Five questions entering the Miami Heat's NBA restart
After a four-month layoff, the Miami Heat are finally set to resume the season.
They open the NBA restart Saturday against the Denver Nuggets in Orlando. After the eight-game schedule, it's on to the playoffs.
"We're excited about our team," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We've had three really good weeks of practice, guys are ready. I don't know how that compares to everybody else. We'll find out on Saturday."
Here are five questions for the Heat entering the restart.
1. Can Jimmy Butler lead a team past the second round of the playoffs?
Butler was a Kawhi Leonard jumpshot from playing in the Eastern Conference finals last year. He has never led a team past the second round as a primary player. The Heat are counting on him as their leading man. With so much riding on him, is he ready to shoulder the load?
2. Are Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Derrick Jones Jr. and Kendrick Nunn ready for their postseason experience?
Adebayo is the lone member of the group with any experience. He appeared in five games when the Heat lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2018 first round. Even then, Adebayo was only used in a limited role. How well the youngsters adjust will be a determining factor of their success.
3. With a full roster for the first time since February, how does coach Erik Spoelstra handle the rotation?
After adjusting so much with Herro and Meyers Leonard sidelined in February, Spoelstra now has to find ways work them back into lineup. It gets even tougher when considering the recent emergence of Kelly Olynyk. Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder are also in the mix. The Heat have 10-11 players who deserve minutes. Now, it's up to Spoelstra to make it work.
4. At 34, Goran Dragic is among the league's oldest point guards. Will he be able to keep up in the sprint-like format of the NBA restart?
Despite playing as a reserve for the first time in Miami, Dragic is having one of the best seasons of his career. The question is now is can he sustain it. The Heat open by playing four games in six days. It won't be easy.
5. After a shaky scrimmage schedule, does this team have enough defense for a deep playoff run?
Butler and Adebayo are the top defenders. Nunn has played solid at times, but the rest of the roster has battled inconsistency. The growth of Herro and Robinson will be key.
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