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Miami Heat: Team needs to be wary of De’Aaron Fox on Monday

The Miami Heat are set to play an early-evening game with the Sacramento Kings, and they will certainly have their hands full. Despite the Kings playing with a 15-27 record, they have players that can shoot the ball really well. One of those players is De’Aaron Fox. He has played well over the past couple of games, and Miami needs to be wary of him.

In Sacramento’s most recent game against the Utah Jazz, Fox was a bright spot in defeat. He had 21 points in 31 minutes of play. Shooting 10-16 from the field, he also recorded eight assists.

The loss against the Jazz marked his third game in a row with at least 20 points scored. He had a 27-point effort against the Dallas Mavericks on January 15. This was following a 31-point effort against the Orlando Magic on January 13.

The last time Miami and Sacramento met was on February 8, 2019. Fox struggled a bit in the game. He went five-of-17 in 29:34 of action. Although he was inefficient, his ability to drive to the basket left other shooters open. He was a key player for Sacramento even when struggling.

As has been documented, Miami  has had trouble keeping players out of the paint. Fox is tricky, he has a multi-faceted game. He can  drive or stop on a dime and shoot a jumper. The way he handles the basketball allows him to keep defenders guessing. His speed when driving into the lane also works in his favor. Measuring in at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, his size allows him to maintain consistent speed while also allowing him to be a scoring threat.

The Kings have many weapons at their disposal, and Miami has to be cognizant of that. As the point guard, Fox is the one that makes everything go. He should have a big hand in what Sacramento does on Monday, and the Miami Heat need to be ready for him.

Miami Heat: Bench struggles contribute to loss against Spurs

Sunday, while many were watching the AFC Championship game, Miami Heat lost to the San Antonio Spurs by a 107-102 margin. Although it was a close game throughout, a strong second quarter propelled San Antonio to victory. Outscoring the Heat by a 32-23 margin in the second frame, the bench was a huge reason why San Antonio was able to come away with the victory.

Derrick White had 11 points on five-of-11 shooting. Patrick Mills had 18 points on four-of-10 shooting. He was perfect from the free-throw line, making all four of his shots. Marco Belinelli also got into the action. He scored 12 points on two-of-six shooting. He made all six free throws he attempted.

San Antonio’s plus-minus numbers were impressive. White was a +21 while Mills was a +17. Belinelli and Jakob Poetl were  +11 and  while Lonnie Walker IV was a +10. Each of the players on the San Antonio bench were assets while they were on the floor.

Miami Heat bench struggles in loss

Miami’s bench had a tougher time getting things going. All five players recorded a minus rating while they were on the floor. Goran Dragic was the big bench scorer for Miami with 19 points in 24 minutes of play. Dragic was a -13 on the floor in this game. Derrick Jones Junior was a -21 in this contest. He finished with six points on the evening.

Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Herro each had zero points in this game. Olynyk played seven minutes while Herro played nine. Both players missed the two shots they attempted. Olynuk and Herro were both -13 respectively. This was Herro’s first game back from injury. He missed the past two contests with a knee bruise. And he appeared rusty.

Miami is going to have to have a better contributions from their bench, particularly as fatigue starts to set in during the remainder of the season. This was a rough night for the bench all-around. Up next, Miami plays host to the Sacramento Kings Monday evening. Tipoff is at 5:00 PM.

Miami Heat: Justise Winslow suffers another injury setback

The Miami Heat will be without Justise Winslow for two weeks.

Another day, another status update on Justise Winslow. According to a tweet from Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald, coach Eric Spolestra indicated Friday that Winslow will be out for the next two weeks. This is stemming from his back injury. Once the two weeks are up, he will be re-evaluated at that point.

This is another setback in what has been a difficult process for Justise Winslow. He was back on the court January 8 against Indiana, but he has not returned sense. In that game, he missed both shots he took. Recording two rebounds, an assist, and a steal, he made a noticeable impact.

