Will “Hassanity” End When the Miami Heat Face the Warriors?

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The Miami Heat win streak sits at two. It will not reach three.

A 78-75 win over the Lakers on Tuesday highlighted Miami’s ongoing issues. Despite starting off with an impressive 18-0 scoring run, the Heat suddenly couldn’t score as the game progressed. Dwyane Wade aggravated a hamstring injury from earlier this season and is likely out against for Wednesday’s game; he finished with just four points in 15 minutes. Chris Bosh had a horrible night (8 points on 4-of-17 shooting), as did Luol Deng (8 points of 4-of-13).

Miami (17-21) was only able to pull away with a victory because of the continued strong play of Hassan Whiteside and the heroic efforts of Mario Chalmers.

Whiteside didn’t start the game but checked in early and didn’t disappoint, running the pick-and-roll to perfection and finishing off at the rim with ease. His 15 points helped keep the Lakers at bay as they closed the gap within two points. And Chalmers took up the late scoring, finishing with 19 points to lead all scorers.

It was a nice win for a team sorely in need of them but facing the best team in the league is a completely different story.

The Warriors (30-5) have shifted their rotation considerably and just keep on winning. Andrew Bogut is back to anchor the team’s impressive defense. David Lee, now healthy, has become a valuable reserve player while Draymond Green has been exceptional as a starter. All-Star Andre Iguodala is on the bench and thriving, injecting the team with energy and quality perimeter defense while he’s on the floor.

And Harrison Barnes has become an excellent complementary scorer to Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry.

Basically, Golden State is a deep, talent-loaded team that is a legitimate contender. While the Heat have shown flashes over the course of the year, the Warriors have won seven straight games, easily defeating other teams with championship aspirations.

Wade’s injury only reduces what was a small chance at victory to begin with.

Miami’s starting lineup will undergo a change with Wade out; look for head coach Erik Spoelstra to put in Norris Cole to begin the game alongside Chalmers. While newly-signed Tyler Johnson is an option, making his first NBA start against one of the best shooting backcourts in the league history might be overwhelming. The Heat guards will be sorely tested and I’d expect Shabazz Napier (who finally saw some action against the Lakers) to make an appearance against Golden State.

More importantly, Bosh and Deng will have to be extremely productive in order to keep the game close; both players have been able to bounce back from poor shooting nights in the past.

But I think Whiteside will once again be a key factor. With Wade out, who will run the offense effectively enough to get the big man going? Can Chalmers command the double team that allows Whiteside to roll directly to the rim or can Bogut simply shut down the PnR? Expecting a win is unlikely but Heat fans should look for continued development from Whiteside as he faces a difficult challenge in Golden State.

Check back with All U Can Heat for a full recap, post-game grades and analysis.

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