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Preview: Nuggets face New Look Heat in South Beach

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The Denver Nuggets head to Miami for their second game in two nights, to face the improving Miami Heat. Denver will look to move to 7-4 under interim head coach Melvin Hunt and get a win in Miami, where the Heat are 6-1 in their last seven home games.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Game 70: 2014-15 NBA Season

@

26-43 (10-24 on road)
Series 1-0
31-36 (16-18 at home)
Mar. 20, 2015
AmericanAirlines Arena - Miami, FL
5:30 PM MT
Altitude2 / 950 AM

Ty Lawson PG Goran Dragic
Randy Foye SG Dwyane Wade
Wilson Chandler SF Luol Deng
Darrell Arthur PF Udonis Haslem
Kenneth Faried C Hassan Whiteside
Notes
Denver Stiffs Blogs Hot Hot Hoops

Danilo Gallinari (rest) - Out

Jameer Nelson (hip) - Questionable

Wilson Chandler (calf) - Probable

Injuries

James Ennis (hip) - Out

Chris Bosh (chest/lungs) - Out

Josh McRoberts (knee) - Out

The Nuggets are 6-4 under interim head coach Melvin Hunt. Etc... Dwyane Wade has averaged 23.7 points, 5.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game vs. Denver, during his career.

The Denver Nuggets will look to end a two game skid, when they face the Miami Heat on the end of a back to back tonight. Denver is coming off a 118-108 loss to the Rockets last night, where James Harden dropped 50 points on them and they were out rebounded once again. The Nuggets have been out rebounded by a margin of 106-79 in their last two games, something that will need to change if they want to win in Miami. The Heat on the other hand, are playing quite well lately, going 3-1 in their last four games. Miami has beaten Cleveland and Portland recently, while winning six of their last seven home games.

Expectations for the Heat's season were simmered down last month, when it was announced that center Chris Bosh would miss the remainder of the year, to recover from a blood clot that was in his lung. However, Miami was able to acquire guard Goran Dragic at the trade deadline and are still firmly in the eastern conference playoff race. The Heat currently sit at the seven seed in the east, only two in a half games behind the six seeded Milwaukee Bucks. Since joining the Heat, Dragic has averaged 17.0 points, 5.8 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game, while shooting 52% from the field. In the twelve games that Dragic has played with Miami, the team is 7-5  and 5-1, when he scores 20+ points.

For the Nuggets, again they will need to rebound the ball better in this game if they are to win. When the Nuggets can secure rebounds and get out into the open floor, they've shown to be very good under Melvin Hunt. Ty Lawson will also need to have a big game for the mile high crew, as he has struggled mightily since the All-Star break. Since the All-Star break, Lawson has only averaged 11.6 points and 8.5 assists per game, while shooting a poor 41% from the field and 31% from beyond the arc. I'm hoping a match-up with one of his rivals in Dragic, will help ignite Lawson and allow him to play better.

Prediction

Denver smashed Miami in the teams first meeting this season, 102-82 at Pepsi Center. The Nuggets used a 31-14 third quarter to blow up the game and ran Miami out the gym, scoring 23 fast break points. The biggest key to the Nuggets first win though, was holding Dwyane Wade in check. The Miami Heat staple only scored ten points on 4-15 shooting from the field, in Denver's win back in December. I expect Wade to play much better and more confidently this time out, especially with Dragic as his running mate now in the Heat's back court. I see Denver being sluggish from having to play on a back to back, ultimately dropping a close one here to Miami on the road.

Player to Watch

Hassan Whiteside - Whiteside only played six minutes in the team's first meeting, but has been a huge part of the Heat's playoff run this season. In 23 starts this season for Miami, Whiteside is averaging 13.2 points, 12.1 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. He has found a home in Miami, becoming their defensive anchor and also playing with a bit of a mean streak. Whiteside has recorded four games with 20+ rebounds and seven games of 5+ blocks this season for the Heat. I think the 7'0", 265 pound center should have a field day against a undersized Denver frontline of Faried and Chandler tonight.