The Miami Heat have so far enjoyed a December where they have played almost exclusively at home.
That makes tonight a rarity.
The Heat go on the road for only the second time this month when they play the Dallas Mavericks tonight at American Airlines Center. The game is the first time the teams face each other in the 2012-13 NBA season.
Normally this game would be an intriguing match up between the last two NBA champions. Roster shakeups in Dallas have made that an exception this time. The Heat have largely stuck with the core group built around the ‘Big 3′ of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh with the most important free agent additions being Shane Battier and Ray Allen. The Mavericks have taken a different route in an effort to mimic Miami’s free agent success in the Summer of 2010. Dallas has drastically shifted payroll and players in an effort to lure Dwight Howard and at one point Deron Williams in free agency.
Tonight will also see the Heat facing a Mavericks team that is still without Dirk Nowitzki, meaning that the only player that was active when Dallas beat Miami in the 2011 NBA Finals playing for the Mavericks will be Shawn Marion. Adding to Dallas’s woes Derek Fisher, whom the team signed recently, will be out of the game as well.
Health wise for the Heat, the team has recently fought injuries to Battier and Mario Chalmers along with a flu bug. Battier’s injury has resulted in him losing his starting spot to Udonis Haslem for the time being.
After the game Miami will come back to American Airlines Arena for a three game home stand including the Christmas Day game against the Oklahoma City Thunder before finishing off 2012 with a four game road trip.