Miami Heat Look To End Losing Streak


Game preview for the Miami Heat vs the Denver Nuggets

Heat (22-17) vs Denver Nuggets (15-24)
Where: Pepsi Center – Denver, Colorado
When: Friday, Jan. 15, 9:00 PM ET
Watch: ALT, FS-SUN, NBA League Pass

The Miami Heat continue on the Trip of Death, arriving in Denver hoping to end a three-game losing streak against a Nuggets team that just beat the Golden State Warriors. While the Mile High City hasn’t been so kind to the Heat in the past, Miami has won two of the last three in Denver.

The Heat are coming off a bad loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night, as they blew a 16-point second quarter lead in defeat; that was the seventh such game of the season.


To top it off, their appears to be some internal strife going on, as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have voiced their displeasure about teammates not holding themselves accountable on the court – a message that may have been directed to Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside, naturally, doesn’t feel that way (from the Palm Beach Post):

"“I did what I normally do: block shots, rebound and when I get the ball I dunk it,” he said when asked if he was a little out of sync after missing time. “It’s pretty much what I’ve been doing since I got here.”"

Well then, glad we cleared that up.

As we know, Whiteside is in the spotlight as questions about his fit and his future with the Heat are in question, so issues like this doesn’t help the cause. The Heat are trying to salvage this road-trip – 1-3, so far – and don’t need any further distractions. They have fallen to sixth in the Eastern Conference, and sit a game back of the Hawks in the Southeast. They’ll be playing their second consecutive game without Goran Dragic, who is out with a calf injury.

Coming off an upset of the defending champions, the Nuggets look to extend their winning streak to three games, which would tie their longest of the season. They are led by Danilo Gallinari, who’s scoring 18.9 points per game, and have exciting rookie Emmanuel Mudiay to contend with at point guard. Denver currently sits two games behind the Utah Jazz for the eighth spot in the Western Conference.

Matchup to Watch: Kenneth Faried vs. Chris Bosh

The Heat rank second to last in the NBA on total possessions per game, and the Nuggets are third in the league in offensive rebounds, so controlling the glass will help give Miami more chances on offense. To do that, the Heat need to keep Faried in check. The Manimal (ugh) is at the front of that for Denver, as he leads the team in offensive rebounds, and is fifth in the NBA at 3.6 per game. As the Heat will probably see a lot of small lineups, Bosh should see a fair amount of time battling Faried down low.

X-Factor: Tyler Johnson

With Dragic out, Beno Udrih will likely start in his place. But it should be Johnson that see a bulk of minutes alongside Wade at the other guard spot. In Wednesday’s game, Johnson had four turnovers off the bench, as he’s still trying to get used to acting as a ball-handler.

But Johnson is also a weapon on offense, as he leads the Heat’s rotation players in three-point percentage, and averages just under nine points per game. Having that punch off the bench is crucial, as someone has to be able to help take some of the load off the Heat starters on nights when Gerald Green isn’t on his game.

Key Stats:

Miami Heat offensive efficiency: 13th, 102.5 points per 100 possessions
Miami Heat defensive efficiency: 6th, 99.6 points per 100 possessions

Denver Nuggets offensive efficiency: 24th, 100.9 points allowed per 100 possessions
Denver Nuggets defensive efficiency: 25th, 105.6 points allowed per 100 possessions