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Terps, Hoyas, and Wizards

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The Wizards have won three games in a row versus the Miami Heat stretching back to last season, let that sink in for a second.

This is the third longest winning streak against the Heatles for this franchise since Miami’s inception in 1989. For some perspective, the last time the Wizards/Bullets won at least three games in a row against Miami was the 2007/2008 season. The time before that? How about the first four meetings between the two teams all the way back in 1989/1990.

Going into last nights contest I said that for the Wizards to be successful in their quest for a second victory on the season they would have to out work Miami in every facet of the game. To be honest, that is exactly what happened at the Verizon Center Tuesday night. Washington came out with a lot of energy, as I thought they would, in response to the beating the Knicks handed them last Friday at the Mecca of basketball in New York City and took it to the South Beach trio all night long.

Washington was able to put up 60 points in the first half, a season high, on 58% shooting (21/36) from the floor. This was the first of many impressive stat lines for this team on the evening. Washington outrebounded Miami 44 to 43 on the evening led by Kevin Seraphin who pulled down 10 rebounds off of the bench. The Wizards were uncharacteristically unselfish last night as well setting a season high for assists in a single game with 31. When you can have assists on 31 of the 38 total baskets you score in a game more times than not you are setting yourself up for success.

It was going to take an inspired effort by multiple Wizards players to take down the defending champions last night, thankfully there were plenty of Wizards who stepped up to the plate…mainly Jordan Crawford and Kevin Seraphin. Crawford was feeling his jump shot early on and, in typical JC fashion, Crawford filled it up leading the Wizards with 22 points and 6 assists. Kevin Seraphin provided another massive boost off the bench for the Wizards as well. The French big man finished the evening with 16 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes. What was so special about Seraphin’s performance last night was how lights out he was from the floor. Seraphin took 12 shots and converted on 8 of them, shooting 75% from the field against the defending champions is one solid night at the office.

It needs to be noted that the Miami Heat did not just roll over and give this game away to Washington as some would assume. There was not a comfortable Wizards fan in the arena last night until the clock showed 0.0 and the Wiz Kids had officially doubled their win total on the 2012/2013 season. LeBron had a triple double, Chris Bosh went 8/11 from the field and Dwayne Wade finished with 24 points so the big three certainly showed up. The entire Heat roster probably didn’t play their best game by any stretch of the imagination, as most NBA teams couldn’t hang with them were they clicking on all cylinders, and that was good enough for Washington to creep up and earn the upset victory. Wizards players. coaches and fans alike had to withstand a furious comeback by the Heat as Miami closed what was a 10 point cushion down to a one possession game with less than 10 seconds remaining before they were finally able to do some celebrating.

A win is a win and for Wizards fans they have been few and far between so far this season. Washington has won two out of its last three including its last two games at the friendly confinds of the Verizon Center. Washington has a chance to stretch their win total to three as they travel to Atlanta this Friday to avenge a one point loss at the buzzer to the Hawks. Check back later in the week as we will have a full preview of Friday’s contest.

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Its game time here at the Phone Booth y’all. The Wizards are taking on the defending champion Miami Heat in, what one can only hope, will be a competitive matchup for 48 minutes. When we have credentials we like to live blog the game so for your reading pleasure I present Heats vs Wizards…Round 1.

Pregame Intros: LeBron James and Dwayne Wade receive major pops from the crowd as they are announced in the Heats starting lineup. No such love for the rest of the players on Miami or any of the players on the Wizards unfortunately…Share the love DC!

First Quarter:

12:00: Miami wins the opening tip and Chris Bosh starts the Heats off with their first bucket of the evening…Here we go!

10:57: Thought more fans would be booing Rashard Lewis but I guess I cant blame them, most Wizards fans probably forgot what he’s looked like since he never took the floor here.

9:11: Bradley Beal to the bench after picking up two early fouls and two early buckets…Not a good combination.

7:32: Dwayne Wade is going to have a field day with Jrodan Crawford guarding him 12-10 Heats.

6:10: Holy Crap RGIII is here AND the Wizards are winning?!?!?! Wiz 15 Heats 12.

5:21: We got a timeout on the floor and after that lukewarm reception for RGIII and a Wizards lead we find ourselves at Washington 15 Miami 14.

