The Miami Heat take the floor back home tonight to face the Denver Nuggets!
The Heat, who dropped their last contest in Toronto, are looking to open up a three-game homestand with a win tonight when they host a Denver team sporting a 5-1 stretch and looking to continue their fine form. Miami has played very well the past few weeks, but have struggles defensively of late, which is a pitfall of their fast-paced offense. Miami is also dealing with a thigh injury to Dwyane Wade, who is a game-time decision. Goran Dragic called it a “must-win game” since the Heat are only a half-game ahead of Charlotte for 4th place and home-court in the playoffs.
Denver is known for also playing very fast, so it might be a good idea for the Heat to occasionally slow down the game and force the Nuggets to play a half-court game. Miami has experience playing that style and also has one of the best isolation scorers in Joe Johnson, who is also known as “Iso Joe”. The Heat can also beat them up inside with Whiteside, who had a triple-double when they played in Denver. My guess is that Denver will try to match that with Jusuf Nurkic and Nikola Jokic. The best bet for Miami is to play the intense defense they are capable of playing, because that will allow for fast break opportunities, which they are very good at now with Dragic leading the charge. So let’s look the 3 keys to the game for Miami.
- Clean the defensive glass: With guys like Nurkic, Faried, Gallinari, Jokic, and Hickson, the Nuggets rank 9th in the NBA in offensive rebounding. The Heat, with Deng playing the 4, need to rebound as a unit and give guys like Amar’e and Whiteside some help on the glass. Playing good defense means nothing if you can hold the opponent to one shot.
- Pick on the rook: Emmanuel Mudiay is a great point guard, but he is turnover-prone, averaging over 3 per game. The Heat have some ball hawks on defense, and with this small lineup, should try and force him into some turnovers in order to mask their size disadvantage.
- All-out rim assault: Denver is not a good shot-blocking team, while Miami is averaging over 50 points in the paint in their past 5 contests. The Heat need to be attacking the basket the entire game and not settle for jump shots, Hassan Whiteside should have a field day while Dragic should most definitely be in attack mode from the start.
Obviously, those things are easier said than done, but with Miami’s recent stretch being so good, they should be confident and focused on winning this game.