The Miami Heat have put themselves consistently in championship contention in recent years, highlighted by a trip to the 2020 NBA Finals, and now they'll look to secure the franchise's fourth title.
Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro remain the roster's strong foundation, but the Heat are going to need a bounce-back year from Kyle Lowry, who struggled while dealing with a hamstring injury in last season's playoffs, to come out of the Eastern Conference.
Miami will continue to lean heavily on Lowry to help run the offense after a quiet offseason with mostly depth additions and subtractions.
Barring a blockbuster trade—Kevin Durant was linked to Miami following his trade request from the Brooklyn Nets—the Heat are betting on internal improvement as they look to get past the reigning East champion Boston Celtics and the conference's other contenders.
Let's check out the key information about the Heat's regular-season slate following the NBA's schedule release. That's followed by a look at some key matchups and a season outlook.
2022-23 Heat Schedule Details
Season Opener: Oct. 19 vs. Chicago Bulls
Championship Odds: 15-1 (via FanDuel)
Full Schedule: NBA.com
Boston Celtics (First Meeting: Oct. 21)
The Heat and Celtics faced off in the conference finals last season. Miami surged to an early 2-1 lead in that series before ultimately falling short in six games. It wouldn't come as a surprise if there's a playoff rematch on the horizon.
Before that, both teams will be focused on trying to lock down a high seed in the East, which has become far more competitive and balanced over the past few years. The conference featured 10 teams with a record over .500 in 2021-22.
Miami edged Boston for the top seed last season, but each of the top four teams ended up within two games of each other, so there wasn't much margin for error atop the standings.
Aside from the importance in the big picture, the battles between the Heat and Celtics feature no shortage of great head-to-head battles, led by Butler vs. Jayson Tatum and Herro vs. Jaylen Brown.
It sets the stage for some of the most intriguing regular-season matchups of the campaign.
Philadelphia 76ers (First Meeting: Feb. 27)
Miami pushed past Philly in the second round of last season's playoffs on the strength of a standout series from Butler, who spent the 2018-19 season with the Sixers.
You'd struggle to find someone with more competitive fire than Butler, and he showed it again after knocking the 76ers out of the playoffs:
The six-time All-Star is tough to slow down regardless of the circumstances, but he becomes nearly unstoppable when playing with a chip on his shoulder, which is why his clashes with the Sixers are so entertaining.
Beyond that, the games are important for the same reasons as the Heat vs. Celtics in terms of jockeying for position in the conference.
The balance of power in the East could shift significantly depending on whether Durant is ultimately traded, especially if he lands with a team like the Heat or Celtics, so that situation continues to hang over the league following the schedule release.
As it stands, Miami is likely ticketed for a similar regular season to last year based on the limited roster turnover throughout the summer.
The Heat have some possible upside depending on the performance of Lowry and Victor Oladipo, who's shown occasional flashes of a return to being an impact player.
If the two veterans can showcase consistent play closer to their peak form earlier in their careers, it would provide a major boost to Miami's outlook, especially at the offensive end.
The team won't have a ton of youthful contributors beyond Herro unless rookie Nikola Jovic is able to carve out a spot in the rotation, so it can't bet too heavily on the more standard internal growth that other contenders tend to rely on when they don't make splash offseason moves.
Ultimately, the Heat should cruise to another postseason appearance, but what they accomplish in the playoffs will be the deciding factor in whether the season is a success.
Record Prediction: 52-30
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