The Other Side: Miami Heat


See me flying? I wasn't getting up this high last year. (AP Photo/J. Pat Carter)


If the Washington Wizards can find any hope in this lost season, they don't have to look much further than their opponent tonight -- the Miami Heat. This time last season, the Heat was the worst team in the NBA, Dwyane Wade was hobbling around on one good leg, and the team had an identical 9-35 record. A year later, Wade is healthy and the Heat is tied with Detroit for the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference at 24-19.

Miami has won five of its past seven games and is coming off impressive, back-to-back home wins against Southeast Division-leading Orlando and Atlanta. Both of those wins came after former Georgetown center Alonzo Mourning announced his retirement from the NBA. The Heat has two wins against the Wizards this season, beating them 97-77 when the teams met on Nov. 14 in Miami, and 94-87 on Nov. 18 in Washington.

Wizards forward Caron Butler spent one season with Dwyane Wade and said they communicate often. "You know we shoot texts," Butler said yesterday. "It's something I did last year, telling him to get healthy and remain positive. He was going through all that stuff where people said he wasn't the same, but look at him. He's back on top and now he's shooting me the texts telling me to be positive."

If the Wizards indeed follow the path of the Heat, Butler will need some more inspirational words. The Heat didn't win its 10th game last season until Feb. 26 -- several weeks after trading Shaquille O'Neal to Phoenix. Miami defeated Sacramento that night to improve to 10-45. The Heat, of course, finished the season 15-67.

Here's what else you need to know about the Heat before they host the Wizards tonight at AmericanAirlines Arena.

1. Wade Is a One-Man Wrecking Crew
I wrote about Dwyane Wade's rigorous eight-week training program to get back to an elite level earlier this month. But aside from being the league's leading scorer at 28.9 points per game, Wade has led a team of mostly toddlers with a rookie head coach into contention for homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. With the Heat on pace to win 46 games, Wade has generated a little MVP buzz. Sports Illustrated's Phil Taylor wrote last week that Wade has certainly emerged as the best one-man show in the NBA.

2. Marion Is on the Trading Block
Shawn Marion's short stint in Miami has proven that he cannot thrive on a halfcourt team. Marion is averaging just 12 points, the lowest since his rookie year, and has to run to be effective. His time in Miami appears to be shrinking and Heat President Pat Riley isn't ashamed to admit it. Marion has been rumored in deals with Sacramento and Toronto, where he could reunite with former Phoenix General Manager Bryan Colangelo. The Miami Herald's Israel Gutierrez said Marion is unhappy and the Heat needs to move Marion soon. Marion is currently out with a groin injury. There is no timetable for his return.

3. Michael Beasley Is Progressing Slowly
Michael Beasley is no longer a leading candidate to win rookie of the year. The D.C. native has had an up-and-down season as Coach Erick Spoelstra tries to get Beasley to become a better defender and all-around player. Beasley is averaging 13.2 points and 5.2 rebounds but showed flashes of stardom while recording three 20-point games this month. He banged knees with Atlanta's Josh Smith on Tuesday and left after scoring just two points, but he is expected to play against his hometown team.

By Michael Lee |  January 28, 2009; 12:24 PM ET
Previous: McGee Gets His Shot -- Again | Next: Wizards (9-35) at Miami (24-19)

Comments

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Nice post on the Heat Michael. Even as the Wiz season is in the tank you guys are still out there doing some great reporting. All 100 of us diehard Wiz fans appreciate it.

Posted by: lameotron | January 28, 2009 12:54 PM

Fan #99 of the 100 here checking in. I am going out on a limb and will predict 3 good quarters of play and then complete failure in 1 causing a Loss. I know, I know..I am stretching a bit but watch what happens

http://www.wizardsextreme.com

Posted by: WizardsExtreme | January 28, 2009 1:02 PM

@WizardsExtreme

Are we really playing three good quarters, or is the other team just taking it easy? We've seen what happens with teams (i.e. the Lake Show) don't take it easy for the first three quarters...Pech gets to play the 4th quarter.

That said, I agree with your prediction.

Posted by: MBUSA | January 28, 2009 1:49 PM

Beasley makes a difference in games, though, even when he doesn't score much. Teams are aware of how quickly he can get hot, and that takes some pressure off Wade.

Beasley was the consensus ROY choice before the season started, and it just goes to show how important it is for a rook to go to a team that's a good fit for his particular strengths. Examples would be Brandon Roy at Portland a few years back, and OJ Mayo at Memphis this season.

Both terrifically talented, but I'm guessing that put a rookie Roy in New York or Mayo in Toronto and they'd struggle some. Both are used to be the focal point of an offense, and don't know quite what to do if they're not.

Shawn Marion needs Mike D'Antoni. But Shawn Marion has an ego problem, so it probably won't happen.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 28, 2009 2:22 PM

fan #93.

so i haven't followed Marion much so i dont know much about his offensive skill set. but i've heard he defends well and he's still averaging 9+ rebounds per game. anybody think he would fit on our team?

of course, it's not like we have too many centers we'd want to part with in exchange.

my best guess would be a three team trade including philadelphia.

Washington gets Marion and Thaddeus Young (added defense and depth at forward)

76ers get Jamison (They wanted him at one point, no?)

Miami gets E. Thomas, Pech, and either Brand or Dalembert. (Fills their void at center caused by Mourning, gives them more depth at power forward, and also Brand would excel in a halfcourt offense)

http://games.espn.go.com/nba/features/traderesult?players=91~3244~385~3020~851~510&teams=14~27~20~14~14~27&te=&cash=

disclaimer: i've never really fantasized about trades before and i don't pay too much attention to other people's players. so this isn't a solution, it's more of just playing around with an idea. i'm more than curious as to why this would or would not work, but there's no need to say it's stupid.


