Orlando, FL – The Miami Heat are known for being one of the best-conditioned teams in the league. That’s been Pat Riley’s modus operandi since his Showtime Lakers days. It’s also what he brought over to a young Miami Heat organization and the foundation for the well-known “Heat Culture”. That couldn’t have been more apparent than after Miami’s first game back after the Covid-19 shutdown, defeating the Denver Nuggets 125-105.
The Heat were handed no easy task. They had the most difficult strength of schedule heading into the bubble, starting with the Denver Nuggets. Denver came in owning the 3rd spot in the western conference standings. Miami last faced the Nuggets, if you don’t remember remember was the fifth of November. Miami lost that game by 20 points, 109-89, so a 20-point vendetta-game pummeling was in order.
Heat Nation, your wait is over.
Welcome to a Miami Heat game day.
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) August 1, 2020
Bubble Game One
All these bubble-restart games are taking place at a neutral site, Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, FL. No home-court advantage here, folks. However, Denver was technically the home team. Miami struggled on the road before the covid stoppage, but that wouldn’t be a problem in their first game back. The Heat got off to an early lead in the 1st quarter. They had more energy and Denver looked as if they wouldn’t be able to keep up.
However, the Nuggets adjusted and Miami allowed them to sneak back in. Their size was a problem for the Heat, but Miami’s got shooters! The three-point line was their friend in the 2nd half. Their prowess from deep opened up space for Miami to move the ball around like a pinball machine. Denver couldn’t keep up with the pace, and that’s when Miami’s conditioning came though.
Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo led the team with 22 points each. Jimmy must still be on his Hall & Oates – You Make My Dream (Come True) high, attacking the rim and getting to the foul line at will. He sunk 10 of 11 from the free-throw line. Bam also contributed nine rebounds and six assists. That’s almost flirting with a triple-double in only 28 minutes of play. The Heat kept the foot on the gas in the 4th quarter. More specifically, Kelly Olynek lit up Denver. He must’ve heard me saying that he’d be shipped out to make room for Victor Oladipo (rumored to come to Miami). Kelly-O became the 1st Heat player to score 20 points in the 4th quarter since Dwyane Wade did it in 2009 when he led the league in scoring.
— x – Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) August 1, 2020
Next up in the bubble, Miami faces the defending champion Toronto Raptors. The 2nd seeded Raptors actually have a better record this season, without Kawhi Leonard, than they did last season. Toronto is coming off a win vs the Lakers in a potential finals matchup. Not if Heat Culture has anything to say about it.
📸 Credit: Kevin C. Cox