HEAT Aim To Bounce Back Against Suns

Tyler Herro
Photo Credit: Bart Young
by Joe Beguiristain
HEAT.com

Let’s just get this out of the way: the HEAT struggled against the Nuggets their last time out. Plain and simple. And while it was a disappointing result, things like that happen during the course of an 82-game regular season. Not to mention, the HEAT have shown they’re significantly better than their performance indicated on Tuesday.

“We didn’t guard the way that we’re capable of…I think that’s what we have to fix,” Jimmy Butler said after the game. “[It’s] easily correctable. We talk about it all the time, so I know our next effort will be much better.”

That next effort will be against a surprising Suns team on Thursday at 9PM.

Like Miami, Phoenix enters the contest at 5-2, with impressive victories over the Clippers, Warriors and 76ers already. Keep in mind that the Suns didn’t record their fifth win last season until Dec. 13.

So what’s been the key to their turnaround?

Defense.

In fact, Phoenix is giving up just 29.1 attempted treys per game and is holding the opposition to a paltry 33.3 percent on those looks.

Otherwise, Devin Booker has continued to do his thing with a team-high 26.1 points per contest on 53.5 percent shooting, including a crazy 50 percent from deep on relatively high volume.

Then again, newcomers Ricky Rubio and Aron Baynes have also made some noise. Rubio has been close to notching a few triple-doubles this season (he’s averaging 12.7 points, a team-high 8.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds thus far), while Baynes has been on a tear in Deandre Ayton’s stead (19.7 points on 56.8 percent shooting, including 45 percent from downtown, 7.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.0 steals over his last three).

And when you add it all up, Monty Williams’ squad has one of the best net ratings in the league at 7.8. Of course, the HEAT are right there, too, at 6.3.

Long story short, this should be a fun matchup between two well-coached and well-disciplined teams.

INJURY/STATUS UPDATE: For Miami, Derrick Jones Jr. (Left Groin Strain) and Chris Silva (Cold) will play. Udonis Haslem (Stomach Ache) and Dion Waiters (Stomach Ache) remain questionable. Justise Winslow (Headache), Daryl Macon (G League - Two-Way) and KZ Okpala (Left Achilles Strain) are out. For Phoenix, Deandre Ayton (League Suspension), Jared Harper (G League - Two-Way), Ty Jerome (Right Ankle Sprain) and Jalen Lecque (G League - On Assignment) are out.

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