Winslow has just not been healthy enough to get on the court consistently this season. Duncan Robinson has filled in for him in his absence. Robinson has averaged 11.8 points in 40 games this season. One of his best games of the year came against Atlanta on December 10. In that contest, he scored 34 points on 12-of-16 shooting. He went 10-of-14 from beyond the arc.

It will be interesting to see what occurs after the two weeks are up. Are the Heat going to trade Winslow at the deadline? The date for the trade deadline is February 6 at 3 PM EST. Five Reasons Sports noted on the Five on the Floor podcast that they don’t think Winslow suits up for the Heat this season. With the trade deadline being so close to that two-week timeframe, that is certainly believable.

Winslow needs to get healthy, and maybe have a fresh start somewhere else. Right now, he is just taking up space for Miami. Obviously, things may be different when he is healthy, but we have yet to see it. A healthy Winslow is great. And oft-injured Winslow is not ideal. We’ll have to see how this plays out.

Miami Heat need to lockdown the paint against Spurs

The Miami Heat need to clean up their play inside the paint.

The Miami Heat are getting ready to take on the San Antonio Spurs. In doing so, they are looking to snap a two-game losing skid. San Antonio will not be an easy test.  Miami needs to clean up one major aspect of their game: points in the paint.

Against the Knicks on Sunday, they struggled mightily with this. Miami gave up 72 points in the paint, compared to only 46 for the Heat. New York’s big men feasted on inside scoring. Taj Gibson and Julius Randle had 14 and 26 points respectively. Miami could just not seem to stop the inside presence New York had.

San Antonio could provide easier challenge for Miami Heat

Against San Antonio on Wednesday, stopping points in the paint needs to be a priority. San Antonio is not a team that scores in volume in the paint. They average 44.4 points per contest from inside. They are tied with two other teams with that number. One of those teams is the New York Knicks.

Bam Adebayo and Myers Leonard are two players that have the potential to stop this. They will have their work cut out for them on Wednesday.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 11 points on four-of-10 shooting against the Raptors on Sunday. He should be the primary paint presence for San Antonio. Throughout his career, he has established himself as a player that can lower his shoulder and get whatever he wants inside. The Miami Heat will have their hands full with Aldridge.

Miami should focus on playing the paint tightly and not allowing drives in the lane. Stopping the big man is only one half of the problem. The other half is eliminating easy drives to the basket. If Miami can take care of those things, that will put them in a better position to succeed.

The lack of limiting inside baskets is a problem that Miami has been having, and they can rectify it against San Antonio. They need to, or else it could be another long evening.

 

He Gone? Miami Heat’s Dion Waiters posts cryptic message

Dion Waiters hasn’t provided any excitement on the court for the Miami Heat this season.

But he can’t stop making us notice him off of it.

Waiters, who has been suspended several times, and hasn’t played in a single regular season game, does not appear to be a tradeable commodity at the moment. He hasn’t gotten time even with Justise Winslow out — Winslow won’t play again Wednesday and may be shut down soon, based on current trends. And he hasn’t found his way back into Erik Spoelstra’s good graces as fellow unfortunate big-money long-term signing James Johnson has recently.

So this probably isn’t about a trade.

Still, it was interesting on a Heat off night, with the Spurs visiting Wednesday and Miami trying to snap its first two-game losing streak of the season.

That was posted, spotted and quickly deleted.

But not before some screenshots.

So what’s that about?

It could be that Waiters is taking a social media break, which wouldn’t be such a terrible decision, after his Instagram post of himself frollicking on a boat — on a day he was supposed to be sick — contributed to his most recent suspension.

Or not.

Maybe he’s just trolling.

Is he saying peace?

Or is he…. at peace?

What’s clear is that, while Waiters is part of the team contractually, and was with them in the locker room on the New York road swing, it doesn’t seem like this situation will end with any of the Philly Cheese, Waiters Island, Miami moments that got him that contract in the first place.

