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  1. Photo Credit: Joe Murphy The Miami HEAT face the Charlotte Hornets Friday night at Spectrum Center. The HEAT defeated the Hornets 105-100 in their last meeting on Dec. 1. Tip-off is set for 7:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 6:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: What was your takeaway from the home loss to Portland? Couper Moorhead: We’ll discuss Miami’s defense in this one shortly, as it relates to Friday’s matchup, but this is a good time to highlight just how good Wayne Ellington has been. The HEAT’s offense wasn’t operating at peak efficiency on Wednesday, though the earlier quarters involved some nice away from the ball movement, but Ellington was incredible as he hit 6-of-7 from three in the first half and 7-of-10 overall for 24 points. While the HEAT do quite well generating open catch-and-shoot opportunities for their shooters, Ellington has a rare ability to succeed by almost creating his own offense without the ball in his hands. He’ll often cover the width of the court twice before ever touching the ball, and teams are so keyed in on stopping him that he has less than half a second to catch and release before the defense recovers. Those shots won’t always fall due simply to degree of difficulty, but Ellington has been such a strong source of offense that it almost hasn’t mattered which lineups Miami uses off the bench lately. If he’s in the lineup, it’s had success at one point or another. Joe Beguiristain: It was just a tough loss. After Miami jumped out to a double-digit lead thanks to Wayne Ellington’s torrid start, Damian Lillard took over down the stretch to give Portland the narrow victory. While Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined for 46 points, Josh Richardson did a solid job of defending the dynamic backcourt duo for a majority of the night. The odd thing is McCollum actually shot slightly better on contested field goal attempts (57 percent) than he did on uncontested field goal attempts (55.6 percent), and the Trail Blazers as a whole connected on 48.2 percent of their contested shots. Now, Portland tends to take tough jumpers off the dribble anyways, but that’s still pretty crazy. Although it wasn’t the HEAT’s best defensive game and there were some breakdowns here and there, they still competed hard against a team that’s improving on the offensive end. 2: What did we learn from the previous matchup with Charlotte? Couper: The only real concrete thing we learned in that game, or were at least reminded of, is how important Kemba Walker is to the Hornets offense. With Walker on the floor the Hornets are a well above-average offense, scoring 109.2 points per 100 possessions. Without him, they score 90.8 per 100, which would be below the No. 30 offense in the league. Charlotte managed reasonably well on December 1, splitting that On/Off difference with an Offensive Rating of 99.8 per 100 thanks to a balanced scoring effort, but that efficiency was on very poor shot quality and it was clear how much Walker’s absence was felt. Now that he’s good to go for Friday night, even with the always underrated Cody Zeller out, this should be a different game. Joe: That last matchup was memorable for a couple of reasons. For starters, Richardson went off for a career-high 27 points, including an impressive and-one finish late in the contest. Of course, he also defended Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist quite well. Another guy who stood out was Bam Adebayo, who didn’t back down one bit from Dwight Howard. Throughout the contest, the vet tried to go at the rookie in the post a number of times, but Adebayo remained disciplined and played a part in Howard’s whopping nine turnovers. All that said, Friday night will be very different with Kemba Walker back in the lineup. While the Hornets have still struggled overall with or without him this season, he’s clearly the guy who makes their offense work. 3: How might the HEAT attack the Kemba Walker matchup? Couper: Playing Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum on Wednesday was a nice tune-up for Walker, who takes even more off-dribble jumpers than either of Portland’s guards (per 100 possessions). Against Portland, Erik Spoelstra had Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo play higher up in pick-and-roll coverage than they normally do (they usually hang back closer to the paint to squeeze the ball into the inefficient mid-range. For a time, that coverage worked wonders as it jammed up Portland’s offense, and Lillard in particular. As the game wore on Portland started to find the seams, hitting the rolling big in the middle of the floor so he could find the open shooter (due to rotations caused by the higher-up coverage) and then splitting the coverage once those roller passes loosened things up. I would expect the HEAT to try something similar with Walker, but they’ll have to stay tight on their helps and recovers because even if that coverage can be effective, Walker has seen it before and knows where to look for weaknesses. Both Lillard and McCollum also went with a little more isolation attacks than usual to avoid always bringing a second defender to the ball, so if Walker goes that route it puts extra pressure on the HEAT’s one-on-one containment. Joe: After dealing with Lillard on Wednesday, the HEAT will have another tall task in trying to stop Walker. While Lillard is a little more efficient in the pick-and-roll, the two have nearly identical shooting splits in terms of volume and field goal percentage by shot area. As Coup mentioned above, Miami’s bigs played up a bit more than usual in the pick-and-roll to impede Lillard and the rest of Portland’s guards. Since Walker is the clear focal point on offense and he doesn’t have a guy like McCollum to really make the defense pay off the ball, I think the HEAT will cover him the same way. That said, Marvin Williams could get hot from deep if Miami’s rotations aren’t quick enough after the initial pass from Walker. In any event, the HEAT put in work at practice on Thursday and reviewed film to correct their mistakes. We’ll see how it all shakes out. Highlights: Dec. 1 – Hornets at HEAT April 5 – HEAT at Hornets Game Notes: The HEAT have won three straight against the Hornets. Miami has won two of three overall and is 13-14. Charlotte has dropped eight of ten and is 10-17 on the year. Josh Richardson has the best defensive rating on the HEAT (103.1) among players who average at least 27 minutes per game. Kemba Walker leads the Hornets in points (22.1) and assists (6.0) per game. Justise Winslow (left knee strain) and Hassan Whiteside (left knee bone bruise) did not travel with the team. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 102.3 (23) HEAT Defense: 104.7 (14) Hornets Offense: 103.1 (22) Hornets Defense: 104.5 (12)
  2. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT fell to the Portland Trail Blazers 102-95 Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Wayne Ellington led the way for the HEAT with 24 points. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  3. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon At approximately 11:00 AM, I will be conducting trivia for two pairs of tickets to tonight’s game against the Trail Blazers (one question per pair). The same person can’t win both pairs. Please keep in mind that you must be at least 18-years-old in order to qualify and must reside in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Collier, or Monroe County. Also, you are ineligible if you've already won tickets this season. Please only play/answer if you can attend and qualify based on these rules.
