D.C. Council 81: Wizards 114 vs Heat 93: Wiz Toss Miami Laundry Into Cold Wash
Truth About It.net’s D.C. Council: setting the scene, recapping key points, providing the analysis, evaluating players, and catching anything that you may have missed from the Washington Wizards. Game No. 81: Wizards vs Heat, featuring Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) and Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20) from the Verizon Center, Chinatown.
Stats probably via the normal places, Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com/stats.
Washington Wizards 114 vs Miami Heat 93
A smile full of pixels
from the Theodore Unit.
Stat of the Game.
The Wizards missed just one single shot in the second quarter, 14 of their 15 makes were assisted, and five of those 15 makes were 3-pointers. Let’s shot chart this puppy…
Whether they played or not didn’t matter. Seriously.
The Wizards, traditionally wont to ‘get up’ for the Heat (as are most teams), proved as much by dismantling a #FullSquad Miami team with a 43-18 first quarter en route to a mid-January victory.
On Monday the Wizards played against the same laundry, and a night without LeBron and Bosh soiling clothes likely added a different, ‘let’s not get embarrassed/who do they think they are?’ motivational modifier for the Wiz Kids.
Plus, as much as guys like playing at home, sleeping in their own beds, and using a toothbrush not hastily crammed into a plastic tube (or even worse, merely tossed in a Dopp kit next to the soap), they like playing at home in front of a full crowd. The Heatles bring that clout pretty much wherever they go, especially D.C.
On this particular mid-April night, one layer of the pie featured the Heat not giving a shit (let’s call it veteran malaise ironically accented by a focus on more supreme goals), and another layer featured empirical evidence of a Miami supporting cast weaker than LeBron’s stepfather’s raps.
And yet another layer featured the fact that Miami is ill-equipped to face teams featuring two pounding bigs like Marcin Gortat and Nene. And this isn’t to say that the Heat aren’t too talented to overcome otherwise. But it’s to say that Gortat can treat Udonis Haslem like a Cold War red-headed Russian step-child on a student exchange program to Poland, and that Nene just might be the father of Chris “Birdman” Anderson via the vivid colors that define Brazil’s carnival birthing some bat-shit crazy tattoos suffocating a neck like the hand of God.
Miami never got within single-digits over the last 31 minutes of the game. An Al Harrington 3-pointer (nicely finding your stroke we see, Uncle) en route to an eight-point second quarter for him and a 43-22 quarter for the Wizards gave Washington a double-digit lead for good. And that was that.
—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
Trevor Ariza. When Doug Collins coached the Philadelphia 76ers, he—as well as millions of other coaches, I’m sure—used to say that the best way for a shooter to get out of a slump is to see the ball going in the basket. It didn’t matter whether it was a layup, a free throw, a floater, or a jumper, the player just needed some good news in the form of a made bucket for a boost of confidence. Prior to Saturday’s game against Milwaukee, thanks to the pesky flu, Ariza’s shot lacked both confidence and accuracy with him going just 4-for-25 (16%) from the field, and scoring a total of ten points in games against Chicago, Charlotte, and Orlando. Against Milwaukee, Ariza shot the ball and played much better (13 points on 5-for-7 from the field), which must have fully restored against his confidence, because against the Heat, he resembled the sharpshooter he’s been for a majority of the season.
Ariza shot 76 percent from the field (10-for-13), and 62 percent from behind the 3-point arc (5-for-8) en route to a game-high 25 points. He did most of his damage in the third quarter when he scored 12 points and threw in three steals for good measure. The Miami Heat’s level of defensive effort was non-existent, but on this night that was beside the point. John Wall felt confident in finding Ariza on the wing, and Ariza’s felt equally as confident with his shot again—and heading into the playoffs, that’s all that should matter.
The confidence of Ariza and the Wizards as a whole was not lost on Wall after the game:
“I knew it was the kinda game where I didn’t really have to score as much, and if I did, I had the opportunity to do that. It was great to get those guys going because some of those guys have been in a slump lately, but to see them get out there with a big game like this. And going into Boston will help a lot, and also going into the playoffs.”
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
Glen Rice Jr. and Chris Singleton, although it wouldn’t be surprising to see Randy Wittman throw either an active bone in the regular season finale against Boston, have likely been vetoed into non-participation for the rest of the 2013-14 campaign (barring injury). The difference being that Rice will likely be a Wizard next season while Singleton and his Spaldings will likely go the way of the Dodo bird and Dominic McGuire, as the Wizards declined to pick up the fourth-year option on his rookie contract (McGuire was ultimately traded for a phantom second-round pick to save a buck).
