Inside the Scope: Miami Heat (24-12) x Golden State Warriors (23-13)
- Tip Off: 7:30 p.m. (PT)
- Television: ESPN, CSN-BA
Miami Heat Team Profile
- Offensive Efficiency: 109.3 (2nd in NBA)
- Defensive Efficiency: 102.3 (13th in NBA)
- Points: LeBron James, 26.0 PPG
- Rebounds: LeBron James, 8.2 RPG
- Assists: LeBron James 6.9 APG
- Steals: LeBron James 1.7 SPG
- Blocks: Chris Bosh, 1.5 BPG
- Field Goal Percentage: Chris Bosh, 55.7% FG
- 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: Rashard Lewis, 45.8% 3PT FG
Scope the Opposition: Heat Index.
Preview: After losing Monday night in Utah, the Miami Heat will be making their lone appearance at Oracle Arena tonight to take on a Golden State Warriors team that defeated them earlier in the season in South Beach.
The Heat are obviously the defending champions, but their defensive intensity isn’t always what one would expect from a championship contending team.
For instance, in Utah on Monday night, Dwyane Wade’s effort on that side of the ball left much to be desired. He failed to fight to get through screens and even completely lost track of his man on a few possessions, prompting Erik Spoelstra to bench his superstar guard for the entire fourth quarter in favor of Ray Allen.
The irony of course is that Allen is a below average defender at this point in his career and doesn’t offer the package of tools that Wade does on defense to help close out possessions. NBA.com tells us that Miami surrenders 99.4 points per 48 minutes on 44.1 percent field goal shooting with Ray on the court as opposed to 93.7 points per 48 minutes on 43.1 percent field goal shooting with him on the bench. Needless to say, most of the minutes at shooting guard should go to the former Finals MVP.
Indeed, the Marquette product’s strength and athleticism allow him to not only recover quickly when beat off the dribble by ball handlers, but it also permits him to be a relatively decent force on the boards.
But against Utah, Allen was much more focused in his defensive assignments, which resulted in the coaching staff giving him Wade’s minutes for the entire fourth quarter as Miami mounted a comeback from a substantial double-digit deficit, but ultimately fell short.
Part of the reason that the Heat were victimized defensively against the Jazz also had to do with Chris Bosh’s defensive play. The big man finished with one rebound in 27 minutes of playing time; which just isn’t cutting it.
It’s obviously challenging for the Heat to play without him given his exceptional synergy with both Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in the pick-and-roll game. Bosh is a great midrange shooter, which forces defenders to rotate hard to him to challenge his jumper, and he uses that to take advantage of defenses by pump faking after a catch and heading straight to the rim. Also, his good hands make it that he often makes tough catches in traffic and finishes around the basket.
This explains why the 6’11’’ forward/center converts 62.3 percent of his shots in the pick-and-roll per MySynergySports.
But again, if his defense and rebounding are subpar, it forces the Heat coaching staff to rely on Joel Anthony — whose offense is close to nonexistent — to defend opposing big men, play active pick-and-roll defense, rotate to his man and help out on the boards. The UNLV product essentially stole Bosh’s fourth quarter minutes Monday night against Utah simply by playing hard on that end of the court and making things difficult for the Jazz.
Put all of these things together and what it means is that the Golden State Warriors’ frontline as well as its backcourt should play a huge factor in deciding tonight’s contest.
If Dwyane Wade isn’t too invested into playing defense tonight, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry might just get a multitude of open looks by running him through screens and finding the open spots on the court to fire away from 3-point range without fearing that D-Wade might contest their jumpers.
Festus Ezeli and David Lee may very well be successful at taking advantage of Chris Bosh’s unwillingness to mix it up on the interior for rebounds; and simply just pound the Heat on the boards to create second chance opportunities.
The one wild card though is an obvious one: LeBron James.
The last time these two teams faced, Draymond Green played great basketball and even got into the face of the reigning league MVP. If James even recalls the fact that a rookie tugged on his cape, he may very well come out with fire in his eyes and motivate his teammates to play harder and play with pride.
Otherwise, this contest could get ugly real quick as the Dubs capitalize on a lethargic Heat team and blow the gates open on the champs in a rout.
Statistical support provided by NBA.com.
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