Miami Heat: 3 crucial things to watch for during Friday’s final preseason game

The Miami Heat face off against the Toronto Raptors in Tampa for their final preseason game. Here are three things to watch for during Friday's game.

By Austin Konenski
Dec 14, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (14) dribbles the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat will finish up their preseason play when they face the Toronto Raptors in Tampa, Florida, on Friday night. The Raptors are coming off two wins against the Charlotte Hornets as they too look to finish their preseason on a high note.

When asked about the availability of Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, and Andre Iguodala, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said, “you won’t see all of them.” Dragic said he expects to play “a little bit” tonight, but Butler and Iguodala’s status is unknown.

Here are three things to watch for during Miami’s final preseason game of the year.

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Who will impress more to win the Miami Heat’s final two-way contract?

Miami Heat
Feb 7, 2020; Sacramento, California, USA; Miami Heat forward KZ Okpala (4) dribbles up the court after stealing the ball against the Sacramento Kings during the second quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Gabe Vincent signed his two-way contract before the season started in November. This became notable when the Miami Heat waived guard Breein Tyree and forward Paul Eboua on Thursday afternoon. This move created a clear view of what to expect for Miami’s final two-way contract. Barring any signing outside of the organization, guard Max Strus and forward BJ Johnson will fight for the final spot.

Both players got playing time in Monday night’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. Strus had 11 points, eight rebounds, and four assists in 24 minutes of action, while Johnson put up only one rebound in seven minutes. Many within the Heat organization were impressed with Strus during training camp this year.

With Friday’s game being the last game of the preseason, both are expected to get quality minutes to show their worth.

KZ Okpala’s improvement over the first game

Miami Heat
Dec 14, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat guard BJ Johnson (20) shoots the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The hype surrounding second-year wing KZ Okpala was high going into the Miami Heat’s first preseason game against the New Orleans Pelicans. Okpala only accounted for three points and one rebound in 20 minutes, but Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra “liked what he saw” from the young forward Monday night.

One of Okpala’s biggest problems in Monday night’s game was his offense. The 21-year-old forward looked slow and didn’t move well within the offense. This was most likely due to it being Okpala’s first game action for quite some time after only playing in five games last season.

The biggest key for Okpala tonight will be to let loose and play efficiently. This important as the Miami Heat may need to know what Okpala can provide if they trade for disgruntled superstar James Harden.

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Does Tyler Herro continue off his first game performance?

Tyler Herro picked up right where he left off Monday night with a stellar performance against the Pelicans. Herro had a team-high 17 points, five rebounds, and six assists in 28 minutes of game action. Herro looked very comfortable running the point guard spot for the Heat after doing the same in the NBA Playoffs a couple of months ago.

Herro continued to show off his ability to create his own scoring by driving to the hoop and finishing the ball in ways many people didn’t expect when he came out of Kentucky. The Miami Heat should give the second-year guard a good look at point guard again tonight, as he could be the starter going into the 2020-’21 season.

Where to watch Friday night’s Heat-Raptors game.

TV: TSN, Fox Sports Sun: 7:00 pm EST (local networks).

You will also be able to watch the game via NBA League Pass.