|14/15 NBA Season
|November 16, 2014
|American Airlines Arena | Miami, FL
|Fox Sports Wisconsin | 105.7 The Fan
|2014/15 Advanced Stats
Opponent Coverage: Hot Hot Hoops
Game Coverage: Bucks vs. Heat
LeBron is gone, and so presumably are the Heat's title aspirations. But don't pile dirt on the grave of South Beach just yet--Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are still rare talents, Erik Spoelstra is one of the league's more underrated coaches, and the addition of Luol Deng will dull the pain of LeBron's departure at least a little.
Miami-Wade County. James' departure has necessarily meant greater responsibility for Wade, and thus far the former Marquette star is pulling his weight. For all the talk of Wade being past his prime, he's still posting 19.8 ppg, 6.4 apg, 56.0% true shooting and a tidy 23.7 PER -- if this is over the hill, then we should all be so lucky, right?
Of course, the big question with Wade over the past year has been health, and the same goes for tonight's matchup with the Bucks. Miami carefully managed his rest a year ago in order to keep him fresh for the postseason (with mixed results), and he hasn't played more than 69 games in a season since the 10/11 campaign. He missed Friday night's loss in Atlanta with a tight hamstring and is listed as questionable tonight, which could mean a second straight start for D-League dunk artist James Ennis. Despite starting in Atlanta, Ennis played just six minutes, with starter-turned-sixth-man Mario Chalmers coming off the bench to score 23 points and grabbed 11 boards in a game-high 40 minutes.
Bosh. While Wade is fighting the effects of father time, Chris Bosh is trying to prove he can still carry the load like he once did in Toronto. So far, so good.
Bosh scored 20+ points in each of the Heat's first seven games and was named Eastern Conference player of the week after averaging 25.7 ppg during the Heat's 3-0 start. Still, he's cooled off a bit since then, scoring just 9 points against the Pacers on Wednesday and hitting just 7/19 (20 points and eight boards) against the Hawks on Friday. But while his shooting percentage has taken a dip through nine games (44.8%), he's showing he can still be an efficient scorer (56.1% true shooting) despite upping his usage (from 20% to 26%) and scoring (from 16.2 to 21.6 ppg) in LeBron's absence. Bosh has given the Bucks (and Larry Sanders) problems with his floor-spacing ability in the past, so watch out for that to continue tonight. The Bucks' defense only fell one spot (second to third) after Friday night's loss in Toronto, though they'll have a tough time containing the Heat if Sanders is spending his entire time chasing Bosh on the perimeter.
Small ball. If there was ever a night to rest Zaza Pachulia, this would probably be it. Miami plays as small as just about any team in the league, with Bosh at center and the resurgent Shawne Williams (6'9", 230 lbs) starting at power forward. Off the bench, Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem are the only other healthy big(ish) men, though McRoberts (who's not exactly enormous) will give them additional depth and could very well start at some point when he gets back into the lineup. In other words, this is the kind of game where you'd hope to see Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker seeing more extensive time at power forward -- and if you ever dreamed of Giannis at center, tonight might be the night.
Speaking of Williams: The career 34.5% shooter from deep is hitting an absurd 53.8% from three and 70.2% in true shooting terms, so the Bucks will hope that mean reversion starts tonight. He scored 21 points and hit 5/6 from deep on Friday, which makes me entirely unenthusiastic about Ersan Ilyasova's chances of slowing him down tonight.
Injury report. Aside from Wade, the Heat also have Danny Granger (hamstring), Josh McRoberts (blister) and Justin Hamilton (abductor strain) listed as questionable. The Bucks have missed Khris Middleton (sore knee) the past two games, though he did practice on Friday and is listed as probably tonight. Damien Inglis (perpetually broken foot) and Johnny O'Bryant (knee sprain) remain out for the foreseeable future.