Sign in to follow this  
Joe B.

Phoenix Suns at Miami HEAT Game Thread and Preview

Recommended Posts

760x442-JRich-phx-170320.jpg

Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon

The Miami HEAT host the Phoenix Suns Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Get your tickets now! The HEAT fell to the Suns 99-90 in their last meeting on January 3. 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 did you take away from Miami’s loss to Portland on Sunday?

Couper Moorhead: That Damian Lillard is incredible, mostly. Watching Lillard expertly navigate the pick-and-roll, pulling up for effortless split-second threes and then threading passes to a rolling Jusuf Nurkic when Miami attempted to pressure higher on the floor was reminiscent of Steph Curry last season. Of course we can’t make that comparison if the shots aren’t falling as well and Lillard delivered with 9-of-12 from three and 49 points on 21 shots. In short, it was as good an offensive performance as you’ll see all year and a surprisingly energetic defensive one as well, especially considering Portland was on a back-to-back.

On Miami’s side, their defense wasn’t quite as active as it had been lately and a number of players being in foul trouble didn’t help, but in the bigger picture it was clear there might be a bit of an adjustment period to playing without Dion Waiters. We’ll get to that in a moment.

Joe Beguiristain: While the HEAT played well offensively for the most part, their defense wasn’t quite up to par. In particular, Damian Lillard had one heck of a performance, as he nearly tallied a career high and finished with 49 points on 14-of-21 shooting. Although the HEAT could have done a better job of defending him in the pick-and-roll, Lillard was in such a zone that it might not have made a difference.

That said, Miami understands that it needs to get back to its identity and lock-in on the defensive end. From Erik Spoelstra to James Johnson, that message was echoed often after practice on Monday. With Phoenix struggling mightily on the offensive end as of late (especially with a bunch of key contributors out of the lineup), expect the HEAT to apply a lot of pressure from the get-go.  

2: What changes have there been to the Suns roster lately?

Couper: There’s been quite a few. Eric Bledsoe has been shut down for the rest of the season, as has Tyson Chandler. Brandon Knight has been experiencing back spasms and, as of now, doesn’t appear to be expected to play. Dragan Bender had ankle surgery in early February and has yet to return. And Devin Booker has also had an ankle injury and its unclear if he’ll be able to play Tuesday night. However you slice it, this isn’t going to be the same Phoenix team that beat Miami back in early January.

Joe: Coup pretty much hit the nail on the head. The Suns have a multitude of guys either shut down for the season or nursing injuries. As such, Head Coach Earl Watson rolled with a starting unit of Tyler Ulis, Derrick Jones, T.J. Warren, Marquese Chriss and Alen Len in Phoenix’s last game against the Pistons on March 19.

Of those players, Warren and Chriss have been mainstays in the starting lineup for most of the year. Not to mention, they’ve also stepped up in the absence of a lot of the Suns’ playmakers. In fact, Warren is averaging 17.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game on 58.3 percent shooting since the All-Star Break. Chriss meanwhile, is posting 12.0 points, 5.3 boards and 1.8 blocks per contest on 52.2 percent shooting over that same timespan. 

3: Are there any further adjustments you expect Miami to make with Dion Waiters out?

Couper: Miami still managed to post 110.9 points per 100 possessions against Portland, but there clearly wasn’t as much of a rhythm or flow to the execution as there had been for most of the past two months. Just 43 percent of the HEAT’s baskets were assisted as whenever Goran Dragic was off the floor the offense often became James Johnson attacking from the perimeter and bullying his way to the rim. Johnson did that quite well, shooting 9-of-13, but it’s also the type of offense that becomes easier to defend the more often it’s used and more predictable it becomes. Not only did Miami miss Waiters’ dribble-penetration, spray passing and ability to space the floor off the ball, but he also gives Erik Spoelstra a playmaking option to stagger with Dragic so that, along with Miami’s bench, there are always multiple ballhandlers on the floor. Moving forward, we may see Spoelstra experiment a bit with the rotation to try and keep the ball moving. Or, as is often the case, Miami will simply have to be better on that end and work harder to adhere to their habits without one of the players who makes things work.

Joe: In addition to getting back to their defensive principles, I expect the HEAT to try and get the ball moving a bit more on offense. After dishing out 29 assists in an offensive explosion against Minnesota, Miami had just 18 against Portland. Keep in mind that when the HEAT tally at least 26 assists, they’re 7-3 this season.

