It’s not quite the holiday season yet and there are no chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but it feels like it because the NBA regular season is less than a week away!
Finally, no more meaningless games with pointless stats, no more talk without the walk and no more speculations. Teams across the country will finally step onto the court for more than fine-tuning and entertainment.
For the Miami Heat, it is a season that has everything riding on it. The vision of a three-peat can be seen in the far off distance, accompanied by the renewal or possible decimation of the “Big 3”.
It is a season unlike any other in the history of the South Beach franchise and it all starts Tuesday night when the title defense kicks off against the Chicago Bulls and the return of Derrick Rose.
I am going to be upfront and frank about this game, Miami will easily defeat Chicago to start the season. It’s as simple as that. This doesn’t mean that the Bulls are not a contender or that the Heat should not worry about the Eastern Conference foe, all it means is that Chicago is not quite ready for the season to begin. As for Miami, they are as ready as ever.
The Heat spent the offseason recovering, resting, getting healthy and strategically acquiring new pieces. Dwyane Wade has shown in the preseason that he is re-energized and healthy. Even though he isn’t where he would like to be, he looks much better than he did in the playoffs.
Miami also has, arguably, the strongest bench the team has ever seen. Chris Andersen, Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Norris Cole are all prepared to do their part to help earn a third straight championship. Even new addition Michael Beasley has shown some maturity and promise.
The Bulls, on the other hand, are in a different situation. Rose is finally ready to make his return after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Chicago has had a strong preseason, but exhibition games translate into nothing. It will take some time for Rose and his teammates to get use to each other.
There is also the possibility that the Bulls will be without Joakim Noah and Kirk Hinrich when they enter the American Airlines Arena. They have not been ruled out, but their status is in doubt. That is a big worry for a team who has struggled to have all the pieces healthy at the same time.
I expect LeBron James and the Heat to come out firing on all cylinders. They want to send a message to the rest of the league that they are still the top dogs and I predict Wade to have a huge game. He wants to show everyone that he is healthy and is still one of the best players in the game.
Miami will take the season opener over the Bulls, 101-85. However, this game will not be a barometer for the rest of the meetings between the two. Chicago should be one of Miami’s biggest threats this year, but it won’t appear that way at first.