Golden State Warriors at Miami Heat game preview
TV: FOX Sports Sun
Time: Pregame coverage begins at 7 p.m.
In Dwyane Wade’s mind, only two things have to happen for teams to beat the Golden State Warriors.
"You have to play near-perfect," Wade said, "and they have to play very bad."
Sounds simple, but of course, Wade knows such a combination doesn’t happen often.
That doesn’t mean Wade and the Miami Heat aren’t excited for the challenge. They play host Wednesday night to the defending champion Warriors – who are 50-5, the best 55-game start in NBA history – in a game that would be best described as a clash of styles, Miami’s defense-first ways against Golden State’s offensive juggernaut.
"You want to be measured and tested as a competitor," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Tuesday after a film session instead of a full-fledged practice. "You’re playing against the best. This is what you want. This is why we’re in the business. We’re not here just to play games where you’re given a result. That’s not this business. They’ve earned the respect and gotten to require that you play your best game."
And as Wade said, even that might not be enough.
No team averages more fast-break points than Golden State, and no team in the league has given up fewer points on the break per game than Miami (32-24). Golden State leads the NBA in 3-point accuracy; Miami is sixth-best in 3-point defense. The Warriors also lead the league by a wide margin in points per game; Miami is giving up the second-fewest points per game in the NBA, behind San Antonio.
"The best way to describe it is they’re the best open court run you can have," Wade said. "They’ve got the best players at their positions to play in the perfect offensive system for them. It’s like open gym, but they’re well-coached and they’ve got smart players and very good players."
There’s no blueprint to beating Golden State, other than trying to keep Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the rest of the Warriors’ sharpshooting corps from making better than 40 percent of their tries from 3-point range.
When the Warriors shoot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc, they’re 29-0. When that doesn’t happen, they’re a not-exactly-vulnerable 21-5 – but that would figure to give opponents at least some sense of hope.
"They’ve got two of the best shooters in the NBA," Heat center Hassan Whiteside said, referring to Curry – who has made a 3-pointer in 126 consecutive regular-season games, one shy of matching Kyle Korver’s NBA record – and Thompson. "And their other guys are not bad, either."
Miami didn’t have Whiteside – the NBA’s leader in blocked shots – for its first meeting with Golden State this season, a 111-103 loss Jan. 11 in which the Heat trailed by only three entering the final quarter. The Heat won’t have Chris Bosh on Wednesday, the All-Star forward sidelined while he determines if he can return to the court this season after a new bout with a blood clot.
Still, Wade is looking forward to Wednesday.
"We get the champs coming in," Wade said. "These are the games you want to play in."
Curry scored 36 points Monday when the Warriors became the fastest team in NBA history to 50 wins in a season with a 102-92 victory over Atlanta.
They surpassed the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who needed one more game to reach the milestone. Of course, that’s the team Golden State is chasing for one of the league’s most iconic marks.
"It’s really cool," Thompson said. "Just being in the conversation with that Bulls team, it’s humbling and it’s surreal."
Thompson scored 12 of his 27 points in the final period Monday, when the Warriors bounced back after blowing a 23-point lead in the third quarter.
Golden State has won three in a row over Miami as Curry has averaged 34.3 points, hitting 19 of 32 from 3-point range.
The Heat have won nine of 12 and are 3-0 since the All-Star break.
"We’re staying in the moment," Curry said. "It’s a special group, and we understand the potential we have, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Fifty wins is great, but we’ve got to keep plugging away and staying hungry, because no one wants to talk about that in June."