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Winderman: Nine games the Heat could lose you didn't expect

Aug 10, 2010, 5:49 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for bosh_wade_james.jpgEven before the NBA released its complete schedule Tuesday, there were plenty of logical assumptions that could have been made about the longshot odds of the revamped Miami Heat matching the 72-10 of the 1995-96 Bulls.

There are, after all, four games apiece against the Celtics and Magic, as well as two against the Lakers, in addition to road tests against several upgraded Eastern Conference opponents.

But the NBA schedule is about more than opponents.

Sometimes the greatest opponent is the schedule itself.

That’s what made Tuesday significant for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and for more than letting them know they will be working on both Christmas and New Year’s, but not Thanksgiving or Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

So where are the traps? Where are the games that you might, along the way, wonder how in the heck Pat Riley’s creation slipped?

Here are a few:

Sun. Oct. 31 at New Jersey: Rare are NBA games played on football Sundays. But rare is the NBA team that stands as the secondary tenant to an NHL team. So not only do the Nets have to battle the NFL on the season’s first Sunday, but the game in their new Newark digs is scheduled for 1 p.m., which is never a good thing for the type of stars likely to be embraced across the river the previous night.

Tue. Dec. 1 home vs. Detroit: No, not because of the T-Mac factor. But because of what follows the next night — LeBron’s first visit back to Cleveland. Figure on much of the discussion that week centering on all things Cavalier and Gilbert. James well could find himself spending more time studying escape routes from Quicken Loans Arena than any game plan for the Pistons.

Thu. Dec. 23 at Phoenix: Oh, the Suns well could challenge the Heat with their unique blend of speed. But, like James’ first visit to Cleveland, this is about the game that follows, the Christmas showdown in Los Angeles against Kobe and the Lakers. This is the rare two-game western trip, and the league didn’t send the Heat coast to coast for a mere three days because it was searching for a TNT game against the Suns hours before Christmas Eve.

Jan. 13 in Denver: This could be one of very few games when the Heat actually is cast as an underdog by the odds-makers. Not only is this game at altitude, but it comes on the second night of a back-to-back, after playing the previous night in Los Angeles against the Clippers. Oh, and it’s also the fourth stop of a five-game road trip.

Sat. Jan. 15 in Chicago: This is the final stop on a five-game trip that challenges any sense of geographic logic, one that starts in Milwaukee, continues in Portland, Los Angeles and Denver before returning within miles of where it started. And it’s not as if Wade made many friends in Chicago during free agency.

Fri. Feb. 4 in Charlotte: Another case of schedule positioning. The Heat is in Orlando the previous night for a nationally televised game against the Magic. Larry Brown will be more than willing to pick on Erik Spoelstra’s tired and weary.

Wed. Feb. 16 in Toronto: Chris Bosh’s first visit back north of the border comes at the end of a four-game trip, when the whole customs things sets up as the very type of nuisance Bosh sought to escape.

Fri. March 4 in San Antonio: Not only is the opposition a sufficient challenge, but this comes a night after yet another nationally televised game against the Magic. There might be not greater statement about greatness than beating Orlando at home and then wining in San Antonio the following night.

Wed. April 13 in Toronto: The season finale comes just three days before a potential playoff opener. Considering the Heat’s penultimate game is that Monday in Atlanta, figure on plenty of Spoelstra’s stars suddenly realizing in Atlanta they left their passports home.

The point being that while the Celtics, Magic and Lakers set up as the Heat’s most difficult opponents, it is the schedule, itself, that might set up as the greatest challenge to a date with the record book.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

  1. buck - Aug 10, 2010 at 7:22 PM

    dint read the article, but had to post…. i’m not a Heat fan and I want to see them fail just like most people… but an article about “games they may lose” is effin laughable… every team has games it may lose.. this is beyond ridiculous and way past absurd..

  2. ron - Aug 10, 2010 at 7:51 PM

    i agree. i cant believe he is writing about possible 9 games they may lose.why play the season. the heat already won 82 games and the championship. i have never seen anything like this before. the team has not won 1 game. maybe i am missing something but is the nba played on paper, if so, lebron should already have 2 championships. all of a sudden, maglore, ilgaskas,howard are great bench players becaust they are on the heat. they suck and the heat is going to have terrible defense.

  3. T. Rogers - Aug 10, 2010 at 8:00 PM

    I think he is responding to the talk of Miami challenging the Bulls 72 win record. In his own way he is pointing out just how unrealistic that kind of talk is.

  4. SFWA - Aug 10, 2010 at 8:02 PM

    I agree with the logic…long road trips against good teams along with “lookin ahead” on some nights because a huge televised and over-the-top filled with hype game like the xmas matchup against the Lake-Show is coming up. By the way that game WILL BE EPIC…

  5. SP - Aug 10, 2010 at 8:21 PM

    LOL. And this passes as an article these days?? This winderman tool is something else..