4:44:  Ariza to Seraphin for a one handed slam to the portion of the crowd that is here to support the home teams delight. Wizards 17 Heats 16.

3:29: We have our first Nene sighting of the evening as he is at the scorers table ready to check in…RGIII definitely flinched as the Brazilian walked by so its safe to assume Nene means business tonight. Wizards 21 Heats 18

2:34: At the under 3 tv timeout the Wizards lead the Heat 23-18…Whats going on here?

0:00 Wizards lead after one 30-25

Second Quarter:

9:30: Jordan Crawford nails another three putting the Wizards up 37-32…Jordan is feeling it tonight and that is always a good sign for the Wiz Kids.

9:00: We have a Miami timeout on the floor as Washington stretches their lead to 39-32…Spo visibly upset from the Hockey Press Box.

6:26: Martell Webster with the drive and the and 1 putting the Wizards up on the Heats 46-39. Miami without any PG right now as Chalmers hurt his hand. Time for Washington to take advantage.

4:50: We have a timeout on the floor as the Wizards lead Miami 50-44 with the home team about to get two free ones from the line.

4:07: WIZARDS UP 10!!!!! Webster with a top of the key three puts Washington up 54-44.

2:24: Under 3 TV timeout and the Wizards…Yes, the Wizards…lead 56-46 over the Heat.

Halftime: Wizards lead the Heats 60-54…Furious rally late by Miami is answered by the WizKids to keep it a two possession advantage after 24 minutes.

More Halftime: Wizards shot 21/36 in the first half and lead by 6…They better keep this pace up.

Third Quarter:

12:00 Wizards going with Beal, Price, Okafor, Singleton and Ariza

Heat going with LeBron, Bosh, Wade, Lewis and Harris

11:05 Wizards strike first as AJ Price hits a baseline jumper from about 18 feet.

9:21 AJ Price pulls up from FedEX Field and hits a deeeeeep three putting the Wizards up 67-58

8:29 We have a timeout on the floor and the Wizards lead the Heat by 10 once again 69-59

5:57 Washington still controlling play as they lead Miami 73-65 with the Chipotle Burrito Dash taking center stage. LeBron James also just truck sticked some poor kid sitting court side while attempting to get a steal. Im sure he’ll get some nice shwag out of it.

4:13 We have our first LeBron James Phantom Foul Call Alert!!! James hits the FT to cut the Wiz lead to 6 at 77-71

2:26 Udonis Haslem steps in and takes the charge after LeBron is rejected to the delight of those in attendance…Wizards lead Miami 80-73.

1:19 Crowd booing a Mike Miller foul…Because, Wizards. Reported that Trevor Ariza has suffered a strained calf muscle.

0:00 After three quarters the Wiz Kids are clinging to an 82-78 lead over the Heats

Fourth Quarter

12:00 Livingston, Nene, Seraphin, Webster and Crawford in for the Wiz…Miller, Allen, LeBron, Haslem and Bosh for Miami.

11:16 Wizards strike first as Martell Webster knocks two down from the line after a Haslem foul on a dunk attempt.

11:03 Fourth Quarter means Chick-Fil-A time for those in attendance…Chris Bosh has none of it however knocking down both from the charity stripe.

9:25 LeBron getting to the rim far to easily so far in the fourth, Washington needs to stay in front of him or this lead will be gone. Wizards up 86-84.

8:56 At the under 9 TV timeout the Wizards lead the Heat 86-84.

6:47 And the lead is gone as Chris Bosh beats everyone to a loose ball off a jump to tie the game at 88.

5:33 At the under 6 TV timeout the Wizards lead the Heat 93-89. Miami ball out of the break as LeBron blocked a shot off a Wizards player.

3:43 LeBron officially has his triple double…Wizards lead 97-95 as the arena is going nuts.

2:42 Timeout Miami as Jordan Crawford hits an elbow jumper to put Washington back up by 4 at 99-95.

2:28 LeBron misses two FT’s free Chick-Fil-A for everyone!!!!!

53.3 Timeout Washington off of the Mike Miller miss, Wizards lead 101-99 with the ball.

10.9 LeBron misses a three point attempt and the Wizards get the rebound. Foul on Miami sideline out of bounds for the WizKids up two.

