Looking ahead in the NBA


Wednesday, 4:30 p.m. PST. TV: ESPN

If the Heat has issues — which 27 or so teams would happily exchange with theirs — its best moment came in its home opener when it pounded the Magic, 96-70.

Rather than double-team Dwight Howard and try to get back to the shooters that made almost 100 more three-pointers than the No. 2 team last season, the Heat single-covered Howard, daring him to do his worst.

Howard's worst was 19 points on eight-for-15 shooting, as his teammates went four of 24 on threes.

Afterward, Coach Stan Van Gundy acknowledged his team struggles against smart defenses — like the Celtics, who held the Magic to 90 points a game in last spring's East finals upset.

So even if the Heat and Coach Eric Spoelstra are dogged by expectations and rumors of a Pat Riley visitation, this is a test of both teams.

— Mark Heisler

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