This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.


Warriors at HEAT Official Game Thread and Preview

104 posts in this topic


(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.


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.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please guard the 3 point line. This team is lights out from downtown.

1 person likes this

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

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.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By Joe B.
      Photo Credit: David Liam Kyle
      The Miami HEAT fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers 114-84 Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena. Derrick Williams led the way for the HEAT with 17 points. Click here for the full recap on
    • By Joe B.
      Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman
      The Miami HEAT face the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena. The HEAT defeated the Cavaliers 122-101 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: While down for most of the second half, what led to Miami pulling within three against the Hawks on Wednesday?
      Couper Moorhead: This is where we throw the statistics out the window for a bit and talk about just how much this HEAT team, even with just nine available players for a stretch of four games in five nights, just seems to keep on coming no matter the score. Even with 15 losses, Miami’s net rating (pace adjusted average scoring differential) is -2.6, meaning they rarely actually get blown out. It just seems this team is allergic to being down double digits, and with players like Tyler Johnson and Rodney McGruder going all out all the time they tend to make enough hustle plays and run enough in transition to keep the team in it even on nights like Wednesday when the offense isn’t quite flowing as they would want it to. That sort of grit doesn’t always translate to wins, but it says a lot about the collective character of this group.
      Joe Beguiristain: Pure grit. Despite having just nine available players on the second night of a back-to-back, Miami made no excuses and kept grinding. While Tyler Johnson had a career-night, both Goran Dragić and Rodney McGruder were also instrumental in the comeback bid. Dragić fought through the fatigue and did all he could in the fourth quarter, while McGruder never stopped hustling on both ends.
      In short, the HEAT showed a lot of resolve to climb back and cut the deficit to single-digits a few times in the fourth. Although they ultimately fell short, you have to commend them for never giving up. That persistent mentality all starts at the top with Coach Spo, who always says that his team has enough to compete regardless of the circumstances. It remains to be seen how Miami will fare on a tough back-to-back set against the Cavaliers and Bulls, but you can rest assured that the HEAT will give it their all from beginning to end.  
      2: How have the Cavaliers started their season as defending champs?
      Couper: As you would expect the defending champs to do. Cleveland is 15-5 with an elite offense and an overall defensive rating that, hovering around league average, probably doesn’t quite tell the full story since Cleveland has so often been up early. The Cavs recently went on a three-game losing streak, with two coming on the road, against the Bucks, Clippers and Bulls, but this is one of those teams where the true story of their season will be told after April 15. It’s somewhat similar to the 2014 Miami HEAT, in that respect, as that team had just come off three-straight trips to the Finals, back-to-back titles and even a 27-game winning streak – there just wasn’t much left to prove in the regular season for a veteran group. So, they took a business-like approach to the regular season, won their games, and rounded into shape for the playoffs.
      Joe: Outside of a three-game losing streak last week, Cleveland has started the season pretty well. In fact, the Cavaliers are the best three-point shooting team in the league, which should come as no surprise given all the weapons they have. Here’s a crazy stat: Cleveland has four regular rotation players who shoot well over 40 percent from downtown. Of course, a lot of that has to do with LeBron James’ ability to consistently find the open man when opposing teams send a double team his way. While that’s nothing new, James is averaging a career-high 9.1 assists per game this season. Otherwise, Kyrie Irving has been superb on the offensive end, especially from mid-range.
      Things haven’t been as sharp for the Cavaliers on the defensive side of things, as they rank below league average in efficiency. That said, this is a team that can turn it on at a moment’s notice. 
      3: How can Miami defend LeBron James and is narrowing it down to that one matchup even the right way to think about the Cavaliers anymore?
      Couper: Similar to the situation with Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks or Paul Millsap and the Hawks, the HEAT are short a number of their best wing defenders right now. McGruder and Johnson will do the best they can, but sometimes you’re just at a size disadvantage and smart, veteran players know how to take advantage of that. And with James you have the added threat of his passing so if Miami elects to try and double him in the post when he has a smaller defender on him, James will immediately find the open space on the floor. Nobody in the league has a particularly good answer for that right now, so Miami may just have to live with the results in one-on-one defense and stay disciplined in their help so as not to allow a barrage of open threes.
      Joe: Like I stated in my previous response, Cleveland has so many weapons that you can’t just solely focus in on James. If it’s not Irving torching you from distance, it’s Kevin Love, who is shooting a career-best 42.2 percent from beyond the arc. Let’s also not forget the forward’s 34-point first quarter against the Trail Blazers on November 23.  
      As such, I believe Miami should try and go at James one-on-one rather than double team him. Regardless of how much size McGruder has given up, he has made things tough on every assignment thus far. It’ll be difficult either way, but the HEAT have the mental fortitude and toughness needed to compete at a high level on Friday night. 