  4. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT host the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Get your tickets now! The HEAT fell to the Trail Blazers 115-104 in their last meeting on March 19. Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 7:00 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: What did we learn from Miami’s win over Memphis? Couper Moorhead: Not much more than we learned from the win over Brooklyn. The Grizzlies have their own issues to sort out at this point of the season, particularly with Mike Conley out of the lineup, and teams like that generally don’t reveal many truths about a team past the first few weeks of the season. The HEAT simply defended to their identity, jamming up set plays, pressing the ball and preventing the Grizzlies from getting to easy actions. Memphis was able to keep the game close by doing some of the same, but they never scored over 20 points in a quarter after the first. And once Miami scored off a few turnovers and caught fire from three late, that was the game. That’s the HEAT’s formula, and it worked exactly as intended the past two outings. Joe Beguiristain: We continued to see Miami impose its will and take care of business. After holding the Nets to 40.7 percent shooting on Saturday, the HEAT carried that over to Monday night and limited the Grizzlies to just 38.9 percent from the field. In particular, Dion Waiters, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Johnson were brilliant on the defensive end. Throughout the contest, Waiters pressured Dillon Brooks, James Ennis and Chandler Parsons to the tune of four deflections, two steals and a block. Adebayo, meanwhile, made an immediate impact in the first quarter and showed quick feet on rotations and switches. As a result, he tallied two steals, two blocks, three deflections and a plus-10 rating. Johnson, on the other hand, competed hard against Tyreke Evans and fought over screens well to help hold the 28-year-old to just 5-of-17 shooting. On the flip side of the ball, Miami got into the paint at will and had Memphis scrambling for most of the night. In all, it was good to see the HEAT dominate and close out a successful road trip. 2: How has Portland been different this season? Couper: While the Blazers did add two big men at draft time in Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan and traded shooter Allen Crabbe to the Nets in the offseason, their most significant move of late was adding Jusuf Nurkić at center at the last trade deadline. Half a year later, Portland has been one of the best defenses in the league in part because they allow only 99.7 points per 100 possessions when Nurkić is on the floor. Now, that hasn’t held up recently as the Blazers have lost five games in a row, including a thriller against the Houston Rockets, but they’ve still played some of their best defense with Nurkić on the floor – he just happens to have missed the past two games and his availability for Wednesday is unknown as of the time this was written. But for all the positive changes Portland has seen on the defensive end, they’ve been well below their offensive standards after finishing No. 11 on that end scoring 107.8 points per 100 possessions last year. Currently, they’re No. 22 at 103.1 per 100. Some of that might just be early season randomness as Damian Lillard has broken out of a mild slump (he was hovering just above 30 percent from three for a while) with three straight 30-point games. And everyone should remember Lillard dropping 49 in Miami last year. Joe: While Portland has struggled recently on the defensive end during its five-game losing streak, the team has greatly improved in that area this season. After giving up 107.8 points per 100 possessions a year ago, the Trail Blazers have bettered that number by 5.4 points. As Coup mentioned above, a lot of that has to do with Jusuf Nurkić. That said, Evan Turner has also played pretty well on that end for Portland. In fact, he has the fourth-best defensive rating on the team (101.5) and is limiting the opposition to 6.8 percentage points less than their usual field goal percentage. With Moe Harkless hurt, Turner has started the last two games for Head Coach Terry Stotts. We’ll see if Harkless can give it a go on Wednesday or if Turner will get the nod once again. 3: How are the Blazers going to test Miami? Couper: Even in what’s been a down offensive season, Portland is never a team to take lightly as they’ll be one of the league’s most explosive teams as long as Lillard and CJ McCollum are around. Only the Oklahoma City Thunder take more jumpers off the dribble than Portland, and only Houston and Indiana have a higher effective field-goal percentage on those shots (Portland is at 49.7 eFG). In other words, this is as prolific a pull-up team as there is, which puts a ton of pressure on guards to fight over screens and on bigs to step up and contest. Miami generally is happy to force teams to shoot in the mid-range, especially off the dribble, but against Lillard and McCollum they’ll have to be much more aggressive as bad shots for the league aren’t really bad shots for them. In other words, the HEAT will have to step out of their defensive comfort zone a bit against a pair of players that leave defenses anything but comfortable. Joe: Although the Trail Blazers haven’t been as sharp on the offensive end as in years past, I believe they will still test the HEAT’s defense. As usual, Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are the two main focal points of Portland’s offense. Lillard has continued to put pressure on defenses in the pick-and-roll (he’s averaging 1.04 points per possession as the P&R ball-handler, which places him in the 90.4 percent tile), while McCollum has done a good job of getting open off screens and pulling-up quickly from mid-range (the 26-year-old is shooting 47.1 percent from that area this season). As such, Miami has to make sure it fights over screens and rotates quickly. The last thing you want is Lillard and McCollum getting into an early rhythm thanks to some clean looks. Like I stated before though, the HEAT have been playing well on the defensive end of late. From Waiters and TJ to Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow, Miami has enough strong perimeter defenders to get the job done. Highlights: March 19 – Trail Blazers at HEAT Game Notes: The HEAT have won two in a row and are 13-13 on the year. The Trail Blazers have dropped five straight and are also 13-13. Erik Spoelstra is one win away from tying Pat Riley for the most wins in franchise history. Damian Lillard leads Portland in points (26.6) and assists (6.2) per game. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 102.2 (24) HEAT Defense: 104.3 (10) Trail Blazers Offense: 103.1 (22) Trail Blazers Defense: 102.4 (7)
  5. TICKETS: Trail Blazers at HEAT

    Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon At approximately 7:00 PM, I will ask a trivia question in this thread for a pair of tickets to tomorrow night’s game against the Trail Blazers. Please keep in mind that you must be at least 18-years-old in order to qualify and must reside in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Collier, or Monroe County. Also, you are ineligible if you've already won tickets this season. Please only play/answer if you can attend and qualify based on these rules.
  6. Photo Credit: Joe Murphy The Miami HEAT defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 107-82 Monday night at FedExForum. Goran Dragić led the way for the HEAT with 19 points. Six other players scored in double-figures for Miami. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  7. Photo Credit: Joe Murphy The Miami HEAT face the Memphis Grizzlies Monday night at FedExForum. The HEAT fell to the Grizzlies 110-107 in their last meeting on Nov. 26, 2016. Tip-off is set for 8:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 7:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: Did the Brooklyn game leave any lasting impression on you? Couper Moorhead: As far as it being a victory, not particularly. Brooklyn, with all their injuries and them uniquely being mid-trade as far as having sent players out but not having their acquisitions on the team yet, is a team Miami should beat. There aren’t any awards being given out after this one. But wins like that matter in the sense that they don’t all have to contain some larger meaning. If your goal is to be a playoff team, that means your goal is to have around half the league below you in the standings and as such, you should beat the teams below you in the standings. One of the most important aspects to the second half of last season was that Miami regularly (with a couple exceptions) beat the teams they should beat, on paper, with the tried-and-true formula of defending and creating open three point looks. The jumpers won’t always fall – oddly, Miami had trouble from deep in Mexico City but hit a ton of mid-range looks that they generally don’t take – but as long as you defend and prevent teams from having performances above their offensive averages, you’ll be in good shape to keep yourself above a good portion of the league. Joe Beguiristain: It was noteworthy in the sense that many guys contributed in the victory. Tyler Johnson picked up where he left off against San Antonio, Goran Dragić got going in the second half and Justise Winslow looked very comfortable shooting from beyond the arc. When you sprinkle in Kelly Olynyk’s nine points in the fourth and James Johnson’s dunk over Jarrett Allen that sealed the deal late, you realize it truly was a team effort. While the HEAT played quite well on the offensive end, they also accumulated eight blocks and held the Nets to just 40.7 percent shooting on the night. Now, as Coup mentioned above, Brooklyn came into the contest down a few guys due to injury and trade, but Miami was able to take care of business and compartmentalize after a unique trip to Mexico City. We’ll see if the HEAT can keep it up and come away with a winning record on this road trip. 2: How is this Memphis team different from last year? Couper: This was the year that the Grizzlies officially moved on from the Grit N Grind era, even as they attempt to maintain the rugged identity of those teams. Zach Randolph signed with Sacramento and Tony Allen is with New Orleans, leaving Mike Conley and Marc Gasol remaining of the former core four. Under coach David Fizdale (let go in recent weeks) the Grizzlies had moved toward a less post-focused, more modern offense with a greater emphasis on threes (even Gasol has been taking them the past two seasons) and has even been a Top 5 team in Shot Quality all season long. But like Miami, also firmly among the leaders in Shot Quality, those good shots haven’t always gone in. The Grizzlies also haven’t been the same defensive team that we’re used to seeing, currently sitting No. 16 in Defensive Rating (105.3 points allowed per 100 possessions) while playing at the slowest pace in the league. Though a big piece of that, and Memphis’ 8-18 record overall, has been the fact that Mike Conley has been out since mid-November. Outside of the most elite teams that have elite depth, when teams lose their best players they tend to struggle, plain and simple. We would be remiss if we did not mention the addition of Tyreke Evans, who is having something of a career renaissance coming off the bench. Evans is scoring 18 points per game with 58.5 percent true-shooting and is tied for the highest usage rate on the team. Much of that increased efficiency is coming from a 63.4 effective field-goal percentage on 101 pull-up jumpers – far and away a career best. Joe: The Grizzlies have gone through a lot of changes since the HEAT last saw them in November of 2016. As Coup chronicled above, Marc Gasol is really the only guy left from those past squads since Zach Randolph and Tony Allen are elsewhere and Mike Conley is hurt at the moment. Memphis also parted ways with David Fizdale a few weeks ago. With the Grizzlies trying to create a new identity and Conley out, the team has struggled mightily. In fact, Memphis has dropped 14 of its last 15 games and is just 8-18 on the year. While Gasol has played pretty well this season, he hasn’t received consistent help from his teammates outside of Tyreke Evans. That said, Ben McLemore has taken advantage with a slight uptick in minutes recently. The 24-year-old has scored in double-figures in four of his last seven games, including a season-high 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting against the Thunder on Saturday. 