NBA Basketball is finally back … and, most importantly: Miami Heat basketball is officially back!
Coming off arguably the most improbable NBA Finals run in NBA History–where it surged past the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, No. 4 New York Knicks and the No. 2 Boston Celtics before eventually getting eliminated by Denver in the grand ol’ dance–the Miami Heat open the 2023-24 NBA season against the Detroit Pistons Wednesday evening inside the Kaseya Center.
The Heat finished the 2022-23 season at 44-38 with a bottom-six offense and a top-10 defense. They went from the top 3-point shooting two seasons ago to the fourth-worst last year, canning only 34.4 percent of their attempts. Miami also appeared in a league-most 54 clutch games last season–where it went 32-22–and evaded the Chicago Bulls in the play-in to advance to the postseason.
The Pistons, meanwhile, finished an NBA-worst 17-65, but failed in winning the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. Detroit earned the No. 5 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, where it selected Ausar Thompson–one pick after his Twin brother, Amen–from Overtime Elite and Marcus Sasser No. 25 overall. Miami drafted Jaime Jaquez Jr. No. 18 overall in its only selection.
Damian Lillard scuttlebutt aside, the Miami Heat added veterans Josh Richardson and Thomas Bryant to multi-year minimum deals this offseason. Conversely, it lost Max Strus on a four-year, $63 million to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a three-team sign-and-trade; Gabe Vincent departed to the Los Angeles Lakers on a three-year, $33 million deal Miami also lost Cody Zeller to the New Orleans Pelicans and it traded Victor Oladipo to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Detroit added veteran guards Joe Harris and Monte Morris to the mix this offseason (they were below the salary floor) and re-signed Isaiah Stewart to a multi-year extension. Most importantly, they get former No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham back, who missed all but 12 games of his sophomore NBA season due to a shin injury.
The Heat have bested Detroit in nine of their last 12 meetings, including in two of their three meetings last season. They are 15-8 all-time when opening the season with wins in seven of their last eight, though that one loss came last season to Chicago. Miami’s 15-8 (.652) record is tied with Indiana for the 10th-best in NBA History.
- Haywood Highsmith (knee sprain) — OUT
- Josh Richardson (foot) — OUT
- Bojan Bogdanovic (calf) — OUT
- Isaiah Livers (ankle) — OUT
- Monte Morris (quad) — OUT
Projected Starting 5:
- Kyle Lowry, G
- Tyler Herro, G
- Jimmy Butler, F
- Kevin Love, F
- Bam Adebayo, C
- Cade Cunningham, G
- Jaden Ivey, G
- Ausar Thompson, G/F
- Isaiah Stewart, F
- Jalen Duren, C
Betting Lines (at the time of this publishing):
- Heat -9
- O/U: 219 (O: -112; U: -108)
- ML: Heat -420, Pistons +330
Lines courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.