      March 19-Cavaliers at HEAT
      December 5-Cavaliers at HEAT
      Game Notes:
      The HEAT are 7-15, while the Cavaliers are 15-5. Miami has won 14 of its last 17 against Cleveland. Goran Dragić leads the HEAT in points (18.0) and assists (6.5) per game. Kyrie Irving leads the Cavaliers in scoring at 24.6 points per contest.  
      Efficiencies (Rank):
      HEAT Offense: 100.4 (24) HEAT Defense: 103.0 (14) Cavaliers Offense: 111.0 (3) Cavaliers Defense: 105.2 (19)
    • By Joe B.
      Photo Credit: Scott Cunningham
      The Miami HEAT fell to the Atlanta Hawks 103-95 Wednesday night at Philips Arena. Tyler Johnson led the way for the HEAT with 27 points. Click here for the full recap on 
    • By Joe B.
      Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox
      The Miami HEAT face the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday night at Philips Arena. The HEAT fell to the Hawks 93-90 in their last meeting on November 15. 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 led to Miami’s home loss to the Knicks and what will Miami need to clean up headed to Atlanta?
      Couper Moorhead: Erik Spoelstra and Goran Dragic talked about it after the game for a reason – the HEAT allowed 18 offensive rebounds and 31 second-chance points. Considering how New York struggled early in this game to find a good offensive rhythm, and was ice-cold from three, all those second opportunities kept them in the game so that by the time Carmelo Anthony went off in the second half, it led to the Knicks taking control of the game. Miami is obviously depleted right now with only nine available players Tuesday night and for the rest of the week, but they can only give their defense a chance to give them a win by finishing their defensive possessions.
      Joe Beguiristain: Like Coup said above, the HEAT just gave the Knicks too many second-chance opportunities. In particular, Joakim Noah and Kyle O’Quinn racked up offensive boards to give New York life. It was really disappointing because there were a number of instances where Miami did everything it needed for a stop outside of grabbing the defensive board.  
      While Carmelo Anthony caught fire in the second half, he started off just 5-of-12 thanks in large part to Rodney McGruder. Kristaps Porzingis, meanwhile, was held in check for a majority of the night, as he shot just 6-of-15 on the evening. If Miami would have done the little things right, perhaps there would have been a different outcome to the game. Moving forward, the HEAT have to secure the defensive rebound after the initial stop. 
      2: What did we learn about the matchup with the new-look Hawks in the first meeting this season?
      Couper: Unlike the Knicks game, the first game with Atlanta was actually one that Miami dominated on the glass, largely because Hassan Whiteside couldn’t be contained. Dwight Howard left the game with an injury during the second half, but he and Whiteside were enjoying a healthy battle before that. Once Howard went out, and any time he was on the bench, there was nobody on Atlanta’s roster who could consistently keep Whiteside away from the rim. That, for Wednesday night, should be very encouraging.
      Also, Kyle Korver only got four shots on in that game as Spoelstra, as per usual, made sure his defenders always knew where he was.
      Joe: Since Coup already mentioned Whiteside’s dominance against the Hawks the last time out, I’ll discuss two other guys who will be instrumental if Miami wants to come away with the win. In that last matchup against Atlanta, both McGruder and Tyler Johnson made some big plays down the stretch to narrow the gap. While both guys received over 30 minutes of playing time in that game, they will need to do more with just nine guys available this time around.
      Otherwise, we learned that Tim Hardaway Jr. seems to be a valuable rotation player for the Hawks. In fact, the 24-year-old has one of the highest net ratings on the team and is shooting a career-high 46.8 percent from the field. There’s a good chance we’ll see Johnson matched-up with Hardaway Jr. at certain points throughout the game. 
      3: What aspect of Atlanta’s current losing streak could work in Miami’s favor Wednesday night?
      Couper: The Hawks have lost 10 of their last 11 games, but there’s some context to consider there. Seven of those losses were on the road, including a five-point loss to the Warriors on the second night of a back-to-back, and three of those games did not include Paul Millsap (the Hawks lost by 30 or more in two of his absences). So there was some bad injury luck mixed in there with a tough spot in the schedule, though Millsap is now back in the lineup. That said, Atlanta’s defensive rating during those 11 games was a 109.3, so if there continues to be slippage on that end then Miami and especially Dragic could find an advantage by staying in attack mode – especially if the team can keep him playing downhill with solid screens, pace and the proper spacing.
      Joe: The Hawks have surprisingly dropped seven straight, as injuries and poor play all-around have plagued the team. Here are some startling numbers: Atlanta is ranked last in offensive efficiency (90.2) and 25th in defensive efficiency (109.6) over its seven-game skid. That just doesn’t sound like the Mike Budenholzer led teams we’ve seen over the past few seasons.
      With the Hawks struggling, the HEAT should have some success on both ends of the floor. The two-man game between Goran Dragić and Whiteside has been pretty deadly of late, so perhaps that can continue in Atlanta. That said, you never know what to expect in the NBA. In all, it should be an intriguing matchup between two teams starving for a victory.  

      November 15-Hawks at HEAT
      February 19-HEAT at Hawks
      Game Notes:
      The HEAT are 7-14, while the Hawks stand at 10-12 after losing seven straight.   Goran Dragić is averaging 17.8 points, 6.7 assists and 1.1 steals per contest. Paul Millsap leads Atlanta in scoring at 16.5 points per game.  
      Efficiencies (Rank):
      HEAT Offense: 100.6 (24) HEAT Defense: 102.8 (13) Hawks Offense: 99.0 (27) Hawks Defense: 100.5 (2)
    • By Joe B.
      Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon
      The Miami HEAT fell to the New York Knicks 114-103 Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Goran Dragić led the way for the HEAT with 29 points. Click here for the full recap on