The Washington Wizards go on the road with momentum for the first time in a month when they travel to play the Miami Heat.
It’s been a week of bad injury news for the Washington Wizards (15-23), but that hasn’t stopped them from their first winning streak since early December. They’ll have to dig deep again on Friday night when they head to American Airlines Arena to take on the Miami Heat (18-18).
Coming in to December, the Heat were in the same boat as the Wizards: A playoff team a year ago that found itself on the outside looking in. But Miami has since turned things around, winning 10 of its last 15 games and currently the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference. They’re a hot team right now that is finding ways to win despite limited starpower.
The Wizards should feel encouraged though. Even though they’re just 4-16 on the road, one of those victories came in Miami on November 10, with the Wizards winning 116-110. That squad looked very different than what Washington will put on the floor on Friday. In November, John Wall led the team with 28 points and 9 assist while Dwight Howard chipped in with 11 points and 16 rebounds. Both are a long way from coming back.
Nonetheless, if the Wizards play smart and to their ability, even with a depleted roster, they should be able to hang with the surging Heat.
Let’s take a look at the game details below.
Game: Washington Wizards at Miami Heat
When: Friday, January 4, 2019
Where: American Airlines Arena
Tip-Off Time: 8 pm Eastern Standard Time
Wizards: Howard (Lumbar microdisectomy procedure-Out), Wall (Heel-Out), Markieff Morris (Transient cervical neurapraxia-Out)
Projected Starting Lineup
No player on the Heat is going to blow anyone away. The organization’s only recent All Star, Goran Dragic, is out with knee surgery. Dwyane Wade is no longer the player he once was although he has some flashbacks to remind us he’s an alltime great. The team’s leading scorer is Josh Richardson.
That said, under the watch of Erik Spoelstra, they’ve managed to put together an impressive stretch that should not be underestimated, especially by the Wizards. The Wizards have little margin for error with Wall and now Markieff Morris out, and a disciplined, detail-oriented team like the Heat will look to make the most of every offensive possession while playing tight defense on the other end. Fortunately, with Otto Porter coming back from injury, the Wizards have the wings to compete with the Heat’s.
Where the Heat can hurt the Wizards is down low. Miami’s two players with the highest PER are centers Hassan Whiteside and Bam Adebayo. Unfortunately, the Wizards find themselves incredibly thin at that position with Thomas Bryant as the only center seeing consistent playing time; Morris out of the lineup and Ian Mahinmi seems to be out of the rotation, for now at least. This means forwards like Trevor Ariza, Jeff Green, Porter, and Sam Dekker are going to have to play above their weight class.
This is the type of game where Bradley Beal can carry the team as the only true star in this match-up. It’s also one where a balanced attack with everyone on the squad doing their part can lead the Wizards to the victory. Unfortunately, it’s also one where Beal can try to do too much to make up for the lack of firepower on the floor while the Heat just grind away to a win.
I suspect it may look closer to the latter, although I expect the Wizards role players to step up and make it competitive, but the well-coached Heat will eventually win out.
Final Score: MIA – 104, WSH – 97