Hello All, On January 13th, the inconsistent Heat will continue their West Coast Swing against the struggling Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are a mess right now, dragging in an 11-25 record. They play Don Nelson’s unique style of basketball, yet they do not seem to have the personnel to run it as effectively as they did during their memorable playoff run of 2007. Gone are the days of Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson and Jason Richardson. Now, the Warriors play Monta Ellis for 40+ minutes every night (often times the full 48), hope for contributions from rookie Stephen Curry and the enigmatic Cory Maggette, and lose a lot. This was actually overheard from the Heat locker room before the last time these teams met up: "Warrrrriiiioooooorrrrrrssssss, come out and plaaaayyyyyy-aaaaaaayyyyyyyy!" Ok, not really, but wouldn’t it have been awesome? PROJECTED STARTERS Miami Heat PG- R. Alston SG- D. Wade SF- Q. Richardson PF- M. Beasley C- J. O'Neal Golden State Warriors PG- S. Curry SG- M. Ellis SF- C. Maggette PF- V. Radmanovic C- A. Biedrins The Heat have the edge in this matchup, even though the Warriors play that running style which can give the Heat trouble if they aren’t 100% on defense. Ellis will get his points, but the key is to hold him to a low percentage. Ellis getting 25 points on 25 shots is just what the Heat ordered. Curry can drain the 3 and create in the lane, but he is not yet a go-to guy. Anthony Randolph, the Warriors’ top rebounder, is out hurt. The X Factor is Maggette, who can light it up in a hurry but is inconsistent. When he was playing with the Clippers a couple of seasons ago (does he follow the losing, or vice versa?...hmmmmmmm) my brother and I watched him put up 20 points in about a quarter of action (against the Heat) and then not re-enter the game until the 4th quarter. And he had zero fouls. Possibly the most random thing I have ever seen in a sporting event. STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN (Via Statsheet.com; 1/10/10) Effective Field Goal % The Heat is 22nd in the league at 48.6%, while the Warriors are 8th at 51%. EDGE: Warriors (Big) Turnover % The Heat is 2nd in the league at 12.7%, while the Warriors are 23rd at 15.2%. EDGE: Heat (Big) Offensive Rebound % The Heat is 20th in the league at 25.5%, while the Warriors are 30th at 20.6%. EDGE: Heat (Big) Free Throw Rate The Heat is 13th in the league at 31%; the Warriors are also at 31%. EDGE: Even The Warriors also rank 6th in possessions per game and 25th in possessions allowed per game. It is simple to see why they struggle. They take a lot of shots but don’t create many second chances AND they don’t take care of the ball particularly well. These are the pitfalls of Nellie Ball. Keys to the Game D-Wade said it best when he stated that sometimes his team plays like "Miami" and they struggle, whereas other times they play like the "Heat" and they are tough to beat. To beat the Warriors, they can probably play as Miami and win but can assure a victory by turning up the Heat. If the Heat hound Ellis on defense, contain his damage and force the supporting cast to make plays, they should get the win. Meanwhile, Golden State needs to find a way to keep the Heat off the glass and get a big night from either Maggette or Curry on the perimeter. If they can do that, they could force the Heat in to a bad night and get the upset to continue a slight uptick they have been on of late. I’ll pick the Heat. Always guard the inbound passer.