Who: Washington Wizards (15-23) at Miami Heat (18-18)
What: Kicking Them While They’re Down
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, Florida
When: Friday, January 4, 2019, 8PM EST
Why: Division Dominance
Injuries: O-Goran Dragic (knee surgery)
☝️home game of 2019!
Let’s get it! 🔥 pic.twitter.com/8neHZwUXZs
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 4, 2019
The Heat, after going 9-5 in the month of December, are at the top of the South”Least” division. Every team behind Miami, who is 18-18, is under .500, including the Wizards, who stand at 15-23 (the next closest team is the Hornets, currently at 18-19). But, Miami is 2-7 against their own division, which absolutely needs to change going forward.
The Wizards, after finding out this week that John Wall will be undergoing season-ending heel surgery, defeated the Hawks 114-98 on Wednesday. The Hawks are bad, so this isn’t an indication of how good the Wizards are without Wall.
The Heat blew out a struggling Cavs team on Wednesday, winning 117-92. That was the Heat’s first game of the new year, and it was a strong, decisive victory. Good sign.
These teams have played twice already this year, splitting the series 1-1 so far (the other win against a division team came against the Magic on 12/23, but the Heat play the Hawks again on Sunday).
Tonight’s key match-up is Josh Richardson vs. Bradley Beal. With Wall being removed from the equation, Beal is eager to show that he can make the Wizards HIS team, especially amidst trade rumors surrounding himself, Wall, and Otto Porter Jr. Richardson can obviously fill a stat sheet against a defender like Beal, so the question is whether Richardson can stop Beal from doing the same.
Offensively, pound the glass. The Wizards are 29th in defensive rebounding, and the Heat have capable rebounders. Getting back on defense is important, but there should be no missed opportunities on the offensive glass for Miami. It’s also worth noting that the Wizards allow 116.9 points per game, which is awful and should be taken advantage of. 116.9 OPPG is second only to the Hawks, who allow 117.8. South”Least” division.
Defensively, stop Beal. The Wizards are an average scoring team. Without Wall, they could be a little worse (or a little better, depending on who you ask). Beal is obviously the superstar there, and stopping him would be an easy way to win. Beal currently averages 23 a game, and forcing him to score 15 would be a nice boost.
Also, the Wizards are second in the league in fourth quarter scoring. Miami is 26th. There’s potential for a comeback if lock down defense isn’t played.
Final Score Prediction: 114-108 Heat.
The Wizards travel to Oklahoma to take on the Thunder on Sunday.
The Heat travel on the road to play the Hawks in Atlanta on Sunday.