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Posted at 8:05 AM ET, 11/29/2010

Wizards prepare to face the Heat

By Michael Lee
Morning brew

The Wizards probably would've been thrilled if someone had told them in the preseason that they would enter their first matchup against the Miami Heat in late November with only two fewer losses than the SuperFriends.

But as the Wizards get set to face the Heat at American Airlines Arena on Monday, the Heat has been one of the biggest disappointments in the league, somehow sputtering despite having an all-star trio in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

After dropping to 9-8 with a 106-95 loss in Dallas on Saturday, James, Wade and Bosh led a players' only meeting to discuss their surprisingly hideous start to a season that began with some predicting 73 wins. Considering the last time the Wizards were in this position, this probably isn't the best time for them to arrive in Miami. The Atlanta Hawks had a players' only meeting before hammering them by 20 points on Thanksgiving.

The Heat has lost four of its past five games, with one of those losses coming at home to Indiana, and is badly in need of some wins to calm to overwhelming panic surrounding the team. Even President Barack Obama has chimed in, saying that it will take "some time for it come together."

The Wizards (5-10) have problems of their own, with them remaining the only Eastern Conference team without a road win (0-7). John Wall was also unable to practice on Sunday after missing a disappointing 100-99 loss to Orlando at Verizon Center because of what the team is listing as a bruised right knee. Wall has also been dealing with a bruise on his left knee, and missed four games with sprained left foot before coming back to play against Philadelphia and Atlanta.

Although Dwight Howard spoiled the Wizards' hopes of an upset win on Saturday -- which would've been their first of the season against a team with a winning record -- Coach Flip Saunders and his players were encouraged after coming back from a double-digit deficit to take a late lead.

It was just the second time this season that the Wizards have been able to stay within five points of a team with a winning record. Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy said his team "stole a game" from the Wizards. "They out-played us."

But the Wizards would've rather had the win.

FROM THE POST
James remains a villain in Washington, but he has a friend in former No. 1 pick John Wall and owner Ted Leonsis, who didn't want to make an insincere pursuit of the two-time most valuable player last summer.

Amy Shipley writes about how the slow start in Miami has its stars perplexed. Mike Wilbon wrote that Pat Riley could be the answer, after Lakers Coach Phil Jackson verbalized what many have been thinking.

With Wall still battling injuries, Nick Young continues to play at a high level. He was "in the zone" against Orlando.

AROUND THE WEB
James can do nothing right in Miami, where everything he says and does gets analyzed and over-analyzed ad-nauseam. The latest controversy surrounds whether or not he intentionally bumped into Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra during the loss to Dallas -- because he bumped into then-Cleveland Mike Brown three years ago .

ESPN.com's Marc Stein writes that the bump could help push out Spoelstra.

Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald writes that Wade isn't holding up his end of the bargain, comparing his poor shooting performances in Heat losses to ... Ricky Davis.

James said the Heat just needs to find a balance.

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin is making it hard for John Wall to run away with the rookie of the year award. ESPN.com's J.A. Adande writes that the 2009 No. 1 overall pick is better than advertised.

By Michael Lee  | November 29, 2010; 8:05 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brew  
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Next: Wizards could be without JaVale McGee, John Wall against Miami

Comments


Heartbreaking loss Saturday night, but the Wizards are making strides.

Nick Young is making an almost certain push for Most Improved Player/Sixth Man of the Year and Seraphin gave us a peek into the future with his bruising performance against Dwight Howard. Young Kevin might already have the best footwork of our bigs and might be the bruiser that the Wizards have been sorely lacking for decades!

Slowly, but surely, it's all coming together. Patience, Wizards Faithful. Patience.

In Grunfeld We Trust!!

Posted by: melodious_thunk | November 29, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Any word on Wall's availability? Seems like we are actually better without him because it allows Flip to play a more traditional lineup while still starting Gil and Kirk. And NY gets a ton of burn and produces.

Flip has hinted that the 3guard lineup indeed sucks ballz, will be interesting to see what he does if Wall is available. If he trots out Wall/Gil/Kirk again somebody needs to get him a backbone implant so he can just bench Gil or Kirk and be done with it.

Posted by: divi3 | November 29, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

I don't think anybody could reasonably argue that the Wiz are a better team without a healthy John Wall. Arenas is getting minutes that he missed at the beginning of the season, which is all to the good. Both players have shown they can produce outstanding games, and it could also be argued that both play better alongside Hinrich or even Nick. The central issue remains what happens when you put them on the floor at the same time. Sometimes they've looked OK; other times, not so much.

Not that this is a surprise to anyone. It was expected. We've played 15 games, or 18.3% of the regular season. Looks from the log like Gil's been active for 12 of those games, but started only 7. Wall's been active for only 10, started 9. Means they haven't really had an opportunity to play together that much. Probably won't in the Miami game, either.

Be nice if they got to play together for a while. Any conclusions we might draw in advance of that would be foolish at best.

Posted by: Samson151 | November 29, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

The one advantage the Wiz have is not being pressed down under the weight of expectations the way the Heat are. Washington gets the sort of grace period you give a bad team undergoing a transition. They'll need every minute of it. Of course,like every team, the Wiz have some fanz and media who suffer from the curse of premature expectation. But not so many as Miami.

Posted by: Samson151 | November 29, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Well Bron Bron got everybody fired in Cleveland on his way out the door, no surprise that now he's going to "bump" his coach in Miami.

