HEAT Strive To Stay Perfect Thursday In Orlando

Bam Adebayo
Photo Credit: Fernando Medina
by Joe Beguiristain

Although preseason records really don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t make the HEAT’s 3-0 start to their exhibition slate any less impressive.

In case you missed it, Tyler Herro set the tone early in a 120-87 thrashing of the Hawks the last time Miami hit the floor on Monday. And while Herro got all the headlines thanks to his 14-point flurry to start the game and team-high 23 points, Bam Adebayo and Meyers Leonard also did their thing with a combined seven screen assists for 19 points.

Altogether, Adebayo shook off a tough shooting night and managed to make an impact by absorbing contact inside and defending at a very high level. Naturally, he leads the HEAT with seven blocks through three games.

Leonard, on the other hand, continued to show his ability to make plays both out of the pick-and-roll and with the ball in his hands on the elbow. One sequence that kind of got lost in the shuffle came early in the third quarter when the 7-footer found Jimmy Butler with a nifty pocket pass after the dribble handoff was denied.

It’ll be interesting to see if Leonard and Adebayo can keep up their strong play against the Magic’s slew of bigs on Thursday night.

In particular, second-year center Mo Bamba has played quite well for Orlando this preseason and is coming off a 12-point, three-rebound, two-block effort against the 76ers on Sunday. As a whole, the 21-year-old can roll to the rim, hit the three and protect the rim very well.

That said, Terrence Ross has been the Magic’s most consistent scoring threat this preseason (he leads the squad with 16.0 points per game on 44.9 percent shooting) and newcomer Markelle Fultz could be the team’s X factor moving forward.

Assuming everyone plays, this should be an intriguing matchup.

INJURY UPDATE: Kelly Olynyk (Right Knee Bruise) is available. Udonis Haslem (Sprained Left Wrist) and James Johnson (Conditioning) are out.

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