The Miami Heat snuck away with a game that ended much closer than they would have liked on Saturday against the Washington Wizards. The Wizards featured a depleted roster, missing their stars Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal to injury and COVID protocol, respectively. The Heat had a mere four-point lead at the half and tightened up their defense in the third quarter on the way to a close four-point victory.
The Wizards were adjusting to playing without Russell Westbrook for Saturday's game against the Heat, who is day-to-day with a quadricep injury, when more bad news struck. While playing without Westbrook hurts the Wizards' offense, they can still look to their playmakers Bradley Beal and Thomas Bryant. Unfortunately for the Wizards, they ended up playing without all three today.
Hours before tip-off, Bradley Beal was ruled out for Saturday's matchup with health and safety concerns. Beal will undergo contact-tracing and be reexamined by league officials before his return.
Then, less than two minutes into the first quarter, Washington Wizards' starting center Thomas Bryant went down with an apparent knee injury, and will undergo an MRI on Sunday morning, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Miami Heat outlast resilient Wizards in second half
Despite three of their biggest impact players not playing in this game, the Wizards' backups and bench players held strong and trailed by four points at the half. The Miami Heat, who featured their every day starting five, also had a strong offensive showing.
The game seemed to be getting out of hand after the Miami Heat outscored the Washington Wizards 28-15 in the third quarter, but the Wizards' bench had other plans. The Wizards, behind the scoring of backup guard Garrison Matthews, crept their way back into the game with a huge 38-point fourth quarter.
Their efforts, while impressive, would not be enough to outlast the Miami Heat. The Heat were led on offense by their young guard Tyler Herro, who dropped 31 points with nine rebounds.
Here is how Twitter reacted to the game:
While Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook are out for a short period of time, Thomas Bryant's injury could potentially be a huge loss. If a serious injury is revealed in Sunday's MRI, the Wizards may need to enter the free agency market for another center. For now, the entire NBA community stands with the Wizards in hoping for the best for their young star.
Here are more Twitter reactions to the Miami Heat victory:
Regardless of the critics, a win is a win for the Miami Heat, and with this victory, they improved to 4-4 on the season. While unfortunate circumstances surround the Washington Wizards' 2-8 start to their season, they must find a way out of this slump quickly if they want to be on the bubble for the 2021 NBA playoffs.
On Sunday, the Miami Heat will play one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference in the Boston Celtics, who have their own COVID issues. Miami will need to clean up their mistakes quickly to post back-to-back wins for the first time this season. The Wizards' schedule does not get any easier, as they will host the 7-3 Phoenix Suns on Monday and try to win their third game of the season.Published 10 Jan 2021, 08:34 IST