The Heat is On…
Yeah, I used that title and if you don’t know the reference here is the music video in all of it’s late 80′s glory.
The title has more to do with the fact that the Golden State Warriors will be taking on the Miami Heat tonight and the fact that I needed a quick title for this post. Golden State comes into tonight’s game riding a 4 game winning streak, yes it was against the likes of the Wizards, Bobcats, and Pistons but Brooklyn was in there so there is that. The Warriors 14-7 start is an undeniable windfall for Dubs fans hopes and dreams this season and a win against the Heat tonight would further solidify the good feelings around the Warriors this season. The fact that the Warriors have accumulated this record without the help of either Andrew Bogut or Brandon Rush make it all the more astonishing.
Against the Heat tonight, the Warriors will have to make sure that they stay out of the fast lane in terms of pace against the Heat. Not because the Warriors have a slower pace then Miami because they actually have a PACE of 95.9 which ranks them 6th in the league in comparison to Miami’s 94.8 pace. It is mainly because of the fact that Miami will have one big mismatch and its name is Lebron James. Obviously James can play anywhere on the floor but what I’m most interested in seeing tonight is if he spends any time matching up against Stephen Curry on the defensive end.
Curry is putting together a solid December for the Warriors and is already garnering All-Star whispers and mentions at the quarter mark of the season. Let’s take a look at Curry’s stat line for Decemeber.
Curry is averaging 24 pts, 8 Ast, 3.8 Reb, a 3 pt% of .512, and a PER of 19.42. Also lest we forget, Curry is averaging 39.0 mins/game and looking stronger and more confident than ever in manning the point for the Warriors. It also helps that the Warriors have assembled a solid bench of both veterans and young talented rookies that diffuses the scoring responsibilities much more so than in the past.
Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, Carl Landry and even Festus Ezeli will have their work cut out for them tonight because at some points all will probably have a hand in trying to check Lebron James. Which means that all involved will have to continue to keep playing the solid defense, yes I said solid defense, that they have been playing up to this point in the season. The Warriors are currently ranked 12th in Defensive Efficiency at 100.9. As Stephen Curry stated in a recent Grantland piece about past Warriors defensive strategies,
In the past, it’s kinda been a shamble defense, where one night we down [send pick-and-rolls toward the sideline], one night we blitz [have a big man rush out at a point guard], and we never really got good at one thing.
The team just seems to be a lot more active and maybe it has more to do with the talent that the Warriors added in the off-season than a lack of a defensive strategy. Plus it doesn’t hurt that the Warriors were able to keep Mike Malone around as an assistant coach. Tonight will be a great test to see if the new found Warriors defense can withstand the Heat barrage of James, Wade, and Bosh with Allen standing in the corner waiting for the kick out.
Will the Warriors be able to pull out all the stops tonight and make a statement that hasn’t been made since the 2004-2005 in terms of the teams longest road winning streak? Or will they falter under the weight of the lap dances, partying, and humidity that only comes from playing in South Beach? Tonight’s game will go a long way in setting reasonable bench marks and expectations on this years team.
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