The Golden State Warriors, who have won four NBA titles since 2015, have lost two straight games.
The Miami Heat, who have won three NBA titles since 2006, also have lost two straight games.
On Tuesday night, the Heat will host the Warriors in a matchup of two elite franchises that suddenly find themselves struggling.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra — always the optimist — seems confident that his team is about to catch fire.
“We’re not that far away,” said Spoelstra, whose team has lost five of seven games on the young season. “We’re going to improve.”
Of course, an angry Warriors squad might not be the best team to play when you’re trying to get your season on track. The Heat lost at the Warriors, 123-110, last Thursday night.
Now the Warriors will visit Miami, where the Heat are just 1-3 this season.
In last week’s game, Golden State star Stephen Curry had a big night against Miami, producing 33 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
“Steph is incredible,” teammate Draymond Green said. “He’s playing great to start the year off, which is expected. He continues to improve, which is scary.”
The Heat have lost three straight games to the Warriors, and Curry is a major factor.
Even with the Warriors in a mini-slump that includes an ugly 128-114 loss at the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, Curry is still averaging 31.0 points this season. He also leads the team in 3-point-shooting percentage (39.5) and rebounds (6.7), and ranks second in assists (5.6).
“What he’s doing is incredible,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He just gets by anybody. It doesn’t matter who’s on him.
“He gets into the teeth of the defense. He finishes and finds people. He’s been spectacular to start the year.”
The Heat’s core group remains unchanged from last season, when Miami reached the Eastern Conference finals, losing in seven games to the Boston Celtics.
Jimmy Butler leads Miami in scoring (21.3) and ranks second in assists (5.1) and steals (1.7). The rest of Miami’s core includes Tyler Herro, averaging 19.9 points and 6.6 rebounds; Bam Adebayo, averaging 17.4 points and a team-high 8.0 rebounds; and Kyle Lowry, averaging 12.4 points and a team-best 5.3 assists.
The Warriors, meanwhile, rested Klay Thompson on Sunday, but he should be ready to face the Heat on Tuesday. He is averaging 12.3 points, and he is shooting 28.6 percent on 3-pointers. Both are well below his career averages in scoring (19.5 points) and 3-point percentage (41.5).
Perhaps Thompson will find his shooting form on Tuesday, but Green — following the loss to Detroit — indicated that his Warriors are just out of sync.
“Our offense is killing our defense, whether it’s floor balance or being stagnant and not moving,” Green said. “The two ends are not connecting. To be a great team, those two have to connect.”
Jordan Poole is second on the Warriors in scoring (17.9) and third in assists (5.4). Andrew Wiggins is third in scoring (17.3) and in rebounds (6.3), and Green leads the team in assists (5.7) while producing 9.6 points and 6.0 rebounds.
Kerr, though, said the Warriors are committing too many fouls.
“Something needs to click with our guys,” Kerr said. “We have to be near the bottom of the league in defensive efficiency. That puts us in some bad spots offensively.”
–Field Level Media