(Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon)
The Miami HEAT look to bounce back from Friday night's loss when they host the Washington Wizards tonight. The HEAT are 22-9 and sit atop the Eastern Conference. The Wizards are 7-24. Tip off is set for 6 PM; coverage on Sun Sports starts at 5:30 PM.1. Everyone wants to talk about Miami's rebounding right now. What's the main issue?
Couper Moorhead: Rebounding, like defense, is largely about energy and effort. Yes, some players have natural instincts that give them advantages over others, but in the end rebounding always comes down to fighting for position, boxing out and going after the ball -- not waiting for the ball to come to you or for a teammate to get it. Miami's aggressive defensive scheme can make it easy for player to be in put in tough spots to get boards, but we've seen smaller lineups work many times in the past, and rebounding isn't an issue when the team is playing playoff-caliber defense. Size isn't the answer. Being better is.
Danny Martinez: The main issue is there are lots of little issues. The HEAT’s energy level has been a little low on the boards, and teams like the Chicago Bulls have been able to take advantage of it. Little things like box-outs have been a touch slow. The good news is the issue can be fixed without making any substantial changes to the rotation. The HEAT have shown they can rebound while playing “small,” and upping the energy level a little bit will go a long way.2. Have we reached the point where there always has to be a problem for the HEAT, just so things stay interesting?
Couper: Pretty much. We've long since past the point where LeBron isn't compelling enough for people, so they have to come up with more interesting candidates for honors like MVP's even though he is clearly the best player in the league. And now we're seeing a bit of the same thing with Miami. Not that they are clearly the best team in the league because they haven't always played like it, but this is a contending roster and people seem unwilling to let a very, very good team go through the normal ups and downs of a season without finding a specific flaw to focus in on. Much is said this time of year that has little bearing on the future.
Danny: Yep. The HEAT have the best record in the Eastern Conference and it seems all anyone can talk about is how they are flawed. The HEAT aren’t perfect, but 31 games into the season, they’re doing just fine. With this core, the HEAT’s focus will always be on the postseason and winning titles. That can’t be done in December and January. It’s understandable to get frustrated with losses or poor performances, but there’s not reason to panic about anything that appears to be an issue now. The HEAT don’t have a fatal flaw. Not on the defensive end and not on the glass.3. What can John Wall do for Washington when he returns in a couple of weeks?
Couper: To say he'll make them better is a little beside the point for this team. Wall is good, and the Wizards might win a few more games with him, but that organization really needs from him is a set direction. Wall needs to prove that he is on his way to becoming a Top-20 player in the league and one that the Wizards can build around. So far -- though the roster has limited him in the past -- he has yet to do so. The talent is there, and while he isn't going to save this season, Wall is more than capable of building a foundation for himself and those around him.
Danny: When Wall returns, so does hope. The Wizards haven’t had the success they thought they would after drafting Wall. There have been personnel issues, which have since been taken care of, followed by Wall struggling with injuries. When he takes the court in the next couple of weeks, Wall will look to show he’s the foundational player the Wizards have been missing. Their roster has turned over significantly the last 12 months, and the idea is that Wall can help all of the pieces fit together. The playoffs aren’t in the cards this season, but, with Wall, they’re the goal for 2014.