Last night, the Miami heat played like a team that was in fact hungry to defend their title and made a statement at Oracle Arena.
With Stephen Curry missing the game due to injury, LeBron James and company smelled blood and decided to attack a wounded Warriors team.
With Jarrett Jack serving as the team’s lone great ball handler, Miami made a smart tactical decision to attack him with multiple players whenever he ran a pick-and-roll to get the ball out of his hands early.
The end result was that Jack coughed the ball up a team high five times, and even when he found his teammates, they were put in no win situations having to create uncharacteristic plays, which again led to turnovers.
The absence of Curry was felt on this front because the Warriors essentially had no pressure release valve. Typically, that responsibility falls on the shoulders of David Lee, but the Heat baited the Dubs into throwing passes to him and Miami defenders quickly rotated to him to snatch the ball out of his hands or simply force him into some rather difficult shots.
It’s worth noting that not all of the miscues were of the live ball variety. Indeed, the Heat’s defense seemed to frustrate the Golden State players, who committed several offensive fouls on their way to 21 turnovers.
Much will be made about LeBron James’ great performance as well as the milestones he hit in this contest, and rightfully so, but the game was in fact decided by easy baskets.
Miami converted 40 percent of their shots, while Golden State hit 36.3 percent of their field goal attempts. But Miami not only attempted more shots in the contest, they also scored 22 fast break points thanks in large part to the miscues they forced that almost always seemed to produce points.
The irony of it all of course is that the Warriors had an opportunity to flex their muscles at home and win the season series against the Miami Heat, but the champs were especially motivated for this one after losing in Utah earlier in the week and also losing at home in December to this Golden State team that celebrated on their court.
Far be it for me to suggest that Golden State cannot hang with the best team in the Eastern Conference, but Dwyane Wade and company certainly made a statement last night defensively in forcing less than stellar performances from everyone not named Carl Landry on the Warriors.
This game certainly spoke volumes about what Stephen Curry means to the Golden State Warriors, and Dubs fans have to certainly hope his absence from the lineup is only to be expected on few rare occasions going forward.
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