With all of the players coming to training camp in top form, the Miami Heat organization is heading back to Miami, Florida
with high hopes for another National Basketball Association (NBA) title.
The journey to a third consecutive NBA championship title started on Tuesday, the Heat's first day of training camp at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort, here in The Bahamas. Even though the players didn't get to explore the island, the team was awarded some downtime, after their daily workout sessions. They return to South Florida today.
" We are not here having to get guys to lose weight or body fat, they came in extremely fit," said Erik Spoelstra, the Heat's head coach. " The majority of the guys came at their weight or proper body fat, and some even lighter. Ray (Allen), Bird (Chris " Birdman" Anderson), Dwyane (Wade) are extremely strong, sturdy and fit right now. Hopefully, they don't break all the way down.
" It's a different thing when you are trying to get your players in fitness shape. Sometimes it will lead to a pull or an injury because your body isn't used to going at a level, but our guys did their part by coming in fit, and we can focus on the things that we need to.
" It's tricky when you say pace. Here's what we did today; we went hard for 90 minutes. It was all out, as much as you can go. Don't save anything.
" It is the exact opposite. We used, do not pace yourself and push yourself to the extreme; past your comfort level. Take yourself out if you need to, if you feel that you are getting to that point where you can possible injure yourself.
" We want to push hard. We are not going to go over the three hours. They are not at that level so we are actually being smart about it as well, but we are building the habits of intensity, and we will continue to do that."
The pre-season starts on Monday, October 7 for the Heat. They will take on the Atlanta Hawks, starting at 7:30 p.m. in the American Airlines Arena in Miami.
On Thursday, of next week, the Heat will take to the hardwood against the Detroit Pistons, and they will play the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday.
Eight pre-season games are on the schedule for the Heat, before their official season tips off, on October 29, against the Chicago Bulls.
Last season, the Heat went on a 27-game winning streak before climaxing the season with the title. Adding Ray Allen into the mix last season was a big bonus for the team as they were able to close the regular season with 66 wins and 16 losses.
The Heat were the Eastern Conference Champions.
A year into the team, Allen said: â It is night and day for me, just knowing the routines. We are an uptempo team, and you have to get used to that running. Last year was tough for me because we didn't run that much in training camp, or over the last couple of years, so coming back into it and not thinking about the concepts, but now I know the concepts and I can just get to them right away. It is definitely a lot smoother transition for me."
Since picking up Allen, the Heat have selected a couple of new faces, hoping to bring diversity to the team. Players such as Michael Beasley and Greg Oden are expected to fit into the rotation.
" The beautiful thing is, as much as the new guys, Beasley has been here so he knows all of the guys; he knows the system," Allen said. " I think for him, it is just really having veteran players around him who have been playing long enough, to where the game is much more simple for him. When they see what we are doing here, I think from the feedback that I am getting, it is so much simpler.
" As much as we have that very intense style of play, defensively, it is very aggressive and every man is involved. You almost see your position every time that you are on the floor, offensively and defensively. You think about it now that you are in practice and if you can just get it, you just let it breathe through and you don't have to work as hard. You can just react when you are out there to whatever happens offensively, and be very proactive on defense."
Allen is expecting his role and game to come around as the season progresses. He said: "I am at a point where you never worry about anything more than winning, trying to find the holes and gaps that the team has." He noted that he tries to assist whoever is out on the floor playing at that time.