MIAMI — The Heat’s regular-season schedule is set.
The NBA released the full 2017-18 schedule Monday evening and, as always, there are plenty of intriguing matchups to be excited for. For the Heat, there are two home games against Dwyane Wade and the Bulls, an early-season game against Gordon Hayward and the Celtics, and even an international contest against the Nets that will be played in Mexico City.
Here are 10 games that you won’t want to miss from the Heat’s 2017-18 schedule …
Oct. 28, 2017: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat
The Heat won’t have to wait long to welcome Gordon Hayward back to Miami. The fifth game of the season comes against Hayward and the talented Celtics. The Heat were one of three teams competing in the Hayward sweepstakes this summer, and even hosted a free-agent meeting with him in Miami at AmericanAirlines Arena. The All-Star forward ended up choosing the Celtics over the Heat and Jazz. And Miami immediately moved to Plan B, re-signing James Johnson and Dion Waiters and adding Kelly Olynyk in free agency. Along with the obvious Hayward storyline, this will also be Olynyk’s first time facing his former team in a Heat uniform.
Oct. 30, 2017: Minnesota Timberwolves at Miami Heat
A meeting between the Timberwolves and Heat is not usually one that you circle on the NBA calendar. But after trading for Jimmy Butler this summer, Minnesota is suddenly one of the most intriguing teams in the league. With a young core of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, and now an established star like Butler, the Timberwolves are now one of the teams that can act as a measuring stick for the Heat.
Nov. 1, 2017: Chicago Bulls at Miami Heat
This will mark Dwyane Wade’s second time playing at AmericanAirlines Arena since leaving the Heat to sign with the Bulls in the summer of 2016. Wade only faced the Heat in Miami once last season, as the Bulls’ lone trip to AmericanAirlines Arena came early on Nov. 10. But Chicago will play in Miami twice this season on Nov. 1 and March 29. The question is, will Wade be on the Bulls’ roster for both of those games with the possibility of a buyout still looming?
Dec. 3, 2017: Golden State Warriors at Miami Heat
The last time the Warriors played the Heat in Miami, the game came down to the last second. Dion Waiters hit a game-winning 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds remaining to lead the Heat to a 105-102 victory over the Warriors in the middle of Miami’s 13-game win streak. It was one of the Heat’s most impressive wins of the season, as Golden State went on to record a 16-1 record in the playoffs on its way to winning the NBA championship. With Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green still on the roster, the Warriors enter the season as the clear-cut best team in the NBA. Can the Heat pull off the upset in Miami for a second consecutive season? You won’t want to miss this one.
Dec. 9, 2017: Miami Heat vs. Brooklyn Nets (in Mexico City)
This doesn’t seem like a great matchup, considering the Nets finished last season with the NBA’s worst record at 20-62. But this will be one of the coolest games of the season. This Heat-Nets matchup will take place in Mexico City at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico as part of the NBA Mexico City Games 2017. The Heat have played multiple preseason games in other countries, but this season’s contest in Mexico marks the first time they have played a regular-season game in a country other than the United States or Canada. Plus, it gives Miami a chance at some revenge after Brooklyn sat key players in its regular-season finale that was important to the Heat. To have a shot at making the playoffs, Miami needed Brooklyn to win that game. Instead, the Nets sat their best players and lost to the Bulls 112-73, and the Heat missed out on the postseason.
Jan. 22, 2018: Miami Heat at Houston Rockets
The Rockets made a big splash this summer in acquiring point guard Chris Paul. This will mark the Heat’s first game against the new potent Houston duo of James Harden and Paul. The Heat had success against the Rockets last season, sweeping the season series 2-0. That was impressive, as Houston was one of the NBA’s top teams. Now with Paul, beating the Rockets would be even more eye-opening this season.
Feb. 2, 2018: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers
The Heat have to wait a few months before facing No. 1 overall draft pick Markelle Fultz and the 76ers. But Miami will play Philadelphia four times over a five-week period in February and March. With Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick and Fultz, the 76ers have the talent to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 season. With the Heat’s four games against Philadephia coming late in the season, they will probably be pretty important as both teams are expected to be in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
March 1, 2018: Los Angeles Lakers at Miami Heat
Lonzo Ball. That’s the only thing you need to know about this matchup. The Lakers probably won’t be a playoff team this season, but Ball — the second overall pick in this year’s draft — makes them a team to keep an eye on. Plus, this will be the first time Magic Johnson faces off against Pat Riley since Johnson was named Lakers president earlier this year. Magic and Pat are friends off the court, but you know they will want to get the better of each other when it comes to basketball.
March 23, 2018: Miami Heat at Oklahoma City Thunder
The Heat have plenty of history against Paul George. But that was when George was with the Pacers. Now, the four-time All-Star is playing for the Thunder. And George might not even be the best player on his team. That’s because last season’s NBA MVP Russell Westbrook is also on Oklahoma City’s roster. With George and Westbrook, any Heat game that features the Thunder on the other side is one you’ll want to watch.
March 27, 2018: Cleveland Cavaliers at Miami Heat
It’s a must-see event whenever LeBron James comes to Miami to face the Heat. The question is, will James even play in the game? James, who left the Heat to sign with the Cavaliers as a free agent in the summer of 2014, has sat out three of Cleveland’s past four visits to AmericanAirlines Arena. Even when the 13-time All-Star has played, the Heat have had success against the Cavaliers when playing in Miami. Cleveland has yet to win at AmericanAirlines Arena with an 0-6 record since James left the Heat to join the Cavaliers. This will mark Cleveland’s only game in Miami this season.