10 Things To Know About The HEAT's 2018-19 Schedule
Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon
As the month of August goes on, the doldrums of the NBA offseason continue to be in full force.
But there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
On Friday, the NBA announced schedules for all 30 teams, which means the HEAT will be back in action before you know it.
While Miami re-signed Wayne Ellington and locked up Derrick Jones Jr., the team's young core of Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo also showed potential in 2017-18.
What’s more, the return of Dion Waiters and Rodney McGruder — whom both missed significant time last year — should make the squad more dangerous.
With the pleasantries now out of the way, let’s get into the 10 things you need to know about the HEAT’s 2018-19 schedule.
These Numbers Are Nuts
Before we get into actual matchups and dates, you need to check out these numbers.
While Miami's number of back-to-backs dropped from 13 last year to 12 in 2018-19 (two are home/home B2Bs), the team will change time zones six times on B2Bs (four more than a year ago) and travel 48,089 miles in all (most in the league against conference opponents).
Whatever it takes.
Beginning On The Road
For the third year in a row, the HEAT will start their campaign on the road.
However, things will be a little different this time around with Miami opening the season in Orlando on Oct. 17 and traveling to Washington for a date with the Wizards the following night.
Although the HEAT get one of their back-to-backs out of the way quickly, it’s still a bit arduous.
The Magic, now led by Steve Clifford, drafted Mo Bamba out of Texas, traded Bismack Biyombo in a three-team deal that brought them Jerian Grant and Timofey Mozgov and re-signed their cornerstone in Aaron Gordon.
The Wizards, meanwhile, traded Marcin Gortat for Austin Rivers and signed Dwight Howard after the former Hornet was traded to the Nets and bought out.
Both Hassan Whiteside and Bam Adebayo have had fun battles against Howard in the past, so we’ll see how it all goes down.
Familiar Foe For The Home Opener
Well, we’ve seen this before.
On Oct. 20, Miami will welcome the Hornets into town for its home opener.
Before we go any further, let’s take a look at what happened when the HEAT played Charlotte under the same circumstances in 2015.
That was awesome, but I guess we should get back to the matchup at hand, right?
Under new leadership, the Hornets added veteran Tony Parker in free agency, shored up their center position by acquiring Biyombo from the Magic in the aforementioned three-team deal with Orlando and Chicago and drafted Miles Bridges.
Not too shabby.
A Chance For Revenge Early On
While Miami had some solid moments in its first round matchup with Philadelphia, the 76ers still managed to take the series in five.
After seven long months, the two will go to battle again on Nov. 12 at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Two important guys from that aforementioned first round series — Ersan İlyasova and Marco Belinelli — are now elsewhere, but Philadelphia traded for versatile wing Wilson Chandler and crafty big man Mike Muscala in separate deals over the summer.
Simply put, this young squad is still a force to be reckoned with.
That said, Winslow and Richardson rose to the occasion against Philadelphia a year ago and came through with some fantastic sequences.
The King In November
Soooo this one is going to be fun.
You may have heard by now that Magic Johnson pulled off the most substantial coup of the offseason by acquiring LeBron James. But in addition to signing LBJ, Johnson also swung deals with Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee, Michael Beasley, Lance Stephenson and Summer League sharpshooter Svi Mykhailiuk.
Although spacing could be an issue for L.A., you have to imagine that James will figure it out and make things work. With that in mind, the HEAT should be in for one explosive matchup when the Lakers make their annual trip to Miami on Nov. 18.
Not too long after that though, the HEAT will head out to Staples Center to go at it once more with the purple and gold on Dec. 10.
Just go ahead and mark both of those dates on your calendar now.
Long West Coast Swing In December
A little under two months into the season, Miami will embark on its longest road trip of the year from Dec. 7 – Dec. 16. The 10-day trip will span six games, including the aforementioned meeting with the Lakers and tough clashes with the Jazz on Dec. 12 and Pelicans on Dec. 16.
A Holiday Treat
While the HEAT don’t play on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, they’ll have a marquee matchup with the new-look Raptors on Dec. 26 in Miami. (The two squads will play for the first time on Nov. 25 at Scotiabank Arena.)
Toronto made a major splash by trading franchise pillar DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 first-round pick to San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. Leonard missed most of last season, but he’s still one of the best two-way players in the game.
It’ll certainly be fun to see how the former Spur acclimates to “The North.”
Rivalry Continues On National TV
Who could forget when the HEAT snapped the Celtics’ 16-game winning streak last season thanks to Waiters’ late flurry?
Or when Kelly Olynyk had a career night in the arena he used to call home?
After going 2-1 against Boston a year ago, the HEAT will get their first crack at the Celtics on Jan. 10 in Miami. Naturally, the game will be televised on TNT.
Shortly after that matchup, Miami will face Boston on MLK Day (Jan. 21) at TD Garden.
Even though the HEAT had success against Brad Stevens’ squad in 2017-18, you have to remember that Gordon Hayward was out.
A fully healthy Celtics roster will be a great litmus test for Miami.
The Defending Champs In February
Sometimes the rich just get richer.
As if the Warriors weren’t already tough to beat, they went ahead and signed DeMarcus Cousins to firmly solidify their status as the best team in the league.
Now, Cousins is expected to miss part of the regular season as he continues to heal from his Achilles injury, but he could possibly be in the lineup when the HEAT travel to Oracle Arena on Feb. 10.
If not then, perhaps he’ll be available a little over two weeks later when Miami hosts Steph Curry, KD and the rest of the crew on Feb. 27 at AmericanAirlines Arena.
While the HEAT dropped both games to Golden State last season, Richardson had a remarkable defensive outing against the defending champs on Nov. 6 and held Curry, Klay Thompson and Shaun Livingston to a combined 12-of-40 from the field.
Does J. Rich have it in him again?
We’ll find out.
Getting Into The Home Stretch In More Ways Than One
If you follow the league enough, you know that March is one of the busiest months of the year.
That’ll ring true once again for Miami, as the team’s longest homestand will run from March 8 – March 17. The five-game stretch over 10 days includes matchups with the Pistons on ESPN, Cavaliers and Raptors among others.
Although the homestand officially begins on March 8, seven of the HEAT’s first eight games in March will be at AmericanAirlines Arena.
It's also important to note that Miami will have a very difficult back-to-back set against the Warriors and Rockets at the end of February, so it’s imperative that the HEAT take care of business on their home floor once the calendar flips to March.
Photos courtesy of NBAE via Getty Images