OAKLAND, Calif. — At this point, the opponent doesn’t matter.
Even when it’s Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and the rest of the Warriors, the Heat aren’t in a position to worry about their opponent’s success or lack of success this season.
“We’re at the point right now where we have to focus on us,” coach Erik Spoelstra said after Monday’s practice at the University of San Francisco, “just building what we do more consistently, better, harder, and get guys on the same page where all those things are happening at the same time. We’re making progress.”
That progress just hasn’t translated into wins yet. Miami currently owns the second-worst record in the NBA at 11-28 and is 1-3 on its current six-game road trip.
And it’s about to get even tougher.
Next up for the Heat on the trip is a matchup against Golden State on Tuesday (10:30 p.m., Fox Sports Sun) at Oracle Arena. The Warriors have the best record in the NBA at 32-6.
“It’s about competition at the end of the day,” Heat guard Dion Waiters said. “We have to get up for those types of games because if you don’t, you get beat bad.”
The Warriors feature the NBA’s best offense with 113.4 points scored per 100 possessions and the fourth-best defense with 102 points allowed per 100 possessions. Golden State and San Antonio are the only teams ranked in the top five in both categories, but the Warriors do it while playing at the second-fastest pace in the NBA.
“It’s a unique style of basketball,” Goran Dragic said. “They play fast and they’re shooting some shots that aren’t good shots. But in the end, if they make those shots nobody can say nothing. And they’re good at that. They’re such a talented team that for them some bad shots are good shots. It’s just crazy to watch because they have so much talent and so many weapons.”
Throwing out a roster that features Curry, Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala brings a lot of wins and a lot of attention. That’s why every Warriors loss is seen as a big deal, like when thew blew a 24-point lead in a home loss to the Grizzlies on Friday.
“I don’t feel like right now we’re getting better at the rate we need to get better at in order to win a championship,” Green said after the loss.
That challenge of playing under a microscope is something the Heat’s Big Three went through during their run to four consecutive NBA Finals and championships in 2012 and 2013. Udonis Haslem, the last remaining Heat player from the Big Three era, remembers those days.
“At first, I think it bothered us,” Haslem said. “But [Golden State has] experienced enough. They’ve been through it enough. They’ve been the team to beat, the team to watch, for the last couple of years, so I think they understand what the focus is.”
Spoelstra sees some other similarities between the Warriors and the Heat’s Big Three teams.
“It’s a team with a great deal of talent. A team that has a defined culture,” Spoelstra said. “They’re very well coached. Players come there knowing that they’re going to have to sacrifice. So, from that standpoint, you could draw comparisons.”
Even though the Heat aren’t on that level anymore and are listed as 15.5-point underdogs for Tuesday’s game, they say they’re up to the challenge of playing Golden State on the road.
Making it even tougher, the Heat will take on the Warriors without Justise Winslow (shoulder), Josh McRoberts (foot) and likely without Josh Richardson (sprained left foot).
“Our guys are competitors, so it’s not like they’re going to shy away from the game or the competition,” Spoelstra said. “Everybody knows that Golden State is an elite basketball team, playing at an extremely high level. That’s why I don’t want our guys overwhelming themselves about that. It’s about us and what we’re doing.”