6.9 Jordan Crawford knocks down two from the line after Miami got right to the rim out of the timeout to cut the lead to one. Miami takes another TO, one remaining, down 104-101. Sidelines out of bounds on the way.

2.2 LeBron misses a corner three…Nene with the rebound and Miami immediately fouls. 99.99999999% sure the Wizards are actually going to win this game.

0.0 WIZARDS WIN! WIZARDS WIN! WIZARDS WIN!

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The Teams: Miami Heat (12-3) vs. Washington Wizards (1-13)

The Time: 7:00 PM

The Place: Verizon Center (Washington, D.C.)

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet, 106.7 The Fan DC

The defending champions travel to the Phone Booth tonight to take on our Washington Wizards in what I will imagine will be an arena more full than usual due to all of the Miami Heat “fans” that will be in attendance.

Miami has won six in a row coming into tonight with sights on keeping that string of victories going. LeBron James and Chris Bosh have been shooting lights out this season as both are right around 55% on the year. While Dwayne Wade isn’t faring quite as well from the field as the other two, shooting a measly 49%. When you add Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen) and Rashard “I found the fountain of youth in South Beach” Lewis to the fold it makes the Heat a more dangerous offensive team. It will be tough for this undermanned Wizards squad to keep pace with the Heat without playing close to a perfect game.

This is Washington’s first chance to take the floor against someone else since last Friday’s 21 point drubbing by the New York Knicks. Ideally the Wizards come out tonight hungry to get that bad taste out of their mouth but they are running into one might tall task. Randy Wittman will have to do his fair share of coaching tonight to beat the Heat for the third straight time stretching back to last season.

Tonight, like every other night until Wall and Nene are both back, will be about effort. The Wizards needs to out work the Heat if they want to win this game tonight, simple as that. If the Wizards want it more than Miami does then they could find themselves with a shot to steal one this evening.

Prediction: The Wizards come out with energy but are eventually broken down by the three All-Stars on Miami in the second half.

Miami: 97

Washington: 88

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By: Willis

The Washington Wizards announced their preseason schedule for the upcoming 2012-2013 season on Thursday, with eight games set to be played before the regular season begins.

The preseason will start on October 7th, where Washington will travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to take on the Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Cable arena. Bradley Beal will get the chance to beat the guy who got drafted over him in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, so that actually may be a watchable affair.

From there, the Wizards travel back to the Verizon Center, where they will take on the New York Knicks Thursday, October 11th. After that, they close out the rest of the preseason schedule on the road with games against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Brooklyn Nets (in the brand new arena built for Jay-Z and a Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov), the Toronto Raptors (in Maple Leaf country), the Milwaukee Bucks, the Miami Heat, and the San Antonio Spurs.

Obviously, it would be ideal to play more than one preseason game at home. Jet lag is a very real thing, and plane seating doesn’t accommodate these giant frames very well. On the other hand, it’s time for Bradley Beal to get used to traveling all over the place 82 times a year (at least). The sooner he gets into the groove of things, the better. Mostly I’m just selfish and would actually like to attend some of these games, strictly because I love the Wizards.

Below is the schedule:

DATE OPPONENT LOCATION TIME (ET)
Sunday, Oct. 7 at Charlotte Time Warner Cable Arena (Charlotte, NC) 1:00 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 11 vs. New York Verizon Center (Washington, DC.) 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 13 at Cleveland Quicken Loans Arena (Cleveland, OH) 7:30 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 15 at Brooklyn Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY) 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 17 at Toronto Air Canada Centre (Toronto, Ont.) 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 20 at Milwaukee BMO Harris Bradley Center (Milwaukee, WI) 8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 24 at Miami Sprint Center (Kansas City, MO) 8:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 26 at San Antonio AT&T Center (San Antonio, TX) 8:30 p.m.

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By: Bohlin

The ongoing saga surrounding Dwight Howard has come to a close. Last night the all-star and former defensive player of the year was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in a four team deal.

With all the rumored offers on the table from teams like the Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets, the Magic decided to send Howard to Hollywood in return for Aaron Afflalo and a bevy of protected first round picks from teams that will almost assuredly be outside of the lottery. While the reasoning behind Orlando pulling the trigger on this deal at this time is perplexing to me, as I believe Brooklyn and Houston’s offers were better, it signifies that the Magic are entering “rebuilding mode”– which is great for the Wizards.

