Miami at Golden State
Time: 9:30 PM (CT), NBA League Pass
Spread: GSW -15
Odds c/o 5dimes
Last season the Miami Heat finished .500, at 41-41, and the team was sent to the lottery despite perhaps the most impressive second half to the 16-17 season. This year, Miami has gone 4-5 thus far, and it comes in riding a one-game win streak after defeating the L.A. Clippers 104-101 last outing. Miami will be 15-point underdogs against the defending champion Golden State Warriors on the road. Golden State is 2-2 at home this season and 7-3 overall while maintaining the league’s highest-scoring offense at 120.7 points per game.
Golden State, though, for its part, has looked mortal this season. Draymond Green’s poor shooting is part of it, but the Warriors are going to be atop the Conference when things normalize, it is a near—certainty, even with the Houston Rockets having posted an 8-3 mark through its first 11 games. Golden State has suffered losses this season to Detroit, Memphis, and Houston, but it has won its past three with wins over Denver, San Antonio, and the L.A. Clippers.
The Warriors are getting MVP-level production from Stephen Curry again this season, as he adapts further to playing with Finals MVP Kevin Durant. Curry is averaging 26.7 points and 6.6 assists per game, while Durant tallies 25.2 per game on just 16.8 field goal attempts (.542, .492 from three).
Green has been the outcast, though he is still shooting 50 percent from the floor and 32 percent from three. He is seeing just 6.8 field goal attempts per game and averaging under 10 points per game. Green, of course, poses a strong argument as the team’s most irreplaceable performer, given his strong defense at all five positions. Nick Young has yet to establish himself in the rotation in a meaningful way, and David West is performing much the same way Marreese Speights did while a Warrior.
Andre Iguodala has struggled shooting the ball at just 39 percent from the floor, and he is averaging 4.6 points and 3.4 assists per game. Iguodala still remains a viable wing defender and a noted veteran leader, but we may be seeing a precipitous decline in his production beginning this season. Rookie Jordan Bell drew rave reviews but has seen just 73 minutes on the year.
Second-year guard Patrick McCaw also is still not seeing valuable minutes, and the Warriors have talent waiting in the wings, but for a team peaking and delivering titles, there is little time for these prospects to see the court. Curry and Durant will carry this team to 60 easy wins and a shot at another title, but the Warriors may never eclipse their own brilliant 73-win season. Perhaps that is too easy to say?
The Heat have lost four of its six past games but won the last outing over the Clippers. Miami is averaging 103.6 points per game, and getting 19.3 from Goran Dragic, 18.3 from center Hassan Whiteside, but will need more from Dion Waiters (15.9) and Justice Winslow (6.3) The Heat have plenty of depth and a unique roster that now features stretch-5 Kelly Olynyk. James Johnson is an underrated power forward who brings a lot of versatility and defense, but Waiters has to re-embrace his alpha mentality.
Waiters is attempting 14.5 shots per game, but really should lead the team, instead of the point guard Dragic attempting 15.1. Waiters showed a propensity for big games and big shots last season, and if Miami is to make a serious leap it will be due to him playing more like a star. Cleveland once spent a No.4 overall pick on the gunner, and when he is locked in, he looks more like an All-Star than a bust. Of course, there is an argument Whiteside should really be the one the Heat focus on, too. And that is one with plenty of validity because Whiteside’s one player capable of consistently drawing double-teams.