Recap: Heat Are Streaking, Beat Nuggets


Mar 11, 2015; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (right) talks with NBA referee Sean Corbin (left) during the first half against the Brooklyn Nets at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

73. 108. 110. Final. 91

The Miami Heat are starting to find their groove.

After taking down two of the top five teams in the NBA, the Heat toyed with the Denver Nuggets, before closing out on a 36-19 run to win their third consecutive game. The win moves Miami to 32-36, while dropping Denver to 26-44. The win, coupled with the losses by the Celtics and Pacers, help extend the Heat’s lead for the seventh spot to two full games, just as Miami is starting to gel.

The Heat had five players in double-figures, while shooting 53% from the field. They also picked up 23 assists on the night. Miami is playing some great team basketball, as the pieces are starting the fit together in a way that makes the Heat a very formidable opponent come April.

The Nuggets had five players in double-figures, led by Kenneth Faried’s 20 points (10 of 15 shooting), 6 rebounds, and 4 steals, while Ty Lawson had 10 points and 12 assists.

Things that pleased me: Dwyane Wade continued his hot stretch of play, finishing with 22 points, on 9 of 18 shooting, while also dishing out 4 assists. Although his string of consecutive games with at least 25 points was halted at seven, Wade still led the Heat in scoring. As long as Wade can stay healthy, Miami can be an annoyance to someone in the first round.

The Heat’s newest addition of Goran Dragic has been paying dividends since his arrival in Miami, as he finished with 18 points (9 for 14 shooting) and 8 assists. The duo of he and Wade could be considered the best finishing backcourt in the NBA, combining to shoot just under 68% at the rim. Since joining the Heat, Dragic is averaging 17.1 points and 5.7 assists, on 53.5% shooting from the field.

Quietly, Luol Deng had another nice outing, going for 15 points, on 6 for 10 shooting, including 3 for 5 for downtown. Deng continues to produce at a solid level, even when the numbers don’t look particularly sexy. What’s lost in the way Wade and Dragic have played together is that Deng has benefitted greatly from Dragic’s arrival, as the two lead all the Heat’s two-man lineups in scoring, field goal percentage (minimum 15 minutes played), and plus/minus.

Things that annoyed me: Coming off arguably the two biggest wins of the season, the Heat got off to a slow start in the first quarter, giving up just under 56% from the field, while letting Denver get 14 of their 23 points in the paint. Yes, I’m nitpicking.

Things that perplexed me: Although I have been very impressed with Michael Beasley 2.0 (or is it 3.0, at this point?) since his return from China, the fact that he took more shots than Hassan Whiteside (13 to 9) is alarming. The guard dominated Heat offense still seems to leave Whiteside with the scraps on offense. No, Whiteside (14 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks) isn’t Shaquille O’Neal on offense, but he is a big advantage on any given night and the Heat need to find a way to exploit that.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how badly did I want to throw a lamp because of Mario Chalmers? 1. All was quiet on the Chalmers Annoyance Front, as he played an instrumental role off the Heat’s bench. Chalmers finished with 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. His aggressiveness was on display, as Chalmers took seven free throws – making six.

What we learned: The Heat are on a roll, and right now they are playing with tremendous confidence. The emotional win against the Cavs on Monday, plus the gritty victory Wednesday night vs. Portland, showed that when this team is healthy and right, they can play with anyone in the league. Are they going to win them all? Of course not. But it’s quite the difference from the way things look after the Heat’s loss in Toronto.

As of this writing, the Heat are a game and a half behind the Bucks for sixth in the East, with a head-to-head matchup coming up next week. With a four game road trip starting Sunday against the similarly banged up Oklahoma City Thunder, the Heat have a chance to make their move. For the first time in months, Heat fans can take a look ahead, as opposed to looking who is coming up on the rear.