Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Miami's second-year PG helped shut down JJ Barea on Tuesday, two years after the former Dallas guard killed the Heat in the NBA Finals.
After starting JJ Barea in Game 4 of the 2011 NBA Finals helped the Mavs turn the tide in that series, it became clear that PG defense was an issue for the Heat.
It wasn't just the Miami front office who noticed either, an NBA draft hopeful from Cleveland State was watching those games with rapt interest (courtesy of the Miami Sun-Sentinel):
"I remember what he did to this team [in the Finals]," Norris Cole said. "I was watching in college what he did to this team a couple years ago. I didn't want him to do that to us with me guarding him. I was just playing the game. That's one of the gifts that I bring to the team is my on-ball defense and my aggressiveness. It's not every night I get to go against somebody smaller than me."
Two years later, Cole, whom Miami took in the first round that season, was on hand to defend Barea, who now plays for the Timberwolves. The second-year PG helped hold the Minnesota guard to 10 points on 3-9 shooting from the field in Miami's 103-92 win over Minnesota on Tuesday.
Cole, one of the fastest guards in the NBA at 6'2 175, has embraced his role as a defensive stopper on the second unit.
His offensive efficiency numbers aren't great, but as long as he can prevent speedy guards like Barea from getting into the lane, he'll have value to this Heat team.