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Danny

HEAT at Nuggets Official Game Thread and Preview

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(Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon)

The Miami HEAT are in Denver tonight to take in the Miami HEAT. The HEAT are playing on the second night of a back-to-back and are playing their fourth game in five days. After last night's loss to the Clippers, the HEAT are 6-3. The Nuggets enter at 4-4.

1. Neither Dwyane Wade nor Udonis Haslem has ever won a game in Denver. Does that change tonight?

Couper Moorhead: When the HEAT’s schedule comes out in the middle of the summer, the road game in Denver is usually the first one you circle – and it always seems to come on the second night of a back-to-back as well. It’s not just a Miami thing, either. Playing Denver under these circumstances, whether or not you believe the altitude comes into play, is one of the toughest things to do in the league. The good news is, this isn’t the type of situation that can ever be replicated in the playoffs. It will be a tall order, but Miami can win – there’s just nothing to worry about if they don’t.

Danny Martinez: Well, there’s a reason that the HEAT haven’t won in Denver in a really long time. Unfortunately, that reason plays into tonight’s game. Playing the second night of a back-to-back in the thin air in Denver is tough. Playing that game at the end of a long road trip and it’s doubly tough. That’s what the HEAT face tonight. Denver is 37-6 over the last three seasons when playing at home against teams on the second night of a back-to-back. Of course there’s a chance the HEAT pull out a win, but I wouldn’t expect it.

2. We just saw Denver a little more than a week ago. What should carry over from that game?

Couper: Kenneth Faried, being one of the best offensive rebounders in the league, will do his thing on the boards, but otherwise this should be a completely different game. Even just a week or so of time to gel makes a big difference, and everything tends to run a little more smoothly on your home court.

Danny: The game against Denver was the only time this season that the HEAT have gotten beat badly on the boards. The Nuggets frontline was relentless attacking the offensive glass. If it hadn’t been for a strong offensive effort, the HEAT probably would have lost the game. With the HEAT playing on the second night of a back-to-back tonight, I expect the Denver big men to focus on beating the HEAT on the glass again, especially on the offensive end.

3. Why does Miami’s spacing look so much more jumbled up than it did at the start of the season?

Couper: Some of it is that the HEAT are just getting everyone’s best defense right now, and those defenses are doing an exceptional job running three-point shooters off the line while also offering sufficient help in the paint, but the team has also just hit one of those ruts you hit over the course of the regular season. LeBron James is still playing wonderful basketball while the ball movement has been excellent, and as long as everyone stays committed to the offense, through makes and misses, thing will work out fine.

Danny: The biggest reason the floor is shrinking for the HEAT is they’ve been unable to generate consistent stops. Earlier in the season, the HEAT were pushing the pace off of stops, getting Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James early post position and fanning shooters out around the arc. Without the stops, it’s harder for the HEAT to find the rhythm they’re looking for.

Some of the other reasons are a little mundane, but they have probably played a role as well. Fatigue, injury and defensive adjustments are all playing into the HEAT’s offensive constriction.

4. Could Denver’s pace be at least a temporary cure-all for some of Miami’s issues?

Couper: It should help open things up a bit, sure, but that pace Denver plays with at home is also the main reason teams have so much trouble winning there.

Danny: Yes. Denver likes to push the tempo at all costs. That is the game the HEAT want to play on offense. A quicker pace will lead to more space for HEAT attackers and ideally more efficient shots. By getting into a shootout, the HEAT may solve some of their offensive struggles by accident. It will be tough to run with the Nuggets since the HEAT are playing on short rest, but if the HEAT can settle into a rhythm they’ll be fine.

5. We have discussed this already, but are we just playing a waiting game when it comes to the defense?

Couper: I doubt anyone on the team would say that they are playing perfect defense right now, and it’s tough to correct those things in the midst of a four-game-in-five-nights stretch, but once the HEAT get home they only have three games in 13 nights. That should give them plenty of time to tighten the bolts.

Danny: Yep. It might be frustrating to some, but we’re still a long ways away from having to actually worry about the defense. Unfortunately for the HEAT, things may get worse before they get better. The Nuggets will provide a tough test, but after that the HEAT schedule becomes home heavy and spaced out. This will provide the HEAT ample practice time to clean up any issues they find. There’s a good chance that two months from now we’ll all laugh about the time the defense was doubted.

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Infernoians HEAT-Nuggets Preview

1. Neither Dwyane Wade nor Udonis Haslem has ever won a game in Denver. Does that change tonight?

KevinFromDade: No, I don't think it changes. There are a couple of factors to take into consideration: 2nd game of a back-to back on the road, a struggling Dwyane Wade, and what I believe to be one of the most deciding factors, the altitude change. The Nuggets are coming off of two days rest, so, I think they'll come out running. But, let's see.

