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Posted at 1:34 AM ET, 11/30/2010

Wizards lose but Heat fails to impress

By Michael Lee

How good should we feel about an 11-point win over a depleted Wizards team, Bron? (Getty Images)


The first thought that came to mind after this game had nothing to do with the Washington Wizards. So forgive me for a minute while I take some time to simply say, the Miami Heat isn't all that good right now.

I know the Heat is 10-8 and you are what your record says you are, but I could not believe how unimpressive it was despite possessing two of the league's most exciting players in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and one of the best power forwards in Chris Bosh.

I'm not saying the Heat won't figure it out and eventually become the team that many predicted. Miami will likely be able to knock off mediocre teams like the Wizards all season but as someone who got so mesmerized by their immense star power, I feel a little bamboozled right now after watching the SuperFriends in person for the first time. All that talent, and they looked really average in a 105-94 win over the Wizards.

This was not a game that I expected the Wizards to have any shot of winning, since they were battling injuries and on the road. The Heat was coming off a drama filled weekend that should've produced an emotional romp over a weakened opponent. Instead, Miami played ho-hum basketball and didn't show much fire until Hilton Armstrong was ejected for shoving Joel Anthony and Kirk Hinrich threw an elbow at James Jones and both players picked up technical fouls.

Erik Spoelstra is catching all the heat for this slow start, but while he could be more creative offensively, he is not the problem -- or rather, the biggest problem, for Miami. He didn't lead the Heat to 47 wins last season with Wade, and little else, by accident. He knows how to coach, even as James and Wade appear to be "chilling" on him.

I don't want to get all Tracy McGrady on James and Wade -- McGrady called the combination "terrible" -- but the heart of Miami's troubles is that those two don't seem to have much chemistry on the court together.

They don't simply defer to each other, for fear of stepping on toes, both players look completely uncomfortable dominating the offense unless one is all alone on the floor, possibly with Bosh. Wade praised James after he scored a game-high 30 points. "That was the LeBron I fell in love with as a basketball player. I haven't seen it. I just want him to be him."

And, James also congratulated Wade on scoring 26 points -- but he kept it in perspective. "We have to find a balance between when we're both on the court and who's going to be aggressive."

They had a great hookup when Wade rebounded a Cartier Martin miss, then pushed the ball up the floor and tossed a no-look pass to James, who flipped the ball in over his head. But other than that, it seemed like the only way it was going to work is if James takes one half and Wade takes the other. That's still more than most NBA teams can depend on, but that approach seems forced -- and won't lift the Heat into truly elite status any time soon.

So, while I might not agree with Armstrong, I didn't laugh out loud when he said after the game, "I think we're going to get them next time."

The Heat simply isn't a team to be feared -- yet.


I see you Dwyane, but we still should've beaten you guys. (Reuters Pictures)

It would've been interesting to see how the Heat contended with a healthy John Wall, since Miami has been torched by talented, speedy point guards all season. Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Jason Kidd have all exposed Miami's weakness at that position and if you had his playmaking and ability to push the tempo to the Wizards and the game probably would've been a little more competitive in the fourth quarter, when the team looked gassed. But Wall missed his second straight game with a bruised right knee and has missed six of the 16 games with injury this season.

Gilbert Arenas had solid game with 23 points, seven assists and five rebounds, but he runs a team in a different fashion than Wall, since he is often looking more for his own shot -- and with the Wizards lacking scoring options, Arenas had to assume that role against Miami.

The Heat's inability to slow down effective big men also held to form as Andray Blatche scored a season-high 26 points and matched his season-high high with 14 free throw attempts. After the game, Blatche didn't treat the performance as if it was special. "It wasn't nothing different than I always do," he said. "I always try to attack the rim and things was working for me. My shot was falling. That's pretty much it. It wasn't nothing spectacular."

Wade dominated the second half, when he scored 22 points, but Blatche admitted that "the game changed" after Armstrong tried to prevent an easy layup by Anthony and pushed him with two hands. "I didn't try to hurt him - at all," said Armstrong, who is probably staring at one-game suspension similar to the one Elton Brand received last week for his two-hand shove of JaVale McGee.

