(Photo Credit: Ned Dishman)
The Miami HEAT hit the road to take on the Washington Wizards tonight in the nation's capital. The HEAT have won six games in a row and are 12-3 overall. The Wizards are 1-13. Tip off is set for 7 PM. Coverage on Sun Sports starts at 6:30. 1. What has to happen for Washington, the least efficient offense in the league, to win?
Couper: Pretty much what any team needs to do, except in this case it’s asking a lot based on the production the Wizards are getting so far. They’ll need active games from Nene, Kevin Seraphin and Emeka Okafor – remember when Okafor went nuts for 23 and 13 two years ago – but more than anything they’ll have to be very efficient with isolated, contested jumpers. It’s possible, but if that’s the plan of action then the odds are usually not in your favor.
Danny: For the Wizards to win, they’ll need a lot of breaks to go their way. They’ll need lots offensive rebounds and lots of threes. If they don’t get those, they’ll need the HEAT offense to go especially cold. This will be a tough game for the Wizards, but anything can happen in a one game sample.2. Do you expect to see the same defense we saw against Brooklyn in the second half? Do we need to?
Couper: It’s a bit much to ask for that level of intensity on a consistent basis, especially this early in the regular season, but considering the efficiency difference between the offenses of the Brooklyn Nets and the Wizards, the HEAT could turn in a solid, consistent effort and end up with similar results. On a personal note, I’ve seen enough of the defense for now that I won’t have much reason to be critical for quite some time, but it wouldn’t hurt to get the defensive ranking into the Top 10 just so we can avoid silly narratives.
Danny: No. I doubt we’ll see that energy level unless the Wizards are making a serious push late in the game. The HEAT’s defense has gotten better and better the last two weeks. I expect that to continue. But what we saw against the Nets was some next-level stuff. The Wizards really struggle to score and I’d be shocked if they all of a sudden lit up the HEAT.3. How would this game be different if John Wall was around?
Couper: On one hand, Wall would really test Miami’s transition defense with his ability to push the ball from any spot on the floor, but he also was one of the greatest singular offensive drains last season because of his affinity for mid-range jumpers, on which he converted almost at a league-low rate. In the end, his playmaking ability is a huge plus for a team that really needs it. I’m sure you would also have heard about how much speed guards tend to hurt the HEAT, to which I always reply that speed guards tend to hurt just about everyone.
Danny: Wall hasn’t been as efficient as I thought he would be, but he still puts pressure on a defense. Wall’s speed allows him to breakdown a defense, which opens up space for shooters. His presence would help boost some of the team’s shooting numbers. Also, his two-man game with Nene would present problems. I look forward to Wall’s return. This Wizards offense needs him.4. Mario Chalmers appeared to struggle a bit against Brooklyn. Anything to be concerned about?
Couper: Chalmers had some good moments early in that game, and many of his turnovers were the result of him trying to make tough passes in traffic – the same risks he’s been making all season. Sometimes you’re just going to come out on the unlucky side throwing those passes, which Erik Spoelstra knows very well, but the fact that Norris Cole was putting in an incredible defensive effort on Deron Williams is what really earned Cole the late-game minutes. Chalmers is capable of that type of defense, too, and we’ll see it eventually, but that just wasn’t his night, as he readily admitted himself.
Danny: I lean towards no. Chalmers started off the season extremely well and while he’s struggled some, it’s not like his production has totally fallen off. Chalmers’ three-point shooting figures to get better and he’s still making some impressive passes. As the team’s defense rounds into form, his contributions on that end will look better too. Patience is the name of the game this season. It will take much more than a handful of games to make me concerned about anything.