Posted by: crs-one | January 28, 2009 2:35 PM

crs-one: As someone who likes to indulge in trade speculation/fantasy, I'm certainly not one to criticize, but your trade seems a bit too one-sided for the Wizards. Jamison's trade value doesn't seem that high to me, although I'd like to know what Jamison and swapping our high pick (especially if it isn't number 1) for the other teams's pick could fetch. Brand? Biedrins?

Posted by: mugsybol | January 28, 2009 3:59 PM

I think about the facts laid out in this article all the time, every game, during every 4th quarter melt down. The Wizards aren't the best Defensive team in the league...yes that is very true. But on most nights they do hold their opponents to under 100pts. The wizards main problem is that they have no inside post prescence with Haywood hurt and they have no finisher (4th quarter scorer) with Arenas out!

Once they get these 2 guys back, they will again be a team to reckon with. Now that might not be till next year, but that will make us even better, because we will have a top 5 pick to go with Arenas, Haywood...and our other 2nd team stars like Butler, Jamison, Young and Blatche.

Hey the injuries suck, but there is nothing we can do about it now, this season is lost...its best to just look forward to next season, like the Heat did last year.

We have alot of pieces right now on this team, alot of young talented guys. Young, McGuire, Crittenton, Blatche, Pecherov, and McGee. We need to let these guys get thier minutes and take their lumps this year, and then next year they will be ready to run with Arenas, Butler, Jamison, Haywood and our top 5 pick.

We will be fine, next year is our year. Just pretend that this year didn't even exist.

Posted by: avbanig | January 28, 2009 4:07 PM

I loved - loved these results.

Duke --- 85
Maryland --- 44

Boston College -- 76
Maryland -- 67

Prediction:

Miami -- 87
Maryland -- 58

Maryland will finish with a 15 - 16 record

No NCAA bid

No NIT bid

How can any parent, let their son play for a program like Maryland - with a 10 % graduation rate.

Carolina blue - Carolina WHITE - Go Tar Heels ! - Let's go Tar Heels !

Posted by: hclark1 | January 28, 2009 4:14 PM

Carolina blue - Carolina WHITE - Go Tar Heels ! - Let's go Tar Heels !

Posted by: hclark1 | January 28, 2009 4:14 PM


i hope Wayne drops 30 on the Noles tonite

Posted by: prescrunk | January 28, 2009 4:28 PM

This is going to look like an idiotic question, but here goes:

How do you pronounce Dwyane? I do not own a television, and never watch games, and so I have never heard this pronounced.

It looks a lot like the woman's name, Diane. Something tells me that's not right.

It also looks a lot like the man's name, Dwayne. Somethings tells me that's right.

If that is correct, next question. Any clue about why the unconventional spelling?

Posted by: ajedwardsjr | January 28, 2009 4:52 PM

anybody think he (marion) would fit on our team?

Depends primarily on the identity/philosophy of our next coach.

But Shawn Marion makes 17.8 mil. We don't have any contracts (that we would part with) to trade for him. And i think that was Phoenix's and now Miami's issue with him, the fact that he is overpaid for a 3rd (2nd if you stretch) fiddle caliber player.

On the upside, his contract expires this year. (on the downside, its one year too early for the Lebron sweepstakes...)

Posted by: jones-y | January 28, 2009 4:53 PM

crs-one: As someone who likes to indulge in trade speculation/fantasy, I'm certainly not one to criticize, but your trade seems a bit too one-sided for the Wizards. Jamison's trade value doesn't seem that high to me, although I'd like to know what Jamison and swapping our high pick (especially if it isn't number 1) for the other teams's pick could fetch. Brand? Biedrins?

Posted by: mugsybol | January 28, 2009 3:59 PM

Here's my reasoning:

-With Mourning gone, the Heat's biggest deficiency is center.
And there's rumors that Marion may be up for grabs since he hasn't been working out so well (another victim of inflated value at the hands of D'antoni, perhaps, like Michael Lee referenced? http://voices.washingtonpost.com/wizardsinsider/2009/01/the_other_side_new_york_knicks_2.html)

(http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=ap-heat-riley&prov=ap&type=lgns)

And I can't find the article that I saw most recently that suggested again that he was up for trade because he doesn't fit in with the Heat's halfcourt offense. And Brand doesn't fit in with the 76ers running offense. So Brand would probably be a good transplant. The problem I see there is that it creates an overload of power forwards and a dearth of small forwards.

Also, Etan Thomas would give them a veteran center that they need....and that i'm not particularly interested in keeping...but that's why it's fantasy:)

-The 76ers definitely need a reliable power forward, and there was rumors that they were considering Jamison or Brand. Since Brand hasn't panned out, they might jump at the opportunity to erase that past error.

So it might be weighted towards us some, but I'll say there's enough benefit all the way around to speculate? maybe?

Posted by: crs-one | January 28, 2009 5:18 PM

How do you pronounce Dwyane?
Posted by: ajedwardsjr | January 28, 2009 4:52 PM

you know...i never noticed that it was spelled weird. Kinda just overlooked it...like Antawn. But it's pronounced like Dwayne. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcifmULLB2I&feature=related

We don't have any contracts (that we would part with) to trade for him.
On the upside, his contract expires this year. (on the downside, its one year too early for the Lebron sweepstakes...)
Posted by: jones-y | January 28, 2009 4:53 PM

Yeah, that was the biggest flaw in my mind...no way they would trade antawn after committing to him this past offseason.

But there was a good argument that the 2009 free agent class was pretty good as well...

Posted by: crs-one | January 28, 2009 5:29 PM

"How do you pronounce Dwyane? "

It's pronounced "money."

Posted by: Samson151 | January 28, 2009 6:48 PM

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