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Danny

Hornets at HEAT Official Game Thread and Preview

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(Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon)

The Miami HEAT host the New Orleans Hornets tonight at AmericanAirlines Arena. Both the HEAT (12-5) and Hornets (5-13) are looking to end a two-game skids. Tip off is set for 7:30 PM; coverage starts at 7 PM on Sun Sports.

1. The Hornets are in town tonight, but with all due respect to them, does the opponent matter for this one?

Couper Moorhead: Only insofar as any opponent matters for anyone during this time of the season. For the most part, the HEAT -- and most other teams -- need only to be concerned with how they are playing, regardless of whether or not they are coming off a tough loss to the New York Knicks. That was a point many missed this week: it hasn't mattered who the HEAT have been losing to, only that they are playing at a level that has made them eminently beatable.

Danny Martinez: In terms of what the HEAT are looking for, no. Having lost two straight, the HEAT are looking to bounce back. It doesn’t matter that it’s the Hornets. They’re just next in line,

2. We've talked about fixing defensive issues in seemingly every preview, so let's go back to basics: What's the first step to getting the defense back on track?

Couper: Tough to boil this down to one thing, but Miami really needs to get back to its usual brand of aggressive pick-and-roll defense. They need their big men jumping out on ballhandlers, not taking a lateral step that guards can easily beat with an in-and-out dribble. They need guards fighting through screens and releasing those big men from their temporary assignment, not dying on screens and watching the play develop in front of them. It won't fix everything, but since pick-and-rolls begin many an offensive set, having energy at the point of attack might infuse the rest of the defense, particularly the help rotations, with a needed boost.

Danny: The first step to getting back is on track is communication. The HEAT have seen a little bit disconnected on that end of the floor when it comes to who’s helping when and where. It feels like everything starts with the point of attack pick-and-roll defense. Too often opposing guards have gotten easy penetration that has collapsed the defense. If the HEAT can communicate and work out the quick decisions on the floor, they’ll be on their way.

3. Austin Rivers made some nice plays down the stretch against Memphis last night, is he someone to key in on defensively?

Couper: Not until he proves he is better than a 30 percent shooter from the floor. He eventually will be, but he has to show the rest of the league he is someone worth gameplanning for -- and frankly, until a guy does that, there just isn't enough game tape to actually put together a gameplan for him. Rivers is incredibly quick with the ball, but that has to translate to better looks than it has so far.

Danny: Not really. His effective field goal percentage is 39.4 percent, which isn’t isn’t all that shocking for a rookie guard, but it’s far from “ key on” status. Rivers dominates the ball when he’s on the court, but he’s still figuring out where to go in the halfcourt. He’s learning about angles and space the hard way right now. Rivers isn’t someone to key on just yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he got there soon.

4. Is Ryan Anderson one of the more underappreciated players in the league?

Couper: Anderson struggles with defense sometimes, but why am I talking about that -- he's great. Anderson is surely underappreciated, but so are stretch-fours as an NBA commodity. Even though the search might be misguided, take last week when everyone was looking for trade scenarios for the Lakers. Everyone wanted them to trade for a stretch-four, but nobody could come up with more than a few names. There just aren't many players of Anderson's ilk, and that makes him incredibly powerful.

Danny: Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Ryan Anderson is an excellent basketball player who gets kind of forgotten because he was a late first round pick, has moved teams and was seen by some as only being good because of the presence of Dwight Howard. Couper and I have written about the importance of space many times here in The Inferno. Ryan Anderson is probably the best stretch-four in the game right now. He’s differentiated himself by being able to knock down the corner three, which is really his bread and butter. When they return from injury, Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon are going to love all of the room Anderson gives them to operate. He’s tremendously valuable and I’m glad he’s getting some attention.

5. What is the best-case scenario tonight?

Couper: The process gets back on track. It would be helpful simply as a mental exercise for the HEAT to get a double-digit win, but the point differential doesn't matter all that much as long as the defense begins to show signs of consistency. Percentages again might fall in favor of the New Orleans shooters, but as long as the HEAT hold up their end of the bargain, that's as good a start as you can ask for -- while in reality, the fixing of the defense isn't going to be completed overnight.

Danny: I think it’s pretty simple. The HEAT just want to see progress, mainly on the defensive end. It’s still December, so it’s important to remember that nothing needs to be perfect. I don’t expect a full 48 minutes like the second half of the Brooklyn Nets game. However, I think a return to basics, like shutting off the pick-and-roll at the point of attack, will have a really positive effect on the HEAT.

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We GOT THIS as long as D-Wade and Bron doing the Batman and Robin style of play.

Its not what we started, it's what we finished it in 48 min...

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We should play our centers more often to help with post defense and definitely for rebounding. Jorts anyone?

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I believe that this will not be close, with 2 straight losses we'll look to establish some kind of dominance at least. Also, judging by James words after the loss against the Knicks, I'm not worried. He'll fire up the rest of the team.

Oh, Anthony Davis is also out.

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who cares if we play well and win by 20 or 30 points tonight against the hornets? we need to play well against the knicks, clippers, memphis, etc

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Ugh, If Wade has another one of those games...

Anyways, I do think we get back on track tonight. I just can't reconcile the fact that Wade is having 3-13 shooting nights as if that was something usual. It's Dwyane F**** WADE! Not Mario Chalmers, Terrell Harris, or Rashard Lewis, but the original franchise player (before Lebron came in of course).

He's losing his step so quickly that It's just sad to watch him at times. I believe in Wade, he's my favorite player, but I can't deny how quickly he's losing it. I just hope he can have a good night to shake off some of these fears I have about him. I mean let's be real: His stats are WAY down, he's missed more than a handful of open dunks this season, and I can barely remember the last time he actually beat his man 1-on-1. Everything he gets is coming off of the PNR. No more, no less.

I want to hide my worries, and I know Wade can have a great night here or there but they are few and far between now. He didn't really have a great year last regular season, and in the playoffs he made timely baskets but he still wasn't the Dwyane Wade I know. And this season it's been a disaster. Sorry if I got too much into this, and not enough into the actual game, maybe I should have written this in the Dwyane Wade section, but I really can't hide my frustration, and I hope Wade shuts me up. Please Wade, shut me up and play a good stretch of games. Please man, I still believe in you.

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Hope later after I come back they'll get promising results

but looking at the boxscore since I'm frustrated enough to watch the game

25-18 on Miami's homecourt

aaah fk it might as well probably have a long vacation from watching garbage and just watch other aired games for a change

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Joel proves how important defense is in winning games. Heat really need to get back their brand of defense soon.

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When things are bad they are REALLY BAD, Wade hurting his ankle and Lebron going out of the game too, also Hornets are making their 3 point shots, smfh.

Are they coming back?

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