The 2021-22 NBA season is set to tip off on Oct. 19 (ET). In preparation for the upcoming season, we're dedicating one day between now and the start of the season to each team in the league.
Next up? Miami Heat.
2020-21 season record
40-32, 6th in Eastern Conference
Kyle Lowry, free agency
P.J. Tucker, free agency
Markieff Morris, free agency
Goran Dragic, trade
Precious Achiuwa, trade
Trevor Ariza, free agency
Andre Iguodala, free agency
Nemanja Bjelica, free agency
Kendrick Nunn, free agency
|PG||Kyle Lowry||Victor Oladipo*||Gabe Vincent|
|SG||Duncan Robinson||Tyler Herro|
|SF||Jimmy Butler||Max Strus||KZ Okpala|
|PF||P.J. Tucker||Markieff Morris||Udonis Haslem|
|C||Bam Adebayo||Dewayne Dedmon||Omer Yurtseven|
Two-way: Marcus Garrett (guard), Caleb Martin (forward)
Training camp/Exhibit 10: Micah Potter (center), Javonte Smart (guard), Dru Smith (guard), DJ Stewart (guard)
* On May 12, 2021, the Heat announced that there was no timetable for Oladipo's return after undergoing surgery on his right quadriceps tendon.
3 key storylines
The Kyle Lowry effect
One of the most underrated free agency signings of the offseason, Lowry immediately lifts the Heat's ceiling as a genuine Finals contender.
"He's just a great winner. He knows how to impact winning," head coach Erik Spoelstra said on Media Day. "He can really control a game from the classic point guard position. His mind for the game is as high as anybody in this league. And I'm looking forward to learning from him and seeing how he views the game."
While he is 35 years old, the six-time All-Star is a proven playoff performer and his presence not only gives the Heat another halfcourt creator, but takes a lot of the offensive burden off Butler's broad shoulders, while offering increased spacing, shooting 39.6 percent from beyond the arc last season.
"He takes pressure off me and Bam," Butler said. "He facilitates, can finish, gets to the line. He gives Bam the room to just go and be who you are and just go and not worry about too much else."
Tyler Herro's leap
Many expected Herro to take a big second-year leap after his heroics in the bubble and while he improved statistically last season, it was an up and down campaign for the 21-year-old.
During March, Herro went cold for a 10-game stretch, averaging 11.3 points on 32.0 percent shooting from the field and 21.6 percent from the 3-point line. As the first option off the bench for the Heat this season, consistency will be the key for Herro, who reportedly added 10 pounds to his frame in the summer.
No stranger to the spotlight, Herro shined in their run to the 2020 NBA Finals just 12 months ago. If he can recapture that bubble swagger this season, he's going to be a problem.
Figuring out the frontcourt
Two big additions to the roster come at power forward in the form of Tucker and Morris, a pair of floor-spacing four men to play alongside Adebayo.
Tucker's addition allows the Heat to match up with smaller lineups with a switch-heavy defence next to Adebayo, while Morris gives them a bigger alternative without sacrificing too much spacing. How Spoelstra divides up the minutes will be an interesting one to watch, with Tucker likely to start.
The Heat also re-signed center Dedmon, who impressed in his stint with the team last season, putting up 7.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in 13.1 minutes per game across 16 appearances.
The frontcourt rotation will be one of the meanest defensively and that starts with Adebayo, who has Defensive Player of the Year potential. Adebayo has improved in each season and the 24-year-old, fresh off an Olympic gold medal, is in line for another big campaign in 2021-22.
5 games to watch
Oct. 21 vs. Milwaukee Bucks
What better way for the Heat to open their regular season than at home against the defending champions?
The Heat will be out for revenge from the jump after the Bucks swept them out of the playoffs last season en route to winning the NBA championship.
There's no shortage of stars in this game with a battle of two of the league's best Big 3s in Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo going up against Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Not to mention P.J. Tucker, who is just a couple of months removed from helping the Bucks win a ring, now suiting up on South Beach.
Nov. 10 at Los Angeles Lakers
It's crazy to think that the 2020 NBA Finals between these two teams will have been just over a year before this matchup. Such is the condensed nature of the past few seasons.
Both have made plenty of changes to the squads that faced off in the Finals, but expect plenty of fire between these two teams.
Jan. 12. at Atlanta Hawks
The Heat will be one of the best teams in the league this season but winning their division won't be a cakewalk.
Trae Young and the Hawks proved they're the real deal last season, making it through to the Eastern Conference Finals. In what will be the first of four games between these two teams, this matchup will set the tone for the battle of the Southeast Division.
Jan. 26 vs. New York Knicks
Is it 1997 again? No, but the Knicks and Heat rivalry will take it up a notch this season as two dogged, defensive teams lock horns.
Expect these two teams to be jostling for playoff seeding throughout the regular season and in turn reignite their old-school rivalry.
Feb. 3 at Toronto Raptors
In what is sure to be an emotional game, Raptors legend Lowry will make his first visit to Scotiabank Arena in what will be the third meeting of the season between these teams.
Lowry spent nine seasons in Toronto, won a championship in 2019 and is arguably the greatest Raptor of all time.
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