Date & Time: Wednesday, December 23rd, 7 PM ET (Thursday, 5:30 AM IST)
Venue: Amway Center, Orlando, FL
Besides the geographical location, there's nothing that suggests a hard-boiled rivalry between the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic. The former has quickly risen to prominence in the East again while the latter continues to struggle in the lower playoff seeds. The same outcome is expected this season as well.
Miami Heat Preview
The Miami Heat only played two preseason games but they were enough to prove that they're ready for the new season. Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson are ready to take the next step while rookie Precious Achiuwa has also announced his arrival via a 15-rebound effort against the Toronto Raptors.
Goran Dragic has fully recovered from the foot issue that plagued him in the 2020 NBA Finals but he's likely to take up the sixth man role for the Miami Heat. Bam Adebayo has looked as lively as ever after signing his max extension while a rested Jimmy Butler will be raring to go against Orlando Magic.
Key Player - Bam Adebayo
Bam Adebayo played limited minutes for the Miami Heat in the preseason but he looked comfortable enough. He had eight assists against the New Orleans Pelicans which means that he's only gone ahead and improved his playmaking. He's not a floor spacer but Adebayo is still going to be a 20-10 threat each night.
Miami Heat Predicted Lineup
Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Moe Harkless, Bam Adebayo
Orlando Magic Preview
The Orlando Magic only recently made their biggest moves of the offseason by extending the contracts of Markelle Fultz and Jonathan Isaac. The most exciting part about them though is rookie guard Cole Anthony who'll be asked to run the second unit for the team.
Nikola Vucevic continued to be the high-volume offense guy in the preseason. It'll be interesting to see how he manages defensive assignments inside the paint against the Miami Heat in the absence of Isaac. Aaron Gordon continued to see more of the ball for the Orlando Magic and may run the offense more often.
Key Player - Nikola Vucevic
Nikola Vucevic is probably the most game-ready player on the Orlando Magic right now. He averaged 19.3 points and 12.5 rebounds per game in the preseason itself and seemingly found his scoring touch from downtown against the Charlotte Hornets. His matchup with Bam Adebayo will have a huge impact on the outcome of the game.
Orlando Magic Predicted Lineup
Markelle Fultz, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Dwayne Bacon, Nikola Vucevic
Heat vs Magic Match Prediction
The Orlando Magic certainly have had more match practice heading into the new season, but the Miami Heat have more quality on paper. Additionally, the Magic also have a dearth of defensive players across the board, and the Heat could exploit that. Expect Jimmy Butler and co. to win their season opener.
Where to watch Heat vs Magic?
Local coverage of the game will be available on FOX Sports Sun and FOX Sports Florida. You can also live stream the same via the NBA League Pass.
Published 22 Dec 2020, 19:00 IST