In an anticipated pre-season encounter less than two weeks before the tip off to the 2016-17 NBA Season, the Miami Heat dealt Brooklyn Nets fans a blow by dismantling their side. All hopes of a Brooklyn revival this season through the acquisition of Jeremy Lin are not completely lost, yet their poor showing in the American Airlines Arena provided no basis for these ambitions.
Hassan Whiteside continued to show flashes of why he is a promising early prospect for the Defensive Player of the Year award, capping off a 21 point, 14 rebound night with 4 additional blocks. His five offensive rebounds proved key to his side's victory, garnered in simply 22 minutes of playtime. Without Chris Bosh to command the paint this season, the 27-year-old looks set for a mind-blowing season statistically and is the hot-favourite to lead the league in blocks. His contribution on both ends of the floor has been evident throughout the offseason, as he looks to head into his third season in the NBA in a better shape than ever.
Despite fears in the off-season that a Dwayne Wade-less Miami Heat would fail to even clinch a playoff berth in the upcoming season, the encouraging performances from guards Goran Dragic, Wayne Ellington and Tyler Johnson should soothe some of the Heat fans' fears. Dragic had 17 points alongside 11 dimes, while Ellington and Johnson had 14 points apiece.
The Miami Heat's confident and dominant effort ensure that they will sustain their reputation of strong contenders for the contested 2nd seeding in the Eastern Conference – dethroning the Cavaliers' stronghold on the first position would probably be a bridge too far, though.
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