As last night's loss to the last-place Utah Jazz shows, the Miami Heat still have trouble playing down to the level of their competition. It may be good, then, that the two-time defending champions will face two up-and-coming teams before the All-Star break, including one team that defeated the Heat at home earlier this season.
Tuesday, February 11: Miami Heat at Phoenix Suns, 9 p.m.
In one of the bigger surprises this NBA season, the Phoenix Suns stand a respectable 30-20 in the Western Conference and currently hold the sixth seed in the West. Phoenix is coming off a lucrative win over the Golden State Warriors -- Miami's other opponent this week. Goran Dragic is in the midst of a breakout season, coming off a 34-point performance against the Warriors. The Suns have a deep team with several players who can contribute, including Gerald Green, Markieff and Marcus Morris and P.J. Tucker, who has emerged as a Spurs-like pickup. The Heat defeated the Suns 107-92 in late November, but this Suns team has improved to the point it may grab the Heat's attention.
Wednesday, February 12: Miami Heat at Golden State Warriors, 10:30 p.m.
NBATV will pick up this game for a national audience. This Warriors team has surely gotten Miami's attention. Stephen Curry and Daivd Lee dominated the Heat for a rare 123-114 Heat home loss this season Jan. 2. Curry knocked down eight 3-pointers against Miami that night, scoring 14 points in a third-quarter splurge that particularly hurt Miami. The Heat certainly have to contest the Warriors' jump-shots and keep Lee out of the lane. Because Greg Oden played such good defense against the high-flying Clippers last week, Erik Spoelstra may decide to see how Oden defends Andrew Bogut.