Both the Washington Wizards (15-23) and Miami Heat (18-18) are coming into this game with major problems at the point guard position — this due to both teams having their PG’s out of action because of injuries.
Washington’s five-time All-Star John Wall was ruled out for the entire season last weekend after getting hit with left heel surgery.
On the other end for the Miami Heat, they’re living without their All-Star Goran Dragic who is expected to be out for several weeks due to having knee surgery.
But there’s a bright spot for both teams.
For the Heat, they’ve gone 7-2 in their past nine games with Justice Winslow (11.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3.8 APG) moving to the point. Another bright spot for Miami is they have Dion Waiters back from injury — he scored seven points in 11 minutes in his return against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.
Also remember, Miami has Josh Richardson in their backcourt as well — he had a game-high 24 points against Cleveland. He’s also on a 12-game streak of hitting multiple 3-pointers. Oh yeah, and they also have combo guard Tyler Johnson (16 points off the bench against the Cavs), Wayne Ellington and how can you forget about some guy named Dwyane Wade? (14.1 PPG) Not a bad situation overall for the Miami Heat in replacing their guard.
And the Heat are lucky they have all of this backup, because they’re going to need help to stop the Washington Wizards’ bright spot: Bradley Beal. Beal has been on a tear this season averaging a career-high 23.6 PPG. It’s disappointing for the Wizards to lose Wall, for sure, but at least they have this elite 6’5″ hoss. Averaging more than 22 points in the past two seasons, Beal is only getting better for Washington, and will become even more of a leader for the team in Wall’s absence.
Replacing John Wall, by the way, will be 6’7″ Tomas Satoransky out of the Czech Republic, a second-round draft pick for the Wizards. Satoransky is averaging 6.7 points and 3.1 assists off of the bench — he racked in 14 points, a career-high 11 rebounds and seven assists against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday. Washington is also on a two-game winning streak, the first streak of any kind for the Wizards since early December. Obviously not as bright of a spot for the Wizards as the Miami Heat, but hey, it’s something, right?
PLAYERS TO WATCH
With John Wall out, the Wizards will have to rely more on Trevor Ariza to light up the scoreboard — this season, he’s averaging 11.0 PPG on a weak 37% shooting. Obviously not the best scenario for Washington. Ariza is pretty effective on the glass, pulling down 5.6 RPG, but his work will be cut out for him tonight with Hassan Whiteside grabbing at everything. He also averages 3.5 APG and a 10.80 PER.
CHECK THE NUMBERS
The Wizards come in with the better offensive production and shooting, but that’s sure to take a toll due to John Wall being out for the season. Thus far, they’re averaging 112.7 PPG while shooting 46.4 FG%. On the defensive end, Washington has been dismal this season, tallying a 116.9 PA mark. That also could increase with Wall’s absence. On the glass, the Wizards average 40.4 RPG — not the numbers you want against Hassan Whiteside and the Heat.
Miami comes into this match with the edge in defense and rebounding. Starting out on the offensive side, the Heat put up 106.9 PPG, however, the shooting hasn’t been the best at 43.8 FG%. On defense, Miami has the +11 advantage over Washington sitting with a 105.7 PA average. The Heat have been magnificent on the glass this season, largely due to big-man Hassan Whiteside — they average 47.6 RPG.
With John Wall out of the picture, the Miami Heat obviously have the edge in this game — oh yeah, and they’re at home. Another issue for the Washington Wizards will be on the glass, especially with Markieff Morris (their top rebounder) also out due to injury. Washington doesn’t have anybody remotely close to compete with Miami’s Hassan Whiteside, who has been a monster this season averaging 12.8 RPG — 8.9 on the defensive side.
With all of the disadvantages that Washington has, and with the Miami Heat rolling with Justice Winslow at the point and getting Dion Waiters back from injury, you have to take the Miami Heat in this one — and I think it’ll be a pretty easy victory as well. Heat roll, again.