D.C. Council Opening Statements: Wizards at Heat, Game 3
Kyle labeled the Wizards home opener against a 76ers a must win. Um, so yeah, that didn’t work out, and ended in embarrassing fashion. Philadelphia might actually be trying to win, or they might be kinda good, but the way Washington played was unacceptable. With the last two seasons beginning in painstaking, historically unfortunate fashion, it was paramount that this team got off to a decent start. Instead, the opposite is transpiring and the tortured fan base is on edge. The Wizards have now started 0-2 in four consecutive seasons.
The (s)oft-injured Nene has a bad calf and John Wall’s back is flaring up. (Wall will play in Sunday night’s contest, Nene is still questionable—his large paychecks are not.) The third overall pick in last June’s draft, Otto Porter, has yet to even practice and there is no timetable for his return. Coach Wittman is dropping F bombs because he is pissed off at his team’s shaky defense (I would be mad too after watching my max-contract guy loafing back on D like this). Bradley Beal, who tore up the preseason, spent most of Friday night pouting like an immature brat due to his shots not falling. Jan Vesely is so buried on the bench that he might as well be hanging out back home in the Czech Republic. Kevin Seraphin’s snake might be AWOL but his inconsistent play is going nowhere.
Trevor Ariza, who most fans want to trade, has been the team’s best player. #SoWizards vines are firing up. Lengthy debates of 2014 Draft possibilities are happening on the Bullets Forever comment section. Owner Ted Leonsis is taking public responsibility for the team’s dismal showing with these real talk pixels: “We wont allow injuries as an excuse for our record and poor play to date.” Oh, and there are 80 games remaining!
Visiting the two-time defending champs, who have lost two in a row and have the best basketball player in the world, is the worst possible scenario you could draw up for Washington to get their first victory. My recommendation is to keep on drinking after the Redskins game because there could be more pain looming in South Florida on Sunday evening.
Reece Helms, contributor to Miami Heat’s Hot Hot Hoops, joins us today us for the opening statements. I resisted asking him about the corpse of Rashard Lewis, Mike Miller suing the team or Lap Dance Tuesday. OK, let’s do this……….
Teams: Wizards at Heat
Time: 6:oo p.m. ET
Venue: American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL
Television: CSN Washington
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/THE FAN-FM 106.7
Spread: Heat favored by 13.5 points
Q #1: The Wizards and Heat are riding two game losing streaks and both have been defeated by the supposed tanking 76ers. What happened to the Heat in their game against Philly? Is there any concern yet about Miami’s slow start?
@Reece_Helms: Like I typed up in a recent article, it is way too early in the season for panicking, regardless of what team you are. The season is not even a week old, we have plenty of basketball left to be played. Sometimes in basketball, it just isn’t your night, and against the 76ers it wasn’t Miami’s night. I’m not one to make excuses, but not having Dwyane Wade was a factor in the loss. Rookie Michael Carter-Williams had a magical debut with 22 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists, and 9 steals… NINE STEALS! Meanwhile, while we’re sitting here deciding whether to panic about losing, fans in Philadelphia are probably upset that the team is actually winning, “What … why are we trying to win… TANK FOR WIGGINS!”
Q #2: Bradley Beal has been compared to Dwayne Wade. What similarities do you see in their games? As for Wade, do you see any signs of declining?
@Reece_Helms: I love Bradley Beal’s game, I see more Ray Allen in him than Dwyane Wade, as Wade is not the 3-point shooter that Beal is. Even in his prime, Wade wasn’t a great 3-point shooter. Bradley Beal is a slasher like Wade, he can create his own shot driving to the basket like Wade is—that is the biggest similarity I see between them. As for Wade, there has obviously been a decline over the past few years. I still fully believe in his ability to be an elite player. If he can get over all the nagging injuries he has been dealing with, he can still be an elite player in the NBA.
Q #3: The Big 3 deservedly get all the attention but who else is key for the Heat in order to get back on a winning track versus Washington?
@Reece_Helms: Shane Battier. In the season opening win against the Chicago Bulls, Battier had 14 points, and made all four of his 3-pointers. The next game against the 76ers, Battier finished with two points, and MISSED all seven of his 3-point attempts. And on Friday night versus the Brooklyn Nets, Battier did not score, and missed two 3-pointers. In order for the Heat to end their losing streak against the Wizards, they need Shane Battier to make his shots.
Q #4: Miami fans have a negative reputation and them leaving Game 6 of the Finals early only heightened it. Is this impression deserved? How would you describe your fan base? Let me put it more bluntly: Why are there so many damn obnoxious people in Heat jerseys when they play in D.C.?
@Reece_Helms: Every team, and every fan base has its good fans, and its bad fans. There isn’t a single team in sports that DOESN’T have any obnoxious and annoying fans. Every team has their faithful and unfaithful fans. Obviously leaving an NBA Finals game before it ends is bad enough, but to leave and have your team come back and win the game is just pathetic. The video of them banging on the door to get back in was kind of humorous. The Miami Heat have a big fan base, which also includes many bandwagoners, and they are more often than not the “obnoxious” fans you might see in D.C., or any game on the road.
Q #5: How can Washington pull out this improbable upset?
@AdamMcGinnis: The simple answer is to make a bunch of 3-pointers and hope Dwyane Wade doesn’t play. Last season, the Wizards lost both of their games in Miami by average of 29 points. Ouch! (John Wall didn’t play in either of those contests.) Coming off two straight defeats, Heat are going to be extra motivated to get back on a winning track. The bottom-feeding Wizards are a perfect opponent.
Coach Wittman is spot on about about this defense. It has been f’n terrible, giving up 111 points per game. The Pistons massive front line dominated around the rim and the 76ers gashed the Wiz in a 35-point fourth quarter. For Washington to have a chance, the team must find a way to keep Miami out of the paint on penetration and get out on their shooters. Ariza’s length could bother Lebron somewhat and the Heat will have trouble slowing down Wall in transition.
The player that must step up is Beal. The Wizards can not be successful unless he is a big-time scorer, especially with Nene out. Beal needs to attack the basket more and get to the line. He only shot one free throw versus Philly and it came on a technical foul. And if his shot isn’t falling, he must not mope around—there are other ways to contribute. The Wizards are going to rise and fall with how Beal develops this season. The talent is there. Now, he must make the proper adjustments maturity-wise in order to blossom. Miami could be where Beal starts his leap.
Final Wittman Quote (via Michael Lee):
“We got to get back to what we’re doing,” Wittman said. “Last night, somebody said, ‘Miami is going to be upset coming off two losses.’
“We should be upset! We’re coming off two losses. I want our guys to feel that way: ‘We’ve lost two games here, we got to take it out on somebody.’ I don’t worry about Miami. They’re a good team. We all know that. We’ve got to play a high standard game tomorrow. But I want us to be upset.”
Oh, the Wizards lose 105-90.