3: What is going to be Miami’s best answer for Marc Gasol? Couper: A better question is whether Miami should be more concerned with Gasol’s scoring (a team high but much of it coming from the perimeter these days) or his playmaking. If it’s the scoring, then it clearly puts the onus on Kelly Olynyk, Bam Adebayo and James Johnson to contain him in the post while rotating back in pick-and-roll to contest jumpers. But if it’s the passing – and it’s probably the passing – then it’s more of a team-wide task. Especially with Conley out, Memphis wants to score off movement whenever possible and Gasol is the hub around which everything operates. That means Gasol’s man has to pressure the pass when appropriate but that everyone else on the floor has to be aware of off-ball movement, not allowing cutters to easily get into the middle of the floor. If those outlets aren’t there, Memphis becomes increasingly more dependent on Gasol to create for himself. Joe: With Gasol being the focal point on offense, I think Miami’s best bet would be to play up on him and force him into contested shots and tough passes. If the HEAT can slow him down, that should trickle down to the rest of the Grizzlies. Bam Adebayo certainly has the length and athleticism to keep up with Gasol, but he has to make sure he doesn’t fall for any fakes. Olynyk, meanwhile, will likely get the start and thus the first crack at the 32-year-old vet. Olynyk did well against LaMarcus Aldridge on Wednesday, so he should be able to do the same when matched up with Gasol. Although the Spaniard can do a little bit of everything, the HEAT have to especially pay attention to him in the mid-range game. Gasol is shooting 44-of-93 (47.3 percent) from that area this season. Highlights: Nov. 26, 2016 – Grizzlies at HEAT Nov. 25, 2016 – HEAT at Grizzlies Game Notes: The HEAT are 12-13, while the Grizzlies enter the contest at 8-18. Tyler Johnson is averaging 16.6 points per game on 60.8 percent shooting over his last five. Marc Gasol leads Memphis in points (19.0), rebounds (8.7), assists (4.3) and blocks (1.5) per game. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 101.5 (27) HEAT Defense: 104.9 (14) Grizzlies Offense: 102.3 (23) Grizzlies Defense: 105.3 (16)
  8. HEAT 101 - Nets 89 Game Recap

    Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT defeated the Brooklyn Nets 101-89 Saturday night at Mexico City Arena. Goran Dragić and Tyler Johnson led the way for the HEAT with 20 points apiece. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  9. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT face the Brooklyn Nets Saturday night at Mexico City Arena. The HEAT defeated the Nets 108-99 in their last meeting on Feb. 10. Tip-off is set for 6:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 5:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: What did you take away from Miami’s loss in San Antonio? Couper Moorhead: For starters is was clearly a positive offensive outing as the HEAT scored 116 points per 100 possessions and shot an unbelievable 18-of-34 from three. The ball was moving throughout the night and against one of the league’s very best defenses, Miami generated what was one of their finest scoring nights of the season. But the HEAT also allowed 124.3 points per 100 on the other end, which gives us an opportunity to discuss something interesting happening with the defense. Miami generally limits threes and specifically corner threes as well as ay team in the league – in attempts, which typically correlates to good defense far more than percentages allowed over shorter periods of time – as they’re even allowing the fewest “Wide Open” threes a game at just 9.8 per game. That’s a remarkably healthy fundamental, but opponents are shooting 42.6 percent on those threes, the second-highest mark in the league. There are deeper levels to those numbers we don’t have the space to get into here, but the general point is that even though teams like the Spurs didn’t get a ton of wide open looks (they did get some), when they do get them they’re falling at nearly a league-high rate. Miami has other aspects to their defense to correct, fouling among them, but sometimes you’re just a little unlucky as well. Joe Beguiristain: My main takeaway was that the HEAT can hang with nearly any team in the league when their offense is clicking and operating like it should. Although Miami did commit 19 turnovers, the team made up for it with crisp ball movement for most of the night. In fact, the HEAT dished out 28 assists and drilled 18 treys, which was the most they've had for any game outside of their matchup with the Timberwolves on Nov. 24. In particular, Dion Waiters was extremely efficient, as he collapsed the defense and sprayed the ball out to open shooters early on. As the game progressed, his teammates returned the favor and found him for some catch-and-shoot treys. Thanks to that, Waiters finished with 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, five assists, just two turnovers and a team-high plus-10 rating. While things were a bit tougher for Miami on the defensive end, Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo had some nice spurts. Olynyk made things as tough as possible on LaMarcus Aldridge, while Adebayo held his own against Pau Gasol by blocking him and forcing the vet to commit a turnover on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter. We’ll see how the two big men follow that up Saturday against the Nets. 2: What changes did Brooklyn make last offseason and how are they playing so far? Couper: The Nets made a number of deals last offseason. They traded Brook Lopez to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for former No. 2 pick D’Angelo Russell, then acquired Allen Crabbe from the Portland Trail Blazers and DeMarre Carroll from the Toronto Raptors. Then, on Thursday, they moved Trevor Booker to Philadelphia for former No. 3 pick Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas. All put together, the Nets have managed to add both former high draft picks and valuable veterans as they continue their rebuild. It’s no coincidence, then, that this is shaping up to be a season of improvement. The Nets sit at 10-14 after finishing with the league’s worst record a season ago. They’re No. 19 in offense and No. 21 in defense which, again, is better than a year ago on both ends of the floor. And they play fast with the league’s third-highest pace of 104.79 possessions a game. This is still a team on its way back – Russell remains out after knee surgery and Jeremy Lin will likely miss the rest of the season – but they have talent and put up a ton of threes every game. Joe: As Coup mentioned above, Brooklyn has made wholesale changes at a number of different positions. The team’s most recent move, trading Trevor Booker for Jahlil Okafor, Nik Stauskas and a second-round draft pick, should solidify the center spot for Head Coach Kenny Atkinson. Okafor didn’t play much for Philadelphia this season, but he’s an old school type of player who can score in the post. Overall, the Nets have played quite well despite dealing with some injuries to key players. Behind the sharp play of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert, Brooklyn has won three of four to improve to 10-14 on the year. What’s more, the Nets have given up just 99.4 points per 100 possessions over their last four games (albeit against some poor offensive teams). With the HEAT coming off an explosive offensive performance against the Spurs, it’ll be interesting to see how they fare against an improving Brooklyn squad. 3: Do you expect the starting lineup change from San Antonio to remain? How will the HEAT otherwise adjust to the Nets? Couper: Erik Spoelstra opted to start James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk instead of Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo against the twin-towers lineup of the Spurs (LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol), but in postgame he didn’t offer many hints as to whether it was a permanent move or one more matchup-focused. Now, the Nets generally start a little smaller with Tyler Zeller at center and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson at the four, which is a configuration that would work for either of Miami’s two recent starting groups. But with the recent acquisition of Okafor we don’t know whether he will be with the team or not, much less whether he may start or not. So this may end up being an information game up until coaches have to submit their lineups 45 minutes before tipoff. However the lineups sort out, we should mention again that Brooklyn plays very, very fast and Mexico City happens to be at elevation. This will likely be a game of conditioning and awareness in the open court. Joe: It’s tough to make a prediction at this point. Erik Spoelstra started James Johnson and Olynyk against the Spurs to combat Aldridge and Gasol. The Nets don’t have two bigs like that, so maybe Spoelstra will go with his starters from before (Justise Winslow and Adebayo). That said, Johnson looked sharp in the first quarter against San Antonio before foul trouble got him out of rhythm. Again, it’s hard to make a determination given the way Coach Spo operates. He likes to roll with something if it’s working, but he’s also open-minded. As for how the HEAT should adjust to the Nets, they just need to be prepared for a hot team. Still, Brooklyn has had some trouble scoring efficiently with D’Angelo Russell out. If Miami can stick to its defensive principles for a full 48 minutes, everything should be fine. Highlights: Feb. 10 – HEAT at Nets Jan. 30 – Nets at HEAT Game Notes: This marks the first regular season game that the HEAT have played outside of the United States or Canada. Miami has won five straight against Brooklyn. The Nets have won three of four and are 10-14 on the year. Josh Richardson is averaging 17.2 points per game on 58.6 percent shooting in his last five. On Thursday, Brooklyn traded Trevor Booker for Jahlil Okafor, Nik Stauskas and a second-round draft pick. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 101.3 (27) HEAT Defense: 105.4 (15) Nets Offense: 104.1 (19) Nets Defense: 106.8 (21)
