Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat lost game one of the preseason this weekend and followed that up with a 14.5 hour plane ride to China Monday to prepare for the NBA China Games against the Los Angeles Clippers over the next week.
The Heat will play the Clippers on Thursday in Beijing and then again on Sunday in Shanghai. It’s a matchup of two marquee teams in a country where the Heat are making a lot of inroads with the popularity of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
“Should be fun,” James said. “It’s a very long trip to be bonding together, but we’re going to use it and not waste an opportunity.”
The Heat is scheduled for VIP receptions, a trip to the Great Wall of China, and other excursions in the most populous nation in the world.
“You only have these type of opportunities so often,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You want to take advantage of it. This is the preseason. We understand the big picture. It’s a great program that the NBA runs when you have an opportunity to play overseas. Our last trip was tremendous when we went to Europe. Great team-building, and you get to see another part of the world and do it together.”
The Heat left Miami on Saturday for Atlanta and played the Hawks on Sunday afternoon. After that, the team boarded a charter flight for Beijing, arriving at 9:30 pm. Local time.
The Heat scheduled the first practice in China on Tuesday morning. Later in the day, the team will make their way to the Great Wall.
“We’re looking forward to the opportunity,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. “I think as an organization, as players individually, once we get over there it will be a great opportunity to continue to grow our game.”
Wade did not play in Atlanta on Sunday as he continues recovering from offseason knee surgery. He is hopeful of playing at least once in China, and went for a late-night workout after the plane landed Monday night.
Miami started a lineup of one guard and four forwards against the Hawks on Saturday. The heat also got both Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis some solid minutes against Atlanta with Allen scoring 10 points in 26 minutes and Lewis scoring 5 points in 24 minutes of action.
Chris Bosh led all scorers against the Hawks with 22 points on 8-14 shooting. Mike Miller was in the starting lineup for Miami, but didn’t manage to score in the game. He was playing the position Wade typically plays.
The Heat will return to the United States after Sunday’s second game against the Clippers. The Heat’s first preseason home game will be against the Detroit Pistons on October 18.
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