jump shot.

But, even after a freshman season at Duke where he shot above 40% on threes, we may have to wait for the shots to start falling.

Confidence in his shot early on could have been an issue as a few shots came up not even close. He finished 0-of-3 on threes, and his two makes on a night where he went 2-of-9 were a driving layup and a fastbreak dunk, both of which were wildly impressive.

Justise will get his share of open looks when he plays with a second unit that can create space with four players who can run point and three who can stretch out to the three-point line.

Mario Being Mario

We should already know what’s to come. In only 16 minutes, we still got just about everything we’d expect from Mario.

Making a desperate three at the buzzer? You got it.

Stepping out of bounds before making a shot at the buzzer? Naturally.

Perfect pass on a pick-and-roll to Stoudemire for a dunk? That’s there.

Getting his layup blocked and having it lead to a Charlotte three? Of course.

Three points, three assists, one rebounds, two fouls, and three turnovers for Chalmers, who will move back to his natural point guard position. He had played some at shooting guard last year, throwing his game out of whack as he struggled with his identity.

His three-point shooting will also be a necessity. With the lack of shooters this team has, they cannot afford to have another year where Mario struggles to shoot 30% from three.

We can only hope the Law of Averages comes into play. Miami will need it.


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