  10. Photo Credit: Mark Sobhani The Miami HEAT fell to the San Antonio Spurs 117-105 Wednesday night at AT&T Center. Tyler Johnson led the way for the HEAT with a season-high 25 points. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  11. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT face the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday night at AT&T Center. The HEAT fell to the Spurs 117-100 in their last meeting on Oct. 25. Tip-off is set for 8:30 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 8:00 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: Was there any significant takeaway from Miami’s loss to the Warriors on Sunday? Couper Moorhead: Sometimes you run up against a team that might be the best team in the history of the league, and that team plays to their potential in the second half. That doesn’t require a ton of analysis. That said, it was notable that Miami wasn’t able to slow Steph Curry and Klay Thompson as they were for much of the game in Golden State. Both those players are so talented that you aren’t going to keep their shooting percentages down forever and them shooting well likely wasn’t a particular concern. What did stick out was the scoring the Warriors were able to do via off-ball movement, cutting and curling to the rim for layups or threading tough perimeter passes to the man someone had just rotated off of. Those were the plays Erik Spoelstra seemed to key in on in postgame, and they were the ones the Warriors lacked the first time these teams met. The HEAT won’t always be playing against such a prolific team, but they’ll want to tighten up on those off-ball actions all the same – especially against their next opponent. Joe Beguiristain: While the HEAT hung tough in the first half thanks to Goran Dragić and a few guys off the bench, the Warriors went on a run in the third quarter and took control of the game. Kevin Durant and Steph Curry caused problems all night for Miami, but those two do that on a regular basis. Despite the end result, Bam Adebayo impressed once more with some extended playing time. In addition to delivering some hard screens and finishing at the rim, Adebayo continued to show his ability to switch on the perimeter. After two great defensive sequences against Jimmy Butler and LeBron James earlier in the season, the 20-year-old did it again when matched up with Curry late in the second quarter on Sunday. The two-time MVP tried to cross over the rookie a few times, but he had to pass it to Durant after nearly turning it over. From there, Josh Richardson swatted Durant from behind. Although there will be ups and downs throughout the year as Adebayo learns the NBA game, possessions like that show he has the potential to be a special player. 2: What did we learn from the first matchup with San Antonio? Couper: That these are still the Spurs, every bit the Top 3 defense that their numbers say they are. They might not always have idealized defensive players on the floor as far as height, length and athleticism (though they do have those, when healthy), but they make so few mistakes that teams are forced to execute every action as clean as possible just to get the same looks they expect to get night-to-night. The story, however, of the first meeting was that LaMarcus Aldridge remains as good as ever. He scored 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting, every bit as comfortable facing up off a pick as he was backing down every defender Miami threw at him. But the post-ups, good as Aldridge is in those spots, you will live with if you can make them tough enough. The issue became that the HEAT tried fronting Aldridge to make those catches tougher, as they regularly do, but the Spurs were able to twist that coverage into a backdoor pass. If Miami can rotate properly on those passes and trust Bam Adebayo to deny passing lanes as aggressively as he’s done in the past week, they’ll be on their way to making life for Aldridge as difficult as possible. Joe: We learned that San Antonio is still one heck of a team without Kawhi Leonard. Miami had success offensively early on, but the Spurs responded and held the HEAT to 39 percent shooting in the second and third quarter combined. On the flip side of the ball, LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay had big nights due to their size advantage on Miami’s defenders. As will be the case again Wednesday night, Hassan Whiteside missed that last matchup, which left Adebayo and James Johnson as the primary guys covering Aldridge. While Adebayo did struggle a bit, that was his first-career start. As I mentioned in my previous response, the former Kentucky Wildcat has made great strides on both ends of late. If he can minimize his mistakes and continue to show quick feet on rotations, things should be better against Aldridge this time around. 3: How have the Spurs been playing without Kawhi Leonard this season? Couper: It’s been a team effort as usual. Until Tony Parker’s recent return, Aldridge was the only player on the team with a usage rate over 25 percent. Everyone, from sophomore Dejounte Murray to Danny Green (adding more ballhandling to his repertoire) and Kyle Anderson (now injured) picked up additional playmaking duties while Rudy Gay has comfortably stepped into a bench-scoring role despite coming off an Achilles tendon injury. The result has been an offensive rating hovering around league average but when you have one of the league’s elite defenses that level of scoring is more than enough for a 16-8 record missing one of the very best players on the planet. In the minutes since Parker has returned, the Spurs are scoring 112.0 points per 100 possessions. So their offense is trending up, and word is Leonard could make his return in the next week or two. Joe: San Antonio has continued to be as tough as you’d expect. In fact, the Spurs have won seven of their last nine and are 16-8 on the year. In addition to Aldridge and Gay, Pau Gasol and Danny Green have also played quite well on both ends of the floor. Case in point: Gasol has the best net rating on the team (7.8) of any player averaging at least 20 minutes per game. Green, meanwhile, hasn’t shot the ball as consistently as he has in the past, but he’s still holding the opposition to 4.7 percentage points lower than their usual field goal percentage from greater than 15 feet out. Long story short, Head Coach Gregg Popovich has kept his team moving right along in the tough Western Conference despite some injuries to key players. With Tony Parker easing his way back and Leonard returning sooner rather than later, San Antonio should become even stronger as the season wears on. Highlights: Oct. 25 – Spurs at HEAT Game Notes: The HEAT are 11-12, while the Spurs enter the contest at 16-8. Goran Dragić leads Miami in points (17.6) and assists (4.4) per game. LaMarcus Aldridge leads San Antonio in points (22.8) and rebounds (8.2) per contest. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 100.7 (27) HEAT Defense: 104.6 (15) Spurs Offense: 104.2 (18) Spurs Defense: 99.9 (2)
  12. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT fell to the Golden State Warriors 123-95 Sunday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Goran Dragić led the way for the HEAT with 20 points. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  13. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT host the Golden State Warriors Sunday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Get your tickets now! The HEAT fell to the Warriors 97-80 in their last meeting on Nov. 6. Tip-off is set for 7:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 6:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: What were the HEAT able to get back on track against the Hornets? Couper Moorhead: After two less-than-ideal efforts, beating Charlotte was more about getting back to their defensive, and competitive, standards than anything else. Miami held the Hornets, albeit a Kemba Walker-less version, to under 100 points per 100 possessions but the numbers don’t quite tell the full story. From the outset it was clear Miami was focused on applying more ball pressure, playing up on ballhandlers and even going with a full-court press early in the first quarter – something we don’t see often even with this team. That led to some early fouls for Miami’s guards but those fouls were an acceptable byproduct of the team being more aggressive. The next test is significantly more difficult but that’s why it was important for the HEAT to get back to their baseline. Joe Beguiristain: The HEAT got it done on both ends of the floor against the Hornets, especially in the second half. After Charlotte shot 54.1 percent from the field through the first two quarters, Miami held the team to just 42.9 percent shooting the rest of the way. In particular, Josh Richardson, James Johnson and Dion Waiters answered the call defensively. Thanks to that trio, the HEAT were able to get some key stops down the stretch in a tightly-contested game. Of course, Richardson also tallied a career-high 27 points and came through with a tough and-one finish late in the contest. When you mix that with two clutch threes from Waiters, some assertive drives from Johnson and a great drive-and-kick from Kelly Olynyk, you realize just how much Miami wanted to turn things around after two straight losses. 2: What did we learn from the last game against the Warriors? Couper: That for all the talent the Warriors have – there is a perfectly good argument for them being the best team of all time – the HEAT have showed on multiple occasions that they can compete defensively with them. Yes, Miami lost the previous matchup by 17 points but they held Golden State below 40 percent shooting and in particular held Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to 10-of-34 shooting. Held is a relative term here since those players missed some open shots, but Josh Richardson did a remarkable job fighting over and through screens in order to contest one of the quickest releases in the NBA as he got Curry to pump-fake and pass up a couple threes. Richardson even blocked a couple of those threes. Goran Dragić mentioned at practice on Saturday that part of what makes Golden State so tough to defend is that they have a ton of good screen-setters but also that so much of their offense is random so you never know when or where those screens are coming. For Richardson and the rest of Miami’s guards to so effectively navigate the deadly shooting waters of the Warriors was as impressive as anything they’ve done this season, even in a loss. Joe: While the HEAT fell by double-digits in that last matchup against the Warriors on Nov. 6, their defensive intensity was quite impressive. As Coup stated above, Richardson did a great job on Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Shaun Livingston and helped hold the trio to just 12-of-40 shooting from the field. Similarly, James Johnson made things as tough as possible on Kevin Durant and helped limit him to 5-of-13 shooting on the night. Of course, replicating those numbers once more will be extremely difficult, but Miami can give itself a chance if it sticks to its good habits defensively. That kind of focus and discipline will be key for the HEAT, as Golden State has been on an absolute tear of late. How so? Well, the Warriors currently lead the league in net rating (12.6), assist percentage (69.7 percent) and effective field goal percentage (58.5 percent) by a considerable margin. Even though all that is expected from Golden State, it’s still pretty remarkable stuff. 