Heat Check

Celtics, Bucks, Cavs and Raptors to face Heat only three times next season

Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) is congratulated by James Johnson (16) after a play during the fourth quarter of a game against the Washington Wizards at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Wednesday, March 12, 2017.
Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) is congratulated by James Johnson (16) after a play during the fourth quarter of a game against the Washington Wizards at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Wednesday, March 12, 2017. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

The NBA released its schedule at 6 p.m. Monday and as promised the season will feature fewer games on back-to-back nights, no stretches of four games in five nights and a lot of time at home for the Miami Heat both early and late in the season.

Where the Heat appear to catch a bit of a break on the schedule is the fact it will face four of the Eastern Conference’s best teams only three times each. That could help Miami in a weakened Eastern Conference after it finished 41-41 last season and missed the playoffs on a tiebreaker to the Chicago Bulls.

Although Miami will only host Toronto and three-time defending conference champion Cleveland once at home (Cavs visit March 27 and Toronto plays the season finale April 11 in Miami) in a clear disadvantage, the Bucks and Celtics will host the Heat just once this season (Dec. 20 at Boston; Jan. 17 at Milwaukee). Last season, the four Eastern Conference opponents the Heat faced only three times were the Knicks, Nets, Pacers and Bulls.

The Heat will play two fewer back-to-backs than last season (13 total) with only one instance in which those back-to-back games are at home (against Dallas, New Orleans on Dec. 22-23). Six back-to-back games, meanwhile, are scheduled for the road including the first at the Los Angeles Clippers (Nov. 5) and the defending NBA champion Warriors (Nov. 6).

The other six back-to-backs are home/road or road/home splits with the Heat playing the second night of a back-to-back on the road four of those six times.

Miami also plays 14 of its final 23 games at home after the All-Star break including six of its final eight inside AmericanAirlines Arena.

The Heat are scheduled to appear on national TV nine times this season with four games on ESPN, four games on NBA TV and one appearance on TNT.

Miami Heat president Pat Riley talks about free agent James Johnson at a presser on early July 2017.

As previously reported, the Heat open the season at Orlando for the second year in a row on Wednesday, Oct. 18 and then head home for a season-long six-game homestand which begins with the Paul George-less Indiana Pacers on Saturday, Oct. 21.

The Hawks, projected to be the worst team in the East this season by ESPN’s Plus/Minus system after losing All-Star Paul Millsap and trading away center Dwight Howard to Charlotte, then visit two nights later before conference finalists San Antonio and Boston visit and up-and-coming Minnesota and the Dwyane Wade-led Chicago Bulls close out the homestand.

Then, Miami heads west for a season-long six-game roadtrip beginning Nov. 3 at Denver. The trip ends with a game in Detroit on Nov. 12.

As previously announced by the league last week, the Heat will play its first international regular season game ever in Mexico City against the Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 9 and will not play on Christmas Day for the second consecutive season (and only the third time in 14 seasons). Miami also will not play on New Year’s Day.

The only holiday the Heat will play on this season is Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 15) when it travels to face the Bulls on the second day of a back-to-back after hosting Milwaukee. The Heat is 3-8 all-time on the MLK holiday.

The game is also one of nine day games on the schedule for Miami. The others: Nov. 5 at Clippers, Nov. 12 at Detroit, Nov. 19 vs. Indiana, Nov. 26 at Chicago, Dec. 9 vs. Brooklyn, Jan. 7 vs. Utah, Jan. 14 vs. Milwaukee and Mar. 25 at Indiana.

Miami Heats' Dion Waiters, 25, signed a four-year $52 million deal to remain in Miami and talked about it Saturday, July 8, 2017 at a celebrity softball game at Barry University.

▪ The Heat and Dolphins play on the same day four times, but only once are they both at home on the same day (Dec. 3 when the Dolphins host the Broncos at 1 p.m. and the Heat hosts the Warriors at 7 p.m.). The only time the teams will play at the same time is Nov. 26 when the Dolphins play at New England at 1 p.m. and the Heat plays at Chicago at 3:30 p.m.

▪ The Heat and UM football team play on the same day three times, but only once will each play at home on the same day. On Oct. 21, the Hurricanes will host Syracuse (time TBA) and the Heat host the Pacers in the home opener at 8 p.m.

▪ The Panthers and Heat play on the same day 33 times and each play at home on the same day 14 times (six more than last season). Those 14 occasions are Oct. 28, Oct. 30, Nov. 22, Dec. 1, Dec. 22, Dec. 23, Jan. 25, Feb. 9, Feb. 24, Feb. 27, Mar. 1, Mar. 8, Mar. 10 and Apr. 3.

▪ Individual game tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Sept. 15.


