Countdown to NBA Tip-Off: Miami Heat Season Preview

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WASHINGTON, USA - MARCH 06: Miami Heats Dwyane Wade (3) tries to shoot past Washington Wizards Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) at the Capital One Arena in Washington, United States on March 06 2018. The game went into overtime with the Wizards coming out on top, 117-113. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The 2017-18 season was one of both ups and downs for the Miami Heat, as they finished 6th in the Eastern Conference. Miami made a number of new acquisitions to help improve on the 9th place finish in 2017. A number of them will become integral parts of Spoelstra’s plans for the 2017-18 season.

In the 2017 draft, Miami picked up the services of 6’10” Centre, Bam Adebayo, with the 14th pick in the first round. He would quickly become a fan favorite during his first season for the Heat. A number of players also returned to Miami following the 2016-17 season, such as James Johnson and Dion Waiters. So with these returning players, plus the acquisition of Adebayo, there was a real feeling that this Miami team could make a good run for the playoffs.

Despite this, the season started in fairly disappointing fashion, with a 7 point defeat to division rivals, the Orlando Magic. Following this defeat, Miami would finish October with a rather humbling record of 2-4. Following a season full of injuries and some drama and intrigue around Hassan Whiteside, the Miami Heat secured the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference with a rather impressive record of 44-38. Here is the Miami Heat Season Preview.

Countdown to NBA Tip-Off: Miami Heat Season Preview

What Worked Last Season

One of the brightest lights of the 2017-18 season for Miami was undoubtedly Bam Adebayo. The Center who came out of Kentucky adapted to NBA life very well, Coach Spoelstra obviously saw the potential in him as he played 69 games for Miami during the season. Another highlight, and especially for the fans, was the return of 12x All-Star, Dwyane Wade. Upon his return from the Cleveland Cavaliers, Wade played 21 games upon his return and looked very much on form during the playoffs. It has been confirmed that the upcoming 2018-19 season will be Wade’s last. Wade played for the team during all three of their championship wins. His career will be looked back on with fond memories for Miami fans.

Dion Waiters was also looking like he was enjoying his role in Miami, and was having one of the better seasons of his career before he, unfortunately, got a season-ending injury in January. Miami fans will all be hopeful that Waiters can return to his previous form once he comes back from the injury, however, Spoelstra will be in no rush to force him back into the rotation. Goran Dragic also had a very impressive year, and his industrious hard work was rewarded with a spot on the All-Star roster. He was included after a number of injuries to other All-Stars, such as Kristaps Porzingis.

What Needs Improvement

Overall, Miami can be happy with how they performed during the duration of the previous season even if the playoffs came to a disappointing conclusion. On the defensive side of the court, Miami looked particularly impressive; with players such as Whiteside, Kelly Olynyk, and James Johnson doing a particularly good job of protecting the rim. However, if anything needs improvement, it will be the work on the offensive end. Miami finished the season with an offensive rating of 93.8 which ranked them in the bottom 5 teams in the NBA. Miami hasn’t exactly set out to improve this during the off-season.

The Heat are currently in trade talks with the Minnesota Timberwolves for star wing-player Jimmy Butler. While this would be an incredible acquisition for Miami, there isn’t any optimism that it will solve their problems on the offensive end. The rumored trade which Miami is trying to push Minnesota into accepting involves sending important pieces; Josh Richardson, Bam Adebayo, and a protected 2019 first round pick, to Minnesota.

Off-Season Changes

The Miami Heat have not made many transactions at all in the wake of the upcoming season. They have signed Derrick Jones Jr. to a two-year deal with the player earning $1.5 million in the first of the two years. He had previously been with Miami for the 2017-18 season, and featured in 14 games for the Heat; he started an impressive eight of these. Jones Jr. impressed in the limited minutes that he got last season, averaging 3.7 points. There were times where the offense looked a lot more fluid with Jones Jr. playing. Given the opportunity, he could well be a key figure for Miami this season.

2018-2019 Season Prediction

I believe that Miami should be aiming to replicate their form from last season, and a place in the playoffs would be seen as a successful enough season. With the bottom of the Eastern Conference becoming ever-more competitive with the rise of teams such as the Chicago Bulls, who added Jabari Parker, and the Atlanta Hawks who added sharpshooter rookie, Trae Young. Miami should use last season as guidance and a finish of 44-38 should once again please most Heat fans. However, if the Heat adds Jimmy Butler to their ranks then they could be pushed further towards the top 5 seeds in the East. With the addition of Butler, expect the Heat to push for 48 wins. Comfortably placing them in the playoffs at the end of the season. Miami needs to see every game against potential playoff rivals as a must win. if they accomplish that, they should have a playoff spot secured.

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