The Miami Heat will continue their West Coast road swing with a trip to Colorado to face the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena. Wednesday's affair will be the last meeting between the two teams this season after the first one ended in a rout.
On Jan. 27, the Denver Nuggets went to Florida and crushed the Miami Heat in a 109-82 blowout. The Heat were missing Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro at the time, but no mercy came from the Nuggets. This next meeting should be an exciting one, with the losers wanting to pay back the victors in full.
Fixture - Miami Heat vs. Denver Nuggets | 2020-21 NBA Season
Date & Time - Wednesday, April 14th, 10:00 PM ET (Thursday, April 15th, 7:30 AM IST)
Venue - Ball Arena, Denver, CO
Miami Heat Preview
After six straight losses, the Miami Heat have won six of their last eight games, including a recent four-game winning streak. But the rampaging Phoenix Suns routed the Heat 106-86 on Tuesday to give Butler and his team a good old-fashioned spanking from a title contender.
The Miami Heat shot a horrendous 37.9 percent for the game and 20.5 percent from the 3-point arc. The defense was strong enough to hold the Suns to less than 110 points, but the shooting struggles took a toll on the defending Eastern Conference champions.
Facing another title contender on back-to-back nights is not ideal for any team, but the Miami Heat will have to recover from their recent debacle very quickly.
Key Player - Tyler Herro
Tyler Herro was expected to take the next step this season into becoming an All-Star. But injuries, an expanded role and learning to play better defense have been a bit much for the second-year guard. He’s got the same confidence as he did a year ago, but he’s still learning how to handle the extra responsibilities.
Herro has started 14 of his 43 appearances so far, but he’s on the floor when it matters most. He is playing more minutes (31.5 compared to 27.4 a year ago) and is scoring more (15.4 from 13.5).
An integral part of the Miami Heat’s offense, the Boy Wonder has scored double-digits in 10 straight games, including a 29-point outing against the Portland Trail Blazers on March 25. The loss to the Suns showed that the Heat bench needs more output. If they intend to keep up with the Denver Nuggets bench on Wednesday, Herro will have to produce more than 15 points tonight.
Miami Heat Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Kendrick Nunn l Shooting Guard - Duncan Robinson l Small Forward - Jimmy Butler l Power Forward - Trevor Ariza l Center - Bam Adebayo
Denver Nuggets Preview
Jamal Murray’s season-ending ACL injury has likely dampened the Denver Nuggets' spirits, who were touted as one of the top contenders for the NBA title this season. Even without the high-scoring guard from Kentucky, they remain a threat to other championship hopefuls.
That’s a testament to how deep this Denver Nuggets team is and how good Nikola Jokic is. The All-Star center will have to carry a heavier load with Murray’s absence, but he will have the support of the bench and Aaron Gordon, who became an important part of the rotation at the trade deadline.
In Murray’s place is Monte Morris, who will likely be the starting point guard from here on. He’ll face Kendrick Nunn, the Miami Heat’s starting point guard.
Key Player - Aaron Gordon
The Denver Nuggets immediately installed Aaron Gordon in the starting lineup and let Paul Millsap come off the bench. The result was a winning streak that extended to eight games. They have since lost two consecutive matches, including Monday's game when Murray was injured.
Gordon is getting plenty of playing time, but he doesn’t feel like he has the green light to shoot, unlike during his early Orlando Magic days. But coach Michael Malone might rethink this approach with his forward, given the Nuggets' current predicament.
When Gordon faced his old team on April 4, the Denver Nuggets forward scored 24 points and hauled down seven boards in his best performance as a member of the Nuggets. Gordon may need to channel that type of showing once more when Denver face the Miami Heat, who are one of the best defensive teams in the league.
Denver Nuggets Predicted Lineup
Point Guard - Monte Morris l Shooting Guard - Will Barton l Small Forward - Michael Porter Jr. l Power Forward - Aaron Gordon l Center - Nikola Jokic
Heat vs. Nuggets Match Prediction
Though the Miami Heat played the night before, they will be ready for the Denver Nuggets, who will have a period of adjustment in the next few games. Even so, the Nuggets are the league’s sixth-best scoring team with 114.9 points per game and will be a test for the Heat, who contain opponents to 107.2 points on the regular.
The Denver Nuggets are no pushovers defensively as well, as they are ninth in points allowed. Couple this with the fact that the Denver Nuggets are playing at home and it looks like this will be a second-straight loss for the Miami Heat.