The Golden State Warriors have a shot to sweep the Miami Heat tonight after a big win on January 2. And as they're playing the second game of a back-to-back tonight, there's hope that the Warriors can get the job done.
Adding to our hopes that the Warriors will get a big win tonight is the Heat's 5-5 record over their last 10 road games, which have included losses to both New York teams, Washington, Atlanta and most recently Utah. Some people were ready to sound the alarms of panic when the Heat dropped three in a row back in January, but February has been a bit kinder to them despite the Jazz loss.
So what's going on with the Heat? And are the Warriors getting them at the perfect time to get a win? Diego Quezada of SB Nation's Hot Hot Hoops answered a few of these questions as part of a Q&A to preview today's game.
Q&A with Hot Hot Hoops
GSoM: The Heat have lost five of their last 10 road games, which included a stretch in which they lost 4 of 6 in mid-January. Some people were starting to ask "What's wrong with the Heat?" after they dropped three straight to teams almost anyone would expect them to beat. What do you see going on with the Heat right now - is this just a sort of mid-season lull on the way to an inevitable playoff run or something deeper going on?
Diego Quezada: The Heat did beat the Los Angeles Clippers to start off their road trip, but then lost to the abysmal Utah Jazz. This season Miami has had trouble against sub-par teams, but done well against teams above .500. This Heat team has always played down to the level of their competition — even during last season’s 27 game winning streak. It’s why the Heat needed LeBron’s heroics against Orlando and Boston, and why Miami fell behind by 27 to the Cleveland Cavaliers during that historic winning streak. This isn’t anything new, and the Heat’s record is still very solid. In its fourth season together, this team knows what it is.
GSoM: Similar to the Warriors, the Heat seem to have a bit of a turnover problem (currently ranked 29th by percentage). Warriors fans have gone back and forth about how significant their high turnovers rate is, but how significant is the Heat's turnover problem to their recent "struggles"?
DQ: As far as the Heat's struggles, the turnovers are undoubtedly contributing factors. It was particularly disheartening to see the Heat turn the ball over 21 times to the Oklahoma City Thunder a couple weeks back. It generally speaks to a lack of focus that a team that has spent three seasons together may get during the dog days of the regular season. With that lack of focus, Miami ends up digging itself into holes and finding a small margin for error to make up deficits in the closing minutes of fourth quarters.
GSoM: The Warriors beat the Heat in Miami again this season and now have a chance to sweep the Heat tonight at Oracle. What do you think might prevent the Warriors from getting another big win this time around?
DQ: Playoff-level intensity would prevent the Warriors from sweeping Miami. Golden State has a lot of dead-eye shooters, and Miami's help-and-recover defense only really works when its players are committed. That's how you see the Heat shut off the San Antonio Spurs' 3-point shooting to close out the Finals last year. In addition to keeping a hand in Stephen Curry's face, the Heat can't let David Lee feast in the paint like he did on Jan. 2 against Miami. It'll be interesting to see how Miami plays him, since Greg Oden has replaced Michael Beasley/Rashard Lewis in the rotation over the last few weeks.