The Denver Nuggets are coming off their best win of the season, handing the Golden State Warriors just their third loss on Wednesday. Now 2-0 on their eight game homestand, Denver will try to keep the good vibes going with another tough opponent in the Miami Heat who will be playing game five of a six game western road trip. It has not been kind to Miami whose only win on the trip so far was against the plummeting Phoenix Suns and their losses have been by an average of 12 points.
The Heat are definitely a talented team. While point guard Goran Dragic was sent back to Miami with a calf, the roster is still dangerous with talented players, albeit some of them are getting a bit long in the tooth. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade still lead the team, and Miami has begun to bolster their aging roster with young talent such as Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow. Like the Nuggets, they've dealt with some injury adversity this season but for the most part all the main guys are a go for the game tonight. Whiteside in particular is an interesting case in the NBA. After a forgettable two years in Sacramento he was out of the league before exploding back onto the scene last year as a rim protecting double double machine and now could find himself playing in the all star game (despite a historically bad field goal attempt to assist ratio).
Who: Miami Heat (22-17) at Denver Nuggets (15-24)
When: 7PM MST
Where: The Can, Denver CO
How to Watch/Listen: Altitude TV/ KRWZ AM 950
Rival Blog: Hot Hot Hoops
|Miami Heat||Denver Nuggets||Advantage|
|PG||Beno Udrih||Emmanuel Mudiay||Nuggets|
|SG||Dwyane Wade||Gary Harris||Heat|
|SF||Luol Deng||Danilo Gallinari||Nuggets|
|PF||Chris Bosh||Kenneth Faried||Heat|
|C||Hassan Whiteside||Nikola Jokic||Heat|
|Bench||Justise Winslow, Gerald Green, Tyler Johnson, Amare Stoudemire, Josh Richardson, Udonis Haslem||Will Barton, Jameer Nelson, Randy Foye, Jusuf Nurkic, Darrell Arthur, Joffrey Lauvergne, Mike Miller, J.J. Hickson,Sean Kilpatrick||Nuggets
Injured Players: Jusuf Nurkic - Out (ankle/knee), J.J. Hickson - Probable (teeth...not a typo), Wilson Chandler - Out (hip), Josh McRoberts - Out (knee), Chris Andersen - Out (knee), Goran Dragic - Out (calf), Hassan Whiteside - Questionable (knee)
Key match up: Dwyane Wade vs Gary Harris
Chris Bosh will likely have a field day against whomever the Nuggets put on him with perhaps only Darrell Arthur being able to slow him down slightly which means Wade is the player who has the most intriguing match up. While statistically Wade is having his worst season of the year, he's still capable of putting up 30 points on any given night. He's completely abandoned the idea of shooting threes but is capable of getting to the rim, or more often the free throw line, for easy points. Harris won't be at any size disadvantage with Wade and his athleticism and tenacious defense should play well in this match up. Hopefully Gary attacks the basket relentlessly, taking advantage of those aging bones of Wade's for a big night.
Key thing to watch for: Emmanuel Mudiay channeling Wade
While recovering from an ankle injury, Mudiay stated he spent time studying film of Wade to get some pointers on driving and finishing at the rim. Since returning from the injury Mudiay has looked pretty much like he has all season, poor shooting and costly turnovers are tempered with flashes of excellent court vision and ability to get to the basket (whether or not he finishes those drives is still very questionable). With any luck the young point guard can channel some of that film study and have a big night. His match up against Beno Udrih is certainly favorable who is a marginal defender at best.
Will there be a let down?
Fresh off their monster win against Golden State, the Nuggets could be set up for an emotional let down against the Heat. A young team like Denver is susceptible to getting caught up in the moment of such a huge win and failing to recognize there's still work to be done against a quality team like Miami and that could make things get really ugly really fast. Coach Michael Malone needs to make sure his team has their head in the game and keeps the energy up. Winslow will most likely be sucking air before the second quarter so if Denver plays with energy they'll hopefully be sending the Heat off to Oklahoma City with extra oxygen tanks and not a win.
Prediction: Too much jubilation over Golden State dooms Denver and the Heat leave with a win, 109-101.