Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Heat at Magic preview

It is easy to expect the Miami Heat to blow out the Orlando Magic after what we saw in the pre-season opener. However, a much different game could emerge in game 2, the preseason finale.

I expect Orlando and its star Dwight Howard to show a little bit more pride this time around as they will be playing in front of their home crowd for the first time. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception Dwight Howard gets from a fan base that has to be pretty convinced it is losing yet another NBA superstar as he hits his prime.

Emerging playmaker Norris Cole has a great opportunity to solidify his spot as an energy guy off the bench. One day he could be a starter, but if he is capable of being a role player off the bench this year, he should consider himself blessed. While Miami has struck out in the free agent point guard market (at least they kept their part time starter in Mario Chalmers), a veteran or two shakes free and the Heat is always looking to upgrade.

The same opportunity is there for the twin mountains -- Eddy Curry and Dexter Pittman -- as Riley has yet to come across a legitimate upgrade at the position he arguably values most. Pittman's chance to shine is while Eddy Curry is injured, which is now and could be a recurring issue if the past is an indicator. Neither player has a guaranteed contract, but they are both expected to make the cut and get some minutes. I expect a solid game from Pittman tonight if he is allowed to play through his fouls.

Lastly, most fans will have an eye on the hopefuls for the 15th roster spot. Some argue that shooters like Terrel Harris and Derrick Byars should be kept for their youth, but they are 24 and 27 respectively. They have the look of solid role players, but I do not think you should keep them based on the fact that they are young. They should be kept if they are knock down shooters. Today they get a chance to prove that they are fearless and not one hit wonders.

Prediction: Miami 110 - Orlando 103