2018-2019 Off the Glass Team Preview Series: Miami Heat
  • Jorge Cantu

2018-2019 Off the Glass Team Preview Series: Miami Heat


Sports Illustrated

The 2018-2019 NBA season starts October 16th and to get you ready for tip-off, Off the Glass is previewing all 30 teams. Today we look at the Miami Heat.

2017-2018 Record:

44 – 38, 1st in the Southeast Division. Lost to the Philadelphia 76ers (4 – 1) in the first round of the playoffs.

Season Recap:

Despite winning the Southeast division, the Heat was only the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference and lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in five playoff games. During the regular season, the team lost Dion Waiters to a season-ending injury and star center Hassan Whiteside was also limited to 54 games. Highlights include the last minute trade deadline deal that brought Dwyane Wade back to South Beach and head coach Erik Spoelstra successfully experimenting with different players and new lineups.

Key Losses:

Dwyane Wade (G)*

Key Additions:

None.

Player to Watch:

Justise Winslow (F); Kelly Olynyk (C/F)

Preview:

The Heat are bringing back the exact same core they had last year, though they will look to re-incorporate Dion Waiters into their free-flowing offense and get the best out of center Hassan Whiteside, who notably struggled with injuries this past season and saw head coach Erik Spoelstra try out more small-ball combinations, as he more often utilized the floor-stretching Kelly Olynyk in Whiteside’s place during crunch time due the former’s ability to consistently knock down three-pointers.

Overall, they were average across the board. Their defense was as good as they could have expected – Miami was 7th in defensive rating – but it was their offense which sometimes struggled. Personally, I liked the approach the coaching staff had regarding their personnel last season; when coach Spo noticed having Olynyk on the court gave better results than having Whiteside, or giving Bam Adebayo or Wayne Ellington fair chances to show what they could do, Spoelstra did it with a winning-first approach; he did not care if the media would question the moves, or if a player became frustrated (see Whiteside). If the team can keep their solid defense while generating more offense, they will place themselves in a formidable position come playoff time. And if improving on offense means moving on from any player, then so be it.

On a final note, Dwyane Wade returning to the Heat looks more like a stretch as time goes by. At this point in his career, Wade is best suited to play a locker room veteran role but can also get buckets on the court when needed. His impact on the young Heat locker room is certainly immeasurable.

Worst Case Scenario:

The Heat’s defense falls apart and their offensive woes cannot be solved either. Players become frustrated with their roles and the team misses the playoffs for just the third time in the last 11 years.

Best Case Scenario:

The Heat roll their way to the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference standings and earn home-court advantage led by their two All-Stars, Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside, atop their primes.

2018-2019 Prediction:

46 – 37, 1st in Southeast Division.

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