The Miami Heat are playing the New Orleans Pelicans in their first preseason game tonight, and there are a few things that I believe we see. Here are 5 things to expect…
1. Many outside the box Erik Spoelstra experiments.
Duncan Robinson spoke with media after shoot-around today, and one thing he mentioned a few times is Erik Spoelstra trying out lineups. That includes young guys, acquisitions, and I believe something else that we aren’t expecting. Obviously seeing new players individually get some run is important, but seeing how they mesh with other players will be the true test. And when I say outside the box experiments, I believe he may try out mixtures that are not expected, since ultimately this is the perfect time to try it. If Bam Adebayo plays tonight, which I’d guess he won’t, I believe we see a good amount of minutes with Precious Achiuwa next to him in the front-court.
2. A Kendrick Nunn stamp of approval.
There are a few layers to the importance of Kendrick Nunn’s play this preseason. For starters, he is looking to prove himself, to show the coaches that he deserves a good amount of minutes in the rotation. Secondly, confidence is always the most essential thing with Kendrick, which means if he plays good, it’s great for him moving forward. Lastly, from the Miami Heat’s perspective, increasing trade value definitely won’t be the worst thing in the world. The main thought is for him to perform to impact winning on this team, but if he begins to get hot, don’t be shocked if he’s used as a trade asset. Either way, I believe we see a big Kendrick Nunn game tonight.
3. Precious Achiuwa and KZ Okpala finally get some run.
The wait is officially over, since we will finally get a glance at the improvement of KZ Okpala, as well as the impact of rookie Precious Achiuwa. Although I think these two get run, I wouldn’t expect much scoring out of them. Bam Adebayo’s first three preseason games were 1 point, 1 point, and 7 points respectively. To that point, I won’t be shocked if we see something similar from Precious. His main attributes are defensive versatilities and rebounding, which I believe we will see great flashes of. Now, KZ has the ability to score some easy buckets if he plays the type of on-ball defense he showed in the G-League. It’ll be interesting to finally see these two young players get some minutes.
4. Veteran rest, even though it’s the first game.
Most teams around the league have been playing their star players decent minutes in the preseason, but the difference is that those guys weren’t playing in the Finals a few weeks ago. We’ve seen LeBron James and Anthony Davis sit out, which is why I believe we see the same from key Heat players. Many players have mentioned that training camp has not felt like they’ve started back up, but instead felt like a continuation. So, giving some veterans the night off clearly won’t be the worst thing, especially since you’re giving more minutes to the young guys trying to prove themselves.
5. Whatever strategic things you see from Miami, don’t expect again.
The Miami Heat have been working on some new things during this training camp, as some players have mentioned, but there’s a major reason why we won’t see most of it tonight. For one, it’s preseason. But more importantly, they’re playing the New Orleans Pelicans once again in 11 days. So if you think that Coach Spo will show some new adjustments in the first preseason game of the season, you are wrong. This means that Miami will either run some stuff from this past season, which clearly will still be used this season as well, or they may go through some unexpected defensive or offensive strategies. This goes back to the first expectation of experimenting, which is why Erik Spoelstra may be the person to watch in tonight’s game.