Both teams lost last night … the Wizards, of course, to the Cavs and the Heat to the Suns in Miami. So, each squad will come out wanting a redemptive win. And while the game is certainly very important to players on each side, being between division rivals and all, it’s probably more crucial that the Wizards get the win.
Miami is 3-1 and will go back home for five straight games after tonight. The Wizards stand at 2-2 and will be on the road for four of the next seven (on the road at Indiana, Miami, San Antonio & Oklahoma City vs. Phoenix, Detroit & Cleveland at home).
Something has also got to give.
Last season, the Heat swept the Wizards 4-0, returning the favor as the Wizards did the same to Miami in 07-08.
What to watch ….
Running The O
Simply put, the Wizards need to have faith in Saunders’ system and run it … and of course it starts with Arenas setting the tone by creating for others by creating for himself (driving the lane and forcing Miami to help, etc.).
They were doing well in the first quarter against the Cavs when Caron Butler scored 13 points in the first 8.5 minutes of the game.
Caron Butler, after an excellent offensive first quarter where he did a great job of running LeBron James off picks and tiring him out, didn’t do the same in the third quarter. When he did get the ball in the second half, the offensive flow just stopped as we waited for Butler to size up his defender, jab step, then either shoot or drive. Those types of things hurt your offensive flow, even if the play is designed to get Butler isolated somewhere.
In tracking the first quarter offense, the Wizards were really effective when Caron started in the left corner and came off a Haywood left block screen, flashing to the ball in a variety of ways. He was also effective on some pull-up jumpers off straight a ball screen against LeBron. With Quentin Richardson on him, look for the Wizards to get Caron going on offense again.
Stopping Dwyane Wade
Dude is doing things like this:
The Heat start a backcourt of Wade and Mario Chalmers. Arenas likely matches up with Chalmers. Does that mean Mike Miller guards Wade? He’s got his work cut out for him … as would anyone in the league.
Wade On D [via Elias Sports Bureau]:
Watch Dwyane Wade defend the shooter in the late stages of a close game. Last season, Wade led the NBA with 24 blocked shots in the last five minutes of games when the margin was 10 points or less. Dwight Howard was the runner-up (22) and Yao Ming ranked third (20).
Also watch both Wade and Chalmers when it comes to thefts. Chalmers has 10 steals in four games, tied for fourth in the league. Wade is not too far behind him with seven takeaways in four.
Positions Three to Five
Quentin Richardson, Michael Beasley and Jermaine O’Neal
Caron Butler, Fabricio Oberto and Brendan Haywood
Again, this could pose matchup problems for the Wizards. If it were simply a case of ‘Big vs. Small’, it would be easy for the Wizards to bang the Heat in the paint … but Haywood, and especially Oberto, aren’t huge offensive threats.
Haywood has more of a post game that Oberto and could use his size to get position on O’Neal. Both Wizards big men should as be active in setting good screens for pick-and-rolls.
However, on defense, a Beasley-Oberto matchup could lead to more fouls and the spacing (via the need to play more help defense) that Heat coach Erik Spoelsta desires.
- Wizards Insider [Washington Post]
- Hot Hot Hoops [ESPN TrueHoop Heat Blog]
- The Peninsula Is Mightier [SB Nation Heat Blog]
7 Day Dray
I spoke with Blatche before in the locker room … in terms of his quote in the Times about sticking together as a team, Blatche said he’s trying to be more vocal because he’s comfortable in the “family” environment around the team. But in terms of who’s the first to keep the team together on the court, he said Arenas and Haywood are both vocal, but the person it comes from the most is Antawn Jamison. Unfortunately, ‘Twan is not on the court right now. The Wizards could have used his court leadership and abilities as a player last night.