Here to provide the DC Council Opening Statements for Washington’s 20th game of the season against the Heat in Miami is TAI’s Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It). Usually there is a guest to these bits, but this Kyle character didn’t reach out to anyone in time. And otherwise, it’s hard to get people to care about/to be interested in/to spend their time on a franchise as bad as the Wizards. So here I am.
Wizards Starters (3-17):
Jordan Crawford, Bradley Beal, Martell Webster, Chris Singleton, Emeka Okafor
Heat Starters (14-6):
Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem
Q #1: What have you done for me lately?
(What’s the status of the Heat over the past week?)
@Truth_About_It: The Heat have gone 2-2 since getting beat by the Wizards on December 4, bookending victories over New Orleans and Atlanta with losses to New York and Golden State. Essentially, Miami’s issue over the past four contests has been turnovers, as their TOV% has increased by nearly two percent over their season average (15%). Miami’s Offensive Rebound Percentage has also slumped to 12.7 percent from their season average of 20.8 percent. Essentially, the Heat just haven’t been as involved as one would hope a championship-caliber team to be lately.
Q #2: Who threw out my alarm clock?
(Which player(s) are we sleeping on?)
@Truth_About_It: Detailed On/Off Court stats over the past four games for Miami is certainly a small sample size. But, for what it’s worth… For the 56 minutes that Joel Anthony has been on the court over the last four, the Heat are plus-17.9 in plus/minus per 48 minutes; for the 136 minutes Anthony has been on the bench, the Heat are minus-6.4 per 48. Considering Shane Battier, Miami is plus-20.4 per 48 for the 82 minutes he’s played, and minus-14 per 48 for the 110 minutes that Battier hasn’t played.
The contrasting figures here are Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem. With Wade on the court over the past four games (128 minutes), the Heat are minus-10.9 per 48; with him on the bench (64 minutes), the Heat are plus-24.9 per 48. And Haslem: on the court (51 minutes), Miami is minus-28.2 per 48; off the court (141 minus), Miami is plus-11.2 per 48. What does it all mean? It means that a team full of stars continues to struggle to integrate them with well-meaning role players. So yea, people are sleeping on Battier and Anthony, which shouldn’t really be that much of a surprise, even if their contributions are rather well-known. #MiamiHeatProblems
Q #3: What game-within-the-game counts most?
(What matchup between two players or between each team in a particular statistical category is most important.)
@Truth_About_It: Dwyane Wade vs. Bradley Beal. The soon-to-be 31-year old (January 17) who is in his 10th NBA season has struggled as of late. Wade is averaging minus-7 in plus/minus per game over the last five, and his rebounds and assists are down while his turnovers are up. Beal’s shooting percentage, points, rebounds, and assists have improved over the last five-plus games, but he continues to be very susceptible to getting lost in the shadow of stars. (See: not boxing out Kobe on a key, late free throw miss by Dwight Howard.) The first time Beal faced Wade, he picked up two cheap, ‘welcome to the NBA’ fouls trying to check him early. Will the rookie finally show some tangible growth versus the player he’s been compared to tonight? Seems like a tall task.
Q #4: How it’s going down?
(TAI’s general key to the game.)
@Truth_About_It: Offense. Offense. Offense… Oh, and offense. Washington’s reign as the NBA’s worst offense continues. According to NBA.com, they average a league-worst 94 points per 100 possessions. The second-worst offense (the Orlando Magic) is a whole 2.4 points better in the same amount of possessions. The OKC Thunder lead the league with 111.3 points per 100 possessions, and Miami ranks third at 108.9 points. According to the Basketball-Reference.com, the Wizards have one of the 10 worst offenses since 1980. [NOTE: BBR gives the Wizards an OffRtg of 97 using their calculation.] However you want to add it up, the numbers won’t be in favor of the Wiz Kids. How is it going down? Ugly or atrocious are probably your only two options.
Sidebar: Randy Wittman’s new starting lineup of Crawford, Beal, Webster, Singleton and Okafor is pulling a grand total of minus-25 in plus/minus over their three games a starting unit (Washington’s seventh starting lineup in 20 games). Not exactly working, coach, especially with the horrid offensive combo of Singleton and Okafor. Meanwhile, the third most-used lineup over the last three games—merely replacing Singleton with Nene in the aforementioned five—has played 12 total minutes together (only in the Houston game, but not against the Lakers or Hornets) to the tune of plus-1 in plus/minus. Again, so few games can be a negligible sample size, but how much longer does the coach need to realize that some things just don’t work (typing this as I realize Wittman’s options are limited because of injuries and Nene’s minutes ceiling). But maybe all this is just equivalent to arranging lawn ornaments before a tornado.
The Heat are favored by 15 points and the over/under is 196 points (via USA Today).
@Truth_About_It: Miami wins, but I’m not so confident that they cover the 15 point spread, so I’m going to call a 113-99 victory for the Heat. That said, I’m not so sure that the Wizards, forever in a fight against their own confidence and coming off loss No. 17 in 20 games against the Lakers, are sturdy enough to cover against the champs. And I guess that’s why I only write about betting spreads and don’t actually bet on games.
[stats source: NBA.com/stats]