HEAT Host New-Look Hawks In Preseason Action

Miami HEAT
Photo Credit: David Alvarez
by Joe Beguiristain

Since defeating the Spurs and Hornets on back-to-back nights, the HEAT have been plugging away in practice as they prepare for their season opener.

But for now, the squad’s next test comes Monday at 7:30 PM when they host the Hawks in another preseason matchup.

The biggest development for Miami since its convincing victory over Charlotte on Wednesday has been the return of James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk. Now, KO still hasn’t gone through a full practice since bruising his right knee in early August, but it’s encouraging to see him on the court in some capacity. We’ll see how he progresses in the coming days.

JJ, on the other hand, missed camp and the first few games of the preseason due to conditioning reasons. The versatile 32-year-old vet characterized his arrival to practice on Friday as “day one of earning my respect back.”

Speaking of earning respect, Kendrick Nunn has translated his strong work during the offseason into a solid preseason thus far. In fact, he’s recorded team highs with 11 assists (just one turnover), seven deflections and four steals through two games. As a result, the HEAT have outscored the opposition by 16.6 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor during that span.

If Nunn can continue to handle the ball effectively and set up his teammates, that’ll go a very long way in his growth. Remember, K9 can really shoot the ball.

You know who else can shoot the ball?

Trae Young, the point guard whom Miami will be facing on Monday.

To nobody’s surprise, the 21-year-old Young leads Atlanta with 13.5 points and 8.0 assists in 27.0 minutes per game in the preseason. And while the Hawks have a decent amount of returning players in the electric Young, the uber-athletic John Collins and budding star Kevin Huerter just to name a few, they also have an influx of new faces.

In addition to adding Cam Reddish, De'Andre Hunter and Bruno Fernando in the draft (the latter two via trades), Atlanta also traded for Evan Turner, Allen Crabbe and Chandler Parsons in separate deals and then signed Jabari Parker in free agency.

Long story short, the Hawks should be better than they were a year ago.

INJURY/STATUS UPDATE: Udonis Haslem (Sprained Left Wrist) and Kelly Olynyk (Right Knee Bruise) are out for Miami. Allen Crabbe (Post Op Rehab – Right Knee), Kevin Huerter (Right Knee Pain) and Chandler Parsons (Load Management – Bilateral Knees) are out for Atlanta.

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