For the first time in two years, the Miami Heat got a preseason win. In fact, they got two of them.
While finishing the preseason 2-5 doesn't really turn any heads, it is still a monumental improvement over last year's 0-7 preseason.
Not only did they win two out of their last three games, they beat the San Antonio Spurs in their preseason finale. And they did it without superstar Dwyane Wade.
Once again, critics and fans will say that it was only preseason and that it doesn't matter. But, if you recall, the Heat went 15-67 last year after a winless preseason. So the preseason does set a tone for the regular season.
The Heat's first win came against the Memphis Grizzlies in a 102-85 blowout. Miami was led by Wade's 25 points, five rebounds, and six assists in 35 minutes of play. In addition, he was nine for 19 from the field.
The game also saw strong performances from Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem, Marcus Banks, and rookie Mario Chalmers. Beasley finished the game with 19 points in 20 minutes of play. Haslem recorded a double-double with 14 points and 13 boards. Banks made a strong push to contend for the starting point guard shot with 11 points, six assists, and four steals. Chalmers had a strong overall game with seven points, six rebounds, nine assists, and two steals.
The combined play from the starters and the bench gave the Heat an easy victory over Memphis. The Heat executed strong offense, as they had five players in double figures and shot 52 percent from the field. They also had strong team defense, as they were able to limit their opponents to 85 points on 44 percent shooting.
In addition to that, the dynamic duo of Wade and Beasley is really starting to look dangerous. The combo scored every Heat point in a 13-2 fourth quarter run that gave them an 88-76 lead with 6:12 remaining in the game. Beasley recorded nine of his 19 points in the fourth quarter.
Following up on their success in the Memphis game, the Heat were able to rout the four-time champion San Antonio Spurs 96-93 on a game-winning shot at the buzzer. The game winner was hit by Kansas hero Mario Chalmers.
Chalmers, who hit the game-tying three in the NCAA championship game to send it to overtime, is starting to have a reputation for hitting game winners. The rookie finished with a double-double, recording 11 points, 10 assists, and four steals. He was also a perfect three for three from behind the arc.
The Heat won the game without Wade, who was sitting out in order to rest before the regular season starts on Wednesday against the New York Knicks. Miami was led byl Beasley, who had 19 points and nine boards. Ohio State product Daequan Cook emerged from his shell, scoring 17 points and going four for six from the three-point line. Haslem had 18 points and seven rebounds and Shawn Marion recorded 14 points and seven rebounds.
Once again, the Heat were able to pull off the victory with a dynamic offense. They had all five starters in double figures and shot 54 percent from the field as a team. In addition, they shot 50 percent from behind the arc.
Tony Parker led the Spurs with 16 points and six assists and Tim Duncan had 11 points.
With two out of three wins to finish the preseason, it is obvious that the Heat are improving daily and really starting to come together. They are starting to move past the post-Shaq era and move into the D-Wade era. The trio of Wade, Beasley, and Marion is looking more dangerous as every game passes.
When the Heat have their season opener tomorrow at Madison Square Garden, expect them to come out ready to win as they officially start a new era. Can you feel the Heat?
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