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Heat need to protect the paint, says Erik Spoelstra

The Miami Heat play the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday and are hoping to limit guards Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings on dribble penetration, which the team struggled with on their road trip.

Marc Serota

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra has preparing to try and limit opposing guards Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings of the Milwaukee Bucks in Wednesday's game. Jennings and Ellis have combine to average almost half of the Bucks' shots and have half of the teams' assists.

In Tuesday's practice, Spoelstra focused on protecting the paint from Jennings' and Ellis' dribble penetration. He believes that this could be one of the biggest challenges they have faced so far this season:

"They have two guards that, arguably, two of them together, pose as many problems off the dribble as we've faced yet this year," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said without prompting after Tuesday's practice at AmericanAirlines Arena, "in terms of their ability to attack on open situation, pick-and-rolls and just relentless ability to get into that paint."

That was an aspect of the defense that the Heat struggled in during the team's 4-2 road trip. Guards Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade in particular struggled with the dribble penetration. Having struggled against guards such as the Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul and the Memphis Grizzlies' Mike Conley, Spoelstra knows that the Heat have to be ready to play:

"When you play these ultra-quick small guards, everything has to be a step early," he said. "Your preparation, before they even get into the attack zone, you have to be down in a stance. You have to have your quick-twitch mind ready, a sense of urgency. You can't get caught coming back and -- oh! -- and now it happens; it's too late. You have to be ahead of the play

The Heat play the Bucks on Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena and tip off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Sunshine Sports.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.