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Sizzling Warriors visiting surging Heat Thursday
By: Freddy Wander - StatFox
Published: 1/2/2014  at  4:38:00 AM
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GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (20-13)

at MIAMI HEAT (24-7)

Tip-off: Thursday, 7:35 p.m. ET
Line: Miami -4.5, Total: 203.5

The Warriors look to extend their winning streak to seven games when they head to South Beach Thursday night to take on the Heat.

Golden State has been on an absolute tear lately, with a great commitment on the defensive end. During its six-game SU win streak (4-2 ATS) the club has held opponents to a paltry 89.7 PPG on 39% FG (28% threes). The Warriors have won three of these games on the road and defeated a few tough opponents in the Nuggets, Clippers and Suns over the stretch. They are now 9-9 SU (10-8 ATS) on the road, and Thursday will be their third contest of a seven-game East Coast road trip, and clearly their most difficult. Miami has also been red-hot, winning eight of its past nine games SU, but going just 3-6 ATS in this stretch. The team won three of four games in its most recent road trip, but will be happy to come home where they are 14-2 SU (6-10 ATS), which includes scoring 114.2 PPG on 56% FG during a five-game home win streak. These two teams met twice last season, with the road team winning each contest and the Under occurring both times. The Heat won the most recent contest, 92-75, in Oakland last Jan. 16, as SF LeBron James surpassed 20,000 points and 5,000 assists in the blowout win. Although Miami is 23-8 SU (16-15 ATS) in this series since 1996, including 12-3 SU at home, Golden State is 7-1 ATS in its past eight visits to AmericanAirlines Arena, with five straight covers there. Also, the Warriors are 46-29 ATS (61%) as road underdogs over the past three seasons, but Miami has gone 17-5 ATS (77%) after three consecutive non-conference games over the past three seasons. But the Heat will likely be without star SG Dwyane Wade, who suffered back spasms in the last game, and is listed as doubtful for Thursday. His teammate, PF Chris Andersen, also has a sore back and is questionable for this matchup.

Which team will extend its win streak on Thursday? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The five experts are sizzling on NBA Best Bets since the start of December, going 63% ATS (67-39-1) including 70% ATS (41-18-1) since Dec. 16. StatFox Zach has a huge 76% ATS mark (16-5-1) since Dec. 1 and is currently 59% ATS (27-19-1) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Dave has an excellent 68% ATS (15-7) Best Bets record since Dec. 1 and is 54% ATS (25-21) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Gary and StatFox Scott are both 62% ATS (13-8) in Best Bets since Dec. 1, and since Dec. 12, StatFox Brian is 69% ATS (9-4).

The Warriors have done well this season thanks to their rebounding (46.6 RPG, 2nd in NBA) and solid three-point shooting (39.3%, 3rd in league). They are scoring 102.8 PPG this season, and are outscoring their opponents by an average of 4.4 PPG. PG Stephen Curry (22.9 PPG, 9.5 APG, 1.8 SPG) continues to shoot great from behind the arc (41%), but is coming off a game against Orlando on New Year's Eve in which he only scored nine points (1-of-5 threes) and committed six turnovers. But Curry did dish out eight assists, giving him 11.3 APG in his past eight contests. He also struggled to score in his lone meeting versus Miami last season with nine points in 42 minutes, while having nearly as many turnovers (six) as assists (seven). PF David Lee (18.4 PPG, 9.7 RPG) recorded a double-double in 10 straight games from Dec. 7 to Dec. 25, but has none in the past three games, grabbing only 6.7 RPG in this stretch. Lee has averaged a double-double (14.1 PPG, 10.5 RPG) in his career versus Miami, including 16.0 PPG and 11.8 RPG in five games with the Warriors. SF Andre Iguodala (10.7 PPG, 5.0 APG, 4.0 RPG, 1.6 SPG) is coming off a poor performance against the Magic (8 points, 2 assists, 2 rebounds) and did not factor into the offense much over eight December games (7.0 PPG, 2.9 APG). He did provide offense against Miami in two games last season though, scoring 16.0 PPG (52% FG) with 5.5 RPG. SG Klay Thompson (19.4 PPG) has scorched the nets from long range this season (41% threes), but has shot only 29% from behind the arc (10-for-34) in his past five contests. C Andrew Bogut (7.9 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 1.7 BPG) grabbed double-digit rebounds in 12-of-16 December games, and last played a game against the Heat in the 2011-12 season when he scored 13 points with eight rebounds and added three blocks. With Miami's deficiency in the paint, Bogut could be a key contributor on Thursday night.

The Heat are at the bottom of the league in rebounds with 36.3 RPG, but still score 104.5 PPG (6th in NBA) using great ball movement (24.1 APG, 3rd in league). Their defense has excelled as well, giving up only 97.5 PPG to opponents (7th in NBA). SF LeBron James (25.5 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 6.6 APG, 1.3 SPG) is making a solid case to win his fifth MVP award in six years, and is coming off a big game against the Nuggets where he netted 26 points (8-of-15 FG, 5-of-9 threes) to go along with 10 assists and six rebounds. James has destroyed the Warriors in his career, averaging a robust 28.2 PPG (50% FG), 8.0 APG and 7.8 RPG in 18 career games against them. SG Dwyane Wade (19.5 PPG, 4.9 APG, 4.6 RPG, 2.0 SPG) missed five December games due to nagging injuries, but has shown his great value to his team by averaging 22.0 PPG on 58% FG in his past seven games, all Miami wins. If Wade cannot play, that is a huge boost for Golden State considering he has lit them up for 27.8 PPG (51% FG), 7.5 APG and 5.6 RPG in 17 career meetings. PF Chris Bosh (16.0 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.2 BPG) posted a season-high 37 points against Portland on Saturday night and followed that up with a 17-point performance playing Denver on Monday. He will need to repeat his 16.0 PPG and 9.5 RPG last season in two games against Golden State to put Miami over the top in this one. For his career, Bosh averages a double-double versus the Warriors with 21.2 PPG and 10.4 RPG in 16 games. SF Michael Beasley (11.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 12-of-24 threes) has looked much better in his second stint in Miami this season. He has scored at least nine points in six straight games, averaging 13.0 PPG on 50% FG (6-of-10 threes) and 5.7 RPG during this surge.

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