Miami HEAT at Washington Wizards Game Preview
Photo Credit: Rob Carr
The Miami HEAT face the Washington Wizards Tuesday night at Capital One Arena. The HEAT defeated the Wizards 91-88 in their last meeting on Nov. 17. Tip-off is set for 7:00 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 6:30 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket.
1: Was there anything to note from Miami’s sizeable victory over Phoenix?
Couper Moorhead: Every team needs games that don’t mean much, and Monday night surely did not mean much, at least for what happened on the court. The HEAT cruised throughout, getting open threes in bunches and generally doing whatever they wanted against the Suns defense, regularly feeding Hassan Whiteside in the paint, but it was Milwaukee losing elsewhere that allowed the HEAT to climb back to No. 7 in the East. Nobody will remember much from this game, but if Miami ends up with an advantageous seed or a beneficial matchup (relatively speaking) in the first round, it’s games like these that make it possible.
Joe Beguiristain: It was good to see the HEAT take care of business against a Suns team they were supposed to beat. While there isn’t much else to glean other than that, Justise Winslow continued to play very well on Monday night. In addition to handling the ball in the second unit, Winslow also made things tough on Devin Booker when matched up with him on the defensive end. In fact, the former Duke Blue Devil led Miami with five deflections against Phoenix.
Second in that category was Rodney McGruder, who also answered the call against Booker and made some nice hustle plays late in the third quarter. As a whole, it seems as though McGruder has gotten more comfortable with each passing game since making his return from injury. Hopefully he continues to progress as the regular season winds down.
2: What did we learn from the two-game series with Washington earlier this season?
Couper: In the first matchup Washington played about as well as you can possible play on the offensive end in the same game that you have a 10-point quarter. They won by nine. In the second game, in Washington, Miami led by as many as 25 points –the Wizards scored just 29 points in the first half – but wound up winning by just three after a furious Washington rally. The theme? The HEAT were able to hold their opponent to multiple sub-20 point quarters but the Wizards, talented as they are, were able to keep themselves afloat and eventually rally.
In other words, for as well as Josh Richardson can defend Bradley Beal and for as well as Whiteside most often plays against Gortat, this is not a team you can relax against no matter the score.
Joe: We learned that the HEAT and Wizards are pretty evenly matched for the most part. Like with Miami, you can never count out Washington since the team possesses a multitude of guys who can beat you. Whether it’s Bradley Beal, John Wall (who’s still out after having surgery on his left knee) or Otto Porter Jr., the Wizards can score in a hurry.
As Coup mentioned above, that’s exactly what happened in the last meeting between these two teams on Nov. 17 when Washington nearly came all the way back in the second half. Luckily enough, Hassan Whiteside and James Johnson responded with a monster fourth quarter to ensure the narrow victory.
All season long, the HEAT have shown that kind of mental fortitude to overcome adversity and perform when the pressure is at its highest. That’ll be important come playoff time.
3: How are the Wizards playing without John Wall and how does his absence affect this matchup?
Couper: Much has been written about the Wizards positive play without John Wall over the past month or so, including a five-game winning streak after he went down with a knee injury, but overall they are 10-6 since January 27 with the No. 11 offense (109.4 points per 100 possessions) and No. 13 defense (106.8). Most notably, Washington has the highest assist percentage in the league (70.3 percent) in those 16 games as well. You would never say a team is better without their best player, one who transforms the game in the open guard and is a very good defender as well, but credit Washington for finding a way, with the skilled Tomáš Satoranský starting, to adapt.
As far as how Wall’s absence related to this game specifically, it certainly reduces the open court threat that Wall poses in every moment of the game but in the half-court the HEAT would always play fairly off him, with a nice cushion, to encourage jumpers and limit drives. Wall is so good he would beat that coverage at times, but at others Miami would be able to jam up the paint and keep the ball on the perimeter for one possession after another. In that sense, the HEAT might have to defend the Wizards a bit more straight up than usual, even if the overall threat is diminished.
Joe: Thanks to their influx of talent, the Wizards have actually fared pretty well without Wall, all things considered. Sure, they’ve dropped three straight against some very tough teams, but they were in each game.
In Wall’s stead, Coach Scott Brooks has rolled with Tomáš Satoranský, who has averaged 10.9 points and 5.7 assists per contest on 58.4 percent shooting in 16 games as a starter. Although the 26-year-old is nowhere near as fast as Wall (nobody really is, though), he’s familiar with the offense, has good size and can also play off the ball and help stretch the floor when Beal or Markieff Morris are handling the rock.
Of course, Washington will need Wall if it wants to make any noise in the playoffs, but Satoranský has been a suitable replacement thus far.
- The HEAT have won four of five and are 34-30.
- The Wizards have dropped three straight and enter the contest at 36-28.
- Miami is currently the No. 7 seed, two games behind Washington in the standings.
- Bradley Beal leads the Wizards in scoring at 23.4 points per game.
- HEAT Offense: 104.0 (22)
- HEAT Defense: 104.3 (8)
- Wizards Offense: 107.1 (10)
- Wizards Defense: 105.7 (14)