This marks the second time this offseason where a playoff team from the Southeast division has shipped their best player out of town (Joe Johnson to Brooklyn being the other instance). In each case the argument can be made that the Hawks and Magic took a step back (in Orlando’s case a few hops, skips and jumps back) in order to rid themselves of massive headaches inside their organizations.

How does all of this movement effect our Washington Wizards? In short, it brings them closer to the top of the division. While the Miami Heat are still the cream of the crop in the division, that race for number two in the Southeast is up for grabs.

Atlanta should still be competitive with Josh Smith and Al Horford in their lineup but the loss of arguably their best perimeter scoring threat in Joe Johnson will hurt. The thing about the Hawks is they are a much better team when Josh Smith isn’t continuously falling back in love with his jump shot. With Joe Johnson now gone, all I can see is J-Smoove thinking it’s his time to become “The Guy” on the perimeter for Atlanta. Keep pulling up from 18 feet and beyond and you’ll make a lot of Wizards fans happy, Josh.

Orlando has taken a massive step back and will more than likely be challenging the Bobcats for the Cellar Dweller award in the division. Without Dwight Howard in the fold first year head coach Jacque Vaughn has his hands full figuring out how to make this team competitive. They did pick up some nice young pieces in this deal in Afflalo and Mo Harkless, but to think that those two, in addition to Jameer Nelson and Hedo, will be enough to vault Orlando to the playoffs again is a bit extreme.

Charlotte, fresh off becoming statistically the worst team in NBA history, hasn’t done much to shake up their roster this offseason. In are Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Ben Gordon and Ramon Sessions and out is D.J. Augustin. I think in time MKG will be an impact player for Charlotte but to think he’ll be able to really help carry the load on offense as a rookie is extreme. The fact of the matter is the Bobcats still aren’t much of a threat to do anything in the division with the roster they have assembled. Quite frankly I’m not sure why I dedicated this much space to a team that is coming off a 7 win season.

The Wizards are set up nicely to make a move towards the top of the division. With perennial playoff teams Orlando and Atlanta taking steps back it is possible to think that a 2nd or 3rd place finish in the division isn’t out of the question. The Southeast has been at least a three playoff team division for the past five seasons. There is little doubt in my mind that this trend will continue going forward.

Should the Wizards make the type of jump that we believe they are capable of making this season with the additions of Nene, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal they should absolutely contend for one of the eight playoff spots in the East. John Wall said he wanted to be the “savior” of the Washington Wizards…here is your chance John, lead us back to the playoffs where the Wizards belong.

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By: Willis

Last night while I was looking over the latest Dwight Howard trade rumors, getting entirely too excited about him being shipped out of the Southeast Division, something of an epiphany struck me: the Wizards are almost a shoo in for becoming the second best outfit in the division. I know that’s a gutsy statement to be made about a team that finished with the second-worst record in the NBA last year at 20-46, but it’s actually the most plausible scenario.

See, what I failed to realize (and what I should have as soon as Joe Johnson left for New Jersey) is that the consolidation of great players in the East onto one team is an amazing thing for the Wizards. Johnson was the first superstar to abandon the Division, sending the Atlanta Hawks into, at least partially, a rebuilding mode. The guy who averaged 22.7 PPG last year against the Wizards? See ya when I see ya, bud. The second best team in the division just lost a player who has scored the sixth most points of any NBA player in the past seven seasons (good for 10,606 points). Think that’s not going to hurt a team in the scoring department? Think again.

Losing Joe Johnson is going to leave Atlanta without a premier scorer who can create his own shot and help create for others. Mercurial forward Josh Smith isn’t a number one option on any team, and he’s far too inconsistent to be considered a legitimate superstar. The talent is there, but when you can’t hit a jump shot, it’s not going to come together for you.

The team’s presumable starting rotation? Jeff Teague, Anthony Morrow, Josh Smith, Al Horford, and Jason Collins. That’s what they’re working with right now, and to be quite honest I’ll take the Wizards against that team any day of the week. We beat them at three or four positions, and the team with the best players typically wins the game. Even if they acquire some more talent in the offseason, it’s looking like a lengthy rebuild for the Hawks, one in which the Wizards are going to capitalize on. The second best team in the division just took some serious strides in the wrong direction.