3: What will be the greatest challenge for Bam Adebayo Sunday night? Couper: Some of it depends on who plays for the Warriors. As recently as Friday they had a number of players on their injury report and even rested Andre Iguodala, and with Sunday night being the first leg of a back-to-back Steve Kerr has said he may opt to rest a couple of his guys. Who those players are, we don’t know, but the Warriors have no shortage of centers to start alongside their stars. So Adebayo will either have to deal with the rugged strength of a Zaza Pachulia or David West, or the pure athleticism of a JaVale McGee or Jordan Bell. The real challenge for Adebayo is figuring out when he needs to step up and contest a potential shooter, if a guard gets hung up on a tough screen for example, and when he needs to hang back and protect the paint. The Warriors have seen every coverage in the league at this point so one step too high and they’ll find the cutting big man where he can make a play, and one step too low and they’re launching from deep. There are no easy answers, but those are the trials of a rookie big man. Joe: It sounds simple, but I think the greatest challenge for Bam Adebayo will be dealing with how the Warriors run things. There’s very little wasted movement in Golden State’s offense, as the team executes screens very well and whips the ball from side-to-side. Still, Adebayo has done a good job of switching at the correct time and showing quick feet on the perimeter for the most part. He’s also never backed down from a challenge, with the most recent example of that coming Friday night against the Hornets. Although Dwight Howard tried to go right at Adebayo, the rookie forced Howard into some turnovers and played stout defense on the block. That moxie will certainly come in handy against some brutes in Zaza Pachulia and David West. Above all else though, I’d really like to see how the 20-year-old fares against Draymond Green if the Warriors go small at certain points. Green hasn’t played center all that much this season, but seeing those two versatile bigs go at it would be really fun. Highlights: Nov. 6 – HEAT at Warriors Jan. 23 – Warriors at HEAT Game Notes: The HEAT are 16-12 against the Warriors in Miami. Golden State has won four of five and is 17-6 on the year. Josh Richardson is averaging 18.3 points and 1.7 steals per game on 59.5 percent shooting in his last three. Steph Curry leads the Warriors with 26 points per contest. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 100.7 (27) HEAT Defense: 103.7 (12) Warriors Offense: 114.2 (1) Warriors Defense: 101.6 (6)
  14. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT defeated the Charlotte Hornets 105-100 Friday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Josh Richardson led the way for the HEAT with a career-high 27 points. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  15. TICKETS: Warriors at HEAT

    Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon At approximately 12:30 PM, I will ask a trivia question in this thread for a pair of tickets to Sunday night’s game against the Warriors. Please keep in mind that you must be at least 18-years-old in order to qualify and must reside in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Collier, or Monroe County. Also, you are ineligible if you've already won tickets this season. Please only play/answer if you can attend and qualify based on these rules.
  16. Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon The Miami HEAT host the Charlotte Hornets Friday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Get your tickets now! The HEAT defeated the Hornets 112-99 in their last meeting on April 5. Tip-off is set for 8:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 7:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: Is there anything worth discussing from Miami’s loss in New York? Couper Moorhead: Not particularly, no, though it is worth noting that Kristaps Porziņģis has been declared day-to-day after what looked like a pretty awful turned ankle in the opening minutes of this game. We never want to see any player get injured and it’s good to know that one of the game’s brightest young stars should be said. As for the game itself, it seemed to leave both Erik Spoelstra and Goran Dragić looking for answers in their post-game interviews and with respect to that, we shouldn’t pretend to have any that they do not. Seasons will always have their up and down stretches, so what is most important at this point is that Miami can find a way to respond like they did against Boston coming off the loss to Indiana two weekends ago. Joe Beguiristain: There isn’t much to discuss outside of Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk. Adebayo took advantage of his fourth-career start and continued to show his efficiency around the rim. While most of his field goals came off good setups by his teammates, there was one play in particular where he posted-up Enes Kanter and drove across the lane for a strong finish. Being able to do that more often will be key in Adebayo’s development as the season wears on. Olynyk, meanwhile, remained sharp from distance and led the team with 18 points. As usual, the 7-footer took advantage of catch-and-shoot opportunities and spaced the floor. All that said, Miami had a very tough outing in New York. We’ll see how the team responds against a struggling Charlotte Hornets squad Friday night. 2: How have Charlotte’s offseason moves affected their play this season? Couper: The results have been somewhat mixed, though that comes with some health-related caveats. Dwight Howard is playing quite well after being traded from Atlanta and when he is on the floor the Hornets are playing Top-10 level defense. But Charlotte is also 8-12 and has been relatively average on both sides of the ball in part because of missed time by both Nic Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, with Kemba Walker also missing the team’s last game. When any of Charlotte’s starters are on the floor, including Batum stand-in Jeremy Lamb, the Hornets outscore their opponents. But all that positivity reverses when the bench units are on the floor, a potential advantage Miami’s typically-strong bench can use. Mailk Monk, at all of 19-years old, is only shooting 35.3 percent from the floor in his first 18 games but he is at 34.6 percent from three and has had some particularly explosive stretches. There’s a ton of scoring potential here and, in time, the efficiency should improve. Joe: Dwight Howard has easily been Charlotte’s most valuable pickup thus far. While guys like Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon have a higher ceiling at this stage and offer excitement for the future, Howard is the guy who’s stood out the most in the early going. The 31-year-old vet has been an absolute beast over the last five games, posting averages of 20.6 points, 13.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game on 61 percent shooting during that span. What’s more, the big man is shooting 49.3 percent on 154 post-ups this season. With Hassan Whiteside out due to a bone bruise in his left knee, Adebayo will have a tall task on his hands. Despite Howard’s sharp play of late, the Hornets have dropped three straight and are 8-12 on the year. Injuries to key players and poor defensive play overall have a lot to do with that. 3: How does this matchup change if Kemba Walker (bruised shoulder) cannot play? Couper: If Walker, listed as questionable, can’t go then Charlotte is likely to start Michael Carter-Williams at point guard – a move that changes the dynamic of the offense given that Carter-Williams is not a great shooter. More playmaking duties likely fall on Nicolas Batum and bench players like Jeremy Lamb and Frank Kaminsky who can create some offense for themselves. Without the deadly threat of Walker’s off-dribble shooting, however, Miami might not have to chase the ball over screens as aggressively as they often do and therefore prevent dribble penetration by sitting back closer to the paint. That’s not to say the Hornets cannot create offense without Walker. Both Batum and Lamb are long, tall, athletic players capable of shooting over the top and Dwight Howard is having an offensive-rebounding season almost as good as New York’s Enes Kanter, so there’s plenty of work to be done defensively. And on the other side of the ball, Carter-Williams has the length to bother all of Miami’s ballhandlers. Joe: This matchup changes a lot if Kemba Walker is unable to play. Walker is absolutely deadly with the ball in his hands, as he’s among league leaders in drives per game and field goal percentage off those looks. As usual, he’s also been fantastic in the pick-and-roll game. If Walker is out once again, Michael Carter-Williams will likely start for the second consecutive game. Although Carter-Williams can create for his teammates, he is prone to turning over the ball with more touches. Perhaps that is something the HEAT can take advantage of. It’s also important to note that Jeremy Lamb, a guy that would help take over playmaking duties with Walker out, is also listed as questionable for Friday night. While a lot of things are up in the air for Charlotte, Head Coach Steve Clifford will have his team ready to go as always. INJURY UPDATES: Walker is officially out for Friday night's game, but Lamb is available to play. Highlights: April 5 – HEAT at Hornets March 8 – Hornets at HEAT Game Notes: The HEAT have won the last two matchups with the Hornets. Charlotte has dropped three straight and is 8-12 on the year. Goran Dragić leads Miami in points (18.0) and assists (4.5) per game. Dwight Howard leads the Hornets in rebounds (12.7) and blocks (1.2) per contest. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 100.6 (26) HEAT Defense: 103.9 (13) Hornets Offense: 104.6 (18) Hornets Defense: 105.1 (15)
  17. Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler The Miami HEAT fell to the New York Knicks 115-86 Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. Kelly Olynyk led the way for the HEAT with 18 points. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  18. TICKETS: Hornets at HEAT

    Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon At approximately 1:00 PM, I will ask a trivia question in this thread for a pair of tickets to Friday night’s game against the Hornets. Please keep in mind that you must be at least 18-years-old in order to qualify and must reside in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Collier, or Monroe County. Also, you are ineligible if you've already won tickets this season. Please only play/answer if you can attend and qualify based on these rules.
