Heat are catching fire.
Rewind back to the 15th of November, the heat had just lost a home game to the Atlanta Hawks 90-93 and had a 6-12 record. They seemed destined to miss the play-offs and looked like they were having an identity crisis.
They have now won 12 of their last 13 games and are just 0.5 games back of the Bulls who hold the 8th seed. Coach Erik Spoelstra has transformed his side once again into a team that can reach the post-season. With two future All-Stars in Hassan Whiteside and a reborn Dion Waiters the heat poses two players who can go out and win a game on their own. Dion has averaged 17.3 points and 5 assists throughout his last 10 game, but it has been his clutch shooting that has really caught the eye. In an 108-101 Dragic got 22 points and 10 dimes, Waiters got 24 points and sunk a dagger with 2 minutes left he nailed a three while being heavily guarded by Batum, he then with 45 second to go made another three pointer to make it 105-98, the heat then held out to win the game. What was particularly impressive was the way Dion had the confidence to take these shots on while still being heavily guarded, he then looked at the Miami crowd as if to say “this is my house”.
The game before that was against the elite in the East, the Cavaliers. Even with Lebron and Kyrie getting over 30 points, the Heat still managed to pull out the win. It’s a testament to how well the team has done since the turn of the year not just Dion’s return from injury.
Since beating the Rockets on the 17th of January they are an NBA best 20-4. Spoelstra has transformed this team and his achievements shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to picking coach of the year. The team is very different to the Lebron and wade days but with a group of young guys including Tyler Johnson, Hassan Whiteside, Dion Waiters and veteran guard Goran Dragic they are now a legitimate force in the East, a team who with the form they are showing can look higher than 8th.
Why have the Warriors Struggled so badly since Durant’s Injury?
It is no secret that people thought the Warriors would struggle without KD, since his injury, but we didn’t expect the Warriors to drop off this much. Since the loss to Washington they are at 0.500% in the 4 games they have played. Picking up victory’s against Atlanta and a tightly fought win over the Knicks; a game played with no music or sounds in the first half much to Draymond Greens dismay. The games they have lost against The Bulls and Celtics, the side have not shot the ball well and have looked like a shadow of the team they are when Durant’s healthy. What is annoying to see is why this team has suddenly regressed so much since KD’s injury, this team won 73-9 last season with Green and the Splash brothers proving to be more than enough for most teams.
The stats make for bad viewing without Durant, when he plays the Warriors average 118.1 points and without him 101.0 points per game, a huge points differential. The field goal% goes down by 6% the 3-point% goes down significantly too.
The Warriors best be careful, because the San Antonio Spurs led by Kawhi leonard are only 2 games back of Golden State, the clash in Texas on Saturday has suddenly become a huge game. What will be interesting to see is whether or not the Warriors truly care about getting the one seed in the West, if they finish second it is more than likely they will face the Oklahoma City Thunder a team they have fared well against this season. The fate of the West however, for me comes down to Durant’s injury, if he is back and firing in time for the play offs, no question about it the Warriors reach the finals, if not however it will be very interesting to see how the Warriors go.
RECORD RECORDS RECORDS!
Russell Westbrook and James Harden, two MVP candidates have both set very different records. Russ set a new career best for points in a game, scoring 58 in a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Hardens record however is very different, the Rockets guard set an unwanted record of turnovers in a season. Harden now had 376 turnovers beating his previous record of 374, the humorous thing is if you don’t want Harden to win MVP is he still has 17 games left of the regular season to play.