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Danny

Bucks at HEAT Official Game Thread and Preview

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(Photo Credit: Gary Dineen)

The Miami HEAT return to action tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks. It's the HEAT's first game after the six-game road trip that ended Saturday night with a victory over the Phoenix Suns. The HEAT enter tonight's game at 8-3 and the Bucks enter at 6-3. Tune in to Sun Sports to catch the action.

1. The Bucks seemed to have Miami's number, relatively speaking, last year beating the HEAT twice. Was there anything to that?

Couper Moorhead: There were two main issues cropping up for the HEAT in those two games. For starters, they happened to be playing some of their worst interior defense of the season in those games as the Bucks were able to stay in games with smart passes off penetration when Miami's help lagged a step or two behind. Then there was some incredible three-point shooting, particularly from Brandon Jennings, that was more an aberration than anything that exposed a hole in Miami's defense. One of those problems was fixed, and the other one fixed itself through natural regression.

Danny Martinez: I guess the main takeaway is that you never can tell what will happen on any given night. In the first loss Andre Bogut anchored the paint for the Bucks and the HEAT weren’t able to get anything going offensively. In the second loss Brandon Jennings caught absolute fire late and finished with seven made threes. Bogut is gone and Jennings’ seven threes were his season high. There may be something to Scott Skiles defense against the HEAT, but I think we might be over thinking this.

2. Of course, these Bucks are not the Bucks of last year. How has the Ellis-Bogut trade changed them?

Couper: The Bucks are currently an above-average offensive team. Does that sound like a typical Scott Skiles-coached squad to you? Ellis has given the team a much needed boost of offensive creativity, which in turn has taken quite a bit of pressure off Jennings. Their overall ball movement might not be to the point that they are going to beat Miami with flawless possessions, but there will be plenty of off-ball movement that defenders need to be aware of and if help is even a little slow, Ellis and Jennings can beat you with some excellent one-pass playmaking.

Danny: When healthy, Bogut is one of the top defensive players in NBA. With him gone, the Bucks play faster and don’t have the elite defense was their staple just a couple of years ago. Ellis and Jennings give the Bucks a backcourt that can explode in an instant, whch has to scare any opposing coach. Epke Udoh, another player that the Bucks got in the trade, has been a plus/minus beast since he entered the league and that hasn’t changed since the trade. Udoh, Larry Sanders and John Henson give the Bucks all kinds of interior length to frustrate attackers. It will be interesting to watch this Bucks team evolve over the course of the season.

3. Other than Jennings and Ellis, who is another Buck you'll have your eye on?

Couper: I don't know where Larry Sanders has been all my life, but I'm glad he's here now and getting almost 25 minutes per game. He's been one of the best defensive players in the league so far, with incredible plus-minus numbers supporting his on-off court splits. He might not immediately jump out at you in the same way that Kevin Garnett would, but watch him for a handful of possessions off the ball and you'll appreciate what he's going. Someday, I'd like to see him on the same team as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Danny: I’m excited to watch Larry Sanders. I watched a fair amount of him in college and think he’s a lot of fun on the court. Also, I thought his show on HBO was great. Hey Now.

4. With a couple days of practice under their belt, do you expect the HEAT's defense to look a little better?

Couper: It won't quite be a cure all, but I doubt anyone will be coming out of this game with any real concern about the defensive effort, unless the Bucks hit a ton of uncontested threes again -- Ersan Ilyasova might be due for a hot game -- but then the concern would be entirely unwarranted.

Danny: Definitely. This HEAT core has always been able to fix their issues fairly quickly. Two practices, and maybe more importantly some rest, will plug some leaks. I think there’s a chance we’ll look up in mid-December and all of a sudden the HEAT will be back to being an elite defense. The team finished the road trip strong and I don’t think it’s crazy to see that trend continue.

5. Miami has a number of shooters hitting threes at a likely unsustainable rate. If percentages start to dip, will it matter?

Couper: Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen are shooting over 50 percent from three. Shane Battier is close to that mark. LeBron James is over 40 percent, as is Mike Miller. The chances are all those players continuing to shoot that well over the course of the season and as close to impossible as you can get without being absolute. That said, Mario Chalmers and Chris Bosh should probably have their percentages tick up, and it's not like those guys are going to fall off a cliff if they get closer to 40 percent. In the end, the exact percentages don't matter as long as they're all taking the open shots they get and defenses are respecting their shots enough to space the floor.

