Pump Up Music: Ini Kamoze -- "Here Comes the Hotstepper"
The Big Picture: Despite their middling 16-14 record, I'm still convinced the Miami Heat are a fringe title contender. Dwyane Wade, alone, gets them to the playoffs, and Michael Beasley has the capacity to be a championship-caliber second banana right now. Sure, it's a problem that Wade is suffering from (allegedly) conditioning-related nagging injuries and Beasley isn't there on a night-in night-out basis, but the big problem is everyone else.
Jermaine O'Neal has seemingly recaptured some magic, but does anyone expect him to maintain that for the rest of the season? Udonis Haslem is a solid player to have around, but a championship team probably shouldn't be relying on him to play 28 minutes per game. And then there's the point guard situation. Last season, Mario Chalmers looked like he was on his way to starting in the league for the next decade, but he's already lost his starting job this season to Carlos Arroyo, who hasn't been great shakes himself.
All that's to say that when Wade his in superman mode, they can beat anyone, but when he's merely Dwyane Wade, they've got no depth, a situation so dire it makes the Bobcats' depth look almost palatable.
Key to Victory: Stephen Jackson will probably draw Dwyane Wade duty for most of the game. Wade has never been a good three point shooter, so whoever guards him should probably back off a bit to keep him out of the lane, and Jax is the kind of long defender who can make that strategy effective. If that doesn't work, it might not be a terrible idea to put Felton on Wade, with Jackson on the point guard. Either way, let Flash shoot threes as much as he wants. That means he's not penetrating and getting to the line, which is when he's most effective.
The Heat really only have a couple pillars, so attacking those two guys, Wade and Beasley, will be paramount. Obviously, Wade will be more difficult to stop, but if they can figure something out for him, it will make it far easier to shut down Miami's offense.
Detail That May Interest .08% of You: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is part Filipino, making him the first NBA head coach of Asian heritage.