One season remaining after this, at a healthy $13 million rate.

Look for him on IG soon, if not between the lines.

 

Miami Heat Need the Three Against Knicks on Sunday

The Miami Heat need to shoot better from deep on Sunday.

The Miami Heat are set to take on the New York Knicks in what is going to be a bounce back game for Miami. One thing is for certain: If the Miami Heat want to beat the Knicks on Sunday, they need to be more efficient from three-point range.

In Friday’s loss against the Brooklyn Nets, Miami struggled from deep. They went seven-of-29 from beyond the arc. By comparison, the Nets went 15-of-44 from deep. That equaled out to a 34.1 three-point percentage.

The starting lineup was not efficient shooting the three ball. Duncan Robinson was the most productive for Miami. He went two-of-six from beyond the arc, finishing with eight points on the evening.

Interestingly enough, the bench did a bit better with their opportunities. James Johnson went two-of-two from beyond the arc and finished with six points in 12 minutes of play. Goran Dragic had a rough evening, going two-of-seven from deep.

The numbers bode well for Miami Heat

The three-point shot is undoubtedly the bread and butter of Miami’s offense. They are second in the league in three-point conversion percentage. Shooting at a 37.6 % rate, that puts them only second to Utah.  Over their last three games, they have been pretty consistent with the shot, shooting at a 36.9% clip.

New York is last in the entire NBA in opponent three-point field goal percentage. Their opponents have been converting at a 38.8% rate.  Things haven’t been much better for them over the past three games. They have been susceptible from long range, allowing opponents to convert on 43.6% of their tries. This is great news for Miami, and should allow for plenty of good looks for the shooters.

If Miami wants to beat New York on Sunday, getting more production from the starting lineup is crucial for a victory. This team plays much better when everyone contributes.  Miami needs to make sure they convert from beyond the arc, and put behind the poor performance in Brooklyn. If they can do that, a win is certainly in their future.

Not an Easy Road: Tough Times for Heat Away from Home

The Miami Heat are 27-11 overall, but just 10-10 away from home after Friday night’s loss at Brooklyn.

In the Magic City, the Miami Heat have been just that with a 17-1 record.

Their only loss at the American Airlines Arena this season came December 13th to the Lakers.

However, away from Biscayne the Heat are treading water with a .500 record.

For the Heat, like any team, a breakeven line away from home should be a respectable standard.

Yet when looking at the road losses through the lens of individual performance, some trends emerge.

 

Brooklyn had lost seven games in a row before Miami came to town.

The Heat had the lowest point total in an NBA quarter in over two years (6) at Orlando just over a week ago.

Miami was beaten by 18 against a Washington team without Bradley Beal to close out 2019.

Their average margin of defeat in their 10 road losses is over 15 points per game.

Brooklyn only defeated Miami by four points, the Heat’s closest road loss of the season.

Yet something was missing in a game where the Heat scored 69 points in the first half.

 

The Heat have lost three road games by at least 20 points, including the 113-86 dismantling at Philadelphia in late November.

Cold shooting away from home has not helped, the Heat shoot about 3-percent better from all areas at home.

This is itself is not a cause for concern, teams often struggle on offense away from home.

Thankfully defense typically travels for the Heat, which has kept them in games.

The offensive rebounding must improve to give the offense second-chance opportunities.

Miami ranks 28th in the NBA on the offensive glass and have been even worse in January.

Not coincidentally the Heat rank 27th in second chance points league-wide.

Brooklyn crushed Miami on the boards overall (56-43) and in offensive rebounds 14-4.

 

Between offensive rebounding and turnovers, the Heat are losing too many possessions.

Miami is allowing 18.9 points per game off of turnovers, also 27th in the NBA.

Their next opponent is the New York Knicks, who are just 10-29 overall and 5-13 at Madison Square Garden.

