D.C. Council Opening Statements: Wizards vs Heat, Preseason Game 3
Back home from Brazil (for the most part), the Wizards spent the last two days licking their wounds and re-acclimating to the non-Rio weather in D.C.
Tonight, the Heat doesn’t come from the sun, but from Miami. The back-to-back champs shoot into town like a solar flare that won’t play its starters as much as Washington’s. Miami (3-0) has looked the part, as have the Wizards (0-2). But the Wizards don’t have a good part. Will they turn the ice cream truck around?
Teams: Wizards vs. Heat
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, DC
Television: NBA TV
Radio: WFED-AM 1500
Q #1: Greg Oden will be cleared to play basketball! He won’t play against the Wizards, but what are your expectations for Oden when he does return? Is he a luxury flyer acquisition along the lines of Rashard Lewis for a team that can afford a whiff? Or is there real hope that he can fill the “people finally stopped saying Miami was weak at the center position” role?
@SuryaHeatNBA: I fully expect the Heat to use Oden strictly as a situational-type player. It’s important to get him back training 5-on-5 and maybe get in a few game minutes here and there to see how the knees are adjusting to getting used more. This is a season-long marathon, so there’s no need to rush him along; he’s lost a lot of weight and is progressively looking better. I do see the value of getting him on the floor occasionally. Just as important as the physical side of it is the mental side, and Oden sounds confident that he made the right choice in putting his trust in the training staff to see him along in his comeback bid.
Q #2: Are you worried at all about the LeBron-Cleveland narrative?
@SuryaHeatNBA: Zero. It’s a purely manufactured storyline by the media. You could say that his decision worked out pretty well here for LeBron, and in many ways it feels like the journey has just started. He’s finally settled in with married life, and he’s got a great shot at yet another NBA title and MVP honors. The Heat have one of the deepest benches in their history, and many think it’s the best team they’ve assembled yet with 13 players returning from last season. He respects Pat Riley and Micky Arison greatly and he’s a great fit with the tightly-knit Heat front office and management. Plus, I don’t recall seeing Dan Gilbert on the guest list for LeBron’s wedding.
Q #3: Is Dwyane Wade making decisions about his own play schedule when he says “it doesn’t make sense” for him to play in back-to-back games in the preseason? After getting a knee drained before Game 7 of the NBA Finals (Arenas-era Wizards fans know all about knee drains), and going with an obscure OssaTron treatment this offseason, do you foresee any limitations in Wade’s regular season playing schedule?
@SuryaHeatNBA: A lot of people don’t remember Wade had a superb, highly efficient regular season last year. Spoelstra stressed that the injury that slowed him down in the playoffs was not a “wear and tear” type of injury. Yet, I do think it’s wise to keep him fresh for the long haul of the regular season and an expected deep run in the postseason. The Heat have enough firepower to handle limited minutes from Wade (or even the occasional night off) for most games, especially against the likes of lottery teams. The Heat might even benefit in the long run to allow Bosh more freedom on offense and more minutes for key reserves such as Ray Allen and Shane Battier.
BONUS: Did Michael Beasley actually punch himself in the face?
@SuryaHeatNBA: Yes, he did. But apparently he didn’t need medical attention for that. What he needed treatment for—a wound above his right eye—was courtesy of Jonas Jerebko after he tried to block a shot by Beasley. Regardless, I was impressed that he was angry with himself over a blown defensive rotation and not because he passed up a shot.
Q #4: Anyone up for a quick game?
@ConorDDirks: Washington is 0-2 and hasn’t looked good getting here. The play of the starters (a group that includes Jan Vesely) has looked particularly laborious. Careworn D.C. fans, already beset by the reality of an awful NFL team, have not gotten much satisfaction. Normally, the party line of “It’s just preseason” would be sufficient. Maybe it still is. But this team looks more disjointed than a product of season-to-season personnel consistency ever should, even in preseason, even after losing a starting center.
The team had 16 assists against Chicago’s 23 in their second preseason game, which was actually an improvement over the 15 assists (compared to Brooklyn’s 29) in game one. In game two, Maynor contributed half (8) of the team’s total assists in his 26 minutes of playing time, and looked improved after a true dud of a game in the preseason opener.
More than the statistical analysis, the admittedly questionable “eye test” has been discouraging, as team leaders Wall and Nene looked, according to TAI’s Rashad Mobley, “disinterested.” This might as well be a four-letter word for the Wizards. Disinterest has been (and tell me if I’m exaggerating here) a bonafide plague on this basketball house in the post-Arenas era. With Wall’s fiery demeanor and real potential as a leader, you hope for better. After all, cursory effort in the preseason after Derrick Rose is declared out for the game doesn’t encapsulate the valuable “eff you” factor that Wall possesses and which was recently observed by Grantland’s Bill Simmons.
With plenty of star power on the Heat side, it’s time to go hard, if only for one half, or even one quarter. Preseason isn’t necessarily for the viewer, but since it’s being televised, and since tickets are being sold, a small moral obligation exists to allow for preview of the product so many invest in once the season truly begins. The Wizards aren’t the Heat, they can’t coast through the preseason like a known commodity. Miami is Microsoft in 2013. The Wizards are Microsoft in 1975. Put the goods on display, guys.
Oh yeah, Nene is still in Brazil.
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