What to Expect from the Miami Heat
The Miami Heat haven’t been on many people’s regular Miami to-do lists ever since LeBron James left town and the “Big Three” broke up. For a few years there, the Heat defined the culture and entertainment scene in Miami as much as any other aspect of the city. As is only natural with the ebb-and-flow nature of professional sports franchises though, the buzz dissipated, and the Heat became a little bit less of a priority (save for among dedicated basketball fans).
Entering the 2019-20 NBA season though – which is set to begin in mid-October – people living in or visiting Miami may want to put the Heat back on their lists of things to enjoy out and about in the city once more. There is nothing so dramatic as James’s 2010 arrival on South Beach going on, but the team is built to compete once more, which should make for a lot of fun.
So, what should you expect of a night out to see the Heat?
First and foremost, this truly is one of the better stadium experiences in American professional sports. To an extent, an arena is an arena and that’s that. But despite the fact that it’s getting a new name, American Airlines Arena has a reputation for character and comfort. Resting right on Biscayne Bay (almost literally out over the water), the stadium presents a different kind of atmosphere as soon as you approach. And once you’re inside, you’re in for an experience that’s all about the Heat, with the focus truly on the action on the court. That sounds straightforward, but it’s a nice contrast from some other stadiums where there can be an almost festival-like atmosphere full of distractions.
Regarding the upcoming season specifically, the Heat are built to compete. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re favorites – but neither are they a non-factor. New sportsbook sites in New Jersey are giving us better, up-to-date odds on American sports these days and if you look at what bookies are saying about the NBA’s Eastern Conference, you’ll find that there really is no definitive favorite. There are one or two teams in a top tier, and several more vying to join them. The Heat are in that second group, but with a few young players ready to break out (Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo) a new All-Star in town in Jimmy Butler, and a mix of veteran and rookie guards (Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro, respectively), they look like a tough team. It could be Miami’s best group since the James/Dwyane Wade days.
This doesn’t only mean that the games should be fun and competitive, but also that the aura around the franchise could begin to reappear. This aura stems from Pat Riley, the team’s president, and it’s the sort of thing only a handful of franchises in professional sports have – an intangible feeling that the organization’s normal mode is to succeed, rather than strive, as most teams do. That doesn’t mean there are guarantees, but as some Miami fans will undoubtedly agree, it’s a real thing. And if the Heat come out of the gate hot, that feeling could make the stadium experience all the more enjoyable.
Finally, we’d also be remiss if we didn’t point out that it’s typically fairly easy to make a long night out of a Miami Heat game. There are terrific restaurants and bars near the stadium, many within walking distance, and most (if not all) will be open after the average game wraps up. So in that sense, for people looking for something to do out in Miami who may not be total sports fans, the game can be just the beginning of a fun night in town.