MIAMI -- Wondering what to expect when the defending champion Miami Heat take the court at AmericanAirlines Arena for Wednesday night's public scrimmage?
Well, that means you'll have at least one thing in common with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra when his team offers fans a limited peek into what the reloaded roster has been working on through the first five days of training camp.
Just don't expect anything near a finished product.
So far, the Heat have tried to find a balance between refining basic elements of their system during initial workouts and taking precautionary measures to rest key players who are either returning from offseason surgeries or extensive rehabilitation. In other words, the Heat remain very much a work in progress, which is expected to be the case through a preseason that opens Sunday in Atlanta.
But the first step comes when the Heat walk onto their home court in front of fans for the first time since defeating Oklahoma City in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in June.
“Our guys are excited to be back in the bowl,” Spoelstra said in anticipation of the intrasquad scrimmage. “[Fans] can expect our guys to get after it the way they have been between these four walls of privacy. It's really our first chance to get in front of our fans again since [the Finals].”
While it's unclear how much on-court work LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh will do in the scrimmage, the session will offer Ray Allen's first appearance in a Heat uniform after leaving Boston to join Miami as a free agent.
Spoelstra said Allen, 37, was coming off his best practice of training camp during Tuesday's workout, which included extensive five-on-five scrimmage work. Allen is expected to contribute immediately for the Heat this season. A relatively quick acclimation could be even more vital for Miami as Wade continues to rehab from left knee surgery.
The Heat will alternate Wade and Allen at shooting guard, but Spoelstra also plans to play them together regularly.
“Even in our practices, [Allen] just finds a way to get open,” Spoelstra said of the NBA's career leader in made 3-point baskets. “[Tuesday] was his best day. The fourth day of camp is the hump day, the toughest day. And he found a second wind. These were the liveliest his legs were. I couldn't believe that. I wasn't expecting that. I thought he would really have to fight through, and he got younger somehow. That speaks to his overall 12-month-a-year conditioning. It kicks in the deeper you get into camp.”
James said Allen's impact on the team has already been valuable in training camp.
"It's going to be pretty interesting to see how Ray plays with the attention that me and D-Wade get," James said. "It's a lot easier to play with a teammate when he does something differently than you do. With me and D-Wade, it took a little bit longer because we did the same things [offensively]. But when I've added shooters like Ray in the past, I've been able to adjust to that because I know where they are and I know how to feed off them and react."
Allen hasn't been the only player to surprise Spoelstra so far in camp. Miller, who spent the entire summer rehabbing a back injury that limited his play last season, has responded better than expected after initial workouts.
“You almost forget that he's 6-8,” Spoelstra said of Miller. “We've seen him now for two years -- or for at least a year -- at 6-4 because he's hunched over [hurting]. He looks great, and we want to keep him that way.”
The Heat are cutting Miller's practice sessions short to ensure he doesn't overextend himself attempting to prove to his coaches and teammates that he's completely healthy. Miller, Wade, Bosh, Mario Chalmers and Joel Anthony have all missed at least a workout or two as a precaution or because of minor nagging injuries.
But Spoelstra insists the moving parts haven't prevented the Heat from making modest progress days into camp. In the coming workouts, the plan is to implement some specific offensive sets that maximize the role of Miami's shooters.
“They're already gaining some confidence in each other and how we want to play,” Spoelstra said. “We're scrimmaging every day. So we're learning each other's game. Guys who have been here, we're able to fast track how we were playing last year. And the guys that are new are picking it up quickly. That's why we try to get at least some five-on-five in each day.”