If you think for a moment Miami is sleep on this game, you’d better think again.
The Warriors have won 7 of their last 8 games. Point guard Stephen Curry is playing at a level where people are mentioning his name in the MVP race. Forward David Lee is garnering All-Star buzz and silencing his steadfast critics. Golden State is playing defense like never before.
And Miami is aware of it all. So if the Warriors do pull off the upset, they will have to earn it. Here is a transcript from today’s Heat shootaround.
Q: When a team shoots the 3-pointer like they do, do you prepare more for it?
“We’ve spent a good deal of time on it. They give you a different look. This is probably the best-shooting backcourt in the NBA. They’re playing at an extremely high level. They’re aggressive. Curry is healthy right now. His efficiency level right now is at an all-time high. We have to impact both those guys. Early. We need to wear on them over the course of 48 minutes. They’ll get some open looks, but we’ve got to take away as much as we can. We’ve got to make them work just to get to their spots. Be very aggressive before the point of attack. When you watch them on video, it’s almost like you’re watching a video game — Pop-A-Shot — the way they’re shooting the ball the last three weeks.”
Q: What do you make of how Curry is playing?
“He’s always had this potential. It’s really been primarily his health (holding him back). He’s been able to play the first 21 games (injury) free. That’s the biggest thing. When he came into the league as a rookie, you already saw his greatness. His mind. His skill level. His shooting ability. He’s playing right now with the same type of confidence and freedom he played with in college. You see efficiency numbers are great, going through the roof particularly the last three weeks.”
Q: What do you make of this Golden State team and the way they shoot the ball?
“This is a very, very good team. Coach Jackson has done an unbelievable job with the team. Obviously they have guys that can shoot the ball. They have two of the best shooters this game has ever seen in Curry and Thompson. Them guys can shoot it. They have these green lights that I used to have before. That is awesome for them. They’re just playing With a lot of confidence. David Lee is Mr. Consistent. Every year you can book him for 20 and 10. They got the right group of guys. This is going to be a tough game. This is a game they’re going to make us move around a lot, going to challenge us defensively. On offense we’ve got to stay on the attack and not let them lull us to sleep with their zone or their trap, etc. So we’ve got to stay on the attack. And on the defensive end, we’ve got to be aware and we’ve all got to stay together. Otherwise it will be a long night.”
Q: What has Curry done to take his game to another level?
“Be healthy. He’s always been a phenomenal player ever since his rookie year. He’s always been a guy who — obviously we all know he can shoot — is able to penetrate. He’s great getting to the rim; he can finish with either hand. One thing that’s amazing about him is he can pass equally well with both hands. That’s very rare. This guy, he can whip it with his left hand just as well as he can’t with his right. He’s just playing with a lot of confidence right now. He kinda looks like he’s back in college.”
Q: How do you defend someone who shoots so well?
“You just pray when he shoots it that it don’t go in. You got to try to put some pressure on him, man. But he’s going to get his shots. A guy who can come across half court and shoot the shot the same way he does right by the three-point line, he’s going to get his shots. You’ve just got to try to put pressure on him and hope he misses. Like I said, there’s going to be a lot of praying tonight every time he shoots.”
Q: Is this what you expected from Curry now that he has two ankles?
“Absolutely. This is what he expected out of himself as we’ll. But when you’re dealing with injuries, it kind of hampers your game. I mean I’ve watched him a lot, went to see him a few times in college, so I knew what he was capable of doing. It’s good to see him play at a high level right now. Health has a lot to do with it.”
Q: You buy the Curry-for-MVP talk?
“I think he’s playing at a high level. He’s definitely MVP for that team, for sure. And with the way that they’re playing as a team, he’d get a few votes, of course. It’s early in the season. If you had to stop right now, no one would’ve said that they’d be where they are right now — second in their division and in the middle of the pack as far as playoffs. So he’s definitely playing at a high clip right now.”
Q: What drew you to Curry back then?
“Just the way he played the game at a high level and his ability to raise his teammates to another level. Can anyone name one of his teammates in college? Right now. Go. … My point exactly. And he raised all their levels to another height because he was able to transcend their games and play at that high level. So I kind of gravitated towards that. To have one individual be able to make other people play at another level than they possibly can is awesome.”
Q: So it’s not because he was born in Akron?
“Of course. I know that for sure. (Laughs) I wasn’t even going to say that. That’s self explanatory.”