As it stands now, Singleton played 22 percent more minutes over the course of his rookie season than he did in seasons two and three combined. Hell, he played 470 percent more minutes during his rookie season than in this current season. But hey, those are the breaks when veterans come in and your personal development leaves you behind. Not every 18th overall pick is going to make it. And that’s OK. So long, C-Sing.
—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
Just as it was important for Trevor Ariza to re-establish his shooting touch after his flu-induced slump, Nene’s presence, even against a weakened Heat frontcourt, was just just as vital. Nene missed Saturday’s game against the Bucks in what was called a “rest day,” but considering he tweaked his knee during Friday night’s game against the Orlando Magic, it was important to see him healthy and on the court.
Nene checked into the game for Marcin Gortat with 3:53 left in the first quarter and immediately racked up four points and a rebound within two minutes. In the second quarter, against Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem, Nene proceeded to dominate the same way he did when Miami was at full strength back in January. He didn’t rebound much (just one in the quarter), but he scored 10 points to go with a steal and a block, and if it weren’t for Bradley Beal (12 points) and Al Harrington (8 points) catching fire in the same quarter, Nene could have scored every time he caught the ball. He showed no ill effects from tweaking his knee, and despite playing more than the 20 minutes he prefers (he played 24) Nene looked to be in playoff form.
Said Marcin Gortat after the game:
“He’s big and I don’t think they had anybody out there who could actually hold him. He started coming back, getting his rhythm, catching his breath, playing well. And obviously coming off the bench he’s also playing against the bench players from the other team, too. He was just abusing them all the time. He’s just physically too big. Too talented.”
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
That session was … disappointing.
At least 15 times during the Wizards/Heat game, a fan would show the Verizon Center staff his ticket, ask for guidance as to where their seat was, and then ask how LeBron was doing. The staff was then tasked with breaking the bad news that both LeBron James and Chris Bosh were sitting out to nurse their (phantom) injuries. Dwyane Wade did start, but only played 18 minutes, as did Ray Allen, which meant Toney Douglas, Mario Chalmers, and Michael Beasley were left to do the heavy lifting, minutes-wise. Respectable NBA players? Hell yes. Legitimate stand-ins for LeBron James? Not even close.
Furthermore, this was not the false sense of confidence the Wizards needed heading into the playoffs. Since defeating the Knicks on April 4, the Wizards dropped two important games to playoff teams (Chicago and Charlotte), won two over lottery-bound teams (Orlando and Milwaukee), and beat a shorthanded Heat team. Their final regular season game is against the lowly Boston Celtics, and then the second season will be upon them. If this were 2012-13, when confidence and not the playoffs was the important season-ending takeaway, this would be the perfect cap to the season. This year, per Ted’s playoff ultimatum, that line of thought is not acceptable.
Ideally, instead of seeing the Wizards shoot 15-for-16 with 43 points in the second quarter, John Wall and company would have faced a healthy, hungry Heat team who would be playing for the number No. 1 in the Eastern Conference. The Heat would be attempting to show the Wizards why they are the defending champions, and the Wizards would receive a late-season reminder of what playoff basketball is all about. Tuesday night’s glorified exhibition was more of a scrimmage, as Marcin Gortat said after the game, instead of a preparatory battle.
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
It was a playoff dry-run for Randy Wittman and his post-game presser, I think. Whisked away from the closer confines of the side media room in the Verizon Center, Wittman’s table and chair were set up in the larger media dining room, an arrangement that’s been used for news conferences before and playoff appearances of the past, and now, certainly for this year’s playoffs.
Was it a dry-run in terms of the questions that Wittman will be asked? That remains to be seen. The playoffs, of course, will bring national media attention and national media heads to Washington. Not that the Wizards don’t get that on occasion already. The well-respected David Aldridge, who lives in the area, will often stop by. And then of course there’s Michael Wilbon, who often seems to show up for pre-game media elbow rubbing with his European carry-all only to leave the game early to do whatever it is that he does (not watch basketball, apparently, as his analysis often seems predicated on highlights and name-dropping). But enough pot-shots at Wilbon.
Let’s ignore whatever silent rules of baseball there are and observe some of the local-yokels who make targeted, fly-by-night appearances in Chinatown when the team is doing well or playing an opponent like the Miami Heat.
