NBA Basketball

Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Miami 28 28 38 31 125
Denver 26 31 22 26 105
10:00 AM PT11:00 AM MT12:00 PM CT1:00 PM ET17:00 GMT1:00 10:00 AM MST12:00 PM EST21:00 UAE19:0013:00 ET12:00 PM CT16:00 , August 1, 2020
HP Field House, Kissimmee, Florida

Heat ready to compete again vs. Nuggets

According to STATS
According to STATS

Miami Heat at Denver Nuggets

  1. The Nuggets have won five of their last six games against the Heat, including a 109-89 win earlier this season (November 5). The 20-point loss is tied for Miami's second largest this season (27-point loss to Philadelphia).
  2. Both the Nuggets (4th -- 26.5) and the Heat (5th -- 26.0) rank in the top five in terms of assists per game this season heading into the weekend.
  3. The Heat have three players averaging at least 15.0 points and 5.0 assists this season (Adebayo, Butler, Dragic). The only other teams all-time to have at least three such players are the 1972-73 Milwaukee Bucks (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lucius Allen, Oscar Robertson) and the 1976-77 Boston Celtics (Dave Cowens, John Havlicek, Jo Jo White; minimum 50 percent of team games).
  4. Nikola Jokic currently leads his team in points, rebounds, and assists per game, his third consecutive season doing so (qualifying players for team ranks). The only other players in NBA history to do this for three straight seasons are LeBron James (Mia - 2011-2014) and Wilt Chamberlain (Phi - 1965-68).
  5. Jamal Murray has been assisted by Nikola Jokic 123 times this season, the fourth most among teammate tandems entering the weekend.
  6. Duncan Robinson is shooting 44.8 percent from three-point range this season, third best in the NBA (minimum 200 attempts). This includes a scorching 53.6 percent in the first quarter (81/151), by far the best in the league (minimum 50 attempts).

The venue is different, the arena is empty and instead of preparing for next season, teams are finishing up the 2019-20 campaign.

Regardless, the goal remains the same for the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets, who restart their respective campaigns against each other on Saturday afternoon at the ESPN Wide World of Sports campus near Orlando.

Both teams have eight games remaining in this run up to the postseason, where positioning means less than first-round matchups because the idea of home-court advantage is moot in the bubble.

The Heat (41-24) can climb as high as the second seed in the Eastern Conference or drop to sixth depending on how these eight games go, but the most important thing is they're playing meaningful basketball again.

"Our guys are competitors. They love this," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "They're really enjoying this environment, having an opportunity to feel normal and get in between those four lines and compete. We're excited about our team. We've had three really good weeks of practice, guys are ready."

One thing Miami isn't worrying about is using the eight games to find itself in a favorable matchup. The Heat will play the games and then worry about the playoff matchup at the end, Spoelstra said.

"I don't even need to explain it, we're not going to lose games or play differently to try to line up an opponent. That's just not our language," Spoelstra said. "We're not just going to go to [Disney] and waste each other's times. We're there for a reason. Competition, like I said, brings out a different quality out of this group, individually and collectively. We'll treat those games with great respect."

The Nuggets (43-22) enter Saturday's play in third place in the Western Conference. Denver has had to gradually bring players into the fold because of the pandemic -- star Nikola Jokic was diagnosed with COVID-19 when he was home in Serbia -- and coach Michael Malone and his staff have been dealing with some nagging injuries among the players on the roster.

With a tight schedule ahead, health, as usual, will play a part in determining the title.

"Whatever team wins an NBA championship this year has to be very fortunate and lucky with the health of their roster," Malone said.

One advantage Denver has is its deep roster. Led by Jokic and guard Jamal Murray, the Nuggets had 11 players log time in 41 or more games this season. Six are averaging in double figures in scoring.

The most talked about Denver player during exhibition play in the bubble has yet to play an NBA game, however.

Bol Bol, the 7-foot-2 son of former NBA player Manute Bol, was a second-round pick in the 2019 NBA Draft after playing just nine games with the University of Oregon. Left foot surgery limited his career and was a reason he dropped in the draft.

The 20-year-old showed his potential by recording 16 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks in an 89-82 win against the Washington Wizards on July 22. He also had 15 points and three rebounds in a 119-104 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans last Saturday.

He gives Denver yet another unique talent to use.

"I've been working really hard, especially since I got here in the bubble," Bol told reporters after the first exhibition game. "I was just trying not to be nervous, and then everything would just come to me."

--Field Level Media

Updated July 31, 2020

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