The Phoenix Suns face the two-time defending champions Miami HEAT in Phoenix on Tuesday, their final game before a long All-Star weekend that most players will get to enjoy with rest.
Bright Side of the Sun exchanged some a series of questions with our Miami HEAT SB Nation partner, Hot Hot Hoops.
This is a great way to get some inside scoop on the opponent - in this case, the Suns' Tuesday night foe.
Obviously, the HEAT are doing fine with a great offense and 35-14 record. But they are only 15th in defensive points-per-possession this season. Are they just going through the motions of the regular season, or is there something wrong that bodes poorly for the post season?
Matt Pineda, Hot Hot Hoops: Part of the problem is that the Heat are seeing everyone's best effort every single night. Nights in Utah, Charlotte, and Sacramento that normally are dull come with extra motivation from the opponent. The Heat are in their fourth year of being the target and honestly are just buying time until the playoffs. Their only motivation is to be healthy, get some good rhythm and not far too far behind Indiana. It scares us, because you don't always know if that switch can get flipped, but they've been here before.
What's the latest on Michael Beasley's contributions for Miami? Is he still a great contributor to the rotation, or has his star dipped a bit?
MP: Michael Beasley was contributing very nicely until the beginning of January, and then he lost touch a bit. Spoelstra has given him much less time, and more recently has tightened his bench even more. I believe Beasley will be a spot player in the playoffs, unless things change. It seems as though he couldn't do enough defensively to warrant more time on the floor. What we are happy about....he hasn't gotten in trouble and is always saying the right things. There will come a time when the Heat really need him and he will come through.
Dwyane Wade has played the last several games at regular minutes and scored well. Is he back to his old self?
MP: No. Wade will not be his old self again. We have just accepted it over here. We hope that he can be his old self for some of the playoffs, because honestly that's all we need. We saw flashed of it against the Spurs and Pacers. And when he is that, the Heat are really really good. But the truth is that the Heat just don't need Wade to out-do himself in the regular season.
Tell us something about Greg Oden's production. What has he shown that he can bring to the playoffs for this team?
MP: Greg Oden is progressing, but at a slow pace. He is getting more action, and we anticipate that it will take some time for him to find his niche and groove in the offense. He has protected the rim well, and once his timing is back, he should be much better on the glass. He seems to move well out there, and it's all about the playoffs for Greg. The Heat signed him to play some hard minutes on Roy Hibbert. If Oden can challenge Roy for 10-12 minutes in the East Finals, then it will be a success, anything until then is just progress and Greg is going through it now.
What's your prediction on Tuesday's game against the Suns?
MP: I anticipate the Suns to push the Heat as far as they can. Miami should be upset with how they played in Utah, especially LeBron James who had 5 turnovers and only 13 points. I think he will come out much more aggressive. I will not be surprised to see the Suns win, from what I have seen, they play very good basketball, and the Heat will have their hands full knowing they have the Warriors the very next night. But because it comes with 2 days off and a loss before hand, I think the Heat grind out a win, a high scoring win.
And if you are curious, here are my answers their questions on the Suns