The defending champions visit the Magic tonight in a battle of Florida squads. Our 3-on-3 crew weighs in.
1. Fact or Fiction: 3-point D bigger Heat issue than boards.
Tom Haberstroh: Fiction. Both require playoff levels of effort with their controlled-chaos defensive schemes. That's unrealistic right now with this team and the Finals about 60 games away. But they'll need to bring their rebounding A-game, not their 3-point defense, if they want to get past Indiana.
Michael Wallace: Fact. It's almost as if the Heat have accepted that they are and will be one of the worst rebounding teams in the league. They've found a way to work around that and play to other strengths. Miami is ranked 25th in the league in 3-point defensive percentage entering the weekend. Perimeter defense is supposed to be a strength for the Heat. But their over-aggressiveness can be exploited against great shooting teams, especially in the playoffs.
Brian Windhorst: Fiction. I know the Heat's defense has slipped a little over the last month but we also know that they have an energy-based defense that usually doesn't hit its stride until the second half of the season and the playoffs. Teams will be able to get 3-pointers off against the Heat because they can pass the ball through their rotations, the Heat's system is designed with the belief that the percentages will prove them correct. The Heat can overcome rebounding but it still is a weak spot and always will be.
2. Fact or Fiction: LeBron will shoot at least 60 percent against Orlando.
Haberstroh: Fact. Betting against his efficiency feels like a bad gamble these days. I don't see Orlando's defense sans Nik Vucevic giving him problems.
Wallace: Fiction. LeBron has had relative struggles against the Magic, considering he's shot only 50 percent in his two previous games against Orlando this season. Recent turnovers aside, LeBron has been dialed in of late offensively despite the battle with a groin strain.
Windhorst: Fact. First, LeBron is basically a 60 percent shooter this season, so we're looking for an average game. Second, Nik Vucevic is questionable with an ankle injury and if he doesn't play then the Magic won't have their best rim protector.
3. Fact or Fiction: Final time Miami plays Jameer Nelson in a Magic uniform.
Haberstroh: Fact. With the lack of point guard depth at the top of the West, I see Nelson finding an NBA home outside of Orlando for the first time in his career. Golden State could make some sense if they can't get Andre Miller. Not sure if OKC or the Clippers would give up assets for Nelson but they both could use an extra body at point.
Wallace: Fiction. The Magic seem to covet their additional cap space that could make them serious players in summer free agency once Nelson comes off the books after the season. He's spent his entire career in Orlando and insists he wants to ride this out. But considering the team's youth movement, Nelson's time with the Magic appears numbered one way or the other.
Windhorst: Fiction. At $8 million, it's not an easy contract to move even if it's not guaranteed after this season. The Magic will want a first-round pick or a young asset in return and won't be that willing to take on money. That is not a recipe for a likely trade.