MIAMI – The excitement was in the air at the Miami Heat practice today.
“Everybody’s excited,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Today it felt like a gym full of 7th graders trying to keep their attention. Everybody just wants the game to be here. It was good positive anxious energy in the gym. I think a lot of the guys kind of wish we were playing tonight.”
While the NBA season tips off tonight, the Heat have to wait 24 hours before we see this new look team in Orlando (7 p.m.).
And with seven new plays, three new starters and the loss of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the Heat have undergone a major overhaul.
“There’s a (unknown) with this group,” Spoelstra said. “It makes it fun. Every year you don’t know what to expect. But all things considered a lot of change this summer. We do feel good about the foundational pieces we have here. We feel good about the group we were able to add. We think they fit our personality. Also in the last month we like the way our group has come together.”
Spoelstra will not reveal his starting lineup until Wednesday but this much is sure, guard Goran Dragic, forward Justise Winslow and center Hassan Whiteside will be among the first five. Either Derrick Williams or Luke Babbitt likely will start at power forward and Dion Waiters appears to be the starter at shooting guard.
As for the rotation, Spoelstra said he will probably play nine. He will have just 11 heathy players with Josh Richardson (knee), Josh McRoberts (foot) and Wayne Ellington (thigh) out.
“It is fluid,” Spoelstra said about the lineup. “Is it going to change every game? I don’t expect that and I don’t want that. I’m open to what will happen with this team. I don’t have all the answers right now and that’s okay. We’re going to be a team that evolves and gets better each month. How we look tomorrow night we’ll hopefully look different in January and February and March.”
Spoelstra touched on the minutes he expects his two anchors, Whiteside and Dragic, to play. He’s looking to increase Whiteside, 27 to 34 to 36 minutes up from 29 a year ago and keep Dragic, 30, in the low 30s.