canada goose homepage Golden State Warriors at Miami HEAT Game Thread and Preview
Couper Moorhead:After two less than ideal efforts, beating Charlotte was more about getting back to their defensive, and competitive, standards than anything else. Miami held the Hornets, albeit a Kemba Walker less version, to under 100 points per 100 possessions but the numbers don’t quite tell the full story. From the outset it was clear Miami was focused on applying more ball pressure, playing up on ballhandlers and even going with a full court press early in the first quarter something we don’t see often even with this team. That led to some early fouls for Miami’s guards but those fouls were an acceptable byproduct of the team being more aggressive. The next test is significantly more difficult but that’s why it was important for the HEAT to get back to their baseline.
Couper:That for all the talent the Warriors have there is a perfectly good argument for them being the best team of all time the HEAT have showed on multiple occasions that they can compete defensively with them. Yes, Miami lost the previous matchup by 17 points but they held Golden State below 40 percent shooting and in particular held Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to 10 of 34 shooting. Held is a relative term here since those players missed some open shots, but Josh Richardson did a remarkable job fighting over and through screens in order to contest one of the quickest releases in the NBA as he got Curry to pump fake and pass up a couple threes. Richardson even blocked a couple of those threes.
Joe:While the HEAT fell by double digits in that last matchup against the Warriors on Nov. 6, their defensive intensity was quite impressive. As Coup stated above, Richardson did a great job on Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Shaun Livingston and helped hold the trio to just 12 of 40 shooting from the field. Similarly, James Johnson made things as tough as possible on Kevin Durant and helped limit him to 5 of 13 shooting on the night. Of course, replicating those numbers once more will be extremely difficult, but Miami can give itself a chance if it sticks to its good habits defensively.
Couper:Some of it depends on who plays for the Warriors. As recently as Friday they had a number of players on their injury report and even rested Andre Iguodala, and with Sunday night being the first leg of a back to back Steve Kerr has said he may opt to rest a couple of his guys. Who those players are, we don’t know, but the Warriors have no shortage of centers to start alongside their stars. So Adebayo will either have to deal with the rugged strength of a Zaza Pachulia or David West, or the pure athleticism of a JaVale McGee or Jordan Bell.
Joe:It sounds simple, but I think the greatest challenge for Bam Adebayo will be dealing with how the Warriors run things. There’s very little wasted movement in Golden State’s offense, as the team executes screens very well and whips the ball from side to side. Still, Adebayo has done a good job of switching at the correct time and showing quick feet on the perimeter for the most part. He’s also never backed down from a challenge, with the most recent example of that coming Friday night against the Hornets. Although Dwight Howard tried to go right at Adebayo, the rookie forced Howard into some turnovers and played stout defense on the block. That moxie will certainly come in handy against some brutes in Zaza Pachulia and David West.
Couper Moorhead:Every team needs games that don’t mean much,
and Monday night surely did not mean much, at least for what happened on the court. The HEAT cruised throughout, getting open threes in bunches and generally doing whatever they wanted against the Suns defense, regularly feeding Hassan Whiteside in the paint, but it was Milwaukee losing elsewhere that allowed the HEAT to climb back to No. 7 in the East. Nobody will remember much from this game, but if Miami ends up with an advantageous seed or a beneficial matchup (relatively speaking) in the first round, it’s games like these that make it possible.
Couper:In the first matchup Washington played about as well as you can possible play on the offensive end in the same game that you have a 10 point quarter. They won by nine. In the second game, in Washington, Miami led by as many as 25 points the Wizards scored just 29 points in the first half but wound up winning by just three after a furious Washington rally. The theme? The HEAT were able to hold their opponent to multiple sub 20 point quarters but the Wizards, talented as they are, were able to keep themselves afloat and eventually rally.
Couper:Much has been written about the Wizards positive play without John Wall over the past month or so, including a five game winning streak after he went down with a knee injury, but overall they are 10 6 since January 27 with the No. 11 offense (109.4 points per 100 possessions) and No. 13 defense (106.8). Most notably, Washington has the highest assist percentage in the league (70.3 percent) in those 16 games as well. You would never say a team is better without their best player, one who transforms the game in the open guard and is a very good defender as well, but credit Washington for finding a way, with the skilled Tom Satoranskstarting, to adapt.
As far as how Wall’s absence related to this game specifically, it certainly reduces the open court threat that Wall poses in every moment of the game but in the half court the HEAT would always play fairly off him, with a nice cushion, to encourage jumpers and limit drives. Wall is so good he would beat that coverage at times, but at others Miami would be able to jam up the paint and keep the ball on the perimeter for one possession after another. In that sense, the HEAT might have to defend the Wizards a bit more straight up than usual, even if the overall threat is diminished.