When: Monday, January 23rd 4:30 PST
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena - Miami, FL
TV: CSN Bay Area
Radio: 95.7 The Game
Blog Buddy: Hot Hot Hoops
The Warriors won the last matchup at home against a Heat team that was without their best perimeter defenders in Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson. Patrick McCaw started in place of Klay Thompson, who was dealing with flu-like symptoms. That last matchup was closer than anticipated, as Hassan Whiteside tallied 26 points and 20 rebounds in a dominant show of physicality inside.
James Johnson and Tyler Johnson provided a spark off the bench, contributing 30 of the Heat’s 95. James Johnson, who has emerged as a capable point forward for the Heat in Goran Dragic-less minutes, viciously posterized Stephen Curry, while Tyler Johnson’s energy and frequent back cuts created plenty of easy looks.
Warriors took care of the ball, turning it over just 11 times, yet the Heat still managed to hang on. While the Heat have one of the worst records in the league, their play has been better than their record suggests. They have wins against marquee opponents like the Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz. They are 3-0 since giving a ten-day contract to forward Okaro White. Wayne Ellington, who only played seven minutes in the last matchup, is a streaky shooter who can get going in limited minutes.
It was in that January 10th game that a Draymond Green led bench unit created the first substantial lead for the Warriors, behind David West’s impressive vision and passing ability. It will be interesting to see what looks Steve Kerr and Co. go to without West, and with the possibility of another veteran resting on this back-to-back, expect some creative lineups that utilize end of the bench players like James Michael McAdoo.
One Warrior that won’t be missing this game is Shaun Livingston, who rested against the Orlando Magic. He should have plenty of energy to continue his high percentage shooting streak.
The Warriors are rolling now, coming off a 4-0 week with wins against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Houston Rockets, and the Orlando Magic. The team is on a seven game win streak and will look to close out the second half of this road trip undefeated. Despite how closely these teams played in their last match-up — not to mention the fact that the Warriors are coming off a back-to-back — expect a resounding Golden State victory.
Sunday’s win against Orlando was marked by a comically high number of turnovers, which could partially be explained by the unusually early start, but that should still be an area of concern for the Heat game. That being said, a trend has emerged this season in which the Warriors will drift — aka coast — through the first half and come out firing in the third to put the game away. This happened in the last game against the Heat, as the Warriors were actually down one point at halftime, then proceeded to outscore Miami 26-14 in the third quarter.
The Warriors have displayed a very clear ability to “flip the switch,” which has historically been observed in teams with their eyes set on June playoff basketball. All that remains to be seen is when this switch is turned on, and how they manage the lead that is generated by that elevated play.