Brooklyn Nets at Miami HEAT Game Preview
Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon
The Miami HEAT host the Brooklyn Nets Friday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. Get your tickets now! The HEAT defeated the Nets 101-89 in their last meeting on Dec. 9. Tip-off is set for 8:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 7:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket.
1: What worked so well in Miami’s post-Christmas victory over Orlando?
Couper Moorhead: This was one of those games we’ve seen so many times over the past year and a half, when the HEAT’s bench comes in and completely overwhelms the backups of the opposing team. The Magic, in fairness, were missing three starters so their bench wasn’t their usual bench anymore than their starters were their usual starters, but that’s the sort of situation Miami, with its depth, is built to take advantage of. Tyler Johnson was a plus-32, Bam Adebayo was a plus-24 and Wayne Ellington, having one of the best shooting seasons of all-time (yep), was a plus-11 all in a game in which Miami trailed by double digits in the third quarter. As long as those bench groups are defending, and they seemingly had a hand on every Magic pass in the second half, then a big shooting night from Ellington (6-of-10 from three) coupled with the points scored in transition off misses and turnovers should always be enough for a significant run. That’s the formula.
Joe Beguiristain: After a slow first half, the HEAT turned things around on both ends and overwhelmed the Magic after halftime. While Wayne Ellington and Josh Richardson were instrumental in the fourth quarter and combined for 26 points on 9-of-11 shooting in the period, Tyler Johnson and Bam Adebayo were just as impactful. In fact, Adebayo led the team with nine screen assists and eight deflections, while Johnson led the way with a plus-32 rating. Additionally, both guys played a huge role in Orlando shooting just 36.4 percent in the fourth quarter.
Speaking of Adebayo, both he and Kelly Olynyk continued to show nice chemistry on Tuesday with Hassan Whiteside easing his way back from injury and playing less than usual. In 140 minutes on the floor together this season, Adebayo and Olynyk have tallied an impressive 12.4 net rating. With all the versatile weapons Miami has in the frontcourt, it’ll be interesting to see how Erik Spoelstra allocates minutes moving forward.
2: What did we learn from the matchup with Brooklyn in Mexico City?
Couper: Pretty much the same thing that happened against Orlando this week. Brooklyn, playing as hard as usual and putting up a good amount of threes which helps increase the scoring variance in their games, kept things tight through three quarters as their starters were a plus lineup overall. But it was the bench that again came through for Miami as Tyler Johnson and Justise Winslow combined for 35 points on 13-of-17 shooting, including a career-best 4-of-4 from three out of Winslow. Being at altitude with both teams essentially on the road likely contributed to it not being the most aesthetically pleasing game, but the HEAT won a game they should win in a way they should win.
Joe: We didn’t learn too much from that game, as the HEAT simply took care of business against a team they were supposed to beat. You may remember that Brooklyn finalized a trade with Philadelphia in the days leading up to that last matchup and were missing Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas as a result. Of course, D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin were also out. Of those four guys, it looks like Stauskas will be the lone player available on Friday. Russell and Lin remain out with injuries, while Okafor has been working on his conditioning.
With so many players missing time, the Nets have continued to struggle this season and have dropped seven of their last nine. That said, Miami has to be wary of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who has led the team with 15.6 points on 48.1 percent shooting and 7.9 rebounds to go along 2.9 assists per game during that span.
- The HEAT have won seven of ten and enter the contest at 18-16.
- The Nets have dropped eight of ten and are 12-22 on the year.
- Josh Richardson leads Miami with 1.2 steals per game.
- DeMarre Carroll leads Brooklyn with 6.7 rebounds per contest.
- HEAT Offense: 103.0 (21)
- HEAT Defense: 104.4 (11)
- Nets Offense: 103.9 (19)
- Nets Defense: 107.7 (25)