The Heat Is On

Will James slam the Heat?

B-ballers fired up about the Cavs

FRI 4/9

Remember when this basketball season got under way? The overwhelming consensus regarding the Miami Heat wasn't good. Pat Riley resigned as head coach four days before opening night, and the team promptly limped to an 0-7 record out of the gates under new head man Stan Van Gundy. South Florida was less-than-positive regarding the club, and the plan was to get the season over quickly and move on to what would hopefully be a Top Five lottery pick this summer. But Stan's boys chose to disregard that blueprint in favor of another plan -- one only they could have imagined way back when. The Heat will make the playoffs this year. Since the seven-loss start, the team has been playing over .500 and has a good shot at the East's fourth seed and home court in the first round. So what -- if any -- story could overshadow this late-season playoff jockeying push? Since we're reminiscing, remember the biggest story of the NBA season on opening night? Lebron James. He's revolutionizing basketball much like another number 23 did some two decades earlier in Chicago. King James and his Cavaliers face the Heat for back-to-back games this weekend, beginning in Miami on Friday night at American Airlines Arena (601 Biscayne Blvd.). This ticket will be so hot, plans are to open the Triple A's upper level balconies for the first time this season. Call 305-358-5885. -- Russ Evans

Minor League

But major activity

THU 4/8

When spring training's over, whatcha think they do with Jupiter's Roger Dean Stadium (4751 Main St.)? Does it just sit there collecting dust, occasionally hosting a monster truck jam or a throwback concert? Fortunately for the stadium personnel and everyone in South Florida, the building is busy all year 'round. Not only does Roger Dean host a minor league team during the summer; it hosts two teams -- in the same league. The Jupiter Hammerheads and Palm Beach Cardinals, both Class A squads in the Florida State League, will be toiling up north all year long, and they'll play each other Thursday, April 8, to raise the curtain on the '04 season. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m., and tickets cost $7 to $20. Call 561-799-9596. -- Russ Evans

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