KKinsey: That's hard to say, obviously this team is struggling lately and that does start with the teams co-captains Wade and Haslem. Now if our D continues like it has this season thus far, we might have a hard time against a young explosive Nuggets team. Don't get me wrong I like the whole 'small ball' thing, but I'd prefer to see it in smaller doses as a change of pace sort of thing. I would like to see a little more of Joel but I think he's still recovering from a quadriceps injury which might be why Spo is limiting his play.

Wuchuhurd: It sure doesn't feel like it. Look its hard enough to win the high altitude of Denver as it is, but against a young, athletic, and well rested team and playing the second game of a back-to-back the odds seem to be in Denver's favor at the moment. But it all depends on which Miami team shows up tonight.

2. We just saw Denver a little more than a week ago. What should carry over from that game?

KevinFromDade: That game wasn't exactly indicative of the way the HEAT want to win. Denver won the rebound battle 47-32. 18 of their 47 boards were offensive. Kenneth Faried was all over the place, going for 22 points and 12 rebounds (7 offensive.) The positive note, the HEAT only turned the ball over 8 times. So, strong box outs on Faried and McGee as well as keeping the turnovers low should be key.

KKinsey: Well we do know what kind of team Denver is. They are a young explosive team that moves the ball around well and will get at it defensively. Now Denver did kill us on the boards last game, so either maybe playing a little bigger or with more of an effort by everybody on the boards will be required. The Nuggets also have a young Udonis Haslem in the name of Kenneth Faried, who gives them energy, hustle and toughness. So containing him will be a challenge.

Wuchuhurd: Denver knows they should have left South Beach with a victory being up 6 with a little over a minute to go. That's just added incentive to playing the Champs at your house so I expect an all out blitz from Denver tonight. Meanwhile on Miami's side they are probably looking to contain the Manimal who had a spectacular game against Miami absolutely owning the offensive boards. Looks like it will be up to James and Bosh to carry the team if they want to escape Denver with a victory seeing that Wade is still ailing from his injuries. Wade has been awful on the road so far shooting just 37.7% through 4 games.

3. Why does Miami’s spacing look so much more jumbled up than it did at the start of the season?

KevinFromDade: Different rotations, different lineups. Our spacing being "jumbled" is nothing to worry about. The way I see it, it can be considered a result of a good thing. With the addition of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, the coaching staff is still finding ways to work with so many weapons. Having to find more space on the floor for all your options isn't a bad thing. Coach Spo and his "position-less" mindset will get the spacing figured out.

KKinsey: Well one of the reasons for that is we were shooting lights out from everywhere on the floor and last few games those shots just aren't falling, which is to be expected. The ball movement I've found has been quite impressive thus far into the season and almost to a fault where we are passing up on shots. It seems that this team is either too passive or the ball sticks too much instead of something inbetween where a good shot is produced.

Wuchuhurd: It's just a phase really. When shots aren't going down you tend to rely a little more on your playmakers and as a result the ball will end up being stuck be it short or long stretches of the game. We've seen how incredible ball movement can be, at times looking like Chris Webber's Sacramento Kings of the early 2000's.

4. Could Denver’s pace be at least a temporary cure-all for some of Miami’s issues?

KevinFromDade: It could be, but shouldn't be considered a "cure-all" by anyone that matters (players, coaching staff etc.) Denver is a young team that likes to push the tempo, yet only had 6 fast break points in last week's meeting in Miami. Having to play less half-court defense may prove to be beneficial in an extremely short-term manner, (only for this game,) particularly at a time where the HEAT are still getting things figured out. But, unfortunately, running away from your problems won't make them go away.

KKinsey: Hmm.... I wouldn't say it's a "cure-all", but it could help us seeing as we like to play a faster pace. On the other hand slowing down the game could be a better play style for this team seeing as our half-court offense looks better than in previous years. To say its a "cure-all"? I guess we'll have to watch and see.

Wuchuhurd: I actually think Miami is better off slowing the game down and trying to make it as much into a halfcourt game as possible.

5. We have discussed this already, but are we just playing a waiting game when it comes to the defense?

KevinFromDade: Yes. It is way too early in the season to begin worrying about defensive miscues. The HEAT are run by Erik Spoelstra, a Pat Riley prodigy, which means we are always going to be defensive-minded. We have three extremely versatile defenders that can practically guard all 5 positions (LeBron, D-Wade, Battier.) A lot of teams are putting on a three-point clinic against Miami, and that could be due to our perimeter guys collapsing inside on the bigs. That lack of size inside makes a difference on the outside. But, all in all, it is a waiting game. We had an elite defense last year (ask OKC,) and are coming into this season with the same core and coaching staff. 8 games in last season, Boston had the 18th best defense. They ended the season being the 2nd best. We'll be fine.

