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Danny

Warriors at HEAT Official Game Thread and Preview

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(Photo Credit: Victor Baldizon)

The Miami HEAT return to the hardwood tonight against the Golden State Warriors. The HEAT have won two straight. The Warriors are riding a four-game winning streak, with all wins coming on the road. Tip off is set for 7:30; coverage on Sun Sports starts at 7 PM.

(FORUM CHAT: http://fans.heat.nba.com/community/index.php?/topic/16819-the-will-be-a-forum-chat-tonight-121212-cancelled/)

1. The Warriors are just outside of being a Top 10 defense right now and they’ve barely had Andrew Bogut on the court all season. What brought about this change?

Couper Moorhead: This has been one of the biggest surprises of the season and by most accounts, the change has primarily been systematic -- meaning they have one that they use every game. In a recent interview with Grantland, Steph Curry mentioned that Mark Jackson had them employing a different coverage just about every game. Now the players know how they are supposed to play a pick-and-roll, and that can be enough to make all the difference. It's easier to get players to play hard on defense when they have areas on which they can focus their efforts.

Danny Martinez: The Monta Ellis-Andrew Bogut trade has given the Warriors a little more size on the perimeter. No longer do they play two small guards in the backcourt with Stephen Curry and Ellis. Klay Thompson has stepped in and played solid defensively.

The Warriors have gone from having an average transition defense to having an elite transition defense. They’ve added to that by going from poor to average in the halfcourt. These little bumps make a pretty big bump when put together. When Bogut returns, this Warriors defense has the chance to be scary

2. If you can shut down Steph Curry, can this team score enough to keep up?

Couper: They can if your defensive efforts on Curry compromise your defense elsewhere. The Warriors have a nice mix of shooters, passers -- David Lee is a better post-passer than you might think -- and cutters, so while their lack of interior scoring might hurt at times, they have plenty of options to take advantage of an over-rotated defense.

Danny: Yes, because they have Klay Thompson who can absolutely catch fire from deep and David Lee has always found a way to score efficiently in the NBA. Locking down Curry is the key for the HEAT, though. I think they’d happily take their chances with the Warriors’ ancillary parts bearing in the bulk of the scoring load.

3. Harrison Barnes is having an uneven rookie year so far, but could he be a threat tonight?

Couper: It's been an up and down year, but that means there have been plenty of ups. Watching Barnes play, he looks like the prototypical small forward, with a beautiful stroke and the combination of strength and athleticism to finish at the rim. The meme of a random player playing above their heads for each team that plays the HEAT is a bit silly, but it will be even sillier if it gets applied to Barnes.

Danny: Sure. Outside of a stretch in mid-November, Barnes has struggled to score consistently. However, he’s a threat because extremely talented. When given extended minutes, Barnes has stuffed the stat sheet with points and rebounds. If he gets 30 minutes or more against the HEAT, he’s a candidate to finish with double figure points.

4. Chris Bosh has had some trouble getting dunks to go in lately, but against David Lee will his fortunes change?

Couper: Even though the Warriors are an improved defensive team, this should be a matchup that Bosh enjoys as long as the HEAT's spacing is what is usually is. At the very least, Lee isn't much of a shotblocker, so Bosh won't have much resistance above the rim.

Danny: His fortunes will probably change because missed dunks just don’t happen that often. Through Monday’s victory, Bosh has connected on 90 percent of his dunk attempts while in a HEAT jersey. He’s missed four this season, which means he probably won’t be missing many anytime soon. David Lee’s defense has been known to be a little lacking. Bosh should be able to take advantage of his matchup with Lee and rookie Festus Ezeli. I’m looking for a few pump-and-go’s from Bosh.

5. Do you think Erik Spoelstra will continue to shuffle around the starting lineup?

Couper: Most of the recent changes have been health related, from Shane Battier getting hurt, Udonis Haslem being sick and the desire not to force too many minutes back on Battier since his return. I imagine Battier will return to being a fixture in the starting lineup if all remains the same, but Spoelstra has constantly reminded everyone of his willingness to tinker with not only the starters but the rest of the rotation -- so if we see a few more variations, nobody should be surprised.

Danny: It depends on the situation. Will Udonis Haslem still be sick? How do Shane Battier’s legs feel after the missed time? If everybody is a go, I think Spoelstra sticks with Haslem as a starter next to Bosh. But December is the time to tinker and I expect the HEAT to continue to experiment with different lineups throughout games. The regular season is an exploratory mission for the HEAT. Finding what combinations work will pay dividends in the future.

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We're lucky Bogut isn't playing, when healthy he is the 3rd best Center imo. Still this is going to be a tough game and I expect Ezeli to have a breakout game, because that's how scrubs do against Miami.

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The Lee/ Bosh matchup will be very interesting to watch. The guy is one of the most underrated players in the league the last couple of years. Curry is playing unbelievable right now. Our trouble with talented PGs and defending the three ball well will probably be exposed by Curry alone. All in all, should be a good test.

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We're lucky Bogut isn't playing, when healthy he is the 3rd best Center imo. Still this is going to be a tough game and I expect Ezeli to have a breakout game, because that's how scrubs do against Miami.

BBQ CHICKEN!!!!!

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