The only problem with the big three in Miami is that none of them play center or point guard. They're getting torched on the pick and roll game from good point guards on a nightly basis. Riley, the team President, and GM, better have a fix for the roster he created, cause Riley "the Coach" isn't the answer to this team's problems.

LeBron still wants to play at a crawl, I'm becoming convinced he can't play at any other pace. They blamed it on the coach in Cleveland, after awhile it's clear that it's LeBron that needs to play crawl ball. According to some, that's winning playoff basketball the Heat are playing, the kind of stuff the Wiz should aspire to play.

You can't grind it out with that kind of play unless you can out physical the other team around the rim, and the Heat won't be able to do it with the centers and power forwards they have. They're holding scores down and staying close in games with pace, not defense.

They're hoping to stay in striking distance, then put on a spurt to win it down the stretch, teams are countering by feeding them a steady diet of pick and roll basketball down the stretch.

They'll get better if they pick up the pace defensively, LeBron,Wade, and Bosh, are all really long, so if they work at defense they can disrupt what teams are trying to do and force tempo some. They've got to find a way to get their talents out on the floor and into open space.

The Wiz played another solid game the other night. Gil is rounding into shape and showing some of his old explosion again. Young continues to put together a solid run of basketball.

Most likely the Heat will beat the Wiz, can't imagine that LeBron would want to feel the sting of losing to Washington.
But you know, Gil hasn't really gone off yet, couldn't pick a better night for it to happen...
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | November 29, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Heart-breaking loss, but it was a good game. I can see the maturation of JM and NY. I like the physicality that Seraphin brings to the game in limited minutes. If JW and AT could have played I think it would have been a better outcome. KH is starting to show his lack of atheleticism on the offensive end. His defensive is still pretty good thought. But, we have to remember that Orlando was missing VC also.

One point I want to mention is regarding the call that was overturned on the and-1 that GA had. A rookie ref called the block on Orlando and a veteran ref overturned the call to a charge on GA. Is it me or was DH getting a lot of calls during the game??? He was able to push and come over the back of the Wiz players the whole game. JM got a couple of fouls called that he shouldn't have. I hate what David Stern has done to the game...Let the guys earn their stripes and stop allowing the refs to dictate the game...We all know that LJ, DW, KB and DH are the NBA's bread and butter, but those of us who really appreciate the game would like to see everyone earn what the get...

Posted by: TEliasB | November 29, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

"So what you're saying is, be inauthentic for the PR value. That's not me." - T. Leonsis

My point is that some haters around here were basically saying Leonsis was being inauthentic regarding Gil. "THAT's NOT HIM!"

Posted by: G-Man11 | November 29, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I don't think anybody could reasonably argue that the Wiz are a better team without a healthy John Wall.

It's quite reasonable to argue that having Wall, Gil, and Kirk on the floor together is a horrible lineup and that we're a better team with a more traditionally sized player at SF.

Washington gets the sort of grace period you give a bad team undergoing a transition. They'll need every minute of it.

Which is even more reason not to waste time with dead end lineups that come at the expense of younger players who may actually be here when the team is competitive again.

Posted by: divi3 | November 29, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

The last play for the Wiz was a classic example. The Wiz had AB and Nick stacked on the right side of the lane, AB high, Nick low. The design was to have AB drop down and set a pick for Nick, allowing him to pop out to the perimeter. At the start of the play, Lewis is basically hugging AB, and Duhon hugging Young. As AB goes to set the pick, Lewis basically hugs his way around AB and Young (who is more or less still being held by Duhon), preventing Young from moving until it was too late. It was bit of bad pick by AB, but also just great off-the-ball D from a championship caliber team.

Posted by: ts35 | November 29, 2010 1:22 AM |

ts35,

Did you just unwittingly make my point for me about manning up/guarding your man at all costs as long as possible.

It seems here based on what you've identified is that Miami knew that a P&R by the Wiz was in order, but they were determined to stick with their man and disrupt the P&R at all costs.

Unlike the Wiz, where Hinrich from your pov was conceding the P&R by overplaying a spot on the floor in lieu of what his man was actually doing.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 29, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

If Wall is able to play tonight and Flip attempts to have Hinrich or Gil guard LeBron, while starting a 3 guard line up then Flip should be fired on the spot.

I like Gee in the starting rotation. Gee brings something different from the rest of the starters. He just hustles all over the floor. Thornton fell in love with his jumper and stopped banging inside. I do hope Thorton's back tonight.

Should be interesting viewing watching the match up of Nick Young on DWade and Thorton/Gee on Bron.

The last time the Wiz played against Bosh, I believe he had 30 and dominated our entire front court!
Battle of the front court softies.
Bosh vs Blatche!


Posted by: bozomoeman | November 29, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Why can't Blatche follow the lead of JaVale McGee in playiny hard

an interesting article on Wall and the Wizards
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/6032874/washington_wizards_a_starcrossed_franchise.html?cat=14

Posted by: TIMOPTIC2004 | November 29, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald writes that Wade isn't holding up his end of the bargain, comparing his poor shooting performances in Heat losses to ... Ricky Davis.

That's because D Wade is an overrated volumn shooter who will have more difficulty adjusting to playing with Lebron than Gil will have adjusting to playing with J Wall.

Posted by: gmac78 | November 29, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

11-10-09: DWade goes off for 41pts in 38mins as the Heat crush Wiz. NY goes 0-1 in 2:32

11-27-09: Wiz beat Heat 94-84 with DWade being held to 18pts on 6-19 shooting. NY goes 22/4/5 in 37mins.

Let's see if Flip learned anything!

Posted by: divi3 | November 29, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

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