Miami Heat (24-12) @ Golden State Warriors (23-13)
Tipoff: 7:30PM PST, Oracle Arena
TV: ESPN, CSN Bay Area | Radio: KNBR 680
Blog Buddy: Hot Hot Hoops
There are so many subplots in this one, but first off let's talk about the teams' collision course. Both the Heat (ALLCAPS police alert!) and the Dubs come into this one losing three of the last four, with our Warriors giving one away to the Denver Nuggets and the Heat's beloved Dwyane Wade and third superfriend Chris Bosh being relegated to the bench late in a bad performance against the Utah Jazz.
Not only that, but this the second and last meeting between the Heat and the Warriors this regular season and we all know how epic the first one was for Dubs fans (Draymond Green with the buzzer beater, in case you forgot). That's also the one where David Lee flagrant-fouled LeBron James.
So here are the subplots...
- The last time the Warriors were in a revenge game against an elite team, Golden State got blown out by the Los Angeles Clippers.
- LBJ needs just 18 points to become the youngest player to reach 20,000 points. Sit back and enjoy this one, folks. Now that it's been two-years-and-a-half since The Decision, I'm sure everyone, even his detractors, agrees: he's the best, if not in the argument for being the best, player in the NBA right now. And that alone makes him a living legend. Seriously, we are truly blessed that he'll probably reach this milestone at Oracle.
- According to the Heat media notes, his current string of 455 consecutive games with double digits in scoring is sixth on the all-time list. I wouldn't be surprised if he actually surpasses Michael Jordan (866) when it's all said and done. FYI, it's Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at 787, Karl Malone at 575, Moses Malone at 526, and Kareem again at 508 ahead of LeBron.
- Heat fans on HotHotHoops seem to agree with Coach Erik Spoelstra's decision to bench Wade and Bosh late in the last game. Tonight, expect both to come out strong.
- Mario Chalmers is obviously the Heat's weak link, but per a heads-up from IQofaWarrior Stephen Curry appears to not be 100% (I missed the Denver game the other night), with either a "knocked" or "twisted" knee from the Nuggets game.
- As a basketball player, I'm a little concerned that Steph's knee was described as "twisted" and hyper-extended. There's a big difference between twisted/hyper-extended and knocked. A banged knee, as most ballers know, is not a big deal at all. Your knee bangs with another and it goes into shock for about 2-3 minutes where you can't stand up, but pretty much goes back to normal after that. A twist is different and, again, every baller knows that a twist or hyper-extension is oh-so-perilously close to something serious.
- This isn't necessarily a subplot, but on the heels of that Steph knee report, let me take this moment to say that I've met John Henry Smith in the Warriors media room and he is one helluva guy, just like all the beatwriters there. While we were waiting for Damian Lillard to be interviewed by the media postgame after his brilliant 37-point homecoming, Smith confidently stepped up and still off-the-record, developed some rapport with the young star and Oakland native. Overall, it wasn't quite clear if Lillard was ready for the media and Smith respectfully asked if Lillard would prefer the interviewers to wait until he put on his shirt. I mean, yeah, pretty obvious but still, you know, a class-act kind and friendly approach by JHS. And he's that way to everybody. The "This just in: LeBron is great" quip is witty, too! You can tell he is going places with his career.
- Remember Dray in the verbal confrontation with LeBron the last game in Miami, after James got the and-one? Regardless of who started the talking, and I wouldn't be surprised if it were LeBron, I'm sure in the back of LBJ's mind, he's still thinking about putting the rook in his place (again), so to speak. I know, kind of not fair, but that's how basketball superstar egos go.
- Rebounding. The Warriors do it well. I haven't watched the Heat much at all this season, but I know from the reports that they haven't been doing it well lately and probably haven't been doing it well all season long. However, this could become a moot point if James, Wade, and Bosh are treating this like a playoff game and making shots left and right.
- Dubs on national TV. ESPN! Jon Barry. Dad Rick Barry in the house? Just gotta say while we're on the Barrys, Brent Barry is an awesome analyst, agreed?
- I love the Warriors' CONNECTIONS section in their media notes. If you're at the game, you might see these people catching up with each other during pregame warmups or after the buzzer sounds. For this one, here are some DYK's (Did You Know?)...
- D.Lee and Udonis Haslem were teammates at Florida for one season.
- 2Jz (Jarrett Jack) was teammates with Bosh at both Georgia Tech and the Toronto Raptors.
- And on that note, props again to the Warriors PR staff for easily the best laid-out media notes on the planet. If you saw the one for the Heat, you can tell there is no comparison!
- Last time I watched the Heat was on Xmas Day. They were focused and at their best. Kevin Durant was focused and at his best. The Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder that day. When the Heat are at their best, they are the best team in the NBA.
- Shane Battier probably out with an injury. That's a good thing for the Warriors. Related to this are the benches, which should play a huge role in this game.
- Oh btw, hot off the presses: Marc Spears's article on Coach Mark Jackson. Spears is also one helluva guy!
For me as an NBA fan, this is one of those matchups where I can just sit back and enjoy the game. I have to admit, based on my personal history of basketball observations, there is more pointing towards a blowout win by the Heat than otherwise. That's why even if the Warriors lose respectably, I think there is indeed a moral victory to be earned here. Yeah, I know. Everybody hates moral victories.
Take a step back and look at the first line of this blogpost. Miami is 24-12. The Warriors are, gulp, 23-13! Who'da thunk? But yes, winners don't sit back and smell the roses. Based on what I've seen this season, the Warriors winning wouldn't be a total shock to me, either.
Now that this post has far exceeded three hours of research and writing, and I'm well past 1000 words, what a perfect opportunity to say thanks to you guys, Atma Brother ONE, GSOM, SB Nation, and the Warriors' Dan Martinez and Ray Ridder. I know I haven't written much this season and that trend will probably continue as I've just got a lot going on in my life right now, lots of little ups and downs and struggles, business and personal, just like everybody else, and probably not as bad as some people I know, so I really should never complain.
Yet as GSOM's liaison with the Warriors, we have some cool things for you readers in the pipeline. Our new GSOM writers are tremendous! And thank you to the NBA, Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors. I'll be at the game tonight with GSOM's season tix, so I'll be off Twitter and the Game Thread tonight. This is just one of those games that makes you smile and appreciate what you have.