Heat Check: A work in progress but good start in post-LeBron era

MIAMI — The Miami Heat opened their season with an entertaining 107-95 victory against the division rival Washington Wizards on Wednesday night in front of a fired up home crowd.

Both teams were evenly matched throughout the majority of the game. While the Heat remain a work in progress as expected, it’s clear that the offense will flow through Chris Bosh, and he responded by leading all scorers with 26 points.

The Heat’s youth movement is in full effect as Erik Spoelstra chose to insert James Ennis and Shabazz Napier in the first quarter. Along with potential comes growing pains. Both rookies struggled in their NBA debuts. On one play in the third quarter, Bosh passed to Napier as he started to cut to the basket in another direction. Soon afterwards, Ennis barreled into Wizards small forward Otto Porter Jr. to give up three free throws.

A Heat run was brewing at the start of the fourth quarter when Ennis made the play of the night as he hung in the air, got fouled by Andre Miller and still managed to convert the highlight-worthy slam dunk.

The Wizards, with a balanced attack that featured five players reaching double-digits in points, still came back to cut the lead to a single point.

Led by Bosh and Wade, as well as a career-high 23 points from Norris Cole, the Heat would pull away late in the fourth quarter with improved defense and clutch shooting from Wade.

THE TURNING POINT

Heat 107, Wizards 95

With limited depth behind Wade, the Heat can’t afford an injury to their superstar guard. The situation looked grim in the third quarter when he hobbled off to the locker room for several minutes with a calf contusion.

As the crowd cheered Ennis’ slam dunk, Wade quietly rejoined his teammates and entered the game midway through the fourth quarter with the Heat holding onto a slim 84-81 lead.

That’s when Wade took over and scored 12 points to lead the charge down the stretch.

Wade would then ice the game with a pull-up 3-pointer to make it 104-93 with a minute left. For good measure, he knocked down another one as time expired to the delight of the crowd.

THE DIFFERENCE MAKER

After a strong preseason as the Heat’s most consistent player, Bosh appeared comfortable as the Heat’s main offensive threat in the first regular-season game. He poured in 16 points during the second quarter alone, mixing it up from 3-point territory, mid range and with effective moves to the basket.

STAT OF THE GAME

After struggling to score in the third quarter, the Heat turned it up with 35 points in the fourth to put away the pesky Wizards.

MUST-SEE VIDEO


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WHAT’S NEXT

Just like last year, the Heat’s second game of the season will be on the road against the Philadelphia 76ers. The game tips off on Saturday at 7 p.m.

You can follow Surya Fernandez on Twitter @SuryaHeatNBA or email him at SuryaFoxSports@gmail.com.