Last night, Miami beat a young, energetic team that can score prolifically. Tonight, they face an even better version of that same team.
The Heat (36-14), coming off a flat performance against Utah, overcame an early deficit and beat the Phoenix Suns last night, 103-97. Miami moves on to Oakland to face the Golden State Warriors (31-21), their last game before the NBA All-Star weekend of festivities.
In last night’s victory, LeBron James carried the team with 37 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 steals – an impressive stat line. Miami struggled early due to the absence of Dwyane Wade, sitting out the game with a migraine. Toney Douglas, acquired from the Warriors by trade earlier this year, started in his place and was expectedly rusty early on. He missed seven of his first eight shots but played great defense, wreaking havoc in the Suns’ backcourt. It will be interesting to see if he gets another opportunity tonight against his former teammates.
Golden State has had issues of their own this season, as injuries have hampered their success somewhat. Andrew Bogut and ex-Heat player Jermaine O’Neal are sitting out the game versus Miami, so the Warriors – the second-best rebounding team in the NBA – will be missing some height on the glass. But forward David Lee (18.8 points and 9.7 rebounds per game) has tormented Miami in the past, mixing open jumpers with admirable low-post work; his quick jumping frequently leads to second-chance points, a weak spot for the Heat.
All-Star Steph Curry (24.6 PPG) is, as famous slugger Reggie Jackson once said of himself, the “straw that stirs the drink.” Curry has a perpetual green light to shoot the ball, from anywhere on the court at any point. He takes low-percentage shots and makes them seem easy. Keeping him from catching fire will be Miami’s biggest challenge on the defensive end.
The telecast of this game begins at 10:30 P.M. on SunSports and NBA TV from the Oracle Arena in Oakland. Check back with AllUCanHeat for a recap after the game.
The Big Three Questions for the Game:
What Do you Make of Toney Douglas?
Tough night that will get obscured by the feel-good victory. He had hardly played since joining Miami and this was his first start in almost two years. There was bound to be rust, especially when playing with a team like Miami, missing Wade and still trying to maintain their pace of controlled chaos. Douglas shot too much (going 2-of-9) but some of that was the product of poorly-executed offensive sets. Had he made one or two more shots, the night would be labeled a success. As it is, he played great defense on Suns star Goran Dragic, and he made a great pass to a cutting James, one of the highlight plays of the game. Head Coach Erik Spoelstra might start him again, as he tightens his rotation and for the defense that Douglas can provide against Curry.
What Do you Think About Spo’s Rotations?
I understand the reasoning behind it, especially as the (hopefully) long playoff run looms near in the future. But there are times when Spoelstra’s moves are questionable. Against Phoenix and with no other playmaker other than James available, why not play Michael Beasley? With James struggling with his shot against Utah, why not play Rashard Lewis? And what about Udonis Haslem? It’s a good problem for Spoelstra to have, finding minutes for a deep roster that can get contributions from everyone. He is doing the best he can but he appears too set in his ways. Taking a chance could yield some unexpected benefits.
Who Wins It?
Again with this question? Alright, I picked last night’s game well but I’m not comfortable about the Warriors game, especially with Wade’s status in the air. I think there are too many variables going against the Heat – a back-to-back matchup, one of the best home crowds in the NBA, a high-scoring offense and the possible absence of Wade. But who cares? Wade will play, the Heat will take advantage of Bogut’s absence and Chris Bosh will continue his hot shooting. Heat win it by 7.