MIAMI (AP) – In Dwyane Wade‘s mind, only two things have to happen for teams to beat the Golden State Warriors.
“You have to play near-perfect,” Wade said, “and they have to play very bad.”
Sounds simple, but of course, Wade knows such a combination doesn’t happen often.
That doesn’t mean Wade and the Miami Heat aren’t excited for the challenge. They play host on Wednesday night to the defending champion Warriors – who are 50-5, the best 55-game start in NBA history in a game that would be best described as a clash of styles, Miami’s defense-first ways against Golden State’s offensive juggernaut.
“You want to be measured and tested as a competitor,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Tuesday after a film session instead of a full-fledged practice. “You’re playing against the best. This is what you want. This is why we’re in the business. We’re not here just to play games where you’re given a result. That’s not this business. They’ve earned the respect and gotten to require that you play your best game.”
And as Wade said, even that might not be enough.
No team averages more fast-break points than Golden State has so far this season, and no team in the league has given up fewer points on the break per game than Miami. Golden State leads the NBA in 3-point accuracy; Miami is sixth-best in 3-point defense. The Warriors also lead the league by a wide margin in points per game; Miami is giving up the second-fewest points per game in the NBA, behind only San Antonio.
“The best way to describe it is they’re the best open court run you can have,” Wade said. “They’ve got the best players at their positions to play in the perfect offensive system for them. It’s like open gym, but they’re well-coached and they’ve got smart players and very good players.”
There’s no blueprint to beating Golden State, other than trying to keep Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the rest of the Warriors’ sharpshooting corps from making better than 40 percent of their tries from 3-point range.
When the Warriors shoot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc, they’re 29-0 this season. When that doesn’t happen, they’re a not-exactly-vulnerable 21-5 – but that would figure to give opponents at least some sense of hope.
“They’ve got two of the best shooters in the NBA,” Heat center Hassan Whiteside said, referring to Curry – who has made a 3-pointer in 126 consecutive regular-season games, one shy of matching Kyle Korver‘s NBA record – and Thompson. “And their other guys are not bad, either.”
Miami didn’t have Whiteside – the NBA’s leader in blocked shots – for its first meeting with Golden State this season, a 111-103 loss in which the Heat trailed by only three entering the final quarter. The Heat won’t have Chris Bosh on Wednesday, the All-Star forward sidelined while he determines if he can return to the court this season after a new bout with a blood clot.
Still, Wade is looking forward to Wednesday.
“We get the champs coming in,” Wade said. “These are the games you want to play in.”
If you’re a Comcast subscriber in the Bay Area, you can stream tonight’s Warriors-Heat game here.