How to watch
Who: Warriors (7-3) vs. Heat (4-5)
When: Monday, November 6 at 7:30 p.m. (PST)
Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, California
How to Watch: NBCSBA, SUN
Radio: 95.7 The Game
GSW: PG Stephen Curry, SG Klay Thompson, SF Kevin Durant, PF Draymond Green, C Zaza Pachulia
MIA: PG Goran Dragic, SG Josh Richardson, SF Justise Winslow, PF Okaro White, C Hassan Whiteside
Heat : Dion Waiters (birth of child), Rodney McGruder (left tibia stress fracture)
Buddy Blog: Hot Hot Hoops
The Golden State Warriors seem to have their destructive mojo back after a tidy sweep of a three game road trip over the Clippers, Spurs, and Nuggets. They averaged 126 points per game during the short excursion away from Oracle, and didn’t have a game with more than 14 turnovers (a feat of ball security that hadn’t been accomplished in the seven games prior). A couple quotes after the punishment the champs gave the Denver Nuggets Saturday night reinforced how helpful the road trip proved to be during the early part of this season’s journey.
"Getting on the road was good for us," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "Sometimes you need to get on the road to feel more threatened. A team like this especially that's used to being successful. I thought we took a couple of home games for granted and we weren't defending, we weren't bring energy."
"We didn't play well a few games early on, but the last three games have been solid for us," Kevin Durant added. "We'll try to take it home and build on that."
In order to “build on that," the Dubs will have to battle against an emerging Eastern Conference bully. This Southeast Division ruffian has acquired a taste for going on the road and punking Western Conference foes; last night they wrestled the Los Angeles Clippers into submission in L.A. This brutish force hails from Florida, and they are the Miami Heat.
The rekindling of the Heat
Just four years ago, the Miami Heat were the most feared team in basketball.
Then Lebron James left.
Since then, Heat President/Shadow-King Pat Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra have engineered an ornery rebuilding process that is centered (literally) around big man Hassan Whiteside. The Heat stumbled out of the gates this season with a 2-4 record as Whiteside missed all but opening night with a bone bruise in his knee (he had 26 points and 22 rebounds in the loss against the Orlando Magic). However, in the three games since he has returned, the Heat are 2-1, including the impressive aforementioned road win against the Clippers. Whiteside makes this team GO.
The 7 foot tall, 265 lb giant is a temperamental force of nature. In 2016 he was sent home by the team after being ejected for swinging a wild elbow at Spurs center Boban Marjanovic during a free throw. I also distinctly recall a hockey check he gave the year before to now-teammate Kelly Olynyk during a matchup against the Celtics. Despite concerns about his attitude, the Heat still made him the first player in league history to go from a minimum contract to a max deal.
That’s because when this giant is focused on the game, he’s an entity of cataclysmic might.
Is peak Whiteside the best center in the NBA?
When at the peak of his powers, he’s a shot blocking and rebounding deity. He led the league in blocked shots in 2016, and was fourth last year. He’s one of five players since the ’86-’87 season to have at least four triple-doubles compiled from points, rebounds, and blocked shots. The others? Dikembe Mutumbo, Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, and Space Jam star Shawn Bradley.
On the offensive end, he has the brawn to bang his way for easy buckets, and the soft touch to knock down floaters and midrange jumpers. When Charles Barkley talks about the Warriors being “too small, Erneh!”, Whiteside’s play emphatically supports him (Draymond Green took umbrage, of course). Look at what this monstrous center did to us last January: 28 points and 20 rebounds on the greatest team of the modern era.
The Heat love to burn the Splash Bros
The Heat have strong depth on their team, including an aggressive backcourt made up of EuroBasket’s MVP Goran Dragic, and the most confident hooper alive, Dion Waiters. I’m not sure if he’ll be available to play us, due to the super awesome event that is the birth of his child. I hope he does get to Oakland in time for the battle, though. Check out this excerpt from an interview between him and NBA legend/shaman Pat Riley.
“What are you going to do? What are you going to do when there’s four minutes left, and we need you to score, and we need you to lead the team?” Pat Riley asked Waiters.
“I know what I’m going to do,” Waiters responded immediately, “I know I haven’t had the opportunity yet. But I was born to destroy.”
I was going to laugh uproariously at that quote, until I remembered he did this to us in South Beach last season:
Which unfortunately reminded me of another haunting, improbable Miami three point dagger over the Stephen Curry era Warriors.:
If that doesn’t get your blood boiling as a member of Dub Nation, take off your Kevin Durant jersey and go back to being a Lakers bandwagon fan.
Will Dubs activate “Apocalyptic Splash Rain Dance” mode?
The Miami Heat are no laughing matter. They have a lot of pride, and are only a few seasons removed from being at the top of the NBA mountain. It’s the Warriors job to viciously stomp on the fingers of the climbing franchise and remind them that their era is over. It’s time for the champions to make a statement and bring back the aura of home-court invincibility that has wavered this season.
With the Heat coming off of a back to back, I expect them to fight hard early, before being pulled into deep waters in the second half. The Splash under the Bay is too deep, too cold, and too strong. Eventually, Miami will grow weary from desperately keeping their heads above water and sink beneath the waves of Warrior domination.
Gold-blooded prediction: Warriors 111, Heat 98