NBA Miami Heat

What To Watch For In Miami Heat’s Final Preseason Game

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The Final Dress Rehersal

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

As the exhibition games wind down and teams make the final changes to their roster, we are on the cusp of the NBA regular season.

The preseason has seen the return of Derrick Rose to the Chicago Bulls, the uncertainty of Russell Westbrook’s return, the ongoing drama with Kobe Bryant, the new look Brooklyn Nets, and the continued success of the Miami Heat.

For Miami, this may be the most important season in the history of the franchise. Everything rides on the three-peat -- the existence of the “Big 3,” LeBron James’ 2014 decision, and possibly Dwyane Wade’s career depend on the championship trophy.

Erik Spoelstra, Pat Riley and the Heat will feel the pressure all year long and 2014 free agency breathing down their necks.

As for the final preseason game before the season opener against the Bulls, there are no worries for the defending champs. James is focused, Wade looks healthy, and Chris Bosh has reestablished himself.

The biggest concern heading into tonight’s game is the opponent. The Nets played a bit rough in the first preseason meeting between the Eastern Conference foes. I wouldn’t be surprised if Erik Spoelstra only played his star players for a limited period of time, especially if play starts to get too physical.

Miami is sitting pretty heading into the season and are confident; even owners and general managers around the Association picked the Heat to three-peat and James to win another MVP. Yes, everything is good in South Beach, for now.

Tonight’s game has me a bit worried, because the hatred between the two teams is already fuming. The last thing Miami needs is an injury on the eve of the regular season.

It’s unclear what Spoelstra’s game plan is for the final exhibition game, but here are five things to watch for.

Shane Phillips is a Miami Heat Writer for Follow him on Twitter @Smphil01, "Like" him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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No Greg Oden Apperances

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Erik Spoelstra shocked us all when Greg Oden made his preseason debut against the New Orleans Pelicans Wednesday night. Oden only played four minutes, but it has been a long and hard fought battle to get those four minutes.

I don’t expect Oden to play in the final exhibition game. Spoelstra and Pat Riley have stressed the importance of taking it slow. The preseason action was a huge step for Oden, but it is better to air on the side of caution and rest the 7-footer.

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Chris Bosh's Attitude

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Bosh has entered this preseason with a redeemed attitude. He has played well and has showed dominance in the exhibition games.

This could be the “Year of Bosh,” as the power forward attempts to revive his stardom. I expect Bosh to have a big game to end the preseason and start on a high note going into the opener.

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Paul Pierce's Hard Play

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Pierce acted like a fool the first time these two times met this preseason. He intentionally roughed up LeBron James and used his shoulder to “send a message.”

Pierce holds a grudge against James, and Miami and I wouldn’t be surprised if the rough play continued tonight. The last thing the Heat needs is an injured member of the “Big 3.”

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Dwyane Wade's Status

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Dwyane Wade says that he is not where he wants to be physically, and won’t be when the Heat open the season against the Chicago Bulls. However, he has had back-to-back strong preseason performances and looked spectacular.

There is a chance that “Flash” does not play tonight, but if he does, look for the speed and agility that Wade is known for. The man is on a mission to prove that he is still part of the league’s elite.

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Heat - Nets Rivalry

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

There is already some bad blood between these two teams, of which is mostly baggage for the Boston Celtics. It is only the preseason, and the players are already taking shots at each other on and off the court. Just wait until the regular season, or even the playoffs!

This is a developing rivalry that will only grow with the season.