Can Goran Dragic Lead Miami to a Win in Orlando?


Tonight’s game between the Miami Heat (24-31) and Orlando Magic (19-39), winners of three-straight, is a battle of in-state and division rivals. Miami is playing at a high pace thanks to their new point guard but can The Dragon lead the Heat to another victory?

Start Time: 7 p.m. EST
Location: Game will be played in Orlando at the Amway Center
TV Info: Fox Sports
Radio: 104.3 The Ticket

There were moments during Miami’s 119-108 win over Philadelphia on Monday where the team looked simply unrecognizable? There was Goran Dragic sliding his way to the rim and characteristically finishing strong over multiple defenders. Here was Luol Deng shooting with confidence, moving smoothly and outscoring everyone else. This was the Heat playing up-tempo basketball.

Up-tempo basketball? Miami?

Yes, and to quote the last versatile player to help guide the Heat to a similar style of play, “It’s about damn time.”

With the demise of the “Big 3” era, Miami has embraced a much slower pace, attempting a league-low 76.5 shots per game. They swing the ball in their half-court set, try to find a space that often isn’t there, and then attempt a shot as the clock expires – fingers crossed! It’s been difficult to watch at times but injury woes and personnel have forced the issue. But with Dragic, it appears those days of plodding offense are at an end.

It’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement that the newly-acquired point guard brings to the team. A tough loss in his first game with Miami tempered it a bit and the latest blowout over the tank-tastic Sixers should be taken with a grain of salt. But the positives are clearly there when “The Dragon” flies upcourt ahead of his new teammates, head up, scanning the floor and looking for the best opportunity to score. Deng was the beneficiary on Monday, shooting well from the perimeter but able to cut to the rim with ease as Dragic drew multiple defenders. It’s a reminder of how incredible this team could have been with Chris Bosh in the lineup, one that would feature multiple players that can score in bunches.

Still, Bosh’s health is the focus for him and his family while the Orlando Magic, winners of three-straight and four of six since replacing former head coach Jacques Vaughn with James Borrego. The coaching change has translated into a new commitment to defense, holding teams to 9.6 points per game less than they did under Vaughn. It’s a new identity for the Magic, as Borrego explained to

"“That’s our standard – when you are on the floor, you defend every single night. This group should feel good because they’re moving in the right direction. But we’re far from a finished product. We’ve got a long way to go and our group understands that, but they’re committed to it.”"

Of course, the Heat will have to contend against their old nemesis, Nikola Vucevic, who’s seemingly built a career off torching Miami in the paint. He led Orlando to a 102-101 win, scoring 26 points and grabbing nine rebounds on December 29. That game – almost a lifetime ago – featured Chris Andersen at center and a struggling Mario Chalmers at the point.

Vucevic’ string of gaudy rebounding is in serious jeopardy with Hassan Whiteside blocking his way.

A more-raw version of Whiteside scored just 8 points in that last matchup, most of those (six) from the charity stripe. And while the big man looked a little lethargic to start the Philly game on Monday, he bounced back with a strong second half, finishing with 12 points and 14 rebounds. The battle between these two young, talented centers is the matchup of the game.

With Miami still fighting for their playoff life, it’s one that Whiteside has to control in order to pull out a victory against a team that has nothing to lose this season.

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

Next: Who Is Zoran Dragic?