Washington Wizards vs Miami Heat

Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards take a trip down to sunny south beach in a matchup against Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat at 8:00 PM EST on 4 January 2018 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, FL. Broadcast is available on NBC Sports Washington and Fox Sports Sun; radio available on 790 The Ticket/WAQI 710 AM and 1500 AM.

How to Watch

Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL

When: 8:00 PM EST, Friday, 4 January 2018

How (TV/Radio): NBC Sports Washington, Fox Sports Sun | 790 The Ticket/WAQI 710 AM, 1500 AM

Washington Wizards

Head Coach: Scott Brooks {All-Time 444-302 | OKC, WAS}

The Washington Wizards are a far-cry from their success in the 17-18 NBA campaign. Sitting at eleventh in the Eastern Conference, behind the likes of Brooklyn and Orlando, the Wizards have a short amount of time to decide what they want to obtain out of this season.

The current season has been tumultuous for the Washington Wizards. In their last ten they are 3-7, Dwight Howard is yet to return, and John Wall just had season-ending surgery. Nothing is going their way, but perhaps expectations were to high. Wall and Beal are excellent individual players, but their personal greatness can only carry a team of mediocre parts so far. Locked into a number of high-value contracts, the Wizards are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

As they take on the Heat the Wizards will not only be fighting to prove their talent is still with them, but to stave off the incoming Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks are just 3.5 games behind the Wizards and if tanking is not in the Wizards plans, every win counts.

Miami Heat

Head Coach: Erik Spoelstra {All-Time 501-338 | MIA}

Despite a a sub .500 record after the new year, the Miami Heat remained in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. A five-game, mid-December win-streak brought the Heat back into striking distance of the Eastern Conference's playoff position, but stumbles against the Raptors and Timberwolves have set them back.

In their last ten matches, the Miami Heat have taken wins against some of the weaker teams in the NBA, but also took an impressive win from the Milwaukee Bucks who are top of the East at the moment. Inconsistency has been the Heat's greatest weakness so far this season and they'll hope to regain that consistency with a win against the Wizards.

The Wizards are undermanned and lost their best playmaker. While the Heat are by no means entirely healthy, they'll be making it a point to run through their sets deliberately in order to define their success. Winslow at the point has been a revelation for them and is a weapon that most teams haven't yet been able to counter. Look for them to run their offence through him, in hopes of taking apart the Wizards defence.

What's At Stake?

The Washington Wizards and the Miami Heat have met a number of times over the history of their franchises. In 123 regular season matches, the Miami Heat lead the all-time series 82-41 over the Washington Wizards.

At eleventh in the Eastern Conference, the Washington Wizards are a mere 3.5 games back from the Atlanta Hawks who are 5-5 in their last ten. A win would help distance them from the Hawks, while growing to 2.5 games back from the Orlando Magic.

The Miami Heat overcame a difficult start to the season and are now sitting just a game out from .500 in seventh behind the Hornets. A win would draw them level with the Hornets, in a tie for sixth place.

Questions to answer

Will the Wizards defence get a break against the Heat?

Can the Heat offence find it's mark against the Wizards?

We are going to compare the Washington Wizards and the Miami Heat in an attempt to see who has the advantage in this matchup.

The Wizards are 28th in Defensive Rating

The Washington Wizards have impressive offensive options. Bradley Beal can score with the best in the NBA while role players in Otto Porter, Jeff Green, and Markieff Morris make valuable contributions from range and inside.

It is on the defensive end where the Washington Wizards struggle. Considering the Washington Wizards are allowing 117.5 points per game, the league has proven that the Wizards can no longer just outscore them.

The Wizards have made move to shore up their defence. The addition of Trevor Ariza was positive in every way. Unfortunately defence is a cultural issue amongst the squad that has plagued the Wizards for years. The Heat are a team that struggles to score, so if the Heat have trouble finding their shot it will be a good night for the Wizards.

The Heat are 21st in PACE and 22nd in Offensive Rating

To say that the Miami Heat are a team that struggles to get their offence initiated is an understatement. They are lead by Josh Richardson with 18.4 points per game, but the drop off is significant as the next leading scorers are Dragic who is out and Wade who plays sporadically.

By the structure of their roster, the Miami Heat accomplished what they wanted. They are a stout defensive team with incredibly switchable players. The Heat shoot the ball decently from range, but have trouble creating plays without Dragic on the court.

With Winslow moved to the point guard position, Spoelstra effectively removed one shooter from the play by making him the primary ball handler. While he shoots 37% from range, he doesn't attempt a high volume and can be streaky at times. His mismatches on smaller guards may be a key to unlocking the Heat offence, so look for Winslow to attack the likes of Beal and Satoransky off the dribble and in the post.

Washington Wizards Roster Notes

C Dwight Howard (back) says he is pain-free after his lumbar surgery, but is not expected to return until February.

F Markieff Morris (neck) was ruled out for Wednesday's game and his return status is currently unknown.

F Otto Porter (quad) is likely to play.

G John Wall (heel) will undergo season-ending surgery and will resume basketball activities in six-eight months.

Miami Heat Roster Notes

G Goran Dragic (knee) had surgery and is not expected back until after the all-star break.

G Dion Waiters (ankle) was a game time decision on Wednesday and played sparingly. He is expected to play against the Washington Wizards.

Head-to-Head: Bradley Beal vs Josh Richardson

Bradley Beal

23.6 PPG | 4.7 APG | 4.9 RPG | 1.2 SPG | 0.9 BPG | 2.6 TOV | .471 FG% | .337 3P%

Josh Richardson

18.4 PPG | 3.7 APG | 3.9 RPG | 1.2 SPG | 0.6 BPG | 1.9 TOV | .405 FG% | .379 3P%

This is a matchup between two spectacular young guards tasked with carrying teams that are underachieving. Bradley Beal is a talented scorer but his efforts have not led to wins. Meanwhile, Richardson is a premier system player that struggles to create on his own. It should be an interesting matchup.

Josh Richardson has grown into one of the leagues best 3-and-D threats. A 6-6 swing guard with the ability to handle the ball like a point guard, Richardson has seen career highs almost across the board. He'll be matched with Beal, tasked with stopping the electric Washington guard from getting hot and taking over the game.

With the loss of John Wall, the fate of the Washington Wizards is in the hands of Bradley Beal more than it has ever been. If anything, Wall's absence signals an audition for Beal to be the primary star for the Washington Wizards. Beal has been having a tremendous season, but the Washington Wizards as a whole have failed to put it together.

Washington Wizards at Miami Heat Predictions and Odds

The odds makers have the Miami Heat favoured over the Washington Wizards by 8.5, with an over/under of 110.

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