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Warriors vs. Heat Preview: What to make of Miami?

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Miami Heat v Golden State Warriors Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors got back in the win column on Monday, and now they’ll try to build yet another two-game winning streak against one of the weirder teams in the league.

The deets

Who: Golden State Warriors (15-13) vs. Miami Heat (11-16)

When: 7:00 p.m. PT

Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, California

TV: ESPN (available on fuboTV)

Projected starting lineups:

Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kelly Oubre Jr., Andrew Wiggins, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Draymond Green
Heat: Kendrick Nunn, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Kelly Olynyk, Bam Adebayo

Last results:

Warriors: Beat the Cavs 129-98 — 3-2 in their last 5 games
Heat: Lost to the Clippers 125-118 — 3-2 in their last 5 games

Team ratings (garbage-time adjusted, per Cleaning The Glass):

Warriors: 110.8 offense (20th), 110.9 defense (8th), -0.1 net (15th)
Heat: 108.1 offense (25th), 111.6 defense (13th), -3.4 net (23rd)

The story

There are two ways to look at this one: on the one hand, the Heat are five games below .500, and sport one of the worst net ratings in the league. The Warriors — who are 10-2 against teams below .500 — should win, and should win comfortably.

On the other hand, the Heat are the defending Eastern Conference champions, returning all their key players, and are built around All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. The Dubs have struggled to beat good teams all year, and this is a tough challenge and a serious barometer.

So which is it? In reality, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. The Heat are clearly not title contenders this year, but they’re also not as bad as their record would indicate. But they’ve lost seven straight games against teams with winning records, and the Warriors need to make it eight.

Players to watch

Warrior to watch: Steph Curry.

Curry is coming off of one of his best performances of the season, when he splashed in 36 points on 88.6% true-shooting in just three quarters of play.

The Heat are a decent defensive team, but Curry’s counterpart — Kendrick Nunn — isn’t a particularly strong defensive player. The Dubs need Curry to dominate that matchup — assuming Nunn is the one defending him — to make life easier for everyone.

Heat to watch: Bam Adebayo.

The Heat may be struggling, but it’s no fault of their young star, who is averaging 19.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.0 blocks per game, while sporting a 64.0% true-shooting percentage.

Adebayo isn’t the biggest center in the world — he’s listed at just 6’9” — but he can be a dominant force. The small ball Dubs will have their hands full with him.

Matchup to watch: Andrew Wiggins vs. Jimmy Butler.

Butler hasn’t had the season some may have expected, but he’s still a handful on offense and a menace on defense. Wiggins has hit a little bit of a wall on offense of late, but is still impressing mightily on the other side of the ball.

It’s an intriguing matchup, and it’s all the more captivating when you consider that the two wings are former teammates who did not seem to get along very well.

Keys to victory

  • Put the defensive clamps on a struggling offense, from start to finish.
  • Don’t let Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson explode for great shooting nights.
  • Steph Curry and Draymond Green be better than Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.

Grab another W, Dubs.