Wizards prepare to face the Heat
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.
| November 29, 2010; 8:05 AM ET
Categories: Morning brew
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