KKinsey: Because our team doesn't have that prototypical center around the basket and in the paint, our whole defense acts as one center where players collapse down low and help out which leaves opponents wide open behind the 3pt line. Now although we do have fast enough players to close out on those players, it doesn't really help if they're hitting every shot. Teams know who we are and thy come out to play against us and those teams hve players stepping up and at the moment aren't missing those shots. I don't expect this to continue all season.

We are also still integrating players into the defensive system which will take time. In the great words of coach Spo "It's a process".

Wuchuhurd: I'm confident Spo knows how to maximize the team's defensive potential and it's importance come playoff time. Right now with the positionless approach he is perhaps finding ways to maximize their offensive potential after adding Ray and Rashard. But it also helps to have a healthy Wade who is key in operating a defense that swarms the ballhandler the way they do.

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BAH! I had a nice long response, but someone at work just closed the page!

Guess I will let you boys handle the task tonight.

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I'm looking for HEAT to bounce back tonight and to start putting the pieces together.MIAMI's defense has been awful on the perimeter.Denver will test MIAMI tonight with their uptempo style,but i expect MIAMI to start righting a few of it's wrongs...TEAM HEAT since '88!

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I'm looking for us to start with Joel in the lineup! Its about time that we go back to that old lineup! If yo look at our Defense we are about almost last in everything requiring with defense. I miss that lineup when we had Joel at C! He brought us shot blocking and and at least some post defense.

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I'm looking for us to start with Joel in the lineup! Its about time that we go back to that old lineup! If yo look at our Defense we are about almost last in everything requiring with defense. I miss that lineup when we had Joel at C! He brought us shot blocking and and at least some post defense.

i agree

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@IraHeatBeat: Dwyane Wade is starting and will play tonight, per Heat.

My bad I guess the copy button didn't work. That was a tweet from Last night that I copied and posted. Sorry Spoey.

@IraHeatBeat: Dwyane Wade out tonight due to left foot.

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I hate TNT, I have League Pass but game is on TNT so its blacked out everywhere but TNT and of course Boston and Brooklyn game runs hella late.

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I hate TNT, I have League Pass but game is on TNT so its blacked out everywhere but TNT and of course Boston and Brooklyn game runs hella late.

Ya I was like *** is this Boston game not over yet?

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Team looks great without Wade, ball movement looks awesome especially playing in a high altitude place like Denver while being in the 4th game in 5 nights

Spo should consider him coming off the bench for majority of the regular season except on those championship caliber matchups

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Faried is not there yet, love his hustle game night in and night out

He's too undersized, but he's getting it done, just perfect for a small ball team like the Heat

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Hmmm no D-Wade and we are up by 12 against the Nuggets at half time.

Our offense looks so nice without Wade. No Hero shots anymore....Cole had 1 but thats it.

God i love our team without D-Wade.

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Hope to see Joel Anthony back in there. In the 4 mins he was out there he altered shots and got 2 blocks.

