Will the Wizards Ever Beat the Miami Heat Again? Does it Even Matter? | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Will the Wizards Ever Beat the Miami Heat Again? Does it Even Matter?

By
Updated: October 12, 2017

The Washington Wizards dropped their first preseason game of the year to the Miami Heat, making it the fifth straight loss to the Heat franchise. (I don’t think this loss matters much, given it was preseason and the Heat rested some of their key players.)

Wizards coach Scott Brooks made it a point of emphasis to get his “regular rotation” players as much work as possible, whereas the Miami rested their stars: Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters. The Wizards have pretty much gone the entire preseason without facing a quality NBA starting five, but Coach Brooks doesn’t seem to be concerned—he’s argued that he’s more concerned about his team’s internal development. That makes sense. The Wizards are still waging position battles and asking questions of their roster, most notably “Who will start at the 4?”

Jason Smith Making it Rain

Arguably the most important Wizards position battle is between Jason Smith and Mike Scott, as starting power forward Markieff Morris recovers from sports hernia surgery. Smith has started three of the four preseason games at the 4 next to Marcin Gortat and has displayed a mixed bag of results. In the Wizards’ preseason opener against the Long-Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association, Smith had 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting (including just 1-4 from behind the arc). Against the New York Knicks, Smith struggled mightily going 0-for-5 from the field and 0-for-4 from 3. Smith received a veteran’s day of rest Sunday against the Cavaliers, before exploding for 20 points last night against the Heat and hitting five of his six 3-pointers. The power forward job was always Smith’s to lose, and it does not appear he has, especially after bringing his 3-point percentage up to .420.

However, the problem with starting Smith doesn’t necessarily lie with his offensive production, but rather on what his presence in the starting lineup means for the Wizards’ defense. The Wizards will open up the season in a nationally televised game against the Sixers, who will most likely field starting lineup of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, Jarryd Bayless, and J.J. Redick. Against that lineup, Jason Smith could struggle if he has to chase point-forward Ben Simmons. To Smith’s credit, he is an intelligent basketball player, and he’s earned Brooks’ trust.

Now, about Mike Scott, who is making an impression on his Wizards comrades and coaches. The team has been working him into the rotation slowly, following offseason ankle surgery. After not playing significant minutes against the Long-Lions, Scott had a breakout game against the Knicks—12 points on 5-for-9 shooting and 2-for-3 from deep. Last night Scott again exemplified his overall versatility by scoring 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting and 2-for-3 from 3-point range. Scott appears to be a much better fit in the few minutes he has received playing next to Gortat, because of his ability to switch on to perimeter defenders. There were several times in last night’s game when Scott not only switched onto Miami guards Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson, but was also able to stay in front of the pacey guards as they attacked the rim. The Wizards even fielded a second-quarter lineup that included Scott at center, alongside Wall, Beal, Otto, and Oubre. Scott’s defensive versatility allows for the Wizards to use him in a variety of lineups

Don’t count out the Wizards utilizing their “small-ball” lineup of Oubre and Otto as the forwards. The last two games, the Wizards have gotten some fairly decent results from this setup. Shout-out to Kelly Oubre’s growth as a player. Oubre finished last nights game with 14 rebounds and showed that he has the physicality to bang with bigger defenders down low and keep them off the glass. This lineup is definitely something to look forward to not only while Keef is out, but for the entirety of the season.

Is the Battle for Backup PG Already Over?

The Wizards traded for Tim Frazier on draft night, making him Wall’s backup heading into the season. Frazier has been hampered by a hamstring strain that kept him out of a good portion of training camp, and all of the preseason games before last night. Frazier, the next man up in a long line of duds at the No. 2 point guard spot, introduced himself to Wizards fans with his play against the Heat. He impressed, displaying a level of competency that has many fans excited. Frazier finished the game with just four points but an immaculate assist to turnover ration of 9:1.

Friend of Truth About It and Deadspin blogger “Chris Thompson” is excited to have Frazier on the team simply because he dribbles with his head up and doesn’t get murdered on defense. Sometimes you have to appreciate the little things.

Previously the Wizards had been playing second-year player Tomas Satoransky as the backup guard, but he failed to receive any minutes last night, which suggests Frazier will get the nod on opening night. Both players figure to play heavy minutes in the Wizards final preseason game against the Knicks on Friday.

Wall and Beal in Mid Season Form

There isn’t much to say here—just check out this nicely curated video from the NBA to further demonstrate what you can expect form Wall and Beal this season.

Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
Writer
Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. He is going into his second season writing for Truth About It, and also writes for sports analytics website numberfire.com. You can find him in a district bike lane in the Northwest neighborhood of Bloomingdale.