Like Brooklyn, New York is mired in a losing streak of their own with five straight.

New York has some ways to counter the Heat and should not be overlooked.

The Knicks lead the NBA in offensive rebounding at over 12 per game and are a top-10 rebounding unit overall.

Those offensive rebounds have led to the Knicks actually being third in the NBA in second chance points.

Miami has to be better on the glass and take care of the ball, or they can fall into another trap game.

Getting back to the fundamentals on the road could be an easy recipe for improvement.

New York provides the perfect opportunity in what is now a more intriguing matchup than anticipated.

Miami Heat’s Justise Winslow missing both games in New York

Justise Winslow will not play for the Miami Heat in New York, either against the Nets on Friday night or the Knicks on Sunday afternoon, after a setback with his back injury.

Health has been a problem for Winslow this season. He has only played in 11 games to this point. His last contest came on Wednesday against Indiana. In that game, he saw the four for 15:33. He missed both shots he attempted but did manage to record two rebounds, an assist, and a block.

For his Miami Heat career, Justice Winslow has played for five seasons in 241 games. He has recorded nine points per game in addition to 5.4 rebounds per game. His best season came last year. He played in 66 games, starting 52 of them. He recorded 12.6 points per contest as well as 5.4 rebounds per game. He saw an increase in minutes in comparison to the 2017-18 season. Playing 29.7 minutes per contest, that was an increase from 2017-18. He played in 24.7 minutes per game that year.

So far this season, Winslow is playing 23 minutes per contest. His best game to this point in the season came against the Memphis Grizzlies on October 23. He scored 27 points, going 10-of-21 from the field. In addition, he recorded seven rebounds and seven assists. It was certainly a nice way to start the season for Winslow.

When healthy, he is undoubtedly an asset for Miami. However, it seems like he has been injured more often than on the floor. One has to wonder if the Heat will deal him prior to the trade deadline in an effort to get more production from another asset. As for right now, their main goal should be to see that he gets healthy.

Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat blow kisses to TJ Warren on social media

The Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers aren’t exactly the best of friends.

This has been the case for years. Remember Udonis Haslem and Lance Stephenson? And LeBron James and Lance Stephenson? And Ray Allen and Lance Stephenson? And Juwan Howard and Lance Stephenson?

OK, you get it. There was some stuff with David West and Danny Granger too.

Things got a little chippy between the two teams again on Wednesday night, with Jimmy Butler and T.J. Warren had an exchanging of pleasantries during the Miami Heat’s 122-108 win over the Indiana Pacers. Butler had a great night, scoring 14 points on five-of-six shooting from the field. He also made all four free throws he attempted, and recorded six rebounds.

Warren had a rough night to say the least. He went one-of-five from the field and made one of two attempts from the free throw line. He had three points in 23 minutes of play. Warren was also a -25 while he was on the floor. When these two teams meet again on March 20, things should be interesting.

Miami leads the season series by a 2-0 margin. Prior to this game, they met on December 27 at American Airlines Arena. The Heat won narrowly, 113-112. The series is certainly trending in the right direction, particularly since the Pacers won the last three meetings prior to Miami winning the pair.

Friday, March 20 should be a whole lot of fun. That is the next time the Heat and Pacers will face off. Bankers Life FieldHouse will be the venue, and  it will set the stage for a Butler-Warren rematch.

If Warren shows up.

Maybe not if someone shows him social media from tonight.

It’s safe to say that Jimmy Butler is looking forward to this matchup. His post on Instagram said it all. Derrick Jones Jr., who played with Warren in Phoenix in 2017-18 also added his two cents on Twitter in regards to Wednesday night. Meyers Leonard did the same.  One thing is for certain: There is certainly no love lost between these two teams.

There is no doubt that his words with Warren ignited a competitive fire. That’s the type of Jimmy Butler we love to see. There is little doubt that he will be booed when Miami travels to Indiana. However, that will undoubtedly fuel the fire for him to play even harder. I can’t wait to see how it all plays out, and if the tensions increase in subsequent matchups.

