There is no better remedy for a tough loss then the softball the NBA schedule is tossing at the Heat tonight. After falling short Thursday night against the Cleveland LeBrons, Miami continues their homestand against the winless New Jersey Nets, who are coming off a 16-points loss in Orlando last night in which they managed only 30 points in the 2nd half.
Now sure, this game seems like a gimme; the Heat are emerging as a defensive force that continues to improve offensively while on the other end of the stick, the Nets are a very young team who, like the Knicks, are stuck with a below average roster while waiting for the summer free-agent frenzy to begin.
The Nets season got off to a rough start when their best player, Devin Harris, injured his groin during the preseason. Then about a week later in the Nets 2nd game of the year, he reinjured the groin which has caused for him to be off the court since. He may be back in another week or two, but that won't help the Nets tonight in Miami. Rafer Alston (remember him?) is filling in for Harris and posted his first career triple double last night in Orlando with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Also nursing an injury is guard Courtney Lee. He strained his right groin muscle last Friday night and hasn't returned to the lineup since. The Nets were hoping to get Lee back for last night's game in Orlando, but that wasn't the case. I have to figure that if New Jersey was going to bring Lee back this weekend they would've done it last night and let him rest tonight, not the other way around...but we'll see if he suits up against the Heat.
This game certainly looks on paper like a matchup made in heaven for Miami. The Heat are one of the best defensive squads in the NBA; 7th in points against (91.3), 4th in FG% against (40%) and 2nd in 3-point% against (29%). On the other hand, the Nets are a pretty poor offensive team, ranking 29th in the league in points scored (85), FG% (40%) and 3-point% (28%). They have also scored 80 or less points in their last three games.
- Dwyane Wade tied his own franchise record against the Cavaliers, scoring at least 20 points in 21 straight games. I'd say there is a better then good chance he'll break that record tonight; he is averaging 34.8 points over his last four games.
- Three different Nets starters, Brook Lopez, Rafer Alston and Trenton Hassel, are all averaging about 40 minutes a game over the last week. The injury riddled Nets will be playing with only 9 players active for at least the immediate future.
- Even though the Heat couldn't set a new best start to a season record, they can match the team's best 9-game start at 7-2 with a win tonight.
- After looking amazing over a 3-game stretch, Quentin Richardson has taken a little step back. Over his last two games, Q hasn't scored a point (taking only 4 shots) and gotten himself into foul trouble which limits the way that Coach Spoelstra can rotate his defenders.
Tipoff from the AAA is 7:30.
Unrelated to this game, Michael Wallace (Miami Herald Heat beat writer) posted a very interesting blog about the Heat and possible pre-summer trades. Chris Paul, anyone? I seriously recommend checking this article out, as it broadens the scope of how much flexibility the Heat have, and why the future is so bright in Miami. To read, click here.