Miami Heat

Heat solidifying contender status with early two-way dominance

Coming into the season, the Miami Heat, with their offseason acquisitions, were considered strong favourites but for the most part, they were ranked a tier below the Brooklyn Nets and the reigning champions - the Milwaukee Bucks - in the East.

However, seven games in, the South Florida franchise has made a strong statement on why it should have been ranked alongside the Nets and Bucks.

The Heat rode into Dallas, an opponent they have lost to just four times since the 2011-12 season, and put a beat down despite trailing by as many as 11 in the first quarter.

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After they were down early, Miami flipped the script with a 46-point second quarter on a 17-of-25 shooting from the field and a near-perfect 8-of-9 efficiency from beyond the arc.

They kept their foot on the pedal and cruised to a 125-110 victory, helping them improve to a tied league-best 6-1 record with all of their six wins coming by double digits.

For the first time in franchise history, the team finished with four players scoring 20 or more.

With nine assists, six 3-pointers and just the one turnover, this was easily Kyle Lowry's best game with the team. Jimmy Butler continued his all-around great start to the season with six rebounds, six assists and three steals. Meanwhile, Tyler Herro retained his status as the early favourite for Sixth Man of the Year as he recorded four assists and a game-high +21 to go along with his team-high points tally.

In recent seasons, especially since 2015, the Heat have been known to be a good defensive team. In six of the seven years since 2015, their defensive rating is among the Top 10 in the league.

More often than not, their season would turn out based on how their offence performs and so far this season, their offensive rating is a second-best in the league at 114.3. It's still early days and we are only seven games in but nothing says contender more than ranking second-best on offence and league-best on defence.

On defence, the team has six players - PJ Tucker, Bam Adebayo, Lowry, Butler, Herro - among the league leaders for defensive rating among those averaging at least 20 minutes per game. Herro aside, defence is something that is associated with all of the players mentioned above. Butler, who led the league last season for steals per game, ranks second early this season with an average of 2.9 per game.

On offence, this:

Obviously, seven games is too small of a sample size to consider this the Heat's play all year. So, can they keep this up? Let's take a look at their upcoming schedule.

Miami Heat's upcoming schedule

The Heat now head back home to face the Celtics, who have gotten off to a rough 2-5 start but have plenty of talent on their roster. That game against Boston is the first of multiple forthcoming games against the formidable opponents.

Of their next six games, Miami face and wrap-up their season series against the Utah Jazz - a team that has started the season with a 5-1 record.

Date Opponent
Nov. 5 vs. Celtics
Nov. 7 vs. Jazz
Nov. 9 at Nuggets
Nov. 11 at Lakers
Nov. 12 at LA Clippers
Nov. 14 at Jazz

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