MIAMI HEAT (11-28)
at GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (32-6)
Tip-off: Tuesday, 10:30 p.m. ET
Line: Golden State -15.5, Total: 218
One of the NBA’s worst teams meets its best on Tuesday night.
The Miami Heat lost their second straight game and their seventh in their last nine on Sunday, falling 98-86 to the Clippers (LAC -9). The Heat are now 11-28 on the year (18-21 ATS) and are second from last in the Eastern Conference. They have the same number of losses as the last-place Brooklyn Nets (8-28). Outrebounded by one, they kept pace with the Clippers on the boards, but they only managed to shoot 36.9% from the field. Miami will play its fifth game of a West Coast road trip on Tuesday night against everyone’s favorite powerhouse, the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors bounced back from a devastating loss to the Grizzlies last Friday night to defeat the Kings on the road on Sunday, 117-106 (SAC +11.5). An ugly first quarter saw the Warriors go down 33-24 after one, but they exploded in the third quarter, outscoring the Kings 39-22 to take control. Golden State remains a game and a half up on the Spurs for first place out West at 32-6 (16-21-1 ATS). Since 1996, favorites of 10 or more points outscoring their opponents by at least nine points per game (GSW) are 15-42 ATS on Tuesday nights since 1996. But over the last five seasons, home favorites that have gone Over the total by at least 42 total points in their last seven games combined (GSW) are 139-91 ATS in non-conference games. SF Justise Winslow, SF Josh Richardson and PF Josh McRoberts are all out indefinitely for a Heat team decimated by injuries. SF Luke Babbitt is questionable for Tuesday night.
The Heat have the second worst offense in the NBA according to efficiency rating, as they average only 102.8 points per 100 possessions. They are stronger on defense, ranking 12th in the league with 107.2 points allowed per 100 possessions. They play the 22nd-fastest pace in the league at 94.7 points per 100 possessions. With Winslow (10.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.7 APG, 1.4 SPG) and Richardson (11.2 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.0 SPG) out of the lineup, the Heat appear primed to tank, and not in a good way: They’re missing out on valuable time to develop the players who project to be the future of the franchise. Everyone on the team is on the trading block, starting with PG Goran Dragic (19.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 6.6 APG). After struggling in his first full season in Miami last year, he is averaging about five more points per game and getting more assists, too, although his shooting percentage is down from 47.7% to 45.5%. He scored 24 points in 42 minutes against the Clippers. The team’s biggest asset, both literally and figuratively, is C Hassan Whiteside (17.2 PPG, 14.3 RPG, 2.2 BPG). He leads the league in rebounds per games and is fifth in blocks, plus he’s generating far fewer stories of locker room discontentment than he has in years past. After sitting the first four games of 2017 with a minor injury, he returned to put up 15 and 13 against Los Angeles. SG Tyler Johnson (13.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.2 SPG) signed a large contract in the offseason and has played well this year.
As one might expect, the Warriors have the NBA’s most efficient offense at 116.1 points scored per 100. As their league-best scoring margin of +11.8 suggests, they’re an elite defensive team, too: Their defensive efficiency rating of 104.4 ranks third in the league. They trail only Brooklyn in pace of play, as they average 100.4 possessions per 48 minutes. While he has been far less visible on highlight shows than he was on a night-to-night basis last season, PG Stephen Curry (24.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 5.8 APG, 1.7 SPG) has been on fire recently. After averaging 20.9 points per game in the month of December, he has scored 31.8 points per game since the new year began. He exploded in the Grizzlies loss, scoring 40 points on 15-of-27 shooting. He had 35 in the previous game, and scored 30 against Sacramento the other night. After leading the league with an astronomical player efficiency rating of 31.5 last season, he’s down to 23.66 this season, which puts him 20th in the league. The man who was second to him last year, SF Kevin Durant (25.9 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.7 BPG), has only dropped to sixth in PER (28.2 down to 27.47). He has been remarkably efficient, as he is the owner of the NBA’s 13th-best shooting percentage of 53.6% despite shooting far more than those ranked above him. He is averaging 25 points per game in the five games the team has played this month. SG Klay Thompson (21.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 38.3 3P%) and PF Draymond Green (10.8 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 7.6 APG, 2.1 SPG, 1.2 BPG) have been slightly marginalized in a Durant-centric offense, but only slightly.