  19. Photo Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler The Miami HEAT face the New York Knicks Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. The HEAT fell to the Knicks 98-94 in their last meeting on March 31. Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 7:00 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: What positives can you take away from Miami’s loss to Cleveland Tuesday night? Couper Moorhead: There’s no better answer for this than Bam Adebayo. While the team had its struggles for most of the night Adebayo had a number of nice individual plays which offered a glimpse into his behind the scenes development. We know Adebayo can dunk and we know he can move his feet on defense – he had one particularly nice defensive possession against LeBron James – but on Tuesday he got back so showing off some of the skills that were on display at Summer League, namely a tight handle for a player his size and a soft touch with the jumper. Yes, some of the numbers came when the game was relatively out of reach but with young players like Adebayo you’re looking for signs of that development and you have to appreciate those signs when they come, regardless of when they come. If they’re enough to earn minutes moving forward, then you take a closer look at the overall impact. Joe Beguiristain: While the HEAT did a nice job of fighting back in the second half and cutting a 34-point deficit in half, Tuesday night was all about Bam Adebayo. The rookie made an impact on both ends of the floor, as he created shots for himself throughout the game and had an impressive defensive sequence against LeBron James late in the second quarter. Of course, we also were treated to some of Adebayo’s usual thunderous jams. In short, the 20-year-old’s performance was a textbook example of always being ready. Adebayo hadn’t played in seven of Miami’s last nine games entering the contest, but he looked great in his 18 minutes of action against Cleveland. That just goes to show you how much he’s been working in practice and on off-days. 2: How have the Knicks been playing this season? Couper: The Knicks don’t have major advantages in the most common team categories outside of offensive rebounding – the Enes Kanter effect – but they are 10-10 with a relatively neutral point differential largely because they’ve hovered around league average on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. They have two three-game winning streaks and two three-game losing streaks, one that they’re currently on in part because of missed games from Kanter and Kristaps Porziņģis. The trade of Carmelo Anthony to Oklahoma City accomplished a couple things for the Knicks. Firstly, it shifted a chunk of scoring possessions toward Porziņģis as his usage rate has jumped from about 24 percent to 34. Secondly, it injected a rugged, efficient player in Kanter into the rotation and added a floor-spacer in Doug McDermmot to make everyone’s lives a bit easier on offense. Then New York signed Tim Hardaway, via Atlanta, to give them a solid defense-and-shooting pairing on the wing with Courtney Lee. And with draftee Frank Ntilikina adding exciting defense off the bench the Knicks are suddenly as well balanced and well rounded as they’ve been in years. They do, however, turn the ball over a fair bit, so keep that in mind. Joe: The Knicks got off to a quick start thanks to the brilliance of Kristaps Porziņģis, but they’ve dropped four of their last six games. That said, New York has played much better overall than in recent years. While Porziņģis is clearly the team’s best player and unquestioned leader, Tim Hardaway Jr. has been fantastic in his second stint with the Knicks. Case in point: Hardaway Jr. is averaging career-highs across the board with 18.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game. In particular, the 25-year-old has really done damage from mid-range, where he is shooting 24-of-48 on the year. Another guy who has played real well of late is Courtney Lee, who is averaging 16.4 points on 62.7 percent shooting over his last five games. Throughout the season, Lee has mixed things up offensively and has played well off the ball as usual. It’ll be fun to see how Dion Waiters and Josh Richardson approach the matchup with the wily vet. 3: How do you think the HEAT will defend New York’s frontcourt? Couper: It depends a bit what that frontcourt is. If Kanter plays, he likely starts. If Kanter is out again with back spasms, then Kyle O’Quinn should be the starter. Either way, the decision for Erik Spoelstra is whether to keep Whiteside on the more paint-bound center or to put his length on Porziņģis even though that would pull Whiteside out on the perimeter. The guess would be that Whiteside defends the center and Justise Winslow defends the more perimeter oriented player even though he’ll be giving up a ton of height and length. You’ll likely remember that Winslow did well defending Karl-Anthony Towns last week and the plan would likely be the same as far as playing aggressive ball denial (especially fronting in the post) and forcing New York’s guard to make a play. Porziņģis is talented enough to beat any coverage and any defender, so the more Miami can keep the ball out of his hands the fewer opportunities Porziņģis will have to make an impact. Joe: Before I get into this answer, let’s first acknowledge how tough it is to cover Porziņģis. The 7-foot-3 big man can post-up, attack defenses off-the-dribble and off catch-and-shoot opportunities. Simply put, he can do it all. With Porziņģis being such a threat from the perimeter (he’s shooting 43.8 percent on catch-and-shoot treys this season), I think Justise Winslow will start off on him. If you put Hassan Whiteside on the Latvian, you risk leaving the paint more vulnerable to guys like Hardaway Jr. and Lee. There’s also a good chance we’ll see James Johnson go head-to-head with “the unicorn” on Wednesday night. Johnson is taller than Winslow and is a bit stronger, so he should be able to provide a different look and make things as tough as possible on Porziņģis. INJURY UPDATE: Hassan Whiteside (left knee soreness) will not play against the Knicks. Highlights: March 31 – Knicks at HEAT March 29 – HEAT at Knicks Game Notes: The HEAT have won four of six and stand at 10-10. The Knicks have dropped three straight and enter the contest at 10-10. Josh Richardson leads Miami with 1.2 steals per game. Kristaps Porziņģis leads New York in points (27.0) and blocks (2.2) per contest. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 101.3 (25) HEAT Defense: 103.1 (11) Knicks Offense: 104.6 (15) Knicks Defense: 106.1 (20)
  20. Photo Credit: David Liam Kyle The Miami HEAT fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers 108-97 Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena. Dion Waiters led the way for the HEAT with 21 points. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  21. Photo Credit: David Liam Kyle The Miami HEAT face the Cleveland Cavaliers Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena. The HEAT defeated the Cavaliers 124-121 in OT in their last meeting on April 10. Tip-off is set for 7:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 6:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: What stuck out to you the most about Miami’s victory in Chicago? Couper Moorhead: Well, there was a somewhat slow first quarter in which the HEAT scored seven points that we’ll just go ahead and never mention again. Beyond that, however, Sunday was notable because for the third straight game Miami’s primary bench unit of Wayne Ellington, Tyler Johnson, James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk plus a starter had a major impact on a win. That group, with Goran Dragić, was so good Sunday that Erik Spoelstra ran with them for the fourth quarter as a Bulls runs was held off. It wasn’t always the most glamorous of talking points but Miami’s bench was always one of the most important parts of last season’s second-half turnaround. The makeup of that group is a little different with Olynyk instead of Willie Reed but as long as they defend consistently and continue to generate and put up good looks from three, they’ll be a major luxury for this HEAT roster. Joe Beguiristain: Miami’s overall ball movement and offensive execution in the fourth quarter really stood out to me. While the team didn’t have an insane amount of assists like it did against Minnesota, there were a handful of possessions where the ball was moving from side-to-side in order to get the best possible shot. As such, Wayne Ellington took advantage once again and nailed five treys on the afternoon. With things getting close in the fourth quarter, Goran Dragić (who won Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday) and James Johnson combined for 25 of the HEAT’s 36 points in the period. Johnson attacked the basket supremely well, while Dragić mixed things up and nailed a dagger three with 49.8 seconds left to play. Over Miami’s three-game winning streak, six players are shooting 50 percent or better from the field. That’s all due to the team’s improved ball movement. 