The Washington Wizards will take their Eastern Conference-best record to South Beach to square off against the Miami Heat. With their five-game winning streak snapped at the hands of the Charlotte Hornets, the Wizards will be looking to start a new one against the Heat.
In the Washington Wizards’ surprising start to the season, they have relied on their defensive efforts to be one of the East’s best teams. At some point, though, their offense will have to step up to keep up with the elite teams. They are currently ranked 19th in offensive rating and shot a horrific 8-42 from three-point land in their loss to the Hornets. The Miami Heat’s defense will only make things more difficult for them to put up points.
After three straight high-profile losses, the Miami Heat have quietly bounced back with a three-game winning run. Despite missing Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry, they held off the New Orleans Pelicans behind the return of Jimmy Butler. Following his recovery from a sprained ankle that cost him the last few games, Jimmy Buckets posted a triple-double to lead the Heat to victory.
There is a big chance that the Miami Heat will have Lowry and Adebayo back for the Washington Wizards mini-series. The Heat have been playing like true championship contenders when they have a healthy roster. Against the overachieving Wizards, they need to be in top form to sustain their current momentum.
Fixture: Washington Wizards vs Miami Heat | 2021-22 NBA season
Date & Time: Thursday, November 18th; 7:30 PM ET (Friday, November 19th; 6:00 AM IST)
Venue: FTX Arena, Miami, FL
Washington Wizards Preview
The Washington Wizards have been turning the screws of their defense on opponents to rise in the East. Except for that third-quarter explosion by the Hornets, they have been one of the stingiest teams across the NBA. They are only allowing opponents to average 42.4% on field goal attempts, which ties with the Golden Warriors as the best in the league. While their defense has been exceptional, their offense has been middling.
The 8-4 record of the Washington Wizards includes a 4-3 road slate. While they are fully capable of holding off teams, they also just can’t seem to pull away or win because of a stagnant offense. Part of the struggle on offense is Bradley Beal’s production and efficiency. The team could have had a better record if the three-time All-Star was playing to his usual standards.
Key Player - Bradley Beal
Bradley Beal finished a close second to Steph Curry for last year’s scoring champion title. This season, the Washington Wizards sharpshooter has been anything but sharp. He is averaging only 23.3 points, a drastic drop from last campaign’s career-high 31.3 PPG norm. Beal leads the NBA in free-throw shooting with 97.6%, but his three-point shooting is shockingly low at 25.0 %. It’s the lowest he's been in his career by a mile.
The Washington Wizards rely heavily on the 28-year old on offense. His team has not taken up the slack in scoring, which is why they have been struggling a little to win games. If Bradley Beal regains his shooting touch, he could nudge the Wizards to be a better-rounded team.
Washington Wizards Predicted Lineup
G - Spencer Dinwiddie | G - Bradley Beal | F - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope | F - Kyle Kuzma | C - Daniel Gafford
Miami Heat Preview
The Miami Heat went into a little tailspin after losing to Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets in a testy game. They lost to the Los Angeles Lakers partly because of Jimmy Butler’s injury. It is the same in the case of Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry as well. Fortunately for Erik Spoelstra, Tyler Herro has ramped up his play in the last couple of games without the team’s usual starters.
Jimmy Butler reminded everyone what he brings to the Miami Heat in their win against the New Orleans Pelicans. He finished with a game-high 31 points to go with 10 rebounds and 10 assists. His influence on the floor is totally reflected in how the Heat play the game. They showed their usual grit and scrappiness with their leader on the floor.
The Miami Heat are likely to have the roster complete when they face the Washington Wizards. They were juggernauts when everyone was healthy.
Key Player - Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Butler has been making noise in MVP conversations for a reason. The Miami Heat were destroying opponents with Butler’s fingerprints all over the scene. He leads the team in scoring, steals, free throw attempts and makes. His game is perfectly tailored for the new physicality that the NBA is allowing this season.
The Miami Heat’s defensive rating does not drop much when Jimmy Buckets is off because of P.J. Tucker, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry. What does not show in the stats is how the five-time All-Star fires up the team with his in-your-face type of game. There’s a reason why the Heat’s identity is tied to Butler's persona.
Miami Heat Predicted Lineup
G - Kyle Lowry | G - Duncan Robinson | F - Jimmy Butler | F - P.J. Tucker | C - Bam Adebayo
Wizards vs Heat Match Prediction
The Washington Wizards and the Miami Heat are two of the best defensive teams in the NBA right now. Miami, however, has been better on offense, particularly if they have a healthy roster. With a potentially full lineup on their home floor, the Heat could extend their winning streak over Washington.
Where to watch the Wizards vs Heat game
The Bally Sports Sun in Florida and NBC Sports Washington will cover the game between the Washington Wizards and Miami Heat locally. Via live stream, the matchup will be aired on the NBA League Pass.
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