Welcome to the Dwork On Sports blog. This is a place where I’ll cover all things related to South Florida sports, with a steady combination of facts and opinions while ultimately keeping a close eye on anything and everything related to our local teams.
There is a lot of excitement in South Florida surrounding the Miami Heat for the upcoming season.
The team has a very strong starting five of Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside.
Miami’s bench also looks good, with a healthy Josh McRoberts, Gerald Green, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Andersen, Udonis Haslem, James Ennis and rookies Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson.
The backup guards, Tyler Johnson and Mario Chalmers, have proven that they can produce solid minutes for the Heat and will be called upon when Dragic needs a rest.
So yes, roster-wise there is a lot for Heat Nation to be enthused about.
But there are also a lot of questions surrounding the team that will not be answered until they start working through their 82-game schedule.
Considering the injury problems that have plagued the Heat in recent years, it’s not a given that the starting five will play the majority of the season as an intact unit.
It’s more likely that they’ll play around 55-60 games together, assuming nobody suffers a major injury.
Are the bench players good enough to step into the starting lineup and provide similar production to whoever they’re replacing?
Then there’s the issue of center Hassan Whiteside, who took the NBA by storm last season and emerged as one of the rising stars at his position.
Now Whiteside is being counted on to play at an elite level for a full season, something he has never done. It’s also troubling that he’s had an entire offseason to get into shape and come into training camp ready to hit the ground running, but that hasn’t been the case.
A calf injury kept him sidelined during training camp and through the Miami’s first four preseason games.
Can Whiteside live up to the expectations that so many Heat fans have placed on his shoulders?
It’s not easy for an NBA team to succeed without consistent outside shooting threats, something that Miami doesn’t exactly have locked down.
The Heat’s two starting guards, Dragic and Wade, are driving players who do their damage in and around the painted area rather than on the perimeter.
Of the starting five, Chris Bosh is the best outside shooter and will likely be counted on to take a good amount of shots from distance.
Aside from Bosh, Miami’s outside shooting will have to come off the bench, which will put a lot of pressure on Johnson, Chalmers, Green and McRoberts to shoot at a high percentage when given the opportunity.
Will the lack of any true outside shooting threats in the Heat’s starting lineup be a deciding factor in the success of the unit?
Speaking of Dragic, he’s still fighting an uphill battle to get into game shape by the time the regular season begins, which is just a week away.
Throughout his professional career Dragic spent the NBA offseason training with the Slovenia national team. That kept him in great basketball shape during the summer and when training camp rolled around, he was always ready to hit the ground running.
That isn’t the case this year though. Dragic spent the offseason in Slovenia, but instead of training with the national team he spent time at home with his pregnant wife.
He’s been working hard to get into shape, but it’s definitely an uphill climb. His conditioning looked great in the Heat’s preseason win over Houston on Saturday but the following night in Atlanta he had trouble keeping up.
Is Dragic going to be ready to play at the high level expected of him when the season begins in a week?
The upcoming Miami Heat season could go a few different ways, depending on how the chips fall when they start playing the games that count.
If everything goes right, Miami could be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and one that nobody will want to face in a 7-game series.
If things don’t go so well, with injuries and players not living up to expectations, it could be a struggle for the Heat to even qualify for the playoffs.
We’ll start getting some answers soon enough, but for now my advice is to temper your expectations.
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