Just a year ago, these two franchises were heading in opposite directions with the Golden State Warriors forging their path towards another Finals berth while the Miami Heat struggled into a middling season. Almost exactly two turkey-filled holidays later and those trajectories have flipped. Can the Warriors steal one on the road against one of the top defensive teams in the league? Let’s splash into the details.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (4-15) at Miami Heat (12-5)
WHERE: American Airlines Arena; Miami, FL
WHEN: November 29, 2019; 5:00 pm PST
WATCH: CSBA, SUN
Blog Buddy: Hot Hot Hoops
Last I Saw You
The last time these teams met, the Warriors lost in stunning fashion to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Dwayne Wade that had people wondering if he should put off his farewell tour another year or more.
However with both organizations undergoing complete roster makeovers in the offseason, it’s hard to draw much from any previous encounters — unless we’re counting the Heat’s penchant for knocking down game-winning shots on us over the past few years.
Jimmy Butler is now rocking the Miami Vice colors and Hassan Whiteside along with his collection of pouty expressions have been shipped out. Aside from the rookies seeing each other in a Summer League exhibition game, this will be as much of a fresh experience between both squads as it will be for us watching.
Why the Warriors Could Lose
Through the early part of this season, Miami has been one of the best 3-point shooting teams with an accuracy rate of 39%. The arrivals of Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro to go along with a healthy Goran Dragic and a starting role for Duncan Robinson has bolstered the Heat’s prowess from deep. The Warriors on the other hand have been the worst team in the league at defending the three, allowing opponents to shoot at a 40% clip from behind the line.
On the defensive end, Miami ranks second in steals and hold the sixth best defensive rating, allowing opponents to score 103 points per 100 possessions. This could be tough for the Warriors who have a middling offense at best with many of its limited amount of offensive weapons.
Why the Warriors Could Win
The Warriors are coming off a feel good win against the Chicago Bulls that saw one of the best defensive performances of the team this season. This was four quarters of a highly active defense, often beautifully coordinated on the court by Dramond Green.
Sure it came against one of the worst offenses in the league. But effort and hustle carry over no matter how effective the opponents scheme or talent is. In fact, the Warriors have quietly been bouncing back from a rough start to the season. Over the past 5 games, the team has held a more respectable 109 defensive rating, an easily more digestible number than the monstrous 118 rating they held just a month ago.
Rotations are stabilizing, chemistry has started to gel, and you can see the players figuring things out on the court.
Noted by our own Eric Apricot, the Warriors are incredibly only a few lucky bounces and mistakes away from actually holding the 8th seed in the West.
GSW lost in the last minute to UTA, OKC, CHA, MIN, BOS. If they don’t blow those, this ragtag tank patrol would actually be 9-10 and alone in the 8th seed.— Eric Apricot (@EricApricot) November 28, 2019
The line between epic tank and blowing a lottery pick is so slim https://t.co/XyQu5seT4P
Matchup to Watch
The undrafted rookie has been doing work recently, averaging 13 points and 4 assists in 32 minutes per contest on an incredibly effective 50/50/100 shooting split over the past 5 games.
He did have a costly turnover towards the end of the game against the Thunder a few games ago. But in an otherwise lost season, mistakes are nothing but stepping stones for this young roster, and Bowman has been more impressive than not as of late.
Nunn, who just last season was with the Warrior’s G-League affiliate down in Santa Cruz, has taken full advantage of his opportunity with the Heat and has been one of the reasons behind Miami making the jump from being a bottom-tier offense last year to the 12th best so far.
According to Dan Devine of the Ringer, he ranks second among all rookies for 3-point makes on a very efficient 40% clip and has been a huge pesk on the defensive end.
(Nunn’s) both active at the point of attack and opportunistic, trailing only New York’s RJ Barrett among rookies in steals.
Nunn’s splits for the past 5 games bears a close resemblance to Bowman’s with him averaging 13 points and 4 assists on a 50/46/66 shooting split. It’ll be interesting to watch these two rookies go head-to-head.
On paper, this is a tough matchup for the short-handed Warriors. Miami has a top-notch defense to go along with an offense that capitalizes on 3-pointers, which is what the Warriors are worst at defending.
But aside from the decimation of Luka, this team has looked better as of late — almost stealing wins against other top-tier teams such as the Celtics and Jazz. I predict the Warriors steal a nail-biter 107-105.