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  • Similar Content

    • By Joe B.
      Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon
      The Miami HEAT host the Golden State Warriors Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Get your tickets now! The HEAT fell to the Warriors 107-95 in their last meeting on January 10. 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.
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      Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon
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      Couper Moorhead: Plenty, given that this was one of Miami’s most complete efforts of the season. Offensively they were able to get Hassan Whiteside the ball with deep position early on and once he was established, similar to a football team establishing the run game, and the Rockets spent a little extra energy trying to keep him away from the rim, Miami punished that Houston defense by attacking the paint again and again and again. Getting to the rim has been a primary focus all year for this team, but shooting 24-of-35 in that zone was one of their most efficient performances of the year.
      Defense was where Miami really went above and beyond. The Houston Rockets were and are having a historically good offensive season – or would be, were it not for the Warriors and Raptors – and are taking more threes than any team in the history of the league by a wide margin. So to hold that team to a 94.2 offensive rating and just 9-of-39 shooting from deep was the story of the night. Some of that had to do with Houston’s two best shooters either being absent (Ryan Anderson out with an illness) or ice-cold (Eric Gordon shot 3-of-17), and three-point shooting is notoriously difficult to affect no matter how well you are contesting, but the HEAT did everything in their power to attack Houston’s strength. For that, they were rewarded with a win.
      Joe Beguiristain: The HEAT did a lot of things right against the Rockets on Tuesday night, but let’s start off by discussing the offensive side of the ball. As usual, Goran Dragić was the catalyst with his team-high 21 points and eight assists, and thanks to his ability to get into the paint, five other players scored in double-figures for Miami. While Dragić didn’t connect with Hassan Whiteside for any alley-oops, he did find Wayne Ellington on the perimeter quite often, including an important setup that led to a three that put the HEAT up 105-94 with 1:41 to play. In fact, three of Dragić’s eight assists went to the swingman, which was the most he had to any player on the evening. In all, it was great to see the Dragon take advantage of Houston’s fast pace and get out in transition where he is at his best.
      On the flip side of the ball, Miami did a great job against one of the best offenses in the league and held the Rockets to 40 percent shooting. In particular, Tyler Johnson held his own while defending James Harden and tallied an 87.9 rating against Houston. Additionally, the HEAT forced the Rockets to commit 18 turnovers and scored 20 points off those.
      In short, it was easily one of Miami’s best wins of the season.  
      2: How has this season gone for the Dallas Mavericks so far?
      Couper: As far as record goes, this season has probably been just as disappointing for Dallas, a team largely made up of veterans, as it has been for Miami. Certainly, neither team expected to be this low in the standings just a few weeks before All-Star Weekend. The reasons have been somewhat similar as well, with Miami losing so many games to injury and Dallas having been without Dirk Nowitzki for all but 16 games and Andrew Bogut, their best defender, for all but 22. But while Miami has struggled to score this season, the Mavericks have struggled to defend as they’re giving up over 108 points per 100 possessions (in the league’s bottom third) despite an offense that’s almost exactly the league median at the moment.
      This will be similar to the previous matchup with Portland – a good small-ball offensive team against a good defensive team – with a variety of interesting matchups on both sides. But where the Trail Blazers have two ballhandlers uniquely capable of shooting off the dribble, Dallas relies a bit more on pick-and-roll spacing to create a similar rate of three-pointers.
      Joe: While the Mavericks have struggled for a majority of the season due to injuries, things have gotten better of late with the team playing small-ball. In fact, Dallas has won three straight since Rick Carlisle started the three-guard lineup of Deron Williams, Seth Curry and Wes Matthews alongside Harrison Barnes and Dirk Nowitzki. In total, that five-man lineup has produced a 122.8 offensive rating in 63 minutes. 
      Although all three guards have played pretty well, Curry has really taken advantage of his opportunity. The 26-year-old is averaging 12.3 points on 54.2 percent shooting in his last three, including 53.8 percent from downtown. When you also factor in the continued strong play of Barnes and the return of Nowitzki, you have a team that should get better offensively as the season continues. 

      3: Are there any matchups Miami can try to take advantage of Thursday night?
      Couper: This depends on whether or not Dallas makes a pre-game adjustment. In Andrew Bogut’s absence (he’s dealing with a hamstring injury) the Mavericks have been starting Dirk Nowitzki, now 38 years old, at center along with Harrison Barnes at the power forward spot. If Dallas stays with that alignment then the HEAT would have a significant size advantage in the middle of the floor with Hassan Whiteside, even with Dallas playing at such a slow pace that they’ll be more than willing to send a ton of bodies to the defensive glass. Yes, this would mean Whiteside would also have to track Nowitzki in the pick-and-pop and on the perimeter, but that’s a tradeoff Miami will more than likely be happy with given how much attention the Mavericks would have to devote to the HEAT’s center on the other end.
      What’s probably more likely, however, is that Dallas plays seven-footer Salah Mejri over his usual minute allotment to try and match size-for-size. Dallas has actually been an above-average defensive team with Mejri (or Bogut) on the floor.
      Joe: The clear-cut one for Miami is Whiteside against Nowitzki. On Tuesday, the big fella out of Marshall used his size advantage wisely against both Clint Capela and Montrezl Harrell and tallied a double-double early on in the third quarter. That could be the case once more against a Mavericks team that is thin on bigs with Andrew Bogut out. Of course, Whiteside will also have to go out on the perimeter to defend one of the best shooters in NBA history in Nowitzki. Still, the 27-year-old has the right disposition needed to limit the sure-fire Hall of Famer.
      “I’m a defensive-minded guy,” Whiteside said after practice on Wednesday. “I’m a guy that takes pride in defense regardless of wherever we’re at on the court.”
      Other than Whiteside vs. Nowitzki, another matchup the HEAT could take advantage of is James Johnson against either Barnes or Dwight Powell. The versatile forward should be able to use his unique blend of brute force and fancy footwork to make plays at the rim against Dallas. 

      Highlights:
      February 3-HEAT at Mavericks
      January 1-Mavericks at HEAT
      Game Notes:
      The HEAT are 12-30, while the Mavericks enter the contest at 14-27. Miami has won nine of its past ten games against Dallas. Tyler Johnson and James Johnson are the only two players in the NBA this season to record at least 400 points, 150 rebounds and 100 assists apiece off the bench. Harrison Barnes leads the Mavericks in scoring at 20.6 points per game.  
      Efficiencies (Rank):
      HEAT Offense: 100.7 (29) HEAT Defense: 104.7 (11) Mavericks Offense: 102.2 (25) Mavericks Defense: 106.9 (22)