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Heat arrive in Brazil but cancel precious practice

Blame it on Rio: Heat call off first practice in Brazil

Apparently, the Miami Heat lost more than just an exhibition game Tuesday against the Orlando Magic.

They also lost an important practice day.

The Heat, who play the Cleveland Cavaliers here Saturday, canceled Wednesday's workout in Brazil after their arrival was delayed because the game against the Magic went into overtime. The extra five-minute period and a longer-than-expected wait to pass customs at airport led to a day off.

After their nine-hour flight from Miami, they were scheduled to practice from 2:30-4 p.m., but were plenty behind schedule by the time they completed the 30-minute drive from the airport to the team's hotel. The Heat will resume practice Thursday in preparation for Saturday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Practices have been more important this season than in recent years. The Heat reconstructed the roster after LeBron James left in the offseason, returning home to the Cavs. The move created a ripple effect, leaving Miami with just seven players from last year's team.

In all, the Heat have 13 new additions on the training camp roster, including forwards Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger, who expect to have key roles. . Practice time is vital to learning to play together as a team.

The Heat can't afford to waste time, with the season opener just three weeks away. They open Oct. 29 at home against the Philadelphia 76ers.

"It's always a concern of how fast you can fast track," guard Dwyane Wade said. "You've got to go through those growing pains until we figure it out. Every session that we have — practice and shootarounds — are so important. I forgot that it was like this. Having pretty much the same team for the last four years, you kind of forget the process that you have to go through. We're learning each other."

Even with the present and the future the team's focus, this week still centers on the past. It is the first time center Chris Bosh and Wade will face James. The Heat have downplayed this game since James' departure in July made it a lightning rod, but they are still expecting the hype.

Miami is searching for its first preseason victory after dropping games against the New Orleans Pelicans and Magic.

"It's the preseason," Bosh said. "We keep the main the main the main thing. It's an opportunity for us to get better and become closer as a team and go out there and compete."

James has had limited contact with his old teammates, although he attended Wade's wedding last month. After Tuesday's night game, Bosh said he has yet to speak with James since he decided not to return after leading the Heat to four straight NBA Finals appearances.

Their two-year reign atop the league ended with a loss last year to the San Antonio Spurs.

"I'm in the mode right now where I'm trying to lead my team, help these guys around here," Bosh said. "I don't' have much time … if guys aren't in this locker room, I don't have time for you, if any."

The Cavs also chose not to practice Wednesday. They arrived around the same time as the Heat, but the team took part in a sight-seeing tour.

srichardson@tribune.com

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