The Miami Heat will be playing their first official regular season game of the NBA restart on Saturday against the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets are a tough game to start out against for the Heat since they are pretty strong defensively. Well, here’s some things to look out for in Saturday’s game…
#1: The Heat need good interior defense to beat this Nuggets team.
The Miami Heat have struggled this season with their perimeter defense, mostly at the point of attack. Well, this Denver Nuggets team will challenge them on the interior. Miami’s bigs will have to deal with not only one of the best centers in the league in Nikola Jokic, but also the rest of their lengthy bigs off of the bench. Meyers Leonard will probably see most of the match-up against Jokic, but Bam will probably get some possessions on him in the fourth quarter. The containment of Jokic in this game is important since this is a similar match-up they may see in a series against Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers. Instead of countering Nikola Jokic all game with Meyers Leonard, Erik Spoelstra will need to go stretches with Bam as the center, since he can attack Jokic’s weaknesses on defense.
#2: Kendrick Nunn getting back to his old self.
Kendrick Nunn has been trying to get back into mid-season form since arriving to the bubble late after testing positive for Covid-19. He was a little rusty in the two scrimmage games he played, but the more games he plays, the better he will look. In the second scrimmage, Kendrick scored 5 points on 29% shooting, and in the third scrimmage he scored 6 points on 20% shooting. He will definitely look to pick that back up, especially since he will be out there on the floor with one of the most productive starting lineups in the league. He also is a major part of the offense since he can attack the rim and control the mid-range, which is something the Heat haven’t done a lot of on offense in these scrimmage games.
#3: Miami’s offensive players will receive more minutes.
As mentioned previously, Miami’s defense has been the biggest problem throughout the season, but their offense has enough firepower to exceed their defensive struggles in this game. This is because Denver has seemed to have the exact opposite problem than the Heat. Denver has been pretty strong defensively this season, but has struggled at times on offense. The Nugget’s offense only goes as far as Jamal Murray takes them, which may be a problem for the Heat since they’ve struggled against similar guards. But, Miami will most likely look to beat this team the way they know how to. Shooting the ball. For example, we will probably see more Kelly Olynyk minutes than Derrick Jones Jr minutes since they will just try to straight up outscore this Denver team.
#4: Heat’s depth must outweigh Denver’s depth.
One of Miami’s biggest strengths of the team has been their solid depth. But, Denver is one of those teams that has pretty solid depth themselves. They do have a lot of guys injured at the moment, which may hurt their depth, but they have the kind of role players that seem to break out against the Heat. Miami’s bench will need to outperform Denver’s bench if they want to win this game. Plain and simple. The Nugget’s offense has tailed off this season when the bench unit enters the floor, which it seems as if it improves when Miami does it at times. If Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro, Jae Crowder, and others can get a rhythm going early, they will most likely win this game. But on the other hand, if Denver’s bench out performs Miami, it’ll be a hard game to win once NIkola Jokic and Jamal Murray enter back in.
#5: A Jimmy Butler offensive display.
Jimmy Butler has shown that his strengths are basically everything other than scoring this year, since he can play-make and defend at such an elite level. Well, he showed what he can do offensively in the last scrimmage game when he scored 18 points 80% shooting. This is what the Heat need Jimmy to do once the postseason comes around. The team trusts him scoring the ball, the coaches trust him scoring the ball, the fans trust him shooting the ball. But, Jimmy needs to trust himself scoring the ball. He obviously needs to continue to play-make and defend as his number one option, but will need to have scoring confidence at ends of games when the team needs him. If Miami begins to have trouble with Denver’s physical defense, look for Jimmy Butler to step up as the elite scorer that he is in this game.