The Miami Heat travel to take on the Dallas Mavericks on New Year's Day with both sides in search of some consistency early on in the 2020-21 NBA Season. Miami has emerged from a Jimmy Butler-less double-header against the Milwaukee Bucks with a win and a loss, a reminder of how well the franchise works as a unit. Dallas, meanwhile, has been struggling without second superstar Kristaps Porzingis to support Luka Doncic with only one win from their opening four matchups.
Fixture: Miami Heat vs Dallas Mavericks | NBA Season 2020-21
Date & Time: Friday, January 1st, 7PM ET (Saturday 2nd, 5:30 AM IST)
Venue: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
Miami Heat Preview
A victory in itself was the miraculous turnaround from the Miami Heat after being battered by the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday to winning by 11 points on Wednesday in the rematch. With Jimmy Butler sidelined, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Goran Dragic all stepped up to the occasion, reminding the rest of the NBA not to write them off without their leader.
The Miami Heat was the surprise outfit in last season's NBA playoffs and they revel in their tag as underdogs. As a side they are often overlooked, however without losing any of their key pieces in the offseason, the Heat look even stronger this time around.
Butler and Adebayo are All-Stars, they have a solid defensive unit as well as sharpshooters on offense and have all bought into coach Spoelstra's attitude of all-for-one. Starting 2-2 is solid enough with expectations for the Miami Heat the same as last year - finishing among the top four seeds in the East.
Key Player - Bam Adebayo
With Jimmy Butler's injury reported as a 'game-day decision', the onus of leading the Miami Heat will fall to their second superstar, Bam Adebayo. The fourth-year flexible forward has been averaging a career-high 19 points so far this season after agreeing to a maximum contract extension with the Heat prior to the league's resumption.
Adebayo had a breakout year in 2019-20, in which he averaged 15.9 points and 10.2 rebounds. He was a pivotal piece in the Miami Heat's NBA Finals run and became an All-Star for the first time.
Miami Heat Predicted Line-up
G Tyler Herro, G Avery Bradley, F Andre Iguodala, F Duncan Robinson, C Bam Adebayo
Dallas Mavericks Preview
The Dallas Mavericks have had an inconsistent week, having embarrassed the Clippers in Los Angeles before losing on their home court to the Charlotte Hornets. Most would have expected these results to be the other way around, yet the Mavs struggled to fire in the same way they did against LA.
There is lots of pressure on the shoulders of young star Luka Doncic with or without his fellow European leader Kristaps Porzingis. With the Latvian not due to return from injury until mid-January, Doncic will have to continue to will his side to victory and is facing some backlash in the wake of three losses out of four.
Luka Doncic had an unusually off-night at home against Charlotte. The guard shot 0-for-5 from downtown and scored only 12 points. The Dallas Mavericks have enough pieces to support Luka, therefore if the Slovenian is misfiring his teammates will need to take greater responsibility as the season goes on.
Key Player - Luka Doncic
Despite his poor shooting night on Wednesday and a cold hand from beyond the arc so far, Luka Doncic is expected to be among the candidates for MVP this season. Without Kristaps Porzingis, the 21-year-old is the focal point of the Dallas Mavericks offense and one of the most exciting players in the league.
His all-around ability brings other players to the fore and has the finishing touch of an experienced veteran, not a third-year player. When Porzingis returns from injury, the pressure will be slightly lifted from Doncic and we should expect to see him kick-on and show everybody why the Dallas Mavericks are widely tipped to do well this year in the West.
Dallas Mavericks Predicted Lineup
G Luka Doncic, G Josh Richardson, F Tim Hardaway Jr., F Dorian Finney-Smith, C Dwight Powell
Miami Heat vs Dallas Mavericks Match Prediction
Despite smothering the LA Clippers, the Dallas Mavericks defense has shown fragility to begin the season. If Jimmy Butler is again absent, they may have an easier night than expected but will require Doncic to return to shooting form against a frustrating Miami Heat.
The Heat are no strangers to being written off against the big sides of the league. Expect this to be a close game, however, with Doncic the only true superstar on the court if Butler doesn't play, the Mavs could edge it.
Where to watch Heat vs Mavs?
The Miami Heat - Dallas Mavericks matchup will be broadcast by FoxSports Southwest and FoxSports Sun in America. International fans can stream the game with an NBA League Pass.Published 01 Jan 2021, 04:09 IST