Warriors have defending NBA champs' attention

  • Stephen Curry isn't afraid to hoist up a shot from anywhere on the court, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

MIAMI — The Warriors possess all the natural respect they should have for the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat.

That's something that doesn't just travel a one-way street.

“They're a versatile team,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the Warriors (20-13). “Big, athletic, shooting, they've got it all. We have great respect for them.”

Miami star LeBron James called Warriors guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson “two of the best shooters in history that I've seen.”

“The volume of shots, the type of shots they take, you can't stop them from taking them,” James said. “They shoot the ball extremely well. They're nicknamed the Splash Brothers for a reason.”

Curry and Thompson's willingness, and effectiveness, at shooting from anywhere on the court make the Warriors a difficult team to prepare for, Spoelstra said.

“The way the two of them shoot the ball and their skill set, how quick their release is and how deep their range is — it's unique,” Spoelstra said. “You don't play that ever against anybody else. There's a lot of things when you face the Heat that teams have never seen, that's true for them as well, just in a different way.”

The Warriors won at Miami last year during a 6-1 trip, the best record on a seven-game trip in team history. That was with center Andrew Bogut hurt and before the offseason acquisition of swingman Andre Iguodala. The Heat sees the Warriors as a tougher and more versatile team this year.

“They're dynamic,” Heat forward Shane Battier said. “Last year they played small. They can play big this year. They're versatile, especially with Iguodala. He's the West Coast version of LeBron. You can put him in multiple places on the floor and he unlocks the versatility.”

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