The Washington Wizards remained win-less in Brazil after falling to 0-2 against the Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls, but they’ll have a chance to pick up their first victory at home tonight against the defending champion Miami Heat. The game will be televised on NBA TV at 7:00 PM.
Key Match Up:
The Heat obviously don’t have very many holes in their game, as evident in their back-to-back championship run, but the only glaring weakness in their roster is their frontcourt depth, or lack thereof. Besides Chris Bosh, who has looked excellent during preseason, the Heat don’t have much talent down low. They struggled to defeat the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals this past season due to their weak frontcourt, and I don’t expect that to change any time soon, especially since they’ll ultimately rely on Chris Anderson, Joel Anthony, Udonis Haslem and Greg Oden (or whatever is left of him) for rim protection.
Nene, who remained in Brazil for personal reasons, will be out tonight but Washington will still likely have an advantage down low. Since Nene is out, the Wizards will have a chance to observe how some of their younger forwards compete against Chris Bosh and Co. How will Vesely match up against Chris Bosh, who’s averaging nearly 19 points in 20 minutes of action during preseason? Will the Wizards be able to take advantage of their size against the Heat, who generally play small lineups that cater to their up-tempo style of play?
Dwyane Wade sat out last game, and LeBron James isn’t expected to play much, so keep your eyes peeled on Washington’s frontcourt.
- Nene won’t be available tonight, and Al Harrington (thigh) is a game-time decision. I wouldn’t expect the 16-year vet to suit up tonight. Trevor Booker will likely see an increase in minutes.
- Greg Oden has begun playing 5-on-5 basketball in practice, but he also isn’t expected to play tonight.
- John Wall is going to write ‘playoffs’ on his shoes before each game during the regular season.
- The Heat were the best offensive team last season in terms of efficiency. Washington was dead last.
Even though it’s just preseason, the Heat have managed to win all three of their games and it doesn’t seem like they’ve missed a beat from this past season. Michael Beasley has played fairly well, and the veterans fighting to make the team like Roger Mason, are elevating the Heat to a different level. You’d expect a repeat championship to coast through preseason, but the Heat are treating every game like it counts.
On the flip side, the Wizards looked very lethargic in Brazil and that needs to change tonight. Washington played very well against teams above .500 last year, and since the game is at the Verizon Center, I’d expect them to increase their intensity tonight. John Wall and Bradley Beal have to establish a rhythm together before the regular season begins, and doing so against the defending champs couldn’t hurt.
Washington reportedly went through a series of rigorous practices after their loss in Brazil, and I’m hoping it translates to the game tonight. If the Wizards pick their offensive game up tonight, they should be able to sneak out with their first victory.
Again: The game tips off at 7:00 PM on NBA TV.