Dec 15, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) is defended by Washington Wizards small forward Martell Webster (9) in the first quarter at the American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Wizards At Heat Preview (1/6/13)

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The Wizards are coming off their most disappointing loss of the season on Friday night, and it doesn’t get any easier tonight as they’re matched up against the defending champions, Miami Heat.

Key Match Up

Though the Wizards have definitely disappointed this season, Bradley Beal has really blossomed during the past few weeks. Beal struggled to get things going offensively, and didn’t look as aggressive as we would’ve liked coming out of college. It’s finally looking like Beal has flipped the switch. Averaging 20 points per game during the past three outings, Beal is playing with a more assertive mentality than we’ve ever seen this season. With John Wall out, the Wizards don’t have many scoring options out on the perimeter. They’ll need Beal to continue taking advantage of his larger role with Wall out.

Dwyane Wade is one of the best shooting guards to ever play the game. Beal will have his hands full this afternoon, as ‘DWade’ is known for his tenacity on both sides of the floor. These match ups are what really help Bradley Beal grow as a player. At 30 years of age, Wade has lost some of his athleticism, but his craftiness certainly more than makes up for it. Beal and Wade are both undersized shooting guards, so Beal certainly has the tools to model his game after Wade’s.

Other Links/Notes

  • John Wall is only two weeks away from returning (!!!). It would’ve been nice to have him against the Heat tonight.
  • Washington is very close to having all of their 15 guys active on the roster. Trevor Ariza, who has been dealing with a calf injury, may return tonight against Miami.
  • It’s Gilbert Arenas’ birthday today. It is a shame ‘Hibatchi’ won’t be spending his birthday playing in the NBA.
  • Ted Leonsis points out the obvious, as he writes how much of a difference Nene makes. I don’t mean to be pessimistic, but I’m more worried about the win-loss column.
  • The Wizards will meet the Oklahoma City Thunder, the day after they play the Miami Heat. That should be wonderful.

Prediction

The Miami Heat have no shortage of talent or familiar faces on their roster. Basically, they’re the complete opposite of the Washington Wizards.

Although the Wizards are sporting a win against the Heat this season, it’ll be nothing short of a miracle if they leave Miami with another victory. LeBron James, as much as it hurts to admit it, is the best player in the world. To make it even tougher, his supporting cast which includes Wade and Chris Bosh is probably the best in the league. The Wizards on the other hand, are experiencing a shortage of talent like no other team in the NBA. With John Wall, Trevor Ariza, and even guys like Trevor Booker still out due to various injury, the Wizards have no depth on their roster whatsoever.

The Miami Heat are the best shooting team in the league, with 49.1 percent from the floor, and aren’t too shabby on the defensive end either. LeBron James is the most versatile defender in the NBA, and his unselfishness makes him virtually impossible to defend. Their ability to get out and run is probably one of their biggest weapons they have. Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra has made it a point to his players to get out and run in transition. The Heat offense revolves around LeBron and Wade penetrating to the basket. This forces teams to collapse, which leaves guys like Ray Allen and Mike Miller wide open at the three point arc. Basically, the Heat are impossible to defend for struggling teams such as the Wizards.

Besides their recent inability to rebound, and their slight lack of size, the Heat don’t have many glaring weaknesses. They’re ranked 29th in the league in rebounds per game, so the Wizards certainly need to take advantage of their lack of height. Okafor and Nene both have the potential to grab a significant amount of rebounds against the Heat. Washington’s wing players need to help out on the boards as well by doing a better job of ‘gang rebounding’.

If you D.C natives don’t have anything to do after watching the Washington Redskins game, feel free to check out the Wizards game shortly after. The Heat are prone to playing down to their competition, so who knows, maybe the Wizards could pull out another upset.

I doubt it though. This game should be ugly. I have a feeling the Wizards will lose by a significant margin tonight. All I can hope for is another moral victory.

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Tags: Miami Heat Washington Wizards

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