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Moscow vs. HEAT Preview

MIAMI, October 11 – With CSKA Moscow in town Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena 7:30 ET, the Miami HEAT have a unique opportunity – they get to play a team that doesn’t play NBA basketball.

Of course, the NBA has become decidedly more international over the past two decades, and that has had a direct impact on the style of the national game. But there’s still a difference, one that many HEAT players have experienced over the past few summers. And as Miami gears up for the regular season opener on October 26, the more variety they can play against, the better prepared they will be.

“It’s another day to get better,” Erik Spoelstra said after Monday’s practice. “I’ll come into it with the same attitude we had today; let’s focus on us, our system, and building some familiarity and continuity. So it will be a great opportunity for us to take a step forward.”

With Dwyane Wade still out with a hamstring injury and a number of different lineups to experiment with, the HEAT have not had the most consistency on the court. But they weren’t planning on being a perfectly gelled unit by Tuesday night, either.

“Chemistry is something that you want,” LeBron James said, “but like I’ve said earlier, the first day of preseason training camp, I thought Boston and Orlando and the Lakers would be ahead of us because they didn’t have too many guys to implement in their system.

“We were a little bit behind those teams, but we’re ahead of a lot of teams.”

Where the HEAT stand relative to a Moscow team that features former NBA players – among them Trajan Langdon and Viktor Khryapa – and former Euroleague MVP Ramûnas Ðiðkauskas, it’s impossible to tell, but though it may be an exhibition, Miami is in it to win it.

“You’ve got to win the game,” Chris Bosh said.

Interesting Tidbit

Portland Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Rice once nicknamed Khryapa – drafted by the Blazers – “The Wolverine” for his tenacity on the boards.

Telling Numbers

Coach Spoelstra has often talked about this team using its athleticism in the open court and attacking as much as possible, and so far the HEAT are playing at a greater pace than Spolestra’s previously half-court oriented teams.

In 2009-10, the HEAT averaged 89.6 possessions per game, the third lowest total in the league. Through three preseason games – albeit with the roster fluctuating from game to game – the team is using 94.06 possessions, with a high of 100.96 against Oklahoma City and a low of 89.6 in the preseason opener.

Notable Quote

LeBron James on Dwyane Wade waiting to play on the sidelines:

“He’s like a kid right now that’s been in detention and he wants to get out to recess. So he’s messing with everybody else trying to get everybody to stay loose, but you can tell he wants to be back on the basketball court. But he’s patient. He’s a veteran. He knows what it takes for his body to be right. But like I said, he’s a kid who wants to get back out to recess and is not allowed right now.”

Featured Matchup

They don’t play the same position, but former Kansas Jayhawks Sasha Kaun and Mario Chalmers might meet up in the paint Tuesday night. Kaun recently played for Russia at the World Championships, where he averaged 10.4 points and 6.3 rebounds in 20.6 minutes per game. In 37 minutes spread over two games, Chalmers has scored 15 points and dished out 12 assists.


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