You can always tell. Because their question (along with a prerequisite long-windedness) is clearly what’s trying to garner the attention with broad brush context out of left field. Ironically, however, the best responses often come from such questions. In particular because Wittman handled them like a champ, particularly several from the same, seemingly attention-seeking question asker. Now, would ‘Coach Witt’ have been so diplomatic in a loss?
Probably would’ve been much more intriguing. Because post-game press conferences after wins, bless their hearts, can be incredibly cliché. I observe all of this, of course, knowing that I’m not the most perfect question-asker in the world, and certainly I’ve probably asked some stinkers covering the Wizards over the past five years.
But also, I know when to shut-up, which is clearly a lost art for some. Moving on past lobbing water balloons at this dry run, let’s just simply watch Wittman’s full post-game presser; each question asked is noted below.
1. Given that they didn’t play some of their guys, what can you take away from this game?
2. To piggy-back off that question, Erik Spoelstra taking the Popovich approach in, of course, he sat about a couple players in LeBron and Chris Bosh, do you think that takes away from the competition or it doesn’t really matter?
3. You were able to get a lot of key guys rest, though, as a result.
4. He’s considered to be in the starting five for the playoffs, Nene?
5. Bradley (Beal), you play him a lot with the second unit, when he plays with (Andre) Miller, is there a special connection?
6. Let’s fast forward a little bit, take us to that Boston game, no matter how the outcome is, what do you say to your team going into the playoffs, what’s the conversation? Motivation, anything?
7. Nene seemed like he was especially, or at least this morning when I talked to him, that he was really keyed up for this game, that he really had an edge to him.
8. So based on what you’re saying, even if you were say to clinch the 6 seed by Wednesday, you would not be tempted to rest some guys, you would want to keep that edge?
9. Can you be critical of yourself going into the playoffs? We talk a lot about them, but we can talk about you… What conversation do you have with yourself?
—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
The Other Side.
Before the game, Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra told the media that no one on his team had anything to prove to him before the playoffs, but he did expect a return to Miami Heat basketball:
“We want to attack some of these things that have been hurting us on the road, and we want to put together a much more complete game, not only with our defensive focus and intensity, but obviously more efficiency offensively. We’re coming off a game of 20 turnovers. Regardless of who’s playing, we have to shore that area up.”
The Heat did cut their turnovers down from 20 to 12 against the Wizards, and at times in the first quarter they displayed that offensive efficiency that has been so synonymous the current incarnation of the Miami Heat. But there was zero defensive intensity, zero inside presence, and they allowed the Wizards to shoot 66 percent through the first three quarters of play. LeBron and Bosh may have been out of the lineup, but veterans like Ray Allen, Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers, and Dwyane Wade were still on the court, and even they could not muster a sufficient fight against the Wizards.
After the game, Bosh and James told jokes to Beasley, Chalmers, and Rashard Lewis, and none of them seemed concerned. Udonis Haslem kept saying, “We’ll be fine, we’ll be fine,” and Ray Allen had no problems admitting that the Wizards were the better team on this night, but the Heat would be fine in the long run:
“We have one game left and once the playoffs start, we know what time it is. It’s time to turn up the juices a little bit and we’ve been in and out with injuries in the last month and I think guys are ready to play playoffs basketball.”
Even Erik Spolestra, who had list of improvements he wanted to see before the game, seemed to backtrack a bit about the importance of this game, focusing on the reasons he rested his key players and what he wanted to see going forward.
“Not too many takeaways we can take away from the night, other than the fact that we got Dwyane [Wade] some minutes… I am not going to make a big reaction from this game. While you never want to build a bad habit, this is not what we are judging on. We will just prepare and that will be my focus.
“It was out of our control at some point, and those guys have put a lot of mileage like I said our schedule was fairly extreme down the stretch. I had never been part of a group that played that many games, in that few of days down the stretch run. It is not an excuse. We just wanted to make sure that our guys are feeling right, that they are sharp, they are feeling healthy, and their minor ailments, a couple days will do wonders for them.”
And finally, when one journalists tried to find a bit of positivity in the Heat’s blowout loss by praising Toney Douglas’ defense against John Wall (Wall had 0 points and 8 assists in the first half, and four points and 13 assists overall), Coach Spoelstra smiled, then shut the sentiment down:
“We like what T.D. [Toney Douglas] brings to the table, his defensive tenacity, his ability to hawk the ball, change where entry passes are with his pressure. But I’m not sure if you could judge this game on how well we defended John Wall.”
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
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