Wednesday, October 31, 2007

NOW the blogging begins.

I launched Heat Blog this summer just after the NBA draft. I'd never written a blog before, so I planned to gain some experience blogging and get myself comfortable with it. I wanted to be ready to roll by the time the NBA season arrived.

It was a nice idea, but the problem was that I found it somewhat boring at times to simply regurgitate what all the local beat writers reported whenever a story broke. I don't have direct access to this team, so, like anyone else, I'm forced to base most of my opinions on what they tell me.

Those days end tonight now that we'll finally be able to watch this team and start forming some original opinions. Basketball is back, and so is this blog.

You can't start any sports season without making predictions. It's hard to predict how this team will do, but I'll give it a shot - The Heat will win 48 games.

Not too many people are high on the Heat this year, and that's understandable when you look at how the team finished last season. However, during the brief time that this team was fully healthy last year, they looked like a top team in the Eastern Conference.

If Shaq can play 60 games and Wade doesn't get hurt again, I think they'll easily make the playoffs and be a threat to get out of the East. I'll take the trio of Wade, Shaq, and Davis over every other top three in the east except Boston's big three.

They just have to find a way to stay healthy (and survive the first 2-3 weeks of the season until Wade comes back).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Riley Rips Walker's Conditioning

Before tonight's preseason home opener against the Hawks, Pat Riley blasted Antoine Walker for coming into camp out of shape. Toine, who's listed in the team's media guide as weighing 245 pounds, reported to camp at 262 and 15 percent body fat.

In the time I've been a Heat fan, I've never seen Riley publicly rip into a player like this. I guess he thinks embarrassing Toine will send a message to the whole team about what the conditioning standards are?

We all knew Antoine came into camp out of shape this year. However, I assumed he was at least CLOSE to meeting his conditioning goal after hearing that he had only been suspended from camp for one day as punishment. It's disappointing to hear that he's so far off.

Riley says Walker is in shape to play 15-20 minutes a game right now, so I'd say this episode closes the door on the possibility of him being a starter on opening night.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Detroit 108, Miami 86

The Heat lost their preseason opener Tuesday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Detroit trotted out almost their entire starting five from last year, with Antonio McDyess starting in place of the unsigned Chris Webber. Miami came out with a youthful lineup that included Michael Doleac at center, Marcus Slaughter at power forward, Dorrell Wright at small forward, Jeremy Richardson at shooting guard, and Jason Williams at point guard. Obviously we were overmatched.

Ira Winderman has all the details over at his blog.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Training Camp : Week 1

The Heat opened training camp on Tuesday with the regular season a little less than a month away.

The theme at media day was that last year's apathetic attitude toward the regular season is no more. Players and coaches all spoke of having a new attitude heading into this season. Riley claims almost the whole roster has come to camp meeting their conditioning standards (compared to only half the players last year). Michael Wallace wrote that most players actually showed up to camp a week early to play pickup ball and work out (most of the time, players stay away from "Camp Riley" for as long as possible).

Some notes about the first week of training camp -

- Shaq isn't joining UFC. But he HAS spent part of his summer learning mixed martial arts, among other things. Supposedly, he passed his conditioning tests with flying colors.

With Wade out for the start of the season, it's more important than ever for Shaq to get out to a fast start and carry this thin roster.

- Dorell Wright got a chance to start at small forward last year, and at times he showed great potential with his freakish athleticism. However, he was eventually benched "because he was immature.", according to Riley. It's also been revealed that he failed to meet the team's conditioning standards during the season.

It seems that the path has been cleared for him to get another chance this year.
With Posey, Kapono, and Jones now gone, Dorell appears to be the best option to start at small forward.

Riley even tried to put a happy face on the team's failure to add new wing players, claiming that the team avoided adding "specialists" at the SF position to give Dorell every opportunity to earn regular playing time.

The kid has been a four year project. Is he finally ready to become a legit player? Antoine, Penny, and untested Jeremy Richardson are the only other options at SF..... so for our sake, he'd better be ready.

- Riley made a statement by banning Antoine, Smush, and Earl Barron from practice for one day for failing to meet conditioning standards.

- The team held a public scrimmage on Friday night. Ira Winderman blogs that Penny Hardaway didn't have a very good showing. Udonis Haslem looked great, though.

- The Heat opens the pre-season tomorrow night in Detroit. Shaq, Wade, Zo, and Penny didn't make the trip.