NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, January 2nd (All times Eastern)
Golden State Warriors (20-13) at Miami Heat (24-7), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Miami Heat return to South Beach, although briefly, to face a stiff challenge from the red-hot Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.
The Heat, who went 3-1 on a west-coast trip with victories in their last two, welcome a Warriors team that has won six straight and is on game three of a seven-game road odyssey.
"It's going to be a team effort, defensively," said LeBron James. "The volume of shots they take, you can't stop them. We understand that. We can't get down on ourselves defensively."
James celebrated his 29th birthday on Monday night with 26 points and 10 assists to lead the Heat to a 97-94 win over the Denver Nuggets from Pepsi Center.
Chris Bosh scored 17 points on the heels of his Eastern Conference Player of the Week honor, while Ray Allen added 13 points off the bench in the win, Miami's eighth victory in its last nine tilts.
Dwyane Wade netted 12 points, but left early in the third quarter with back spasms and did not return.
"They are a very, very good team, especially at home," said James. "It was good that we were able to get this win."
The Warriors' streak reached six games with a 94-81 victory over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday. They've won three in a row as the visitor, but have a long way to go before they see the Bay Area again. The Warriors will visit Atlanta, Washington, Milwaukee and Brooklyn on this trip.
David Lee scored a game-high 22 points and had nine rebounds to lead Golden State to the win. Klay Thompson scored 15 and Kent Bazemore added 12 points for the Warriors. Marreese Speights contributed 10 points and six rebounds.
Steph Curry had a slow night with just nine points on 4-for-10 shooting. He chipped in eight assists and five rebounds, while Andrew Bogut pulled down a game-high 11 boards.
This recent run has sent the Warriors to within a game of the Los Angeles Clippers in the Pacific Division.
But nothing presents the kind of problem the Heat do.
"They're the best in the world," Jackson told the team's website. "It's going to be a tough challenge. This is a team that creates a lot of problems. But, we're looking forward to it."
The two squads split last season's two matchups with the visitor prevailing each time. Golden State's win in South Beach on Dec. 12, 2013 snapped a three- game losing streak in Miami.
01/02 10:18:41 ET