Scouting the Opposition: Miami Heat
For every home game this season, we’ll be gathering some intel on the opposing team from someone who knows them best — a team employee, a rival blogger, beat writer or broadcaster.
For the Hawks’ home game Friday night against the Heat, we reached out to Surya Fernandez, who writes about Miami for the SBNation site Hot Hot Hoops, for his take on their team.
His answers are below:
Hawks.com: LeBron James is the undisputed best player in the world, but are there any concerns that a long playoff schedule plus a summer playing for Team USA will wear him down at all?
Surya Fernandez: Not really. He’s a freak of nature, we all know that, so if anyone can do it he can. Having said that, look for coach Erik Spoelstra to limit his minutes when he can and especially if the team can lock up the #1 East seed early in the season. Plus, he hasn’t exactly been needed much in the fourth quarter in a couple of Heat games this season because the outcome of the game was already decided. The extra depth on the bench will allow all members of the Big 3 to have not to exert too much in the regular season. At least that’s the plan to keep them fresh for the postseason.
Hawks.com: Speaking of Team USA, both Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade sat out the summer recovering from injuries. What is their current health status?
SF: All of the Heat players, including Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, that underwent surgery or faced a lot of rehab over the summer have looked fresh and ready to play this season. Well, except for Mike Miller but the Heat don’t have to depend on him as much. Bosh and Wade in particular have looked sharp to start the season and haven’t been needed for extended minutes either.
Hawks.com: Speaking of Allen and Lewis, how much is expected of the offseason’s two big acquisitions?
SF: More is expected from Allen, of course, and he is counted on to be a regular rotation player and produce. So far the Heat couldn’t be more pleased and so should Ray, who is benefitting from wide open looks and he’s already proved his worth and showed what he can do for this team with a four-point play to beat the Denver Nuggets at the very end of the game.
Lewis is more of a “low risk, high reward” situation in that they brought him in at the vet’s minimum and the training staff has been working with him to get him healthy again after a pair of injury-riddled seasons. He was a bit wobbly in the preseason but his shot is coming back and he even showed a bit of athleticism with two dunks off of penetration in their last game against the Phoenix Suns. Regardless, if he’s struggling they always have James Jones, Miller, and Shane Battier to fill that role.
Hawks.com: Are there any other players on the Heat roster who could make surprising contributions this season?
SF: It depends on matchups and possible injuries but the rotation seems to be pretty set. Having said that, the Heat might want to give some extra playing time to newcomer Josh Harrellson who could help fill the big man void that the Heat always seem to have had since Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O’Neal left the team years ago. Jorts has shown some range and isn’t afraid to get in the paint and do work inside.
Hawks.com: If the Heat don’t end up cutting down the nets at the end of the season, what ends up being the cause of their downfall?
SF: Honestly, I can’t see how the Heat don’t repeat this season. Especially after the turmoil with the LA Lakers and with the James Harden trade that OKC Thunder surprisingly made. If the Heat don’t win this season, I honestly would be shocked. I don’t see another team with enough talent and cohesion to be able to beat Miami four times in a series.
The Hawks and Heat tip-off Friday night at 7:30 at Philips Arena.