The Heat’s preseason is shorter than usual this year.
Miami’s five-game preseason schedule, which begins Tuesday against the Spurs, is the fewest amount of preseason games it has played since the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season. So, Sunday’s Red, White & Pink intrasquad srimmage at 4 p.m. at AmericanAirlines Arena carries a little more importance than usual.
“We approach it as a big opportunity to get on the same page. We only have five preseason games,” coach Erik Spoelstra said following Saturday’s final training camp practice at Keiser University. “One of those, probably I won’t play everybody. So you’re talking about four games where you’re really getting an opportunity to look at guys. There’s less than three weeks until the opener. We have to take advantage of every live session. ... Tomorrow being a full-contact, 5-on-5 day, I think we got to take advantage of that.”
The Heat wrapped up its five-day training camp in West Palm Beach on Saturday. Coaches and players came away from the week encouraged, with the 20-man roster featuring nine returning players.
The new additions include four-time All-Star wing Jimmy Butler, big man Meyers Leonard, and rookies Tyler Herro and KZ Okpala.
“I try to be open-minded going into camp with every team. But we were able to fast track with this group,” Spoelstra said. “The level of work and dedication and ambition from this group is real. It’s not fake. It’s not rumor.”
“This group is a very ambitious, hardworking and determined group. They’re not afraid of putting in the time, putting in the work because you have a lot of hungry guys. This week was a step in the right direction of getting a bunch of ambitious guys to try to get on the same sheet of music. That is going to be a process. But it was a good week to get going in that direction.”
Center Bam Adebayo said he felt like the Heat “found a new string of life” this week.
“I don’t know if it’s because it’s a different team, but we found a new string of life,” he said. “That’s a big thing for us. I feel like we’re going to start the season running and gunning, and just getting out flying around and having fun.”
Tickets for Sunday’s scrimmage are $1 each and are available through the Miami Heat App, Ticketmaster.com or the Ticketmaster App, and there is an eight-ticket maximum per transaction. Proceeds benefit cancer care and research at Miami Cancer Institute.
Doors to the arena for the scrimmage open at 3 p.m., and parking will be available for $5 in the arena’s P2 garage.
Fox Sports Sun will televise the scrimmage and it will also be broadcast live on 790 The Ticket.
Whether it was Justise Winslow wearing a T-shirt with Okpala on the front of it, Adebayo wearing a T-shirt featuring Kendrick Nunn or Leonard wearing a Butler T-shirt, Heat players honored their teammates with their shirts during training camp.
When Heat players walked into their rooms at the team’s Palm Beach hotel on Monday evening, they were greeted by a pile of T-shirts with a different teammate on each one. Each player got a different group of teammates.
“I feel like you see another man wearing your shirt and he’s on your team, you know he’s willing to go to battle with you,” Adebayo said. “I don’t think those shirts will be released to the public. It’s just shirts for us to wake up one day and say, ‘OK, I want to wear my teammate’s shirt.’”
Winslow said: “I didn’t pack much for training camp because I know we’re going to mostly be on the floor and sleeping. Yeah, they threw a bunch of shirts of a bunch of guys. I think it’s just cool, a cool way to bring us together and rock one of your teammates. It’s just a great chemistry builder for us.”
▪ Heat forward James Johnson remained away from the Heat for the fifth consecutive day of practice Saturday, as he works to get to his pre-set weight goal from the team. Big man Kelly Olynyk was also held out of training camp this week, as he recovers from a bone bruise on his right knee — an injury sustained playing for Team Canada in August.
Goran Dragic was a full participant in Saturday’s practice after he was limited to non-contact work Friday following a rest day Thursday.