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The Miami Heat are a professional basketball team in the National Basketball Association (the NBA). The Miami Heat play in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference with four other teams: the Orlando Magic, the Washington Wizards, the Charlotte Hornets and the Atlanta Hawks. Heat tickets will surely be hard to come by during the 2014-2015 NBA schedule.
Miami Heat 2014-2015 Outlook
LeBron James isn’t on the team anymore, which delivers a decent-sized blow to Miami’s title hopes in 2014-15. After featuring as heavy favorites this time a year ago, the Heat are now relative long shots.
Filling in for the King, Miami has veterans Luol Deng, Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts—three offseason additions president Pat Riley would have preferred as James’ sidekicks, not replacements.
Chris Bosh will be a featured part of the offense now, and he’ll do his best to reprise the role of 20-10 dynamo he played with the Toronto Raptors. And Dwyane Wade will step back into the spotlight, hoping his body holds up under the stress of increased responsibility.
It feels like, on paper, the Heat have enough talent to stick around as a playoff team. But if Wade misses another 28 games nursing his knees, those postseason dreams could vanish.
American Airlines Arena
The Miami Heat play their home games at the American Airlines Arena. American Airlines Arena opened in 1999 for the Miami Heat. American Airlines Arena is located right along Biscayne Bay and was designed as a replacement for the Miami Arena, an older structure. American Airlines Arena holds a seating capacity of 19,600 devoted die-hard Miami Heat fans. American Airlines Arena has also played host to numerous memorable and historic concerts and special events during its 9-year history, including the 2006 NBA Finals, the 2004 and 2005 MTV Music Awards and the World Wrestling Entertainment RAW event on January 1, 2006.
American Airlines Arena
601 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, Florida 33132
The Miami Heat joined the ranks of the NBA in 1988 as an expansion team as part of a 4-team, 2-tier expansion. Along with the Miami Heat, the Charlotte Hornets joined the NBA for the 1988-1989 season, while the Orlando Magic and the Minnesota Timberwolves joined the NBA for the 1989-1990 season. The Miami Heat struggled a lot during their early years. In their first season, the Miami Heat played in the Midwest Division of the Western Conference where their closest division rival was over 900 miles away in Houston. The Miami Heat lost their first 17 games, an NBA record, and won only 15 games all season long. A move to the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference the following season did not help too much as the Miami Heat won only 18 games all season long. During the team’s 1st seven years in the NBA, the Miami Heat recorded a winning record only once, and the team advanced to the NBA playoffs twice, both times exiting in the first round of the playoffs.
Following the 1994-1995 regular season, amid early discussion of relocation plans to move the team to Las Vegas, Memphis, St. Louis or San Diego, the Miami Heat hired Pat Riley as its General Manager and Head Coach to resurrect the lowly franchise. Riley made drastic off-season moves to acquire Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Chris Gatling and Walt Williams via trade and free agency. The moves generated immediate results as the Miami Heat won 42 games en route to 6 straight winning records and 6 straight playoff appearances from 1995 through 2001. Following the 1995-1996 season, Pat Riley added a few more pieces to the puzzle: Dan Majerle, P.J. Brown, Jamal Mashburn and Voshon Lenard. The Miami Heat won 61 games and recorded their first ever Atlantic Division title. In the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Miami Heat defeated Riley’s former team, the New York Knicks, in a heated series that saw the Miami Heat come back from a 3-1 series deficit. The Miami Heat lost to the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals, however, denying the Miami Heat the chance at reaching the franchise’s 1st ever NBA Finals. The following season, the Miami Heat won its 2nd straight Atlantic Division title, but the Miami Heat would lose to the New York Knicks in a 1st round playoff upset. The New York Knicks also eliminated the Miami Heat from the NBA playoffs the following season, despite the Miami Heat having the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference after a 33-17 record during the lockout-shortened season. The Miami Heat moved into the American Airlines Arena for the 1999-2000 NBA regular season. The Miami Heat finished with 52 victories and the team swept the Detroit Pistons 3-0 in the 1st round of the playoffs. But once again, the Miami Heat could not survive a series against the hated New York Knicks, losing by just one point in the decisive 7th game of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Alonzo Mourning would miss the 2000-2001 regular season with a rare kidney disorder, but the Miami Heat would still win 50 games and qualify for post-season play behind the surprise all-star caliber performance from forward Anthony Mason. The inspired play would end quickly though, with a 3-0 sweep at the hands of the then-Charlotte Hornets in the 1st round of the playoffs. The Miami Heat endured 2 awful years in 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 – the 1st time in Pat Riley’s career that his team did not advance to the playoffs.
During the summer leading up to the 2003-2004 season, Pat Riley selected guard Dwayne Wade with the 5th overall pick in the draft and signed Lamar Odom, Rafar Alston and Udonis Haslem through free agency. These 3 players, along with the nucleus of Brian Grant, Eddie Jones, Caron Butler, Rasual Butler and Malik Allen, formed a team unit that would turn the Miami Heat back into playoff contenders. Right before the start of the season, Pat Riley also stepped down as head coach to focus more on his role as team president, and he appointed Stan Van Gundy, his long-time assistant, as the head coach. The team finished with a 42-40 record and they defeated the New Orleans Hornets 4-3 in the 1st round of the playoffs before losing in the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Indiana Pacers. The Miami Heat were once again busy in the summer leading up to the 2004-2005 season, acquiring Shaquille O’Neal from the Los Angeles Lakers for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler and Brian Grant. The Miami Heat won 59 games that season behind the dynamic duo of Dwayne Wade and Shaquille O’Neal. The Miami Heat were seeded #1 in the Eastern Conference playoffs and won 8 consecutive games against the New Jersey Nets and Washington Wizards before facing the Detroit Pistons. The Miami Heat held a 3-2 lead after 5 games, but a rib injury to Dwayne Wade in the Game 5 victory, cost the Miami Heat the war, as the Detroit Pistons rallied to win the last 2 games of the series to eliminate the Miami Heat from playoff contention. The Miami Heat would achieve redemption the following year after another busy off-season in which the team would acquire veterans Antoine Walker, Jason Williams, Gary Payton and James Posey. Stan Van Gundy would step down as head coach during the middle of season for personal reasons, and Pat Riley resumed his head coaching duties in mid-December and led the Miami Heat to a 52-30 record. This time, the Miami Heat would defeat the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals to advance to the franchise’s 1st NBA Championship series. And after losing the 1st 2 games on the road to the Dallas Mavericks, the Miami Heat ran off 4 straight wins to capture the franchise’s 1st NBA Championship. Dwayne Wade was named the NBA Finals MVP for his constant heroics, head coach Pat Riley won his 5th NBA Championship as a head coach, Shaquille O’Neal won his 4th NBA Championship, and veterans Alonzo Mourning, Gary Payton and Antoine Walker each won their 1st NBA Championship. A 2nd consecutive NBA Championship would not occur the following year. Although the Miami Heat finished with 44 wins and a #5 seed in the playoffs, the youthful Chicago Bulls were too much for the older, slower Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls recorded a 4-0 series sweep in the 1st round of the playoffs.
Although the Miami Heat have not yet retired any players’ numbers during its 20-year existence, several talented players have hit the hardwood for the Miami Heat franchise, including centers Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning, and guards Dwayne Wade and Gary Payton, and forward Antoine Walker.