You know Goran Dragić and James Johnson are going to attack the paint and collapse the defense, but Miami’s other wings also have to do their part and help set up their teammates too. Luckily enough, Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson have had their moments over the past few weeks. T. Johnson tallied a career-high nine assists against the Pelicans on March 15, while Richardson has gradually improved since his return to the lineup from a foot injury. We’ll see if both guards can create a little bit more off the dribble to make up for the absence of Dion Waiters. 

760x442-PHXMIAMATCHUP-170321.jpg

Highlights:

January 3-HEAT at Suns

Game Notes:

  • The HEAT have won two of three and are 34-36.
  • The Suns have dropped four straight and enter the contest at 22-48.
  • Goran Dragić leads Miami in points (20.3) and assists (6.0) per game.
  • Alex Len leads Phoenix with 1.2 blocks per contest.

 

Efficiencies (Rank):

  • HEAT Offense: 105.1 (16)
  • HEAT Defense: 104.3 (6)
  • Suns Offense: 103.8 (23)
  • Suns Defense: 108.8 (26)

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Heat is in a great place folks 🔥 We have fought our way back into contention and now the ball is in our court. Lets NOT forget just how far we have come. All we need to do is take care of business tonight vs the Suns and then Thursday at home vs the Raptors - that's 2 home games where we need to play more to our defensive identity. Two wins will give us confidence going into Sundays game on the road vs the Celtics. If we get back to playing to our defensive identity for 4 quarters, share the basketball and play with a sense of urgency starting tonight the 6th seed is certainly within reach for the Heat 🔥🔥🔥🔥

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, CalHEATFan said:

The Heat is in a great place folks 🔥 We have fought our way back into contention and now the ball is in our court. Lets NOT forget just how far we have come. All we need to do is take care of business tonight vs the Suns and then Thursday at home vs the Raptors - that's 2 home games where we need to play more to our defensive identity. Two wins will give us confidence going into Sundays game on the road vs the Celtics. If we get back to playing to our defensive identity for 4 quarters, share the basketball and play with a sense of urgency starting tonight the 6th seed is certainly within reach for the Heat 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Image result for well said gif

 

Nobody thought we'd run the table to the playoffs.  There were bound to be a bump or two along the way.  This team's resilience is a major reason why they've been so successful.  They've learned how to correct their mistakes and bounce back quicker.  I expect to see a very locked in version of our team tonight.  The Suns have this team's full attention tonight.  If we lock down defensively we will win this game by a large margin.

TAKE NO PRISONERS!

LET'S GO HEAT!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Majestic said:

 

 

 

 

 

If he plays, I want to see JRich shut him down.

If not shut down, then at least make life really difficult for him.  Need to keep him under 20 tonight.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Teams have started to figure it out. Involve Whiteside in the pick and roll = open jumpers for days.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By Joe B.

      From all of us at the Miami HEAT, thank you for your unwavering support all season long. 
    • By Joe B.

      Photo Credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant
      The Miami HEAT fell to the Philadelphia 76ers 104-91 Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round. Kelly Olynyk led the way for the HEAT with 18 points. Philadelphia wins the series 4-1. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com
    • By Joe B.

