The Golden State Warriors are hours away from their first test of 2014: the Miami Heat.
The Warriors who have spent the turn of the New Year in Miami are sure to be ready to turn on the lights at American Airlines Arena and get the electricity flowing. Tip-off for this highly anticipated regular season game is at 4:30 Pacific.
Point Guard Mario Chalmers gets a lot of credit for being a catch and shoot player. This season, with the exception of the short porch three-pointer, he hasn’t been one. He doesn’t shoot from mid range, so in conclusion the Warriors will be playing him as they would any pass first point guard. My only advice would be to not loose defensive spacing with him if he’s standing still on the short porch.
Defensively Chalmers is getting 1.8 SPG, nothing to scoff at. He’s capable of creating on ball steals as well as coming up with them in the passing lanes. I’d imagine Eric Spoelstra will play Stephen Curry tight and look to double team him if opportunity arises (Norris Cole will definitely be applying major pressure}. This could get the Heat picked apart defensively as every Warriors starter is a world class passer.
Shooting Guard Dwayne Wade was called “the third best shooting guard of all time,” by Mark Jackson at practice yesterday. I believe the statement was at least in part a motivational move to influence the psyche of his own two-guard.
I believe Klay Thompson will turn him into a volume shooter. Thompson has the lateral quickness necessary to keep in front of him. He has the standing reach to deter Wade’s floaters and flips. He’s got one more thing going for him as well. D-Wade isn’t a three point shooter, so KT will be able to play under screens and play a couple of shuffles back off Wade beyond the three point line. My advice to “The Pool Shark” would be to move those feet defensively and stand your ground when he crashes into you looking for free throws. A couple points of emphasis about Wade are when he drives he looks to push right and side step back to the left. Plus, if he crosses over left in isolation, it’s most likely for a jump shot.
As an off-ball defender, Wade is a hawk. The Warriors all have to keep in mind where he is because he’s always looking to strike. Strike back by correctly positioning your body so he would have to run through it in order to get the steal.
Small Forward LeBron James is the best current player in the world. Andre Iguodala’s theory is to play James backing up (thanks, refs). His main goal is to get him to side step because of his lack of lift off. From there he can “disrupt” James either by swiping down at the basksetball if he manages to keep his hand over the top or blocking his shot with his own superior athleticism and timing. The man I call the Warriors’ Scottie Pippen shouldn’t worry about referees whistles on this particular team. He has Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and Kent Bazemore to back him up, which makes the team the most capable in the NBA to defend “King” James.
Assistant Coach Pete Myers should make AI watch this video (which Myers appears in) this morning for motivation:
Power Forward Shane Battier only plays 20 minutes per game as a starter in the NBA. He’s on the court for two reasons. One, to space the floor as a spot up three point specialist, which the Warriors must not forget (especially seeing as he does not shoot the ball from inside the three point line). Two, being to get down and dirty (look up flop master in the dictionary, if it’s not there now… it should be) defensively.
The Heat will use Battier as a stretch four to keep David Lee away from defensive rebounding, so Curry and Co. are going to have to crash the boards more fervently against them when he’s on the court. Lee has shown the ability to defend the perimeter this season, which he simply doesn’t get any credit for. So don’t expect to see Jackson change his starting line up… I.E. Barnes for Lee to counter.
Center Chris Bosh made a statement yesterday that, “They (The Warriors) move the ball like we do.” Chris Bosh averages under an assist per game playing with LBJ, DW and Ray Allen… practice what you preach. Warriors center Andrew Bogut showed Dub Nation something new a couple of games ago against Channing Frye and the Phoenix Suns, when he was either convinced to or decided himself that he was going to start covering three point shooters. In other words Bosh, isn’t going to be given free jump shots from 15′ and beyond like most people who envisioned this match up (myself included) projected.
What might surprise the Warriors center is that Bosh, who was moved to specifically the right side of the court by head coach Eric Spoelstra because of analytics at one time, has become just as effective on the left side of the court. Bogut should stay down on up fakes against him and be patient in bodying him up defensively (old man game). There’s also the ol’ saying of “do your work early.” To add to that, weather it comes to defensive rebounding or keeping him off the block. A key to stopping Bosh is to make a commitment to post up Boges on him at the other end of the court. Bogut has a strength advantage that could result in foul trouble for Bosh. At the very least they’d make him grind it out. Cut off one of the heads of this teams big three and they are that much closer to human.
The Miami Heat have a bench chalk full of shooters and scorers, with a sprinkle a defense. The Warriors bench, honestly, just needs to keep up the good work to outplay them.
In conclusion, the Warriors will want to share the ball like only they can and play smart by keeping the ref’s out of this one. They’re going to have to box out and rebound which is already a strength over Miami. Lastly, bring it, with the intensity that is their signature characteristic to get the wheels turning in “Ride or Die…” basketball.
One more for the road… If the Warriors win their seventh straight today, someone can write an article entitled “The Magnificent Seven.”