Let’s get this thing going again.
After a remarkable end to the 2016-17 season, the HEAT retained some very important players (Dion Waiters, James Johnson) and also added some new pieces (Kelly Olynyk, Bam Adebayo). While it remains to be seen how the team will mesh, there’s still a lot of excitement surrounding Miami’s 30th season.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the schedule, it’s important to know what the league aimed to accomplish this time around. In addition to reducing back-to-backs (the HEAT will play 13 B2Bs as opposed to 15 a year ago) and eliminating instances of four games in five nights, the NBA also added more weekend games. In turn, that should give fans more opportunities to see their favorite team in action.
Without further ado, below are the 10 things you need to know about the HEAT’s 2017-18 schedule.
Season Opener in Orlando
Like last season, Miami will start the season on the road against the Orlando Magic. While Orlando’s core is still intact for the most part, the team did add some intriguing pieces over the summer, including veterans Arron Afflalo and Marreese Speights, up-and-comer Jonathon Simmons and first round pick Jonathan Isaac.
On paper, the HEAT match up pretty well with the Magic, but we’ll see how everything pans out on Oct. 18.
Photo Credit: Fernando Medina
Party at AA Arena
After going without basketball for such a long time, fans will likely be chomping at the bit come October. Luckily enough, Miami’s longest homestand of the season will be right after its season opener. From Oct. 21 – Nov. 1, the HEAT will play six games at AmericanAirlines Arena, with notable contests coming Oct. 25 against the San Antonio Spurs on ESPN and Oct. 28 against the Boston Celtics.
Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon
Early West Coast Road Trip
For years, Miami’s longest west coast swing occurred in January when the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus came to town. Now with the circus no longer in existence, the HEAT’s longest road trip will take place very early into the season. In fact, it will follow their aforementioned homestand.
From Nov. 3 – Nov. 12, Miami will embark on a six-game slate, which includes a tough day/night back-to-back set against the L.A. Clippers and Golden State Warriors.
Photo Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein
Although L.A. made some major changes in the offseason with the trade of Chris Paul, Golden State largely remains the same. Speaking of which…
The Defending Champs
…you remember what happened the last time the Warriors played in Miami, right? Just in case you somehow forgot, here is a little reminder:
Waiters and the HEAT will host Golden State at AmericanAirlines Arena on Dec. 3.
Making History in Mexico
While Miami has played a number of games overseas during the preseason, the 2017-18 campaign will mark the first time the team does so when the games count. On Dec. 9, the HEAT will face the Brooklyn Nets in Mexico City as part of the NBA Mexico City Games 2017.
In terms of the matchup itself, the Nets look a lot different than they did a year ago, as they had a busy offseason trading for D’Angelo Russell, Timofey Mozgov, DeMarre Carroll and Allen Crabbe.
With the HEAT being the more cohesive unit, they should come out ahead against a Brooklyn team that will likely be working out the kinks two months in.
Photo Credit: NBA Photos
Olynyk Returns to Boston
After spending his first four seasons in Boston, Olynyk will make his return to TD Garden to face his former team on Dec. 20. By this point in the season, Olynyk should be pretty familiar with his new teammates and ready to make an impact.
Photo Credit: Brian Babineau
Home Is Where the Heart Is
Even though back-to-backs are nothing new, home/home B2Bs have been rare for Miami. That’ll change this season, as the HEAT host two games in as many days at AmericanAirlines Arena on Dec. 22 and 23.
The first matchup will be against the Dallas Mavericks, while the second contest pits Miami against Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and the New Orleans Pelicans. You may remember that Hassan Whiteside got the best of New Orleans’ frontcourt duo in his lone meeting with them last season.
Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon
A Special Occasion
Whenever a team gets the chance to play on a holiday, it always holds a little more meaning. Playing on MLK Day is certainly no exception.
For the first time since the 2013-14 season, the HEAT will be in action on MLK Day when they travel to United Center to face the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 15 at 3:30 PM ET. Although the Bulls traded away Jimmy Butler for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and the No. 7 overall pick (which ended up being Lauri Markkanen), they still have a guy by the name of Dwyane Wade.
Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler
The Young Guns
There aren’t many teams with more upside than the Philadelphia 76ers. Thanks to their infusion of young talent, they should be in the playoff race for many years to come. From Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons and Dario Šarić to some new vets in J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more well rounded squad.
Miami’s first game against Philly will be on Feb. 2 at Wells Fargo Arena and televised on ESPN.
Photo Credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant
Later in the month, the HEAT will host the Sixers on Feb. 27 at AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Dynamic Duo
If you thought the Thunder were tough to beat last year with Russell Westbrook tearing things up, just wait.
You may have heard by now that OKC pulled off a blockbuster trade to acquire Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Above all else, George should help shoulder some of the scoring load and make things a bit easier on Westbrook. Miami’s first matchup against the duo will be rather late into the season on March 23 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Photo Credit: Layne Murdoch
A little over two weeks later, the HEAT will host the Thunder in their second-to-last game of the season on April 9.