By J.M. Poulard
The Golden State Warriors (13-19) will take on the Miami Heat (25-9) in a rematch of their December 10th game that saw Bill Simmons make his debut in the broadcast booth. The Heat routed the Warriors thanks in large part to their ability to turn their defense into offense. When we went Inside the Scope on that faithful day to breakdown the Heat, we spotted a few tendencies the team had and sought out to see how the Dubs could exploit them. However, Miami did quite a number on Golden State with their performance that night.
Miami’s offense put up 106 points on 52.6% field goal shooting in their first encounter in large part because the Warriors defense did a poor job of rotating to open players. The Heat produced 33 assists on 41 field goals. If we look closer into the numbers, we’ll notice that practically every shot made from beyond 16 feet was assisted on (Miami assisted on 16 of their 17 shots taken from 16 feet or beyond). This happened essentially because the combination of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James were able to draw the bulk of the defensive attention with their drives to the basket.
Indeed, James and Wade managed to convert 15 of their shots 19 shots right at the rim (three of those were of the and one variety). Not only did the Warriors allow the Heat to get baskets inside but they also gave them a free pass to fire away uncontested shots from deep, as Miami converted nine of 12 three point field goal attempts.
In order to have some success against the Heat offense, the Warriors might have to consider possibly playing zone defense against Miami. Although the zone allows for shooters to get free; it does close off the paint and keep the likes of LeBron James and Wade Dwyane on the perimeter. Given the fact that both players shredded Golden State’s perimeter and interior defense (The South Beach crew scored 50 points in the paint); it would be well worth the try. Furthermore, the Warriors might have to forgo attacking the offensive rebounds after giving up 27 fast break points to Heat on December 10th.
On defense, Miami limited the Dubs to 84 points on 37.4% field goal shooting. The Heat did an excellent job of defending the rim thanks in large part to the work of Joel Anthony, Erick Dampier and Zyrdunas Ilgauskas. Not only did they keep players away from the basket (helped by their perimeter defenders as well) but they made every shot attempt at the basket difficult to convert. According to Hoopdata, Golden State shot an abysmal six for 18 (33.3% shooting percentage) right at the rim.
And granted, the Heat’s defense is the third best at defending shots at the basket as they allow opponents to shoot 58.3% at the rim; but the Warriors’ best players have to do a better job of capitalizing on their opportunities. Indeed, Dorrell Wright, Monta Ellis, David Lee and Andris Biedrins were a combined five of 14 when shooting at the basket. Couple that with Golden State making eight of 24 three point field goal attempts and this had disaster written all over for the Warriors offense.
Tonight’s game should have a different feel to it though given the fact that Stephen Curry missed the first match up. His presence should help the team do a better job protecting the ball (Miami scored 23 points off of Golden State’s 14 turnovers) and also shooting from the perimeter as evidenced by his 41.3% shooting percentage from downtown. The Dubs need to compete on the boards the same way they do every night and come up with more than the 26 points in the paint they accumulated in their last go round.