Advantage – Washington.

Then there’s the Orlando Magic, a team wasn’t even that good last year with Dwight Howard at 37-29. The Howard distraction clearly trashed the chemistry of that team (and rightfully so, as it’s hard to play good basketball with a team that hates his team and coach), and they were a shade of the squad that challenged the Lakers in the 2009 NBA Finals. Nonetheless, Dwight Howard against the Wizards tended to be an absolute disaster for the good guys: last year alone he averaged 21.7 points and 16.7 rebounds per contest. He abused JaVale and was the main reason the Magic would beat Washington. Having a legendary player like that (by “like that” I mean leading his team every year in scoring, rebounds, and blocks every season he’s been in the NBA sans his rookie year) in the division meant guaranteed losses to the Magic year in-year out. But guess what? He’s probably not going to be in Orlando anymore!

And neither is Ryan Anderson, the Orlando Magic’s second leading scorer at 16.1 PPG. Anderson, a three-point specialist who had his coming out party last year headed for greener (or teal-er) pastures with the New Orleans Hornets. He’ll presumably get the added benefit of playing with another future All-Star center in Anthony Davis. Good for him! Better for us because he’s not going to be able to drain 14 total three pointers in 4 games against us. His loss is equally as important as Dwight Howard’s in the Wizards success, because one player does not a team make.

With their two leading scorers from last year gone, the Orlando Magic are going to have to hand over the reigns to Jameer Nelson, an undersized point guard who has struggled to be consistent and healthy throughout his 8 year career. Nelson is not even a bad player by any stretch of the imagination, but imagining him becoming the second best player on a team without a superstar is a scary thought. If the trade goes through with the Nets for Dwight Howard, that means they’d likely pick up a very good center in Brook Lopez, who would end up being the replacement center and best player on the team. If that’s the case, the Wizards do not have much to worry about.

Brook Lopez as a center is an American version of Andrea Bargnani, meaning he shoots less three pointers and is a tad less soft. He still doesn’t rebound well at all (he’s never grabbed 10 rebounds over the course of the season) and was injured all but five games last season. I’ll take him being the best player on the court alongside Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkgolu. That’s just not a good team. If Lopez could barely lift the Nets out of obscurity with a superstar in Deron Williams, I’m almost certain the Magic aren’t going to be a threat next year at all.

Advantage – Washington

I’m not entirely certain I need to explain why the Charlotte Bobcats aren’t going to be better than the Washington Wizards next year, but I will do it in brief. The Bobcats finished with the worst winning percentage in NBA history last year, and that fact alone means they won’t get better overnight. They won six games all year! The Bobcats could multiply their win total by 6 and not make the playoffs in the East. They finished 30th in points per game, 29th in rebounds per game, and 27th in points allowed per game. Those are awfully telling statistics that, while they can only improve, can’t get much worse.

Charlotte picked up a winner in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the draft, but I’m not sure he’s going to come in right away and completely change a losing culture. They need efficient scoring, and Kemba Walker won’t be providing that in the near future. Neither will their other building piece Bismack Biyombo, who may be a good defender but will most certainly struggle against Nene and former Bobcat Emeka Okafor. They’re rumored to be getting Kris Humphries via that ridiculous Dwight Howard four-team trade, so I guess there’s that.

That leaves their starting roster with Biyombo, Humphries, MKG, Ben Gordon, and Kemba Walker. That lineup is horrible, plain and simple. It’s got tons of potential, without question, but having former college stars and three offensively inept players in the starting five is a recipe for another bad season. Not that they aren’t trying, though. I actually see the Bobcats as becoming a surprisingly solid team next year, but not second place talent.

Advantage – Washington

That leaves us with the Miami Heat, and I don’t need to dwell on the fact that they just came off of winning an NBA championship and are were playing the best basketball in the NBA upon finishing up. I don’t need to dwell on the fact that they always, always, always beat the Washington Wizards. Or that they’re better than Washington at shooting guard, power forward, and small forward; the addition of another Hall of Famer (Ray Allen) is never going to help Washington. The sad fact is that for the time being, Washington is really far behind against Miami and that is unlikely to change, for now.

