Tonight the 2-1 Miami Heat will be hosting the 1-2 Phoenix Suns at American Airlines Arena.
Miami is coming off a thriller of a game against the Denver Nuggets. Ray Allen iced the game with a 4-point play, to bring Miami a 119-116 victory at home. Meanwhile, Suns suffered a tough loss against Orlando Magic last night, losing 94-115.
So far the Heat have shown an improved offense, but have been significantly worse defensively. While it is early in the season, the Heat have averaged a league-second 107.67 points per game, while being dead last in points allowed, with 109 per game. It is obviously still early in the season, and you would expect the Heat to eventually figure things out defensively. They have so far relied on outscoring the opponents, which is clearly not team’s true identity.
Things could potentially take a turn for the better tonight, as the Suns have lost 4 in a row against Miami. Furthermore, the Suns are still trying to figure out the whole post-Nash era thing. Phoenix added players like Michael Beasley, Goran Dragic, Luis Scola and Wesley Johnson in the off-season, none of which can truly fill the gap that Steve Nash left.
Miami did not defend well against the Nuggets, but quite a few players looked very impressive on offense. Chris Bosh highlighted the night, scoring his Heat-high 40 points on 15-22 shooting. Allen scored 23, on 8-12 shooting, including the impressive 4-point play to win the game. LeBron James played around and was 1 rebound shy of a triple double, scoring 20 points while also grabbing 9 rebounds and dishing out 11 assists.
Bosh is looking more and more assertive offensively, and it would be nice to see him continue taking a higher volume of shots on a more consistent basis. LeBron has been solid so far, but hasn’t really put up MVP-like numbers, and could have a huge game tonight. Wade has looked very up and down so far, and needs to find a rhythm offensively.
Miami will have to limit Luis Scola, who is coming off a 24-point game. Scola is a really versatile forward, having the ability to put the ball on the floor and drive, post up and knock down mid-range jumpers. Beasley has been inconsistent as always, but when he gets hot he can put up huge numbers. While Marcin Gortat isn’t as effective as he was when Nash was still a Phoenix Sun, he is still a constant double-double threat and will test Miami’s front court defense. Dragic is one of the quicker guards in the league and keeping him on a leash will be key.
This game will offer the Heat the perfect opportunity to make a statement defensively, and take a step closer to re-establishing the elite defense we saw last year.