Unfortunately for Dub Nation and Heat fans, that’s not the universe we’re living in. In this universe, the one where we can’t shut off fatigue and injury settings, the Warriors’ and the Heat’s playoff hopes are pinned on the play-in tournament. Every game counts now.
While the Heat still closely resemble the team that was perhaps one full tank away from the championship last year, the Warriors look and feel different. Sure, it’s still Steph Curry’s show, but remove him from the five on the court and it instantly turns into an adventure. In a recent game against the Sacramento Kings, the Warriors deployed this starting lineup: James Wiseman, Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Oubre, and Juan Toscano-Anderson. They lost by 22 points.
Curry recently missed five games after hurting his tailbone, and immediately the Warriors spun into a four-game losing streak. He comes back and the Warriors snap that losing streak, beating the Chicago Bulls by 14 points.
The Heat also faced tough days recently, losing six straight (their worst streak since 2017) before beating the New York Knicks. If only the Heat could play together on a more consistent basis and not head into games with a missing Jimmy Butler here and a missing Goran Dragic there.
When these two teams last met in February, Butler had a triple-double and Dragic was out. Curry shot an awful 5-of-20 from 3, but three of those long bombs came in the clutch to give Golden State an overtime win.
Many things have changed since then, roster-wise. The Heat have added Victor Oladipo, Nemanja Bjelica, and Trevor Ariza, while the Warriors opened up two roster spots that are expected to be filled in before the final sprint for the playoffs.
With each team having only about 20-plus games remaining in their regular season, it’s all about the playoff moves now. And for fringe playoff teams like the Warriors and the Heat, it’s winning time or else.
Catch the Golden State Warriors versus the Miami Heat at 8:00 AM on NBA TV Philippines.