Preview: Wizards return to D.C. Saturday night vs. Heat
Coming off a loss in Boston last night, the Wizards are back in action tonight against the Heat at 7:00 P.M. at Capital One Arena. The game is Washington’s first in D.C. since a December 31 matchup with the Bulls.
Russell Westbrook (left quadriceps soreness) will not play Saturday against Miami. Raul Neto will start in his place, making his third start of the season.
“He wanted to give it a go,” Brooks said. “It’s pretty sore. He’s definitely out tonight. We don’t know how long it will be. Right now, we know tomorrow is going to be a day off and we’ll see how it feels the next day.”
Bradley Beal (health and safety protocols) is also out Saturday night.
Capital One Arena | 7:00 P.M. | NBCSW & NBATV | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Raul Neto, G – Jerome Robinson, F – Deni Avdija, F – Rui Hachimura, C – Thomas Bryant
Heat: G – Tyler Herro, G – Duncan Robinson, F – Jimmy Butler, F – Kelly Olynyk, C – Bam Adebayo
Wizards: Bradley Beal (health and safety protocols – out), Russell Westbrook (left quadriceps soreness – out)
Heat: Gabe Vincent (right knee soreness – probable)
Wizards may make rotational adjustments
With the Wizards down big Friday night against Boston and head coach Scott Brooks looking for a spark, Garrison Mathews and Moe Wagner saw some of their first meaningful action of the season. Both had played in spurts, but their performances on Friday helped swing the momentum of the game and caught the eye of their coach. Mathews was plus-17 in 11:02 of action while Wagner was plus-12 in 12:33.
“We needed a spark,” Brooks said of bringing Mathews into the game. “One thing about Garrison – he’s going to compete. He’s hungry. I probably should have played him earlier in the season. Everyone’s going to get a chance and he got a chance and took advantage. He can shoot the ball, he draws fouls, he plays hard. What gave him minutes tonight was that I knew he was going to blow up screens. I knew he was going to chase his man around. I knew he wasn’t going to worry about getting screened. He was going to make the choice that he was going to fight through everything. That’s what I love about him. He’s probably going to get some more opportunities.”
Speaking postgame, Bradley Beal said he, too, wouldn’t be surprised to see Brooks make changes to the rotation.
“I just know Coach Brooks being with him now for five years,” Beal said. “He’s going to play guys that play hard. He doesn’t give a damn about guys making shots or anything like that. He wants guys that are going to defend, know their role, play hard and go out there and give it their all.”
Bertans’s shooting key to Wizards offensive success
Davis Bertans enters Saturday’s matchup with the Heat having knocked down four 3-pointers in three consecutive games and at least three 3-pointers in five of the last six games. This season, Bertans has four games with four-plus threes off the bench, the most in the league. Since the start of last season, Bertans has 29 such games, eight more than the next closest player in the league (Terrence Ross). Bertans’s ability to space the floor to knock down open – or contested – jumpers goes a long way for the Wizards offense. With Bertans on the court, the Wizards’ offensive rating is 112.5. With Bertans on the bench, it falls to 107.7, the fourth-lowest off-court offensive rating on the team.
Adebayo leads defensive-minded Heat
Like the Wizards, the Heat are off to a slower start to the season than they may have anticipated, but still pose one of the toughest night-by-night matchups in the NBA. The defending Eastern Conference champions are led by fourth-year center Bam Adebayo, who is averaging 18.6 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. No other player in the league hits those statistical benchmarks this season. In Miami’s last outing Wednesday night against the Celtics, Adebayo came up two rebounds shy of a triple-double, totaling 15 points, eight rebounds, 10 assists and a pair of blocks.
As a team, the Heat are led by their defense, which ranks 10th in the league in efficiency (106.8). It’s their 26th-ranked offense that has been the cause of most of their problems this season. If the Wizards can get in a rhythm against a stingy Heat defense, they stand a good chance to outpace the Miami offense.