Here’s the thing, though: head to head match ups aren’t the deciding factor in winning your division in basketball. A perfect storm would obviously have to occur for Washington to leap from Miami, but it’s not even unreasonable to think about. Miami might have a bit of a championship hangover, much like the one the Dallas Mavericks suffered/the Spurs suffered every season following a championship. Let’s say LeBron is a little tired from playing in the Olympics this summer, and Dwyane Wade still isn’t up to form after having offseason knee surgery to fix whatever was going on with that thing during the NBA Playoffs. A team already susceptible to boredom might just slip a little bit and give an opening for an up-and-coming Wizards team a chance. The Hawks were only six games out of first place last season, and the Wizards could play with them.

Of course, this is all hypothetical nonsense; it’s the offseason, though, and that’s what you’re going to get. Washington obviously has to improve from last year, and the younger players need to continue taking steps forward. Kevin Seraphin needs to show that he wasn’t just a flash in the pan and become a dominant second unit low-post performer (I think the Olympics are going to help a lot in with his progression in that regard). Bradley Beal is going to need to show that he is not a young, talented, project. He has to come in and immediately help. Not to mention Emeka Okafor and Nene have to stay healthy for an entire season and John Wall has to shake off that sophomore slump.

A lot has to go the Wizards way, but the opening is there for glory to be captured. The glory of second place, of course, but it’s something. I’m of the firm belief that this upcoming season, year three of the rebuild, is when the Washington Wizards make the move into playoff contender and young team to look out for. All this moving and shaking within the division has done nothing but help “The Plan” progress at a faster rate.
Advantage? Washington

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By: Bohlin

Last Thursday night we did not see any of the three draft eligible Georgetown Hoyas, Jason Clark, Henry Sims and Hollis Thompson, get selected by an NBA franchise. While disappointing, this does give those former Hoyas the opportunity to choose  where to continue chasing their NBA dreams. While Sims and Thompson have yet to make a decision as to which NBA Summer League team they will sign up with Jason Clark has.

Clark, as first reported yesterday, will be joining the Miami Heat in the Vegas Summer League beginning on July 13th. Clark worked out for the Miami Heat prior to last Thursday’s NBA Draft and while they did not end up selecting the former star for the Hoyas they did see enough in his skill set to invite him to join their Summer League roster.

This is a great opportunity for Clark to showcase his skills and have a legitimate shot at sticking with the Heat come the regular season were he to have an impressive run in Las Vegas. With so much of Miami’s salary cap space wrapped up in the Big Three they will have to find creative ways to fill out the rest of their roster. One option, which was employed last year by Pat Riley, would be to sign young players, such as Clark, to smaller contracts to get to the roster limit set by the NBA.

Clark was a former All-Met Player of the Year selection from Bishop O’Connell High School (Arlington, VA) as well as a First-Team All Big East selection his senior year at Georgetown. Clark finished his Hoyas career with some impressive numbers ranking twentieth all-time in points scored, fifteenth all-time in steals and fourth all-time in three-pointers made.

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By: Willis

Miami Heat @ Washington Wizards

7PM

PG: John Wall vs Bad Backup
SG: Jordan Crawford vs Bad Backup
SF: Chris Singleton vs Dexter Pittman
PF: Jan Vesely vs Bad Backup
C: Kevin Seraphin vs Bad Backup

Why to watch: The Washington Wizards are the hottest team in the NBA

Alright, so that may be a bit of an overstatement, but Washington is cleaning up late in the game and building some serious momentum heading into the offseason. Yes, this five game win streak has come at the end of a miserable season and against teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Cavaliers and the Miami Heat (with Dexter Pittman starting), but who cares? Wins are wins and when things haven’t been so great all season, or when something like a 4 game win streak hasn’t happened in 4 1/2 years, this is exciting.

Segue into the Miami Heat, who we’ll be facing for the second time in three games. They’re going to be without the Big Three of LeBum, Wade, and Bosh, so it means another dose of Pittman and Co. Basketball wise, Miami’s backups are an awful rebounding team who are also completely inept on the offensive end. The Wizards should have no problem holding this team to under 100 points, and when that happens Washington has a chance to continue a win streak to 6 games! Eric Spoelstra can still coax his team into a very stingy defensive effort, so the Wizards are still going to need to get to the line or shoot well; that being said, this is a game that John Wall should win.