Danny: The HEAT should be an elite three-point shooting team considering who is on the team and the kind of shots they get. Right now the HEAT have the second best three-point percentage since 2001 (behind this year’s Thunder), which is not likely to stick. However, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that the HEAT finish with a top 10-15 mark for the last 13 seasons. Some regression will knock the HEAT’s offensive efficiency down, but the reality is that the HEAT offense, barring injury, will still be top five in the NBA.

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Infernoian Preview

Today we've got Scar returning and the world famous ThunderDAN makes his preview debut:

1. The Bucks seemed to have Miami's number, relatively speaking, last year beating the HEAT twice. Was there anything to that?

ThunderDAN: I don't believe in that. It's just right place, right time usually for these teams. Besides, even if there was truth to it in the past, its got nothing to do with this game. Just ask the Bulls and Celtics.

Scar: Considering that Joel Anthony started all three games last year and only contributed five points total, and now Anthony rarely sees the court, plus the fact that the Bucks did not have Ellis those games makes me think this game will have an entirely different outcome.

2. Of course, these Bucks are not the Bucks of last year. How has the Ellis-Bogut trade changed them?

ThunderDAN: Well they traded size for perimeter scoring. If Jennings and Ellis can share the ball better than Curry and Ellis, I think they'll be a better team.

Scar: Well they traded Bogut for a player that actually stays healthy, so I'd say it was a win-win for the city of Milwaukee.

3. Other than Jennings and Ellis, who is another Buck you'll have your eye on?

ThunderDAN: ERSAN. He's always a pain in the sova. And looking at his 25% from three this season, you know he's going 7 for 8 tonight.

Scar: Larry Sanders. The Bucks have tons of shooters on their team, but I'm guessing Sanders will get some easy buckets in the paint.

4. With a couple days of practice under their belt, do you expect the HEAT's defense to look a little better?

ThunderDAN: It should, but I always feel like we play like * after long breaks. It could be my imagination though.

Scar: Yes. This team takes pride in their defense. I imagine it will continue to improve as the players ease into or back into the system.

5. Miami has a number of shooting hitting threes at a likely unsustainable. If percentages start to dip, will it matter?

ThunderDAN: I don't see it dipping that much. We're just so open all the time. LeBron's average will probably dip a lot. But I cant see these vets missing so open.

Scar: It means the Heat will have to eventually give up passing up those good looks for the three ball that they are trending to right now. At least it just so happens that they have yet to see a considerable drop, so why bother changing something that seems to work?

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We must protect the Triple A.Let's see if our perimeter defense has improved,I surely hope so...TEAM HEAT since '88!

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Wade is playing. Let's see how well he can play with these young guards. lol

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Wade is playing. Let's see how well he can play with these young guards. lol

It's definitely going to be a challenge,especially with that ailing ankle.Hopefully MIAMI's defense is on point tonight...TEAM HEAT since '88!

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Good to see Wade match his point total from that Clippers game already. lol

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This team and FT's... Even Ray Allen is missing them.

Guess you have to complain about something when the team is up by 14.

edit: Well there goes Sanders.

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This team and FT's... Even Ray Allen is missing them.

It seemed Ray Allen FTs was like 100% while he was in BOSTON CELTICS. What is it with MIA HEAT that everyone loses there FT skill. The few exception is CHRIS BOSH. He is the only one with whom I can sleep while he is at the line. No worry.

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Wade.... you got great teammates playing with you

Pass the faawkin ball

It isn't just Wade, LeBron has been pounding the ball too.

Wow even Dalembert makes 3's against us :(

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    • By Joe B.
      Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon
      The Miami HEAT host the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Get your tickets now! The HEAT fell to the Bucks 116-108 in their last meeting on January 13. 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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      Highlights:
      January 13-HEAT at Bucks
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      Efficiencies (Rank):
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      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.
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      “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.”
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      Highlights:
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      January 1-Mavericks at HEAT
      Game Notes:
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