Because all the Heat players appear to be firmly on Butler’s side, including the rookies:

And the veterans:

Handicapping the Miami Heat’s 3-Game Trip

The Miami Heat are playing great basketball. It feels almost like a return to the days of old,  back when the Big 3 were in town, even if they don’t have the front line starpower.

 

Now, the Heat are healthier than they have been — with Jimmy Butler and possibly Justise Winslow returning — and are firmly entrenched in the top three, we a two-game lead on the No. 4 Toronto Raptors and a full three games on the Philadelphia 76ers, who had fallen into a terrible slump prior to beating Oklahoma City.

 

After a five-win stretch, which included sweeping their 4-game home stretch against the Knicks, Jazz, Indiana, and Sixers, the Heat have gone lose-win-lose-win over their last four. They have the Indiana Pacers coming up again on Wednesday in Indiana, and then a trip to New York brings aways games against the Nets on Friday and the Knicks on Sunday.

 

It’s funny because the Heat has beaten Utah, Indiana, Philadelphia, and Toronto since December 23rd, and still the power rating algorithms are a bunch of haters. Miami is No. 3 in the NBA standings and beat these teams, but still, the predictive power ratings have them rated back at No.11. Toronto is rated at No. 7, Philly is rated at No. 9, and Utah is rated at No. 10. Ok. So what gives?

 

I guess the Heat will just have to go and beat these teams – and other top teams – again and we’ll see if they get any love in the power rankings.

 

Heat vs. Pacers | Wednesday 7 PM ET @ Bankers Life Fieldhouse

 

The Indiana Pacers just lost to the Heat in Miami, but now the boys have to go and prove themselves up in Indiana. Both teams are good on defense. The Heat allows just 107.28 and the Pacers let 106.16 points by per game. On offense, Miami puts up 111.11 against Indiana’s 109.46. So, on any given night, these two teams are very evenly matched.

But the Heat’s road offense is scoring around five points fewer per game than their overall average. Out on the highway, they score 106.17, which is the No. 21 road offense. The Pacers put up 111.21 per game at home which is the No. 18 home offense. Home vs. Away defense shows the Pacers improving to 104.7 points per game allowed, and the Heat falling to 110.11.

 

So, we could see the Pacers coming in as significant home favorites on the NBA odds offered at sportsbookreview.com. If the point differential is any indicator, we could technically see a spread of around 10 points. However, I would expect the handicappers to go with straight-up averages and cap this game out to be around 105 for the Heat and 111 for the Pacers.

 

If this is the case, and the point spread is set with the Heat +6, hop on it because they very well could win this one outright.

 

Heat vs. Nets | Friday 7:30 PM @ Barclay’s Center

 

Since we have already gone over Miami’s road stats, we’ll just stick with Brooklyn here. The Nets put up 109.63 per game at home, which falls right in line with Miami’s defensive numbers. So, that is the score we should expect from the Nets; roughly 107 to 109. However, they are not as good on the defensive front as the Pacers and allow 109 and change to go up on the visiting team’s scoreboard in Brooklyn. This one should come down to a pretty close game, but the personnel matchup favors Miami. Remember, we beat the Nets in Brooklyn last time around, 109-106. I predict a similar outcome in for this meeting.

 

 

Heat vs. Knicks | Sunday, 3:30 PM @ Madison Square Garden

 

The Heat have beaten the Knicks in seven of the last 10 meetings in the three most recent, the Heat have smoked the Knicks 3-0 by an average score of 111.67 to 101. The last time these two played was on December 20th when Miami smashed New York 129 to 114.

 

The Heat might not get the road sweep. But they very well might. I think they at least go two of three for the remainder of the week. They’ll keep their win ratio rolling and stay at the top of the Eastern Conference.