2: With the changes to their roster, how have the Cavaliers been playing this season? Couper: The most obvious change Cleveland made was trading Kyrie Irving to Boston in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Brooklyn’s upcoming first-round draft pick. So far, Thomas has been sidelined with a hip injury and only Crowder has played. Cleveland also added Derrick Rose, currently not with the team, Jeff Green and most notably Dwyane Wade in the middle of training camp. Wade started the first few games of the season but has since been playing mostly off the bench. The Cavs suffered a four-game losing streak earlier in the season which left them at 3-5 at one point, but they’re on an eight-game winning streak. They’ve dealt with a variety of injuries and the ensuing lineup changes, but their winning streak has coincided with a defense trending toward the upper third of the league after a tough start. It wasn’t the smoothest opening to the season, but the Cavaliers appear to be back on their usual track. Joe: While the Cavaliers got off to a slow start during the first two weeks of the season, they’ve turned things around in a big way recently and have won eight straight. And with LeBron James leading the charge, would you expect anything different? Even with Kyrie Irving out of the equation, Cleveland is still one of the best offenses in the league. Although James is the main reason for that (he was just four assists shy from his second-straight triple-double on Monday), Dwyane Wade has upped his production off the bench during the team’s winning streak. In fact, the 35-year-old has averaged 12.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game over that time span with a little more playing time due to Derrick Rose’s absence. With the Cavaliers also improving on the defensive end of late, they’re looking like a well-oiled machine at the moment. If that trend continues, there’s no reason to believe they won’t be one of the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference once the regular season is over. 3: What matchup do you think the HEAT can attack Tuesday night? Couper: It depends. Iman Shumpert returned to Cleveland’s lineup Monday night against the 76ers, but he came off the bench. If he returns to the starting lineup on Tuesday, he’ll be a fairly big defender for Goran Dragić to navigate. Should Shumpert not start, however, the Cavs are likely to start Jose Calderon – a matchup Dragić should be able to pursue. Whoever starts as the nominal point guard – we all know the primary ballhandler is going to be James, especially in the absence of Thomas – Tristan Thompson is also out which means Love will start out against Hassan Whiteside. That’s such a size advantage for Whiteside that they could go after the post, but even though Love is a better defender than he’s often given credit for it will still be a challenge to contain Dragić if Miami’s spacing is on point. Of course the HEAT have to defend Love on the perimeter on the other end, with Jae Crowder spacing the floor as well. Joe: I think the HEAT can find some success with Hassan Whiteside going up against Kevin Love and Channing Frye. Since Love and Frye aren’t that strong on the defensive end, Whiteside should be able to roll to the rim and get some of his usual dunks. As long as the 7-footer remains ready for the catch in the post and stays active throughout, it could be a big night for him. Another matchup I’m intrigued to see is Tyler Johnson versus Wade. Wade witnessed Johnson’s ascension first-hand before going to Chicago in the summer of 2016. It’ll be cool to see the two go head-to-head at certain points like they probably did numerous times in practice as teammates. Highlights: April 10 – Cavaliers at HEAT March 6 – HEAT at Cavaliers Game Notes: The HEAT have won three straight and are 10-9 on the year. The Cavaliers have won eight straight and are 13-7. Six Miami players are shooting 50 percent or better from the field over the team’s three-game winning streak. LeBron James leads Cleveland in points (28.6), assists (8.5) and blocks (1.2) per game. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 101.5 (25) HEAT Defense: 102.8 (10) Cavaliers Offense: 109.9 (4) Cavaliers Defense: 108.2 (27)
  22. HEAT 100 - Bulls 93 Game Recap

    Photo Credit: Gary Dineen The Miami HEAT defeated the Chicago Bulls 100-93 Sunday afternoon at United Center. Goran Dragić led the way for the HEAT with 24 points. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  23. Photo Credit: Ned Dishman The Miami HEAT face the Chicago Bulls Sunday afternoon at United Center. The HEAT defeated the Bulls 97-91 in their last meeting on Nov. 1. Tip-off is set for 3:30 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 3:00 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: How was Miami able to have such an explosive offensive game against the Wolves? Couper Moorhead: This was as complete a victory as Miami has had all season. Their defense was just as active as it was against Boston and with Jeff Teague missing the game, the Wolves never appeared to find any sort of consistent offensive organization. The HEAT were even able to put Justise Winslow, and later James Johnson, on Karl-Anthony Towns for most of the evening and his aggressive ball denial had Minnesota struggling to find ways to even get their best offensive player a touch. Offensively, however, this was a tour de force. There are different ways of logging shot location, but according to player tracking data Miami’s 21 attempts on corner threes were the most any team has taken in a single game over the past two seasons. Minnesota isn’t an elite defensive team and that’s important to note, but that’s also part of the season-long process. The HEAT were leading the league in corner threes before they played the Wolves, so it stands to reason that against a weaker defense they would be able to get to their strengths even more. Now, you still have to make the shots you get and the HEAT made 19-of-39 from deep including 11-of-17 between Wayne Ellington and Goran Dragić, but it’s the consistency in shot quality that allows teams to occasionally have such extreme nights. Joe Beguiristain: Simply put, the HEAT got to their identity and stuck to what works. Miami’s attackers routinely got into the paint, collapsed the defense and kicked it out to open shooters on the perimeter. As such, the HEAT dished out a season-high 29 assists on 38 made field goals and shot 19-of-39 (48.7 percent) from downtown. Perhaps the most encouraging part of Miami’s performance was that the team was able to sustain its high level of play throughout the whole game. In fact, once the HEAT took a 4-2 lead with 10:52 remaining in the first quarter, they never looked back. Naturally, Wayne Ellington led the way with 21 points on 6-of-9 from deep and helped extend Miami’s lead to 20 in the fourth quarter. When you pair this win along with Wednesday night’s performance against the Celtics, it’s clear that the two grueling practices after the HEAT’s loss to the Pacers struck a chord with the team. As long as Miami stays committed to the work, things will work themselves out like they have been recently. 2: What did we learn from the previous matchup with Chicago? Couper: That even though he’s a rookie, Lauri Markkanen should not be underestimated. Chicago’s offense has been among the lowest in the league all season but for a time the Jerian Grant-Markkanen pick-and-roll combo was the very best combination in the league (they’re still in the Top 15). Against Miami, the Bulls were able to quickly get to their actions, draw a switch and then take advantage of Markkanen’s size advantage in the post in part by utilizing Robin Lopez’ skills at the high post. Markkanen has a long way to go, of course, but the Bulls essentially use him as a young Dirk Nowitzki, trying to find him advantageous situations on the court, either in the post or popping off a screen, where he can simply shoot over the top of other players. Lopez usually tends to have good games against the HEAT no matter what team he is playing for, but Markkanen is the player who can put Chicago’s offense over the top on any given night. Joe: We learned that while the Bulls have struggled mightily this year, they have a few guys who can make some noise on the offensive end. Like Coup stated above, one of those players is rookie Lauri Markkanen. The 20-year-old had a solid outing in that last matchup against the HEAT and scored 25 points on 9-of-18 shooting. As a whole, the talented 7-footer showed his versatility with pick-and-pop jumpers, aggressive attacks and finishes inside. With Justise Winslow now starting at power forward, we’ll likely see him guard Markkanen more than he did on Nov. 1. Remember, the former Duke Blue Devil had a fantastic defensive performance against Karl-Anthony Towns on Friday. We’ll see how he follows that up. 3: Has there been any secret to Miami’s bench units being more productive lately? Couper: They’re defending again. While the fifth man varies