The Heat quickly extended a 12-point game into a 20-point game in less than three minutes. Hinrich then got mixed up with Jones, who took exception to an elbow Hinrich used to get some separation before making a pass. "I wasn't trying to hurt him or anything. There's a couple of times in the game, where I felt if I had been stronger, I wouldn't have turned it over," said Hinrich, who had a team-high three turnovers. "I was trying to be strong with the ball."

After the game, James regurgitated some of those physical wars with the Wizards, which should surely lead to more boos when Miami comes to Washington on Dec. 18. "Tonight, with the Wizards, I used to that, too," James said with a smile. "The hard fouling stuff. I've been around that block."

Hinrich and the Wizards really believe that they should've come away with a win. "I feel like we could've done a lot of things a lot better," he said. "We've been having trouble on the road, getting blown out. We didn't get blown out. It was a very close game. We just have to get better."

By Michael Lee  | November 30, 2010; 1:34 AM ET
 
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Next: On to Toronto, probably without Hilton Armstrong

Comments

mike,

can you talk about why gil is still not driving to the basket? he seems to be getting quicker on his feet but still is missing the explosion he used to have...but he needs to at least try to get to the hole a bit more instead of settling for long jumpers...

do you see him getting back the first step he used to have to blow by guys to the rim?

Posted by: insanity999 | November 30, 2010 2:21 AM | Report abuse

I agree with some points you've made. I disagree with what you said about the 4th quarter. It wasn't until Miami's bench players entered the game that the Wizards started to chip away at the 20pt lead and cut it to 13 with about 1:30 left in the game.

Aside from that, I agree that this win wasn't necessarily impressive since they played against a Washington team without John Wall. The win was more so a scrimmage coming out of a "drama-filled" weekend with rumors afloat. Did Miami look good? Sure. When Wade, Bosh, and Lebron are in sync, they're capable of accounting for 70+ points between the three of them. I will say this game looked much better than their previous games; namely Memphis and Indiana. Their offense was stagnant in those games and Wade was playing horribly.

Ejections or not, Miami was supposed to win this game and they did so in an above average fashion. If they took the offensive production and defensive schemes from October 29th against Orlando, Miami would be a scary team in the next few weeks. But as it goes, we never know which Miami team will show up.

Maybe Washington will get lucky and face Dr. Jekyll on the 18th.

Posted by: SevenTre | November 30, 2010 3:09 AM | Report abuse

Dray Talk & Im Encouraged

Dray's still not shooting that great but I thought in the last 2 games, he physically moved as well as Ive seen him all year. He's looking quick again and not like a slug like he was prior to that. I think he's knocking off the rust and his conditioning is coming back, hence the 22 boards in the last 2 games. Ill take that any day. I think his shooting & shot selection will start to get better now due to him regaining the conditiong & timing.

We have a bad record right now and some tough games coming up but I actually think we will start to play well & win. We play at Toronto next game and if Dray keeps the energy up, along with Gil getting his timing back, I think we win. We then have some hard games after that but pretty much all those teams have trouble with the quicker athletic teams. I think these last 2 games showed Flip that Hinrich shouldnt start. Hopefully next game will be the 1st where we have the Wall-Gil backcourt with no Hinrich in the starting group. Thats when you can really judge how well Wall & Gil play together and I think they will look fine.

We will probably also get Al back in the next game or 2 and Yi will probably be back within the next 3 games. We then can start Wall-Gil-Al-Dray-McGee while coming off the bench with Hinrich-NY-Gee-Yi-HA. I like that mix of guys. We should be pretty athletic at all times while having a nice mix of youth & vetrans on both units. McGee will continue to improve and I see Dray & Gil only getting better. Get Wall back to get us some easy transistion baskets and another guy to put pressure on the D & keep teams in foul trouble, and I think you will see a different team from here on out. Then we will be saying how much it sucks that we lost early against all those bad teams that we shouldve beaten

Posted by: dlts2041 | November 30, 2010 3:37 AM | Report abuse

I like how Booker brought the thunder at the end of the game. I would have liked to see him get a bit more run when it mattered.

