Miami at Golden State
Time: 10:30 PM ET
TV: Comcast, League Pass
Spread: GSW -15
The Golden State Warriors sit atop the tough Western Conference with a 30-5 record this season under first year coach Steve Kerr. Golden State has protected its homecourt better than any team in basketball, having gone 16-1 at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors are also a perfect 12-0 vs the Eastern Conference this season, and NBA oddsmakers are not expecting that to change tonight. Late odds show the Warriors as 15-point favorites in what could and will likely turn into a huge blowout.
Part of the reason for that is the absence of 2-guard Dwyane Wade. Wade left Tuesday’s game with a left hamstring strain and will not be available for this contest. Since Wade is the primary scorer alongside Chris Bosh, this puts a heavy strain on No. 3 scoring option Luol Deng. Wade leads the Heat in scoring at 22.1 points per game, while Deng has contributed a paltry 13.8 points. Mario Chalmers is the only Heat player to join that trio in double-figure scoring, putting up 10.9 points per game.
One f the most positive signs for the Heat has been the unexpected contributions of Shawne Williams, a discarded talent who is averaging 7.4 points and 3.5 rebounds in 22 minutes of play a night. He’s helped the Heat replace some of the depth that was lost. Shabazz Napier has been disappointing so far, especially since the player he was almost arbitrarily recruited by (LeBron James) is not there to play with him.
Overall, the Heat are certainly a team bereft of a lot of scoring options. Bosh and Wade are a solid tandem left over from the Big Three, but it hasn’t done much other than render the Heat a mediocre 17-21 team.
Golden State tests even the good teams. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are arguably the best backcourt in the NBA, two shooters whose talents launching the rock only slightly exceeds the defensive talents they bring, most especially Thompson.
Curry is rightly starting to claim the role of all-time shooting GOAT, and the Warriors backcourt tandem averages six made threes on 14.4 attempts per game. Thompson’s marksmanship even exceeds Curry’s, as he’s knocked down 44.3 percent this season.
Curry has a legitimate chance at entering the 50/40/90 club this year, with a 49.7 percent field goal percentage, a 39.3 percent triple (almost certain to increase over 40) and a 93 percent mark from the charity stripe. This is an exclusive club only encompassing five other players (Steve Nash, Larry Bird, Mark Price, Reggie Miller and Dirk Nowitzki). Curry is that level shooter on a team that has a great chance at ending up as this year’s NBA champs.
And a big reason is the depth the Warriors have. The youngsters, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes, are both coming into their own. Green has proven to be the biggest steal of the 2013 draft, averaging 12 points and nearly seven boards per game while shooting 52 percent from the floor. Barnes is still a defensive and athletic talent on the rise, averaging 30 minutes per game and posting 10 points while falling just short of an average PER (14.2).
David Lee has been injured most of the season, and it just hasn’t mattered that much. When Lee, a 20 point/10 rebound regular, returns the Warriors are going to be very dangerous, and very deep. Realistically, the rotation can be shortened to eight working players in the postseason, but all are very solid to strong, and that is what wins titles. If a player goes down as has already happened, it’s up to the strength of its reserves to replace the production.
That has also meant an increased role for Marreese Speights, who has never met a shot he didn’t like. The Warriors release Speights off the bench to destroy defenses quickly, as he averages 12.5 points in just 18 minutes a game, while shooting 52 percent from the floor, able to both finish at the rim and hit jumpers.
There’s just so many ways the Warriors can hurt a team, and the Heat are about to feel all of those reasons tonight in Oracle Arena. Expect the blowout NBA oddsmakers are.
Miami Heat: The UNDER is 4-0 in Miami’s last 4 road games vs teams with winning percentage greater than .600 at home; The UNDER is 5-0 in Heat’s last 5 overall; Heat are 1-10-1 ATS in the last 12 games following an SU win.
Golden State Warriors: The OVER is 4-0 in the Warriors last 4 on 0 days rest. The OVER is 5-0 in Warriors last 5 vs teams with losing SU records; Warriors are 6-0 ATS in last 6 Wed games.
Head-to-head: The Heat are 1-5-1 ATS in the last 7 meetings. The Heat are 6-2-2 ATS in the last 10 meeting at Golden State. The OVER is 6-2 in the last 8 meetings at Golden State.