Miami HEAT at Sacramento Kings Game Preview
Photo Credit: Jordan Johnson
The Miami HEAT face the Sacramento Kings Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center. The HEAT fell to the Kings 89-88 in their last meeting on Jan. 25. Tip-off is set for 10:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 9:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket.
1. While the HEAT lost by 16 in Portland, were there any positive takeaways from their comeback bid in the second half?
Couper Moorhead: Well, yes, because the comeback was largely driven by Justise Winslow. Goran Dragić deserves a ton of credit for even keeping Miami relatively close with most of the team’s scorers having an off night and Hassan Whiteside out again, but once Portland went up 19 and went to their bench, Winslow – with Dwyane Wade not playing – took the helm of the HEAT’s second unit and went to work. Defensively he shut down CJ McCollum for a stretch and then ran the offense on the other end, getting to the rim for a couple of tough finishes and then hitting a three. By the time Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkić returned to the floor the HEAT were closing within three points, and then Lillard took over to put a capper on the evening. There’s still plenty of room to grow, but Winslow is doing all the growing, each game, right in front of us.
Joe Beguiristain: Definitely.
As Coup mentioned above, Justise Winslow was a monster during the HEAT’s 18-2 run that cut the deficit to three with 6:38 left in the game. Throughout the fourth quarter, Winslow attacked the basket, knocked down a couple of threes and defended both C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard very well. In other words, the 21-year-old was his usual versatile self.
Still, it’s kind of crazy that this has become the norm for Winslow over the past few weeks. In his last nine outings, the former Duke Blue Devil has averaged 12.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game on 53.1 percent shooting from the field, including 54.2 percent from downtown. What’s more, Miami has outscored opponents by 13.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor during that same span.
That’s pretty impressive.
2: How were the Kings able to pull out a comeback victory last time in Miami?
Couper: They were able to hang around just a little bit too long largely because the HEAT were having one of their worst offensive games of the season. The Kings were up two after Miami scored just 17 in the first quarter, by halftime it was tied and after three the HEAT led by just one. Yes, Miami led by 12 points midway through the final period but they scored just 16 points overall in the period as the Kings stormed back. Had the HEAT not shot 37.8 percent overall they might have been able to be a more definitive seal on the game a little earlier, but such as it was (with the team relatively healthy outside of missing Tyler Johnson) the Kings made their run at exactly the right time and came away with a one-point victory.
Joe: The Kings played pretty well defensively and held the HEAT in check for most of the night. Outside of Goran Dragić and Wayne Ellington, Miami struggled to score consistently and Sacramento took advantage. In fact, the Kings dug out of a 12-point hole midway through the fourth and came away with a one-point victory thanks to a clutch put-back jam by De'Aaron Fox. Of course, Buddy Hield also played a role with seven points on 3-of-4 shooting in the final period.
While it’s easy to just chalk this up as a bad offensive night for the HEAT, they made enough plays early in the fourth to get the win. Unfortunately, they just couldn't seal the deal down the stretch. With all that in mind, Miami should be hungry to avenge one of its toughest losses of the season.
3: Is there anything the HEAT can better do to defend Buddy Hield after he scored 24 points off the bench?
Couper: Sacramento didn’t exactly have an elite offensive evening themselves, scoring just 93.5 points per 100 possessions, but it was Buddy Hield, shooting 10-of-15 and 4-of-7 from three, who kept them hanging around all the same. While Hield is more than capable of hitting a variety of perimeter shots, running off floppy sets, coming off flare screens or launching off the dribble, most of his looks were fairly difficult. The HEAT will need to step up just another step to crowd him given that he isn’t the same threat to drive that Lillard and McCollum were on Monday, and if Hield hits those contested looks then Miami will have to live with it.
If however, they can stick with Hield better before the catch and limit his attempts altogether, the Kings will be severely limited in their perimeter options. In that game in Miami, Sacramento attempted just five triples that didn’t come off Hield’s hands.
Joe: Whenever you face a solid shooter like Hield, it’s all about limiting their airspace. Although Hield primarily takes pull-up jumpers, he’s significantly more efficient on catch-and-shoot opportunities within the flow of the offense. Case in point: he’s shooting 95-of-189 (50.3 percent) on catch-and-shoot treys this season.
As such, the HEAT have to make sure there’s a body on him at all times regardless of the situation. If Hield is looking to attack off the dribble as usual, more pressure can get the ball out of his hands. If he’s off the ball and his defender slides over to help elsewhere, Miami’s rotations have to be sharp so Hield doesn’t get too clean a look.
- The HEAT have won four of six and are 36-32.
- The Kings have dropped three of four and enter the contest at 21-47.
- Goran Dragić leads Miami in points (17.2) and assists (4.9) per game.
- Zach Randolph leads Sacramento in scoring at 14.8 points per game.
- Dwyane Wade (mild left hamstring strain) and Hassan Whiteside (left hip pain) are out.
- Josh Richardson (left foot soreness) is listed as doubtful.
- HEAT Offense: 104.3 (20)
- HEAT Defense: 104.4 (10)
- Kings Offense: 101.5 (29)
- Kings Defense: 110.1 (29)