As the matchup against the defending Eastern Conference champs was looming, dreaded thoughts of a massacre were instilled in the minds of many of the Wizards faithful.
The pre-game conversations weren’t about whether the Wizards were going to win or lose (even though those conversations usually end up with the same lopsided consensus), but instead you wondered how bad the far less talented, shallow Wizards would get blown out.
After the Jeremy Lin Show successfully swept through Chinatown, there was very little desire of an encore by “Lob City East”, at least not for the 30% of fans in the arena that wasn’t sporting a black and red #6 jersey.
Nevertheless, the Miami Heat coasted to a 106-89 victory in what was yet another home-away-from-home game for the Verizon Center visitors.
Prior to the game, I told my counterpart Joe Glorioso that if the Wizards intend on simply remaining in contention against the Heat, let alone winning the game, they would have to play a damn near flawless game.
Now, for the Wizards in particular, this would imply several things:
CONTROL THE BOARDS:
Second-chance points have been an absolute nightmare on both ends of the court for the Wizards this season. It’s been crystal clear that when the Wizards have gotten owned on the glass, they’ve had no shot at winning. The Wizards had an excellent game on the boards; however, the rebound stat line has proven to be very exposing in other areas. The Wizards grabbed 15 offensive rebounds last night, but still only managed 15 second-chance points, which justifies missing 62% of your shots.
AVOID A DISAPPEARING ACT IN THE 3RD QUARTER:
Both head coach Randy Wittman and his predecessor have stressed about the Wizards’ horrendous post-pep talk performances this season. John Wall’s 10