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Are the Golden State Warriors Really Better Than the Miami Heat Right Now?

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 12:  Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors celebrates a last second shot during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on December 12, 2012 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2012

The Golden State Warriors have hit a hot streak as of late, running their record to 16-8, second place in the Western Conference's Pacific Division with a marquee win over the Miami Heat.

Now, people do like to get carried away during the regular season, but this team has been a legitimately good team for the duration of the season.

Whether they end up doing what the Golden State Warriors always do and fall apart before they have a chance to make any kind of postseason impact is still up in the air, but they're a very good team as it stands right now.

But better than the Miami Heat? Marc Spears might be going a bit out there on this one.

I'll give them the benefit of the doubt for their stellar road trip they just returned from. The Warriors were able to win six of their seven games, winning games over the Brooklyn Nets, Atlanta Hawks and those Heat.

 

 

Warriors beat Heat to start 5-0 on road trip for first time since 1978, when most of their players' parents were probably teens.

— Michael Wallace (@WallaceNBA_ESPN) December 13, 2012

 

What's the basis for the argument? Well, power rankings usually give a boost to those teams who are on a hot streak, like the Warriors, and punishes a team that's just going along and doing their job. If those two teams happen to be near each other in the rankings and just played each other, it only makes sense that the winner of the game be above the loser.

It's as simple as that.

You could build a case from there that the Warriors are better than the Heat, but it would be a floppy, flawed stack of arguments.

Taking a look at some of the basic indicators, the Heat seem to be ahead of the Warriors more often than not.

Record-wise, Miami is 16-6 compared to Golden State's 16-8. You can pretty much call that one a wash with how close the two are.

One of the easiest ways to tell how good a team is would be to simply look at the score differential. Better teams win by an larger margin.

Miami is averaging 5.2 points per game more than their opponents, while Golden State is averaging just 1.4 points per game more.

Elsewhere, we can see that the Heat are a much better shooting team, leading the league in effective field goal percentage at 55 percent. Golden State can shoot, but they're farther down at 49.5 percent.

Miami is much better at protecting the ball, they get to the line more, foul their opponents less and force turnovers at a higher rate, adjusted for pace.

On the other side of the argument, Golden State has been better defensively this year, and are actually pretty killer all the way around.

While Miami has played lazy, uninspired defense for the duration of the season, Golden State has been out to prove that they can play defense, which they've started to do.

The problem with calling Golden State the better team at this point, however, is that we're watching both teams play vastly different games at the start of the season.

Miami has been in a pretty hard post-championship hangover, playing down to the level of their competition and getting beat from time-to-time.

Golden State is running hot, and they're playing like they've got something to prove, which they absolutely do.

They're starting to show people that they aren't the one-dimensional team they've been in the past, and a lot of that is due to their impressive effort thus far.

Are they the hotter team this week? Sure.

Is Golden State a better basketball team? Absolutely not.

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