Inside The Miami Heat’s 2015-16 Schedule

Sun Sentinel

The Miami Heat will open the 2015-16 season with 14 of their first 19 games at home. This provides them with an excellent chance to get things going early in front of the home town crowd. Out of those 19 games, 12 of their opponents are teams that failed to make the playoffs last season. Miami will play host to the Charlotte Hornets in their season-opening game, but will have to turn around and get the first real test of the season to face a presumably healthy Cleveland Cavaliers squad at Quicken Loans Arena on October 30th.

Twelve of the 14 games (85%) in November come against team that had a sub-.500 record last season, if there’s a time this season where the Heat can fatten up their record, this is it. Miami also has the easiest schedule in the Association until Christmas, with a combined .327 win percentage among opponents.

The Heat will need to capitalize on this stretch of games, as 36 of their final 63 games (42%) will be on the road after December 7th. The first quarter of the season will be instrumental to the Miami Heat’s pursuit of a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference. Getting off to a slow start out of the gate could prove disastrous, as they would have to scratch and claw their way to a respectable record on the road, and that is a tall task for any team in today’s NBA.

Things will start to get rough come December, as 10 out of Miami’s 15 opponents were playoff teams last season, and they also face the up-and-coming Thunder, Magic, and the Pelicans in Miami on Christmas Day. The Miami Heat will absolutely need to have a strong record before the New Year, when they embark on a grueling month full of road games.

From January 8th to February 5th the Heat will play 14 of 16 games on the road, including six consecutive against the Western Conference, along with five games in the Eastern Conference at the end of winter. The Heat will need to survive this stretch of the season to keep their hopes of a grabbign a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference. The 12 road games in the month of January will set a new franchise record for the Heat, with the previous high being 11. Miami is 5-0 all-time on New Years Day, and will look to improve it to 6-0 when the Heat take on the Dallas Mavericks in a rematch of the 2006 and 2011 NBA Finals. The Heat will have a long recovery time over the All-Star break, as they’re off from February 9th against San Antonio until a February 19th road clash with the Atlanta Hawks.

ESPN has projected the Heat to finish the season with a 47-35 record, securing the 4th seed in the East. However, I feel this year’s Miami Heat will surprise ESPN. This team is capable of at least 50 wins, and I see them going 53-29 while taking the 3rd overall seed in the East behind the Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Note: Miami will have only 11 nationally televised games this season, in addition to nine games scheduled to air on NBA TV.