The rebuilding Kings visit Miami to take on the Heat. Our 3-on-3 crew previews the matchup.
1. Fact or Fiction: Miami should start Chris Bosh and Chris Andersen together in the frontcourt.
Gutierrez: Fiction. The idea of starting both would come with the assumption that more minutes for Andersen is a good thing. And frankly, his impact is lessened with extended minutes. Play them together more, sure, against bigger teams. But start them? Unnecessary.
Haberstroh: Fiction. The Heat can use that for spurts against big teams (Memphis, Detroit and Indiana), but they shouldn't overreact here. That lineup causes a traffic jam on offense, which won't make LeBron James or Dwyane Wade happy. The Big Three need shooters around them.
Wallace: Fact. This might be just the kind of shakeup and energy boost the Heat need to get through the dog days of the midseason. Bosh obviously is more comfortable at his natural power forward position. And considering how Andersen is unafraid to launch the open jumper, whereas a struggling Shane Battier has been reluctant to shoot, the Heat don’t necessarily lose as much from a spacing standpoint. What they gain is size, rebounding, defense and confidence. Seems like a win-win tweak to me.
2. Fact or Fiction: The current Sacramento Kings would be a top-five team in the East.
Gutierrez: Fiction. Moving them to another conference wouldn't raise the maturity level of that team. Plus, the Kings are 1-4 against the East this season. They can, and usually do, lose to anybody.
Haberstroh: Fiction. They just got thumped by Charlotte and Atlanta, moving their record to 1-4 against East teams. I know Rudy Gay just joined the squad, but I still see him as a high-volume chucker who probably won't thrive on a young team. Also, I don't see them being better than Detroit, which is currently the fifth seed in the East.
Wallace: Fiction. Once you get past Indiana and Miami, it’s wide-open in the East, with no team appreciably better or that much worse than the next. That said, the Kings have already lost to Atlanta and Charlotte on this East swing, and those boast the third and fifth-best records, respectively, in the conference. Rudy Gay has regained his scoring touch since arriving in Sacramento. DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas are gifted, young talents. So they’re top eight maybe. But not top five, even on the weaker side of the league.
3. Fact or Fiction: Miami will overtake Indiana for first place in the East by New Year’s Day.
Gutierrez: Fiction. The Pacers have a friendlier schedule, as the Heat finish the calendar year with games at Portland and Denver. Also, losing in Miami this week will only keep the Pacers driven to maintain that top spot, knowing how critical the top seed would be to them.
Haberstroh: Fiction. I'll say they will be tied. The Heat soon play at Portland and at Denver (which is death for Miami). The Pacers play four of their next five games against below-.500 teams. So I'm going to pump the brakes on Miami's No. 1 seed on Jan. 1.
Wallace: Fiction. Although the Heat’s victory Wednesday proved that the Pacers haven’t distanced themselves quite as far in the standings as they anticipated, Indiana has a chance to create a bit of breathing room based on the more favorable schedule the rest of this month. Miami plays four of its next six on the road, including difficult stops in Portland and Denver. The Pacers play four of their next five at home, where they have only one loss. They’ll maintain just a bit of breathing room over the Heat.