After securing a winning record against one of the league’s worst teams, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Washington Wizards will face off against one of the NBA’s best, Miami Heat, tonight at the Verizon Center. The game will tip off at 7:00 PM. Find Wiz vs. Miami Heat tickets from FrontRowTickets.com.
Key Match Up:
It seems like the number one seed in the Eastern Conference may be slipping away from the Miami Heat, but winning teams usually gain momentum before heading into the postseason and I’m sure that’s all LeBron James is concerned about at this point. The Heat suffered an embarrassing loss in Washington earlier this season after James attempted to carry his team to victory amid a losing funk. The Heat have been suffering through injuries all season long, but James has still played at an MVP level, putting up over 27 points, 6 assists and nearly 7 rebounds per game.
Trevor Ariza has shut down some superstar-level players this season, but it’s nearly impossible to contain James, so I don’t expect him to have the performance he had against Carmelo Anthony just a few season ago, where he held him to just 10 points in the contest. Washington has been top-1o defensively in terms of efficiency virtually all season long and I think Ariza doesn’t get the credit he deserves on that end of the floor. His scoring and shooting from the outside has been well documented, but his ability to take opposing players out of the game with his defense often goes unnoticed. James will contribute tonight, even if he struggles scoring the ball, but it’s important to keep him away from the basket as much as possible. Though James has improved his outside shooting, I’m sure the Wizards will live with any shots he knocks down from the perimeter, as long as his points don’t come in transition or in the paint.
- Dwyane Wade returned to action on Saturday night against the Hawks–a game which the Heat lost.
- Averaging just 37 rebounds per game, the Heat are the worst rebounding team in the NBA.
- Miami has the highest offensive rating in the league. They’re also above league average defensively, 11th, just one slot below the Wizards.
- The Heat are essentially tied with the Clippers for first in points off turnovers, and the Wizards won’t stand a chance tonight if they can’t keep control of the ball. John Wall has to do a better job of taking care of the ball in order for the Wizards to stay competitive.
If the Wizards slip to seventh and the Heat can’t reclaim the first spot in the conference, then tonight’s game will be a preview of what’s to come in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Washington could avoid playing against the Heat if they win their final two games, so tonight’s a very important match up, to say the least.
Even though I expect Nene and Marcin Gortat to dominate down low, given their success against the Heat this season, Washington won’t stay competitive unless John Wall and Bradley Beal bring it tonight. Wall and Beal are capable of keeping the Wizards in the game and Washington can’t rely on their bigs for all their success.
With all that said, I don’t think the Wizards could be a motivated Heat team that’s trying to secure the first spot in the East. LeBron James is still the best player in the world and the Wizards, like any other team in the league, are going to have a hard time stopping Chris Bosh and Wade from putting up big numbers. Let’s just hope the Wizards keep it interesting.