HEAT Open Season Against Grizzlies

Jimmy Butler
Photo Credit: David Alvarez
by Joe Beguiristain
HEAT.com

It’s about that time again.

At long last, the HEAT will embark on their 32nd season Wednesday night when they host the Memphis Grizzlies at AmericanAirlines Arena.

And in case you missed it, Miami had a rather strong preseason at 4-1 with a 10.9 net rating (good enough for seventh in the league). From Jimmy Butler all the way to Chris Silva, nearly every player on the roster had a moment.

As such, Erik Spoelstra was pleased with how it all went.

“We really covered a lot of ground in three weeks. Everybody in this gym feels like we’re ready to start,” Spoelstra said. “Does that mean we have everything installed, and [do we] feel like we’re in midseason form? No, but nobody else is either. We might as well get this thing started…and we’re looking forward to starting.”

For the first time since 2015, the HEAT will start things off in front of their home crowd. And although the Grizzlies are in the midst of a rebuild (nobody that started their season opener last year is on the team), that doesn’t mean things will be easy once the ball goes up.

Memphis, who went 3-2 in the preseason, has plenty of new faces in Jae Crowder, Ja Morant, Tyus Jones, Brandon Clarke, Grayson Allen, Marko Gudurić, Solomon Hill, Josh Jackson, De’Anthony Melton and Andre Iguodala.

(Whew, that’s a lot.)

Amongst them all, though, Morant is the true game changer.

In fact, the 20-year-old rookie point guard averaged 7.3 assists per game, which trailed only James Harden (9.0) and Fred VanVleet (7.7) in the exhibition slate. Furthermore, Morant recorded a 3.22 assist-to-turnover ratio during that span.

That’s impressive.

And when you also factor in Morant’s budding chemistry with fellow rookie Clarke (who runs the floor very well and has nice touch around the basket) and stalwart Jaren Jackson Jr., you realize that the Grizzlies have some serious potential.

INJURY/STATUS UPDATE: Udonis Haslem (Sprained Left Wrist) participated in Wednesday morning's shootaround, but will not play. Dion Waiters (Team Suspension) and James Johnson (Conditioning) are also out for Miami. Andre Iguodala and Josh Jackson (Not With Team) are out for Memphis.

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