Editor's note: Warriors-Heat coverage starts today at 3:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on CSN Bay Area, and streaming live right here.
The Warriors will be facing one of their few remaining skeptics when they take the court American Airlines Arena Wednesday to face against the Heat in Miami.
The defending champions undoubtedly will unleash their highly effective small-ball unit upon the Heat, whose 7-foot center Hassan Whiteside has publicly questioned whether such a tactic could succeed against him.
When Whiteside last summer on Twitter basically dared opponents to defend him with a 6-foot-6 player, it was a transparent reference to 6-6 Draymond Green’s ability to defend big men.
So the Warriors (50-5) know what to expect. The Heat won’t have 11-time All-Star Chris Bosh, but they’ll be seeing Whiteside for the first time.
Miami (32-24) has won nine of its last 12 games, but its stellar defense – the Heat are 13-0 when holding opponents under 90 points – will be tested by the highest-scoring team in the NBA. The Heat also have a knack for winning close games, winning 12 of 14 decided by five or fewer points.
Warriors by 8.5.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Klay Thompson vs. Dwyane Wade -- Wade is 34, with 44-year-old knees, so he’ll struggle to defend Thompson. Wade, however, remains a potent offensive force. Thompson’s goal is to make Wade become a volume shooter. If he’s efficient, if gives Miami potential for the upset. If not, the door opens for a Warriors victory.
Andrew Bogut vs. Hassan Whiteside -- Whiteside is highly productive, making an impact at both ends. Bogut’s task is to limit lobs and keep him off the glass. Because Whiteside is so crucial to the Heat, it will be interesting to see how they play it when the Warriors go small.
Warriors: F James Michael McAdoo (L foot toe sprain) is listed as questionable. C Festus Ezeli (L knee surgery) is not with the team.
Heat: F Luol Deng (dislocated finger) is listed as probable. G Beno Udrih (R foot surgery), F/C Chris Bosh (undisclosed medical condition) and G Tyler Johnson (L shoulder surgery) are listed as out.
The Warriors posted a 111-103 win on Jan. 11 in Oakland, have won three in a row and six of the last eight. They are seeking back-to-back season sweep for the first time since 1992-93 and 1993-94.
“Absolutely, we want to break it. But we didn’t come into the season saying, ‘We need to do this, so we can get 72-10.’ It’s kind of something that’s just happened. We’re right there, so it’s something we want to finish out. But that’s not our focus. Our focus is to get better each and every day. And get ready for June.” – Green, on the Warriors’ mentality as they approach the all-time wins record