Washington Wizards at Miami HEAT Game Preview
Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon
The Miami HEAT host the Washington Wizards Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. The game is presented by Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida. Get your tickets now! The HEAT defeated the Wizards 110-102 in their last meeting on April 12. Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM, and television coverage is on FOX Sports Sun. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket.
1: What stuck out to you the most about Monday’s win over Charlotte?
Couper Moorhead: Aside from Josh Richardson continuing to look as good as ever and Dion Waiters having a complete game, with eight assists, as Goran Dragić again sat out, the best thing to see was Justise Winslow with the ball in his hands scoring the go-ahead basket in the final minutes of the game. The result, of course, doesn’t much matter, but with Winslow getting his first 5-on-5 action since last December it’s important to remember that the process can be slow when it comes to injuries. Even last season we saw how tough it was for Richardson, and now he’s wiping away all memory of how he looked when getting his legs back underneath him. Not only did Winslow score, he did it off a pick-and-roll with a mid-drive crossover and burst that’s as good example as any for how much he’s tightened up his handle in the offseason. There’s a lot of talent there, and every glimpse of it is a good step forward.
Joe Beguiristain: The main thing that stuck out to me was that nearly every player on the roster contributed to the victory. While Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson continued to impress, guys like Kelly Olynyk and James Johnson had their best game of the preseason. In particular, Olynyk did a little bit of everything, as he scored 13 points, grabbed a team-high 12 boards, dished out four assists, blocked two shots and came away with two steals, one of which led to a jam for Richardson late in the contest.
Although it’s just the preseason, it’s encouraging to see Olynyk fit in quite well with his new teammates. Of course, being a versatile big who can put the ball on the floor, set up his teammates and knock down the outside shot certainly helps matters.
2: Four games in, do we have anything more than hints about what the lineups will be next week?
Couper: Erik Spoelstra continues to note that he’s liked what he’s seen so far from the starting frontcourt of Hassan Whiteside and Kelly Olynyk – that pairing is a +8.8 per 100 posessions so far – so we might keep seeing it. On Monday Spoelstra staggered the two so Olynyk came out early and then returned in place of Whiteside, which meant the HEAT never truly went small with either James Johnson or Justise Winslow at the five.
Goran Dragić has so far sat out both games that the frontcourt has been used, however, so it remains to be seen if he will simply take his spot with the starters and Richardson will return to the bench unit or if Dragić changes the complexion enough to warrant a double switch.
Joe: Since things are always fluid with Erik Spoelstra, it’s tough to predict what lineups we’ll see on opening night against the Magic. However, Coach Spo has started Olynyk at power forward alongside Hassan Whiteside for two consecutive games now. After a slow start together on Saturday, the duo performed better on Monday. We’ll see if that continues as the preseason rolls along.
Also of note with Olynyk starting is the return of The Brothers Johnson. After struggling a bit in the starting lineup early in the preseason, James Johnson looked razor sharp coming off the bench with Tyler Johnson. That said, it’s important to remember that these lineups and rotations may not carryover when the games count. Remember, James Johnson averaged 18.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game on 50.7 percent shooting in his five starts at the end of last year.
It’ll be interesting to see how Spoelstra utilizes JJ once the regular season commences.
3: Does Miami need this test against the Wizards backcourt?
Couper: Competition is always good, especially when you’re preparing for the regular season. Kemba Walker only wound up taking four shots and playing 16 minutes on Monday so every second against John Wall and Bradley Beal is a valuable one. Of course, those two played a combined 16 minutes themselves against Cleveland on Sunday. That’s preseason for you.
That said, Washington is starting Otto Porter Jr. as the nominal four, so if Spoelstra sticks with Olynyk in the opening group that will be a nice opportunity to see how he handles defending a smaller, quicker player.
Joe: Yes. With preseason being shorter than in years past, live action is certainly important. Like Coup stated above, both John Wall and Bradley Beal haven’t played much in the preseason, but they have produced in their limited time. If Wall is eased into things once again, we’ll likely see a decent amount of Tim Frazier. While the 26-year-old has been battling a left groin strain, he’s set to make his Wizards debut on Wednesday. Frazier averaged 7.1 points and 5.2 assists in 23.5 minutes per game for the Pelicans last season.
- The HEAT are 2-2 in the preseason, while the Wizards enter the contest at 3-0.
- Miami has won five straight against Washington.
- Markieff Morris (recovery from sports hernia surgery) and Sheldon Mac (torn left Achilles) are out for the Wizards.
- Goran Dragić (rest) is out.
- HEAT Offense: 91.1 (27)
- HEAT Defense: 94.1 (11)
- Wizards Offense: 106.6 (7)
- Wizards Defense: 92.8 (8)