Underlying storyline: Kevin Seraphin’s got a streak of his own.

As the Notorious B.I.G. once said, “If ya don’t know, now ya know, ninja.” That’s the case with Seraphin, because if you haven’t heard of him by now, you’re not watching basketball. He’s the guy who stepped up once JaVale left and has recorded 10 or more points in 15 straight games. It’s been over 20 years since a Wizards center has done anything close to that, and its a welcoming experience. There is one glaring issue with his game, though, and it’s the rebounding aspect. During that same 15 games stretch of great offensive play, Seraphin has only managed to grab 10 boards in 3 games. He’s not huge, so it’s not entirely unexpected that he can’t grab them as well, but it needs to be something he should start improving on now. We know he can score, now Wizards fans need to be sure he’s a competent rebounding player.

Prediction: 99-95 Wizards

Miami is loaded with scrubs from the top to bottom without the Big Three, and I’m not sure many of their players tonight would even start for Washington. Wall should get to the line a lot, Seraphin and Nene should have dominant performances against a weak front line, and Vesely might chip in a little as well. The end of the year is where the bad teams excel, baby! Wizards win, but they don’t win you guys a Papa John’s Pizza.

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By Willis

Washington Wizards vs Miami Heat
Miami, Florida – 7:30 PM

PG: John Wall vs. Mario Chalmers

SG: Jordan Crawford vs. Dwyane Wade/Mike Miller

SF: Chris Singleton vs. LeBron James

PF: Jan Vesely vs. Chris Bosh

C: Kevin Seraphin vs. Joel Anthony

Why you should watch: LeBron James vs. the field

Gone are the days when LeBron against the Wizards was a bitterly contested matchup, dare I say an intense rivalry. LeBron was the young buck coming onto the scene attempting to overtake the Wizards led by Gilbert Arenas and Co. Who can forget the 2006 playoffs, where Gilbert went for 36 points, and LeBron almost equaled it with 32 of his own.  Now, all those players are gone from their respective teams and any lingering resentment is felt only by the fans who can remember such a time. I am one of those fans, and when LeBron plays the Wizards, I hope him the absolute worst. I hope he lays a dud during this game and makes voters reconsider his almost assured MVP trophy.

For his career, LeBron beats up on everyone, and the Wizards are no different (26.3 PPG, 7 rebounds, 6.3 assists). He’s going to go off on us, and especially Chris Singleton who has the unenviable task of guarding him. Singleton has been sub par as a defender this year, and he’s going against someone who could become the best small forward ever someday (kiss the rings). LeBron has become much less of a jump shooter this year and has begun playing down low like a traditional power forward, while Bosh moves over to the stretch center position. It’s a technique that the Heat have used with a ton of success this year, and they’re likely to try it tonight. Bosh is going to make Seraphin/Vesely work on the defensive end, as he’s pretty nimble himself. But the key here will be containing LeBron; if your team can’t do that, they’re not going to win.

Underlying Story Line: The Wizards have the chance to go on a 3 game winning streak!

…but wait, there’s more! The Wizards have the chance to go on a 3-game winning streak AND become winners in five of their last seven games. I know, I know. I must be fudging the numbers, right? Wrong! Washington has been on a winning train lately, and has managed to derail Milwaukee’s playoff hopes, hurt Chicago’s chances of locking up the top seed, and now? Well, they face a Miami Heat team who’s 1 1/2 games out of first place in the Eastern Conference. With a Wizards win, Miami would need Chicago to lose twice in their final four games (with Miami winning out). Who says that games aren’t meaningful for teams like the Wizards in April. You’d better believe that Miami is going to get up for this game, because they want home court advantage. And with Dwyane Wade likely to sit out (he’s too good to play against bad teams this year), anything is possiiiiiibbbbbbbllllllleeeeeeee.

Prediction:
LeBron James isn’t going to lose against the Wizards, who have lost 6 straight against the Miami Heat. I just can’t see the Wizards putting together what’s required to beat Miami this time around. Next year? Maybe. But this year it’s going to be a close game through three quarters, until Miami pulls away big time.

Miami – 100

Washington – 85

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