However, the Heat got off to a rough start this preseason when their cornerstone player, Dwayne Wade suffered a pulled hamstring less than four minutes into the team's preseason unveiling against the Detroit Pistons.
On October 12, LeBron James limped off the court during an exhibition match against CSKA Moscow and, like Wade, James was diagnosed with a pulled hamstring. To add to their injury problems, the Heat suffered another loss on Wednesday when swingman Mike Miller fractured his thumb while guarding LeBron James during a Heat practice after rolling his ankle against the Charlotte Bobcats on October 18.
LeBron James proved that his hamstring injury was a non-issue when he amassed 33 points, four boards and five assists in the Heat's October 18 loss to the Bobcats and then again on Thursday night when he picked up a double-double, as he scored 38 points and snagged 11 boards in Miami's loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Though James proved to be both healthy and potent against the Bobcats and the Hawks, aside from injuries, the Heat had another problem, a losing problem.
The Heat have not just lost valuable assets to their team due to injuries, but they have also lost more games then they have won on their preseason schedule and have finished their preseason with a shocking 3-4 record, after their showdown with the other team in Florida, the Orlando Magic was cancelled on Friday due to poor playing conditions.
But what about that "other" team in Florida? The Magic were a team that finished their preseason with a perfect 7-0 record. The Magic en route to their perfect preseason record scored 102.7 points-per game, in comparison to the Heat, who only averaged 97.7 points per game this preseason.
Defensively the Magic also proved to be superior to the Heat this preseason only allowing their opponents to score an average of 77.7 points per game in comparison to Miami who allowed their opponents to score an average of 92.9 points per game. The Magic defensively did not allow a single opponent to score more than 88 points in a single game against them this preseason. Then in their final four exhibition games they held each of their opponents to under 80 points.
To compare, the Magic and the Heat shared three common opponents this preseason: the Hawks, the Bobcats and New Orleans Hornets. Of the common opponents the Heat lost all three of the games while the Magic prevailed in their encounters with the three clubs.
The Heat fell to the Hawks by a score of 98-89, in which LeBron James racked up 38 points and Chris Bosh recorded his only double-double of the preseason by scoring 14 points and swiping 14 rebounds.
Conversely, the Magic dominated the Hawks, defeating their other division foe by a score of 102-73 in which Dwight Howard posted numbers similar to Bosh's, recording 14 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.
The Bobcats, a team that was expelled from their first ever trip to the playoffs by being swept in the opening round by the Magic, defeated Miami by a score of 102-96 despite LeBron James' 33-point effort. The Magic defeated the Bobcats again during this year's preseason by a score of 86-73, this time without the presence and help of stars Dwight Howard, Vince Carter or Rashard Lewis.
The Heat fell to the Hornets, a team that failed to make the playoffs last year, by a score of 90-76, but it is important to note that they were without both LeBron James and Dwayne Wade due to a pair of pulled hamstrings. The Magic were boosted by a pair of 23-point performers in J.J. Redick and Rashard Lewis as they handily crushed the Hornets by a score of 135-81.
Though the much anticipated Heat-Magic preseason showdown was cancelled on Friday, fans will not have to wait long to see how the two teams actually compare because the first of their four regular season meetings is scheduled for this coming Friday, October 29.
The Heat are optimistic that their guard Dwayne Wade will be available to play by their first regular season game and therefore available to play against Orlando on Friday. The Heat without Wade have arguably not been at full strength which has led to a lot of their preseason woes. Wade's presence in Fridays meeting between the two teams will undoubtedly make the game more interesting and will truly test an Orlando Magic team that has boasted a dominant defense throughout the NBA's preseason.
Friday's Floridian faceoff boasts two very talented and star-studded lineups and demands the interest of NBA fans everywhere as both the Orlando Magic and the Miami Heat begin to battle out it out for the right to claim their dominance early in the Southeastern division.