The Heat 2016-17 season opened tonight in Orlando. It will be a season for a team now with a lot of new faces and a changing of the shooting guard and power forward and small forward.
For two years in a row, the Miami Heat have been losing its stars. Losing Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng, and replacing them with guys like Dion Waiters and Derrick Williams will hurt the Heat on the defensive end of the floor. This means the team will not be one of the 10 best defensive teams in the NBA this season.
The first game of the Heat 2016-17 season was a victory over Orlando Magic, a team that finished dead last in the 2015-16 Southeast Division going 35-47 but overwent a makeover. Now they have a new coach – Frank Vogel – who happens to be one of the best coaches this league has in the recent years. They also brought Serge Ibaka who is going to bring a mean and nasty presence that Orlando has been missing.
Babbitt and Waiters debuted as starters in the Heat’s opening-night lineup. The lineup Erik Spoelstra ran against the Magic included point guard Goran Dragic, forward Justise Winslow and center Hassan Whiteside. Spoelstra is looking for a starting lineup where players can adapt to roles, feel comfortable and help the team.
The Miami Heat 2016-17 season was fast and energetic but in a wild and uncontrolled way during the second half of the game. The Heat picked up the pace and ran past the Orlando Magic in season opener 108 to 96.
Miami center Hassan White had 18 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots and point guard Goran Dragic added 16 points as the Heat cruised to a 108-96 season-opening victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.
The Heat, took advantage of the one-game suspension of Orlando center Bismack Biyombo, and dominated inside all game with Whiteside and Willie Reed off the bench. Neither Nikola Vucevic nor Serge Ibaka could match the athleticism and strength of the 7-foot Whiteside inside. The new-look Heat outscored the Magic in the paint 74-36 and outrebounded them 52-44.
On the other hand, Vucevic finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Evan Fournier added 20 points. Ibaka, making his debut with the Magic, managed 14 points on 6-of-17 shooting.
With Whiteside blocking shots and altering others, the Heat opened a 66-58 lead midway through the third quarter courtesy of a 7-0 run and never looked back. The game had been tied 13 times and the lead had changed teams 14 times up to that point.
The Heat 2016-17 season also was a spoiler for Magic’s debut of new coach Frank Vogel, whose team consistently came up short on the defensive end. Orlando allowed Miami to shoot 48 percent from the field. But Spoelstra needs to get at least one established three-point shooting threat on the floor in the starting lineup that can help spread the floor for Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside.
Orlando guard Evan Fournier says there is no better opponent for the Magic to start the season with than their in-state rival Miami. There is no love lost between the franchises. ”Playing Miami the first game is special,” Fournier said. ”We don’t like them and they don’t like us. It’s no secret.”
The first gane for the Miami Heat also proved that it was a good investment for the team in Hassan Whiteside for $98 million in this past summer. The 27-year-old at least will make the All-Star game in 2017 in New Orleans in 2017 during Mardi Gras.