The one thing that stood out to me is how Wade and James goofed around with the ball in the 4th Quarter trying to make it look more like a And One game than a NBA game. It seemed very childish and unfocused to me. Instead of trying to work on their games, given all their recent troubles then seem more focus on playing street ball and making Sportscenter.

It pretty clear to me that the Heat are the 3rd best team in the division behind the Magic and Hawks. That is not much improvement from last year. Not impressive win at all against a pretty beat up team.

Posted by: dcinmd1 | November 30, 2010 3:46 AM | Report abuse

So the Miami Heat beat a rebuilding Wizards teams without Wall. Withouth Yi, Al Thornton and Josh Howard. And they beat us only by 11?

Posted by: tundey | November 30, 2010 3:56 AM | Report abuse

Wizards lose but Heat fails to impress...

It looks like Mike Lee is applying for the Susan O'Malley (how do I spin this crap) job with the Wizards?

Why not write...

The Wizards didn't lose by 30 points tonight...

The Wizards tied Miami 25-25 in the 4th quarter...

The Wizards hold Miami to 105 points...

The Wizards had more FTA's...

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | November 30, 2010 4:41 AM | Report abuse

Perusing this and the previous thread, it appears Miami won because Ernie can't get the right players, Flip can't coach, and assorted members of the team are unable to play a lick. Also, Kirk Hinrich is the Devil.

I've forwarded this on to Ted for corrective action.

Posted by: Samson151 | November 30, 2010 6:03 AM | Report abuse

The Wizards are as equally dysfuntional but with a lot less talent or potential. The Heat stink right now based on huge expectations and most of the NBA world love it.

And with each game that Wall is out, the Wiz get the benefit of Arenas increasing his trade value. A blessing in disguise since he may not have had a chance to show he is healthy and "back" if Wall was playing. Now they can parlay this into some talent and/or more cap relief. Get real talent to develop a contender and not litter the roster with players like Yi and Armstrong who are other team's castaways.

Posted by: rocky123 | November 30, 2010 6:37 AM | Report abuse

Where did they find this clown? He's not impressed with Miami? Compared to the team he covers, he should be impressed with any other team he sees on the court. This is Bullets basketball! And to the fool who states the Heat beat the Bullets by ONLY 11, they did what they had to do to beat a bad team. You think Miami gives two secs of thought about the most insignificant franchise in the NBA since 1980? Let me answer for you bro -- No.

Posted by: jwing14 | November 30, 2010 6:44 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, I have to agree that the point of this post, that Miami failed to impress as much as it should have, is off base. I remember NBA teams that were on their way to the championship, who only played just hard enough to win. It's a long season.

Posted by: PostSubscriber | November 30, 2010 7:00 AM | Report abuse

The heat will eventually get it together once they get players like Mike Miller and Haslam back. Right now, I don't believe they could beat Boston, Orlando, or Atlanta in a 7 game series. We will be able to tell more by February or so. the east is weak enough for the Heat to still finish in the middle of the pack.

The Wiz played as well as expected without JW, AT, Yi, and JH. We will know more about this team by mid season. However, I like the direction the team is heading in. They are BEING competitive on MOST nights and that is an improvement. I for one, hope that they do not try to trade GA until we get a chance to see how the team plays for an extended period of time with all the players back. KH has got to work on his offensive game and he needs to stop making turnovers. It seems as though he is struggling with judging the speed and length of NBA defenders. Most of the "stars" cheat and overplay the passing lane. Which means that he needs to keep his dribble and wait for the mistake.

Also, Flip seems to still not know who he wants to give minutes to in the post. He needs to go ahead and let the bruisers use their 6 fouls. Play Seraphin or Booker the same time you play JM and maybe they can take some of his fouls....You may as well becuase AB is NOT going to give much defensive help to JM in the post.

Posted by: TEliasB | November 30, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Health is the biggest reason for this loss, although DWade turned in on in the 2nd half; I think it would have happened regardless. The Heat have a bad tendency of getting down early and coming back late in games. The combo of J. Howard & Thorton could have contained LeBron slightly better; if Armstrong didn't start & a healthy Yi would have matched J. Anthony's energy off the bench. Once Yi comes back, I still want Flip to play the best bigs off the bench, meaning Booker & Seraphin have as good a chance to get minutes as they have lately. 12/18 should be more interesting provided the Wiz can get healthier. The Wiz will see E. House and M. Miller for that one.

