After losing their first four preseason games, the Heat is ready to enter the regular season with some momentum.
The Heat disposed of the Memphis Grizzlies 104-98 on Friday night at FedExForum to finish the preseason with a four-game winning streak. But it’s not the wins that have coach Erik Spoelstra the most pleased. It’s the way the Heat is playing, in particular in the past two games.
The Heat is starting to find its groove on both ends of the floor.
“It’s not about the results right now,” Spoelstra said.
Never miss a local story.
“It soon will be on Wednesday night. But we just wanted to get better. We wanted to see some progress with what we’re working on. The last two games we were a little bit more consistent to our defense, and offensively guys are starting to find their rhythm. They’re helping each other get shots and playing with more energy. That was more encouraging to see.”
Dwyane Wade definitely found his offensive rhythm in the Heat’s past two games. After scoring a preseason-high 26 points against Houston on Tuesday night, Wade picked up where he left off against the Grizzlies.
His ability to get to the basket early was the catalyst for him making his first seven shots from the floor.
He didn’t miss until a jumper with 2:07 left in the first half was off. Wade scored all 16 of his points in the first half.
“Early on [in the preseason], I was trying to feel this offense out, trying to feel my teammates out,” Wade said.
“I kind of got a sense of it, and they’re kind of getting a sense of me. Obviously, it’s still preseason. We’ve got so many games left, but I think for right now, they’re starting to understand where I like the ball and what I need. And I’m very unselfish, a guy that will pass it to them.”
Chris Bosh, who led the Heat in scoring during the preseason, capped his final tuneup with a 21-point outing on 8-of-14 shooting and six rebounds.
Point guard Norris Cole was equally effective in the backcourt with Wade, making four of his five first-half shots as the Heat led 54-48 at the half.
Cole, who started seven of the Heat’s eight preseason games, made one final case to be the regular-season starter, finishing the game with 14 points and seven assists.
Spoelstra still isn’t ready to say who will be the starter in Wednesday night’s season opener against Washington.
“He came out very aggressive,” Wade said of Cole. “He kind of said it before the game that he wanted to get some good work in. He’s taken his new role in stride, and he’s been very productive in that role.”
Spoelstra gave starting forward Luol Deng the night off, replacing him with rookie James Ennis.
After a slow start, the 6-7 Ennis finished with 10 points.
Spoelstra did get his first look of the preseason at center Justin Hamilton. The second-year seven-footer out of LSU missed the first seven preseason games while recovering from an abnormal heart rhythm.
Hamilton played 26 minutes, scoring seven points with five rebounds.
The Heat scored the first six points of the second half to take a 60-48 lead. Behind Bosh and Mario Chalmers, who led the bench with 11 points, the Heat was able to take an 84-71 lead into the final period, allowing Spoelstra to get a look at the rest of his bench.
The bench nearly squandered a 17-point lead, as the Grizzlies pulled to within 94-91 with just under four minutes to play before the Heat quickly pushed the margin back to 11.