  6. Fallingwaters - Aug 10, 2010 at 9:23 PM

    This is crazy… everybody in the media is preparing the Heat for greatness…. too early to tell. First 5 games, Bosh will fall then by December goes to back injury missing the Lakers showdown… then James will carry the entire not soso team….
    Capize. Don’t they realize majority of NBA fans (except Miami fans)
    LOVES for them to fail. Remember, Bosh and then Wade and back to normal James by itself. Please publish when this comes tru.
    Thanks all.
    GO LAKERS

  7. Drew - Aug 11, 2010 at 1:15 AM

    I’m in the camp that Miami will win 70+ games, but predicting which ones they will lose is kind of silly. Every year, games teams should win, they lose. Games were they are underdogs, they win. I remember when the Bulls played the Raptors in 1998 when Toronto was one of the worst teams of all-time and Toronto won.
    Miami will lose a few games from fatigue, on back-to-backs, other teams getting up to beat them, and possibly meaningless games when starters are resting at the end of the season. That’s it. I know we’re mailing it in when they haven’t in played a game, but this collection of talent should win at least 55 games even with bad chemistry and injuries.

  8. Jimmy Marlins Fan - Aug 11, 2010 at 8:07 AM

    awww, thats cute, not only a scared lakers fan, but one that thinks the rest of the league wants to see more lakers this, more lakers that
    the gold and purple are aging and tired…
    go to a rest home with phil

  9. RealFan - Aug 11, 2010 at 9:48 AM

    REALLY?????? Do you sleep with the Lakers?

  10. whutevr - Aug 11, 2010 at 12:38 PM

    im a little confused i read fallingwaters comments and he is just stating what most nba fans whether they be laker or celtic or magic or bulls or pistons etc are sayingevery fan out there that is not a “heat” fan is sick of hearing how the heat are going to basically walk to the championship when they havent even played 1 game. I for one cant stand any NBA team they are all primadonnas, im a fan of the game and individual players wade is great but since his injury he hasnt had the same burst, although lbj is athletic and talented he lacks that extra something players like mj, bird, kobe, shaq thelist can go on, one of these days he may get a ring but it will be as a sidekick. bosh sorry but i have never been impressed with him he just an ok player not really a top 3 or 5 or even top ten player, and the bench other than house most are 3rd rate players, personally i think the bulls are looking very good but still no team out there is a lock to go to the finals even the much vaunted lakers and celtics

  11. jimbo - Aug 11, 2010 at 2:12 PM

    Derrick Rose is gonna dunk over all of them!! Go Bulls!!

  12. Jimmy Marlins Fan - Aug 11, 2010 at 4:21 PM

    well in fairness to him, most of his post was non-sense jibberish but the gist of it was that the lakers rule and everyone else’s drool
    but im not handing the title to the heat by any means…i just know there isnt anyway they fail unless injured
    i just think its childish that everytime a blog entry has the word heat in it, lakers fans from all over feel the need to chime in…hell, i bet arizona weather blogs are flooded with lakers fans right this very moment

  13. John P - Aug 11, 2010 at 6:00 PM

    Jimmy Marlins Fan is a MORON. Don’t you know already the Lakers and Celtics rule, you guys are just a glimpse of my sperm. Go back and suck Lebron’s dick again. MORON

  14. Jimmy Marlins Fan - Aug 12, 2010 at 9:25 AM

    aw, thats cute…another scared lakers fan
    there are so many, it must be one massive, gay orgy since he is into sucking D’s and all

  15. John P - Aug 12, 2010 at 10:59 AM

    Scared? Celtics has 17 championships, Lakers have 16. Miami has one and Lebron has none. But you mouth will always be a champion in his Dick Jimmy.

  16. ltcper - Aug 12, 2010 at 2:23 PM

    May I ask a question? I’m not a fan of anyone team, however why is it that almost the entire NBA fan base in down on the Heat. Personnally I would like to see how this season turns out. I hope no player gets hurt on any team, and that will give everyone a measure of the strengh of each individual team. At any rate this should be an interesting season

  17. SunTzu - Aug 23, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    Reason the whole league is down on the HEAT is because 1, they are the most dominate team 2. All three of them went to MIA instead of other fans teams 3. They are either Celtic or Laker fans 4. Which concludes they hate lebron already because he destroys their teams every regular season. And 5. They are either from Celevand … when 3 Fan Bases hate one player it will seem as the whole league is against him. Not to mention this move they took threatens the future of NBA Franchise and he is basically writing history to go down as the first player to take control of his career and do as he wills … like a King. Keep in mind LBJ wants to become comissionar of the NBA one day

  18. john P - Aug 24, 2010 at 3:49 PM

    Dude,
    Can you please have somebody check your grammar and spelling before you post your opinion. Your stupidity just permeates all over your misuse of words and spelling errors. How in the world should anyone take you seriously. MORON, go call Jimmy Marlins Fan and join the Lebron’s Dick Sucking Fan Club.

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