Wednesday, Oct. 18 at Orlando, 7 p.m. (SUN)

Saturday, Oct. 21 vs. Indiana, 8 p.m. (SUN)

Monday, Oct. 23 vs. Atlanta, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Wednesday, Oct. 25 vs. San Antonio, 8 p.m. (ESPN/SUN)

Saturday, Oct. 28 vs. Boston, 8 p.m. (SUN)

Monday, Oct. 30 vs. Minnesota, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Wednesday, Nov. 1 vs. Chicago, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Friday, Nov. 3 at Denver, 9 p.m. (SUN)

Sunday, Nov. 5 at L.A. Clippers, 3:30 p.m. (SUN)

Monday, Nov. 6 at Golden State, 10:30 p.m. (SUN)

Wednesday, Nov. 8 at Phoenix, 9 p.m. (SUN)

Friday, Nov. 10 at Utah, 9 p.m. (SUN)

Sunday, Nov. 12 at Detroit, 4 p.m. (SUN)

Wednesday, Nov. 15 vs. Washington, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Friday, Nov. 17 at Washington, 7 p.m. (SUN)

Sunday, Nov. 19 vs. Indiana, 3:30 p.m. (SUN)

Wednesday, Nov. 22 vs. Boston, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Friday, Nov. 24 at Minnesota, 8 p.m. (SUN)

Sunday, Nov. 26 at Chicago, 3:30 p.m. (SUN)

Tuesday, Nov. 28 at Cleveland, 7 p.m. (NBA TV, SUN)

Wednesday, Nov. 29 at New York, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Friday, Dec. 1 vs. Charlotte, 8 p.m. (SUN)

Sunday, Dec. 3 vs. Golden State, 7 p.m. (SUN)

Wednesday, Dec. 6 at San Antonio, 8:30 p.m. (SUN)

Saturday, Dec. 9 at Brooklyn in Mexico City, 6 p.m. (NBA TV, SUN)

Monday, Dec. 11 at Memphis, 8 p.m. (SUN)

Wednesday, Dec. 13 vs. Portland, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Friday, Dec. 15 at Charlotte, 7 p.m. (SUN)

Saturday, Dec. 16 vs. L.A. Clippers, 8 p.m. (SUN)

Monday, Dec. 18 at Atlanta, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Wednesday, Dec. 20 at Boston, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Friday, Dec. 22 vs. Dallas, 8 p.m. (SUN)

Saturday, Dec. 23 vs. New Orleans, 8 p.m. (SUN)

Tuesday, Dec. 26 vs. Orlando, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Friday, Dec. 29 vs. Brooklyn, 8 p.m. (SUN)

Saturday, Dec. 30 at Orlando, 7 p.m. (SUN)

Wednesday, Jan. 3 vs. Detroit, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Friday, Jan. 5 vs. New York, 7 p.m. (ESPN, SUN)

Sunday, Jan. 7 vs. Utah, 3:30 p.m. (SUN)

Tuesday, Jan. 9 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Wednesday, Jan. 10 at New York, 7 p.m. (SUN)

Sunday, Jan. 14 vs. Milwaukee, 1 p.m. (SUN)

Monday, Jan. 15 at Chicago, 3:30 p.m. (SUN)

Wednesday, Jan. 17 at Milwaukee, 8 p.m. (SUN)

Friday, Jan. 19 at Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Saturday, Jan. 20 at Charlotte, 7 p.m. (SUN)

Monday, Jan. 22 at Houston, 8 p.m. (NBA TV, SUN)

Thursday, Jan. 25 vs. Sacramento, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Saturday, Jan. 27 vs. Charlotte, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Monday, Jan. 29 at Dallas, 8:30 p.m. (SUN)

Wednesday, Jan. 31 at Cleveland, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Friday, Feb. 2 at Philadelphia, 8 p.m. (ESPN, SUN)

Saturday, Feb. 3 at Detroit, 7 p.m. (SUN)

Monday, Feb. 5 vs. Orlando, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Wednesday, Feb. 7 vs. Houston, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Friday, Feb. 9 vs. Milwaukee, 8 p.m. (SUN)

Tuesday, Feb. 13 at Toronto, 7 p.m. (SUN)

Wednesday, Feb. 14 at Philadelphia, 7 p.m. (SUN)

ALL-STAR BREAK (Los Angeles)

Friday, Feb. 23 at New Orleans, 8 p.m. (SUN)

Saturday, Feb. 24 vs. Memphis, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Tuesday, Feb. 27 vs. Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Thursday, March 1 vs. L.A. Lakers, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Saturday, March 3 vs. Detroit, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Monday, March 5 vs. Phoenix, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Tuesday, March 6 at Washington, 7 p.m. (SUN)

Thursday, March 8 vs. Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Monday, March 12 at Portland, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN, SUN)

Wednesday, March 14 at Sacramento, 10 p.m. (SUN)

Friday, March 16 at L.A. Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (NBA TV, SUN)

Monday, March 19 vs. Denver, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Wednesday, March 21 vs. New York, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Friday, March 23 at Oklahoma City, 8 p.m. (SUN)

Saturday, March 25 at Indiana, 5 p.m. (SUN)

Tuesday, March 27 vs. Cleveland, 8 p.m. (TNT)

Thursday, March 29 vs. Chicago, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Saturday, March 31 vs. Brooklyn, 8 p.m. (SUN)

Tuesday, April 3 vs. Atlanta, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Wednesday, April 4 at Atlanta, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Friday, April 6 at New York, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Monday, April 9 vs. Oklahoma City, 7:30 p.m. (SUN)

Wednesday, April 11 vs. Toronto, 8 p.m. (SUN)