[Juwan Howard gets roasted by several Andray Blatche head shakes.]
Monday night’s matchup between the Miami Heat and the Washington Wizards could have easily been dubbed the “something-has-to-give” game. The Heat front-court (Chris Bosh, Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Illgauskas, the now-injured Udonis Haslem, the recently-added Erick Dampier, and to a much less extent, Juwan Howard) have developed a reputation of being soft, and with good reason.
Emeka Okafor went for 26 points and 13 rebounds; Amir Johnson, who has been a major disappointment this year despite the 5-year, $34 million contract, went for 14 points; Zach Randolph had 21 points and 13 rebounds; Tyson Chandler had 14 points and 17 rebounds; and first prize in the “I-torched-the-Heat” contest went to Paul Millsap, who had 46 points and 19 rebounds in an overtime loss. The point here is that dealing with semi-skilled to skilled big men is clearly not the strength of Miami.
On the flip side, the Washington Wizards are not exactly known for the play of their big men. Andray Blatche is the only big averaging in double figures (16.6 points and 8.1 rebounds per game), although JaVale McGee is close (9.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game). Sixty-percent of the Wizards’ scoring comes from John Wall (18 points per game), Gilbert Arenas (18 points per game), the red-hot Nick Young (12 points per game), and Kirk Hinrich (10.9 per game). When you throw in the fact that McGee came into the first match-up against Miami with a bad back, which meant more time for Hilton Armstrong (two points and three rebounds per game) and Kevin Seraphin (averaging two points and two rebounds in the five games he’s appeared in), it figured to be challenging game.
In the first quarter, Blatche played as if he was hell-bent on taking advantage of the scouting report. Fifteen seconds into the game, he hit a short jumper over Illgauskas, and even though he missed his next couple of shots, he did not stop attacking. All of the patented moves that Blatche attempts with varying degrees of success (the behind-the-back move, the up and under, the hard drives off the dribble) were on display, and they seemed to be working. Chris Bosh, Joel Anthony and Juwan Howard all tried to contain Blatche, but to no avail. He had 10 points and two rebounds after one quarter of play.
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