      Photo Credit: David Dow
      The Miami HEAT face the Philadelphia 76ers Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round. Philadelphia leads the series 3-1. Tip-off is set for 8:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 7:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket.
      1: What can we learn from Philadelphia’s late push to a Game 4 victory?
      Couper Moorhead: This won’t be a comforting statistic for anyone to read, but the 76ers were the first team to win a playoff game with 26 or more turnovers since 1986. For that to come up as the difference between a tied series and going on the road down 3-1 certainly can’t be easy for HEAT, but that’s the reality of the situation.
      Those turnovers, and 18 Miami steals, were by and large the reason the HEAT were playing with around a 10-point lead for much of the game. They were out attacking passing lanes, getting deflections (with over 20 for the third-straight game) and contesting every Philadelphia three possible (22.6 percent from distance). It was, in so many words, the HEAT playing a very HEAT game in every way you would expect, from the physicality to the discipline on display defensively, where they cut off drives and recovered to shooters. They were in control of both the game and the score.
      So how did the Sixers come back despite all of that? Six quick points from Ersan İlyasova, including a tough three, at the end of the third made it was four-point game headed into the final period. And then Philadelphia’s defense came alive, holding Miami to just 19 points in the period. And maybe that’s all there is to really learn. You can play some of your best basketball, but in a closely contested series against a talented opponent just one stretch of mistakes can cost you a handful on the scoreboard. Miami has done enough to beat a good number of teams, it just wasn’t quite enough to beat Philadelphia on Saturday.
      Joe Beguiristain: We just continued to see how tough the 76ers are. Even with some great defense by Miami for most of the contest (the HEAT totaled 18 steals, including seven from Josh Richardson) and a late offensive surge by Dwyane Wade (12 points on 5-of-10 shooting in the fourth), Philadelphia never lost its composure.
      Much like in Game 3, the 76ers upped their defensive pressure and came through with timely offensive rebounds to escape with the narrow victory despite committing a whopping 27 turnovers.
      While J.J. Redick and Ben Simmons made some big plays late, the HEAT did a great job against Joel Embiid and made his catches tough throughout. In fact, Hassan Whiteside held Embiid to just 1-of-8 shooting and an unreal five turnovers. Bam Adebayo, meanwhile, fared just as well and limited the Cameroonian to 0-of-3 shooting and three turnovers.
      It would be unreasonable to expect that once again, but it will take that kind of effort from both bigs if Miami wants to come out ahead this time around.
      2: Are there any adjustments Miami can make to try and force a Game 6?
      Couper: Erik Spoelstra will likely take a look at everything, from making lineup changes to changing defensive coverages to shifting offensive responsibilities. He’s not one to leave things on the table. But for everything he’ll likely look at, it’s very possible that there aren’t actually many major changes that need to be made. You go down 3-1 in a series and it’s easy to think drastic adjustments are in line, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, and we’ve said this here before, the best adjustment is just doing what you’ve been doing and doing it better. The HEAT have already been doing things very, very well, but if being even better than that is what it takes, then so be it. As Spoelstra has said a number of times in this series, that’s the challenge.
      Joe: At this point, I don’t think there is much to change or adjust for either team. Although Miami is down 3-1, this has been a highly competitive series between two teams that really get after it. Sure, Erik Spoelstra might make a few minor tweaks to his rotation based on player performance, but that’s been the case all year long. And as Coup mentioned in his first response, the HEAT have executed well enough to win most of these games, so it’s really just a matter of sustaining that high level of play for longer periods of time.
      At the end of the day, Miami just needs to keep up its defensive activity to make up for the size disparity and continue to attack in the pick-and-roll to create more openings on the other end.
      We’ll see how it all plays out.
      3: The HEAT have led at halftime of each game this series. What can they do better to hold leads in the second half?
      Couper: Something Dwyane Wade emphasized a number of times following Game 4 was that the Sixers make you pay for every single mistake you make. If you take your foot off the gas for just a couple of minutes, those minutes are going to cost you.
      Now, it’s probably not fair to say the HEAT have ever really taken their foot off the gas given how consistently hard they have been playing on the defensive end, but they have certainly had some offensive droughts that have allowed the Sixers to make up some ground. That’s not always to say they stop getting good shots or don’t run their offense, but even going cold on wide open shots for a minute or two is enough to turn a game – such as at the end of the third quarter on Saturday, which snowballed into an extended Philadelphia run – in a series where both teams are in overdrive. That’s also been a bit of a trend at times for Miami this season, where they’ll have one down six-minute stretch even in games where they’re otherwise topping 26-28 in a quarter, and trends like that can carry over to the postseason even if you can minimize them. 
      Spoelstra has said he’s been looking for a complete game from his team at times this season. He’s been getting complete effort, but the HEAT might just need complete offense to start a comeback. And they’ll have to do it against a team that’s proved to be capable of truly elite level defense.
      Joe: Although the HEAT have done a great job of building early leads, the 76ers have responded well time and time again down the stretch. Thanks to Philadelphia’s fusion of length and discipline, the team has made things quite difficult on Miami in the halfcourt more often than not. As such, it’ll behoove the HEAT to push the pace as much as possible and get some easy buckets in transition. But if the opportunity doesn’t present itself, Miami should still be able to find some success in the pick-and-roll with Dragić and Wade attacking and Whiteside and Adebayo diving to the rim with force. In addition to defending Embiid really well in Game 4, both HEAT centers threw down some ferocious alley-oops on the break, so perhaps they can continue that and also translate it to set offense on Tuesday.
      Highlights:
      Game 4 – 76ers at HEAT
      Game 3 – 76ers at HEAT
      Game Notes:
      Goran Dragić leads Miami with 19.5 points per game during the postseason. Ben Simmons leads Philadelphia in points (19.3), rebounds (10.8), assists (9.8) and steals (2.5) per contest in the playoffs. The HEAT are 8-2 in their last 10 elimination games. Josh Richardson (left shoulder sprain) is listed as questionable.