The Nuggets have a chance to earn what would be a season high four game road winning streak if they can beat the Heat in Miami tonight. The Nuggets have done well against the Heat having won nine of the last 11 meetings and they are trying to earn their third straight season series sweep with Miami.
Miami is a pathetic 5-20 at home (no other team has fewer than eight home wins) and have lost 22 of their previous 23 games and they have the worst record in the NBA. Obviously they are due to win a couple. Let’s just hope the Nuggets take them seriously and put forth the same effort they did against Cleveland.
As far as any kind of preview, I have no idea what to expect from the Heat. I have not watched them at all this season so we will have to rely on anecdotes and the numbers.
Dwyane Wade claims that his knee is not right. Some games it feels OK and some games it really hurts. The newest member of Charles Barkley’s Fave 5 plays his best ball on one day of rest. He shots four points higher from the field than under any other circumstance and his three point percentage is actually over 11 points higher than when he plays after three or more days of rest and it is over three times higher than when he plays on two days of rest. He throws up 28.7 points per game on one day of rest as opposed to 16.3 points per game on two days of rest and he averages 19.6 points on three or more days of rest. It would seem the table is set for Dwyane to have one of his better games due to the simple fact that Miami played on Sunday. Check out his splits here if you are seriously board, or if you do not believe me.
Another factor that makes it difficult to gage what we may get from the Heat tonight is the freshly acquired Shawn Marion. I have no idea what to expect from Marion. He certainly has the chance to play a bigger role for Miami, which he has craved from the day Nash arrived and Amare became an offensive force. I even remember reading before the season when asked if he would rather play a smaller role on a championship contender or to be the man on a .500 team he actually had to think about it. He asked if the .500 team would be in the playoffs or not. He had to think about it! How can a player who has been in the league for nine seasons without even a finals appearance value being the man on a bad team over playing a crucial role on a title contender? Due to his selfish attitude I think Marion will be energized with the chance to play for his numbers without having to worry about whether or not his team wins so watch out for him tonight.
From a matchup standpoint I would expect Marion to guard Melo and you better believe Shawn will play hard and try to shut him down. I doubt the Heat would put Wade on AI which means Iverson should have a nice matchup with Jason Williams and Marcus Banks. Of course, Banks is probably looking forward to the chance to play Denver again after his 7-8 performance from three point land as a Sun on January 7th.
Apart from Wade, whose quickness makes him nearly impossible to match up with, Miami poses another matchup problem for Denver. Mark Blount is a perimeter oriented big man and Camby will have to step out of the paint to try to keep him from getting hot. Blount has shot over 50% in seven of his last nine games and should be getting comfortable with his new found status as the Heat’s starting center for the remainder of the season with Shaq gone and Alonzo Morning injured.
Miami lacks talent and you have to believe they have given up on the season with their performance over the last 23rd game, but swapping an injured Shaq for a healthy Marion is a boost for them. Dwyane Wade should be sitting out the remainder of the season, or at least a large portion of it at this point to make sure he is completely healthy for the Olympics, err...I mean, next season. No matter what their record as long as Wade is on the court, the Heat will scare me.
That being said, if the Nuggets can jump on Miami early as they did to the Cavs, I like their chances to maintain a big lead throughout the game with Miami’s lack of offensive firepower.