Last season, the Miami Heat were the most ballyhooed NBA team since the Los Angeles Lakers signed Kobe Bryant, Gary Payton, Shaquille O’Neal and Karl Malone.
Although Miami lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals last June, the Heat are essentially returning just about everyone from the Eastern Conference title team for the 2011-2012 NBA season.
Today, they defeated the Dallas Mavericks 105-94 to properly start off their NBA season. Here are three things we learned about the team in South Beach this Christmas:
1. LeBron James is playing determined.
Last season, LeBron James admitted that he played angrily, fed off of the villain-like role and wasn’t having fun anymore like he did in Cleveland. In this game, LeBron looked like he was having fun again.
It appears he used this extended offseason to work on post moves, and overall he looked very impressive. He scored 37 points while notching 10 rebounds and six assists. He also had two blocks and two steals.
2. Miami moved the ball around very smoothly.
Although Chris Bosh only had four points, Dwyane Wade contributed 26 points on 11-for-21 shooting.
James and Wade each had six assists, and James Jones knocked down his first three three-pointers off of effective passing. The Heat moved the ball well in the first half, and got the ball to their playmakers so that they could make the buckets they needed.
3. Miami Heat want us to know they are on a mission.
Despite the lackluster effort from the spot-duty players in the fourth quarter, Miami Heat made it a fact that they were ready to defeat the Mavericks.
Of course they were in the locker room when the raising of the championship banner went up, but the Heat starters and rotators maintained incredible focus. At one point, even led by 35 points.
Dwyane Wade was scoring points and LeBron James was in attack mode the whole game. Today they proved they are truly ready to contend for a title and that last year was just fun and games.
With that said, this was an impressive start for the Miami Heat. There's always room for improvement, but this team is off to a great start.