2010-11 NBA Predictions: Miami Heat's 10 Biggest Preseason Goals
October 26 is the date when the Miami Heat finally beginstheir regular season at Boston. Unfortunately, until then Heat fans and NBA fans everywhere continue to be teased with games that do not count, featuring players we really couldn’t care less about.
The preseason is an essential time for every team. It is a time when coaches make roster cuts and develop lineup rotations. It is a time when coaches can become acquainted with new players and construct strategies to accentuate team strengths and minimize weaknesses.
Yet most importantly, it is a time where a team attempts to become a cohesive unit and set goals for the upcoming season. While fans everywhere can bemoan the fact that starters play minimal minutes and that the games count for as much as a LeBron James Cavaliers jersey, each team must make important decisions that have a lasting effect on the season.
Here are the 10 biggest preseason goals for the Miami Heat:
10. Decide on a Starting Point Guard
Coach Erik Spoelstra has a big decision on who will start at point guard between Carlos Arroyo and Mario Chalmers.
Arroyo is the more experienced of the two, but Chalmers arguably has more talent. Chalmers is clearly a better defender; however, Arroyo has the benefit of being the incumbent starter and seems like the more stable of the two options.
With both players missing the last game versus San Antonio, the battle remains up in the air. Coach Spo still has two weeks to make his decision, so only time will tell.
9. Get and Stay Healthy
Fortunately, Dwyane Wade's injury is not extremely serious; however, as with any team Miami should be concerned with getting healthy and staying injury free throughout the preseason.
Chris Bosh and LeBron James should see limited playing time in order to avoid costly injuries. If the Heat have any sense, they will keep Wade out for the majority of the preseason.
Every Heat fan is excited to see the Miami Thrice finally play together for an extended period of time, but Coach Spoelstra would be wise to limit their playing time in order to avoid unnecessary injuries.
8. Make the Right Cuts
With 20 players on the roster currently, the Heat have several cuts to make with plenty of talent on the back end of the roster. Da'Sean Butler would have been a first round draft pick had he been healthy although he is not expected to recover from a torn knee ligament until midseason.
There are four centers currently on the roster with Joel Anthony and Zydrunas Illgauskas virtually guaranteed spots. Miami could keep Jamaal Magloire and Dexter Pittman, but four centers may be too many to keep on the roster.
Patrick Beverley has been impressive so far after a couple years in Europe and put up a double-double in the most recent preseason game against San Antonio. Kenny Hasbrouck had an abysmal performance against the Spurs, which may be enough to lose him a spot.
No matter what the final decisions may be, these players will most likely see some decent minutes of mop-up duty in the regular season if the Heat blowout their opponents.
7. Create a Rotation
Who is going to be the first guard off the bench? The first forward? How many minutes will each of the Miami Thrice play every night?
These are questions that must be solved by the time preseason ends. Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem seem to be the obvious choices for first players off the bench, but it is possible that James Jones, Big Z, or Juwan Howard emerge as candidates to play some sizable minutes.
Despite what several detractors have stated, the Miami Heat roster is deep with proven veterans at each position coming off of the bench. Coach Spoelstra has many difficult decisions to make regarding who will receive the bulk of the playing time after Wade, LeBron, and Bosh.
6. Teach Joel Anthony How To Rebound
Anthony is not an offensive threat, but he is not expected to be. The center from Quebec has the job of rebounding and being a defensive stopper in the middle.
While Anthony has blocked a few shots in the recent preseason games, his rebounding has been quite underwhelming. Anthony has picked up quick fouls and has so far looked disappointing after he was given a contract extension this offseason.
If Anthony cannot improve his rebounding, it is possible that the Heat go to a small lineup with Bosh and Haslem or give more playing time to Zydunas Illgauskas or Jamaal Magloire.
5. Gel As a Team
With 11 arrivals and seven departures, it comes as no surprise that the Heat roster is composed of entirely new players. The Miami players must learn each other's tendencies and capabilities in order to perform at an optimal level once the regular season starts.
This is a difficult task as there is a fine line between overplaying and overtaxing the star players versus giving them game experience playing with each other. It will take time for Miami to coalesce as a team unit.
Miami will have to be ready as the gauntlet will be thrown down immediately when it starts the regular season in Boston and play Orlando three days later.
4. Put the Distractions Behind
The Miami Heat offseason was the most discussed and debated free agency period of all time. Between Chris Bosh's tweets, Dwyane Wade's mixed messages, and LeBron James's Decision, the 2010 Miami Heat is surrounded by an unprecedented amount of controversy.
Miami has a target on its back. When LeBron returns to Cleveland and goes to New York, it will be a spectacle. Games in Chicago and New Jersey may also feature some bitter fans who had such high hopes for their teams' offseasons.
With so much media coverage on Miami, the Heat will have to remain focused on basketball and winning games, a difficult task in the circus-like atmosphere that will follow them.
3. Pick a Nickname for the Miami Thrice
There have been a few nicknames thrown out there, but for now Bosh, James, and Wade are known collectively as the Miami Thrice. The South Florida trio needs a better nickname similar to the names given to Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce when they combined forces a few years ago.
The "Boston Three Party" even had their own ESPN commercial. The newly formed Miami trio needs a cool nickname before the preseason ends. Hopefully, Miami fans can come up with one before the spurned fans of other teams come up with something cleverly derogatory that sticks.
2. Get Ready For Boston
Miami gets no break to start the season. In what will be the 2010 NBA Season premiere as well as the first game for the new-look Miami Heat, the October 26 game in Boston will be highly anticipated.
The game will be dissected inch by inch and Heat haters will jump on any weakness exhibited in the touch matchup against last season's Eastern Conference Champions. Miami will have plenty of time to prepare and there will be no excuses for a lack of preparedness to start the season.
There is also the opportunity for redemption for Wade and other Heat holdovers who were embarrassed by Boston in last season's playoffs.
1. Find a Uniting Theme
Often underrated in today's NBA is a uniting theme for a team in order to come together. For the 2005-2006 NBA Champion Miami Heat, it was "15 strong."
The NBA season is a long grueling battle. With the media coverage expected to be overwhelming wherever the Heat go, Miami players must develop a camaraderie both on and off the court. On a team that appears unbeatable, people will constantly look for chinks in the armor.
Miami's best opportunity for overcoming negative attention is to find a common theme to unite and bind the players together to one eventual goal: A 2010-2011 NBA Championship.