between Dion Waiters, Goran Dragić and Josh Richardson, the four-man group of Wayne Ellington, Tyler Johnson, James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk now has a defensive rating of 99.3 points allowed per 100 possessions in 90 minutes – a mark that would be Top 10 in the league among all teams. Between the shooting of Ellington and Olynyk, plus the Johnson-Johnson handoff combination, this unit is clearly capable of having some explosive offensive nights but the bench groups carried a bulk of Miami’s defensive value in the second half last season so it’s very positive to see them able to recapture that effectiveness with slightly difference personnel. Joe: This kind of goes back to my first answer, but Miami’s bench has gotten back to its roots. James Johnson is handling the ball as usual and dazzling with nifty touch passes (he led the team with eight assists on Friday night), Tyler Johnson is keeping the opposition guessing with catch-and-shoot jumpers and attacks to the rim and Wayne Ellington is getting to his spots on the perimeter. When you add Kelly Olynyk to the mix, another sharp passer who gives his teammates open shots with screen handoffs like JJ, you start to see how things have turned around for the second unit. As a whole, Miami’s bench holding its own on both ends of the floor has gone a long way in the team winning three of its last four games. If that trend continues, the HEAT should be able to find success more often than not. Highlights: Nov. 1 – Bulls at HEAT Jan. 27 – HEAT at Bulls Game Notes: The HEAT have won three of four and are 9-9 on the season. The Bulls have dropped four straight and enter the contest at 3-14. Three Miami players are shooting over 40 percent from three (minimum of two attempts per game). Lauri Markkanen leads Chicago in points (14.6) and rebounds (8.2) per contest. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 101.4 (25) HEAT Defense: 103.6 (12) Bulls Offense: 94.0 (30) Bulls Defense: 108.9 (29)
  24. Photo Credit: Jordan Johnson The Miami HEAT defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 109-97 Friday night at Target Center. Wayne Ellington led the way for the HEAT with 21 points. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
  25. Photo Credit: David Sherman The Miami HEAT face the Minnesota Timberwolves Friday night at Target Center. The HEAT fell to the Timberwolves 125-122 in OT in their last meeting on Oct. 30. Tip-off is set for 8:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 7:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket. 1: What impressed you the most about Miami’s streak-ending win over Boston? Couper Moorhead: It was all about the defense. Miami held Boston to its lowest Shot Quality score of the season, and nothing about that was a mistake. Yes, the Celtics committed some reasonably unforced errors, but the HEAT were the aggressors the entire night as they were every bit as physical and energetic on Wednesday that they weren’t in the previous loss to Indiana. Better yet, even though the defensive focus was present throughout the lineup it was good to see the second unit – joined usually by either Dion Waiters or Josh Richardson – be largely responsible for the most significant scoring spread in the game as Boston had great difficulty generating clean and consistent offense. Second-unit defense was a huge part of this team’s identity last season and the more they can get back to that the better off everyone will be. Yes, Boston did eventually go on a 16-2 run to make it a real game after Miami had led for most of the evening, but that’s been their identity all season as they’ve regularly dug themselves out of holes. For the HEAT’s part, they never panicked defensively and kept grinding possessions out to allow for a pair of Dion Waiters threes to be the difference makers. Joe Beguiristain: Miami’s sharpness and focus on both ends really impressed me. For starters, the HEAT got back to their identity and played stout defense against the Celtics. In particular, Justise Winslow defended Al Horford very well and Josh Richardson did a great job of making things tough on both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Hassan Whiteside, meanwhile, did a nice job of rotating and helping out his teammates. Thanks to all that, Boston shot just 41.7 percent on the night. While Miami’s defense was superb, the team’s offensive execution was perhaps just as impressive. Goran Dragić and Dion Waiters played great and combined for 53 points, but the HEAT’s role players also got the job done. Winslow showed some nifty moves inside, Tyler Johnson kept Boston on its heels with a varied approach and Kelly Olynyk scored all six of his points in the fourth quarter. Simply put, Miami wasn’t fazed at all by the Celtics’ No. 1 rated defense or 16-game winning streak heading into the night. 2: What did we learn from the first matchup with Minnesota? Couper: That for as talented as the Timberwolves are – they’ll be a Top 10 offense all season as long as they stay healthy – they can still be a bit of a work in progress on the defensive end. Even though the HEAT shot just 7-of-27 from deep in that first game, they still shot over 52.7 percent thanks to driving lanes to the rim being regularly open. Dion Waiters, in fact, set career highs in both makes and attempts at the rim as he and Andrew Wiggins traded haymaker drives down the stretch of regulation and overtime. That said, Minnesota’s defense has been trending in a more positive direction lately and they’ve been more than solid whenever starter Taj Gibson is on the floor, so Miami shouldn’t expect to simply walk into easy points. This is still a Tom Thibodeau team after all. Joe: We learned that the Timberwolves can attack you with a bunch of different weapons. Even though Miami held Andrew Wiggins and Jimmy Butler in check for the most part (the duo combined for 38 points on just 12-of-36 shooting), Jeff Teague hit some big buckets late to give Minnesota the win in overtime. That said, the HEAT had a lot of success on the offensive end against the Timberwolves. Like on Wednesday against Boston, Dragić played very well in the first half before Waiters took over late in the contest. In fact, Waiters was the one who forced overtime with a blow-by drive against Butler. However, as Coup stated above, Minnesota’s defense has greatly improved since its last matchup with Miami on Oct. 30. In fact, the Timberwolves have tallied the 10th best defensive rating since that point, as they’ve given up 102.8 points per 100 possessions in their last 11 games. While things could be a bit tougher on the offensive end for the HEAT this time around, they’ll always give themselves a chance to win if they stay committed to their defensive principles. 3: How will Hassan Whiteside’s presence affect this game? Couper: Erik Spoelstra had to literally throw Bam Adebayo to the wolves when Whiteside was available last time out, a tough matchup with Karl-Anthony Towns for any player much less a rookie. With Whiteside ready to go Miami’s rotation will be back in its comfort zone. Towns can still stretch Whiteside out defensively as well as just about any center in the league as Towns can not only shoot from outside but he can shoot on the move, coming off screens and setting his feet like Wayne Ellington. But Whiteside did very well Wednesday evening managing pick-and-roll defense while still getting out to Al Horford on the perimeter, so if he brings that same intensity Friday night then he’ll be doing his job regardless of whether or not Towns hits some contested jumpers. And on the other end of the floor, if Whiteside is setting hard screens then Miami’s guards will be able to get going downhill against a defense that doesn’t consistently bring help to the middle of the floor. Joe: Karl-Anthony Towns is one of the premier big men in the game, but Whiteside has a significant weight and strength advantage on the 22-year-old. With that in mind, Whiteside should be able to do some damage in the paint, especially off his usual rim-runs and put-backs. On the defensive end though, the 28-year-old will certainly have his hands full with Towns. The former Kentucky Wildcat can knock down shots from the perimeter (he’s shooting 37.5 percent from deep) and finish around the rim with ease. Still, Whiteside has been quite active defensively over the past week and has taken his role seriously as the team’s anchor on that end. All in all, it should be a fun matchup to watch between two guys who don’t play against each other all that much. Highlights: Oct. 30 – Timberwolves at HEAT March 17 – Timberwolves at HEAT Game Notes: The HEAT have won two of three and are 8-9 on the season. The Timberwolves have dropped two of three and enter the contest at 11-7. Hassan Whiteside leads Miami in rebounds (13.2) and blocks (1.8) per game. Karl-Anthony Towns leads Minnesota in points (20.4), rebounds (11.5) and blocks (1.4) per contest. Efficiencies (Rank): HEAT Offense: 100.5 (26) HEAT Defense: 103.6 (13) Timberwolves Offense: 107.2 (6) Timberwolves Defense: 106.9 (23)