Posted by: bernard_thompson | November 30, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

To the Miami fans on this post: No need to get so defensive! Face it, last night's game should not have been as close as it was based on the comparative talent of the two teams. During the first half, the Wizards were getting just about whatever shots they wanted. Those shots, however, weren't falling. But for the most part, the Wizards offense had no trouble creating open shots/layups against the Heat.

I was very surprised at the overall lack of intensity and lack of interest showed by the Heat. It is obvious that Wade/James/Bosh are still trying to find some chemistry, and that will take time. But even complete strangers in a game of pick-up hoops can at least control their effort and hustle. The just seemed lifeless out there last night. I saw the same thing Mike Lee saw last night.

(As an aside, for those of you who don't like Mike Lee's writing style, go over to Redskins Insider and take a look at "The Mayor's" posts ... IMO, Mike Lee is the best beat writer on WaPo's payrolls. Keep up the excellent coverage Mike!)

Posted by: MEssex | November 30, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Coaching the Heat is not an attractive job. If they win w/ Spoelstra it's because of their superior talent. If they don't win the championship (which they won't this year) it's the coach's fault.

Posted by: randysbailin | November 30, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

What the Miami Heat need is a real point guard on the floor. When two folks can't decide who's ball it is then you bring in a point guard whom pushes and control the ball for them ala Majic Johnson.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 30, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Neither team played well. How many point-blank shots did wade miss? Too bad Wizards could not take advantage of that because they shot poorly themselves. Yang shot 4 for 15 and Hinrcih 2 for , 27% combined.

Posted by: sagaliba | November 30, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Great point LarryInClintonMD. The Celtics had the same problem. PP was going to Rondo after the games and telling him to pass him the ball instead of passing it to RA. However, Doc Rivers got involved and told them that Rondo would pass the ball to whoever he thought was open and that they big-3 had to deal with it. From that point on the Celtics and Rondo's team play improved. The point guard position is highly under-appreciated and the Heat are seeing why to win a championship you need a good point guard and a decent man in the middle. Adding Dampier will help, but a true point guard is needed. Everytime the Heat played a team this year with a good point guard they were beat. You would think that someone in their front office would notice that...

Posted by: TEliasB | November 30, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Neither team played well. How many point-blank shots did wade miss? Too bad Wizards could not take advantage of that because they shot poorly themselves. Yang shot 4 for 15 and Hinrcih 2 for , 27% combined.

I guess this team with Wall, Thornton, and Yi out is a godsend confidence building opponent for the Miami that comes at the right time! As Miami Herald beat writer wrote, "so they can claim the players only meeting works!"

Posted by: sagaliba | November 30, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Perusing this and the previous thread, it appears Miami won because Ernie can't get the right players, Flip can't coach, and assorted members of the team are unable to play a lick. Also, Kirk Hinrich is the Devil.

I've forwarded this on to Ted for corrective action.

Posted by: Samson151

Ted has already begun installing extra cup holders in the rest rooms to address your concerns, and is investigating installing some in visiting stadiums as well.

Posted by: ts35 | November 30, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

What the Miami Heat need is a real point guard on the floor. When two folks can't decide who's ball it is then you bring in a point guard whom pushes and control the ball for them ala Majic Johnson.

LarryInClintonMD.

Not necessarily. Because the 90s Bulls had Paxson, Armstrong and Kerr, not exactly game controlling PGs. What they need is a) a coach who tells them who's gonna handle it (which he has) and b) players who follow what the coach tells them (which they aren't).

Posted by: ts35 | November 30, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

The people that say they're not impressed with Miami's win against the Wizards...what do you want from Miami?

They go out there playing better basketball than they have played the past few games and win decisively against an injured team without its potential future all-star.
But on the flip side, the "they beat a team without John Wall, Yi, Thornton, and Howard" excuses are shouted from every corner.

What do you want from Miami? Seriously.

Posted by: SevenTre | November 30, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

@MEssex

Have you seen every game they've played so far? If you have, you would have seen a team that came together much better than they did against Memphis and/or Indiana. I'm a Heat fan, yes. I know they've been playing like crap and I've questioned whether they should even stay together at some points. But I do understand it's a process. The process will take a while, but I do give them the credit of coming together and playing better basketball than they've played the past few games.

A lot of you won't understand it because some of you don't see every Heat game to truly understand the difference in last night's game versus last week's game against Indiana. My question is...had the Wizards won the game last night, would Mike Lee give the Wizards praise or would he say the win wasn't impressive?

Posted by: SevenTre | November 30, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

SevenTre - did you watch the game last night? How about the game where the Wizards lost to the Celtics at Boston, earlier in the season? After watching both of those games, no one could ever say that the Heat are playing anywhere near as good as the Celtics.

The Celtics put on a clinic against the Wizards. Their starters shot something like 70%, and every player was doing exactly what they were supposed to do. It was embarrassing, and so obvious that Wizards are no where close to them as a team.

Last night, the Heat looked out of sorts, out of sync, and with the exception of Wade's second half - played with no energy or passion. If the Wiz hit half their open shots, they would have been right in that game. The Heat do not look good right now. I can't believe they are depending on quality minutes from players like Eric Dampier, Joel Anthony, and Juwan Howard. I can't wait to see them get stomped in Cleveland on Thursday.

Posted by: japhy_ryder | November 30, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

The Wiz will be a great team; they can be even better (and .500 right now) if they stop shooting JUMPSHOTS all the time. Geez~ Do they know how to get it inside?
Nick Young takes fadeaways and he takes a shot everytime he gets the ball, and many times with no one under the basket- if he misses, it's a lost possesion? Flip has got to, as a coach, stop these things.

Posted by: purplefilms | November 30, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

@japhy_ryder

I was with you until you said you can't wait to see them get stomped in Cleveland.

This is what I mean. With most comments on any website, there are people that will say they're not impressed, the Heat suck, Lebron is overrated, etc. These are the same people that were silent when Miami beat Orlando by 26 points. Miami also beat Phoenix by 20+ but the second Miami fails to "impress" or excite anyone, "Miami put on a lackluster performance". What do you want from Miami?

They just came off of a few losses...horrible losses to Indiana and a heart-wrenching 1-point loss to Memphis in which they played "lackluster". And now that they've beaten Washington convincingly, their performance is still lackluster. Had they beaten Washington by 40 points, I'm sure their win wouldn't be lackluster, right? But their win would then be attributed to a Wizards team lacking John Wall and other key players.

Posted by: SevenTre | November 30, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

@SevenTre:

Nope. I haven't had the pleasure of watching every Heat game. I am a Wizards fan. So I try to watch (stomach? tolerate? suffer through?) as many Wizards games as I can.

I am, however, a basketball fan too. Sure, the Heat won. That's what is expected of them. But compared to the Celtics (who absolutely and thoroughly dominated the Wiz from start to finish), or even the Magic, I just don't see the Heat as a legit contender right now. Watch the Lakers, Jazz, Celtics, Magic, or Spurs play. They are organized. Everyone knows their roles. And they all play defense. Then watch the Heat. Perhaps I caught the Heat on an "off" night ... I understand you are a Heat fan but the Heat just aren't elite. Yet.

Posted by: MEssex | November 30, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

@SevenTre

If they beat the Wiz by 40, and looked good doing it, I'd say "Holy crap, they're getting it together and I am scared for the Eastern Conference." But that didn't happen. They beat them by 11 and looked off almost the whole game.

Let's see what happens Thursday. Lebron is an amazing player, no doubt, as is D-Wade. But as a team, they aren't even close to being "there" yet, and at this moment, both players look less impressive than last year. I expect the atmosphere in Cleveland to be nothing like any of them have ever seen, and I don't know if they have the emotional and mental ability to get past that. You know that every Cavs fan has been waiting for this game for months now. Plus, Cleveland isn't as terrible as everyone thought. They beat the Celtics. They are well coached, and have some talent (go Twan!). So, while it may be a stretch to say the Heat will definitely get "stomped", that game is by no means a definite win for the Heat either. But, we just have to wait, and no doubt I am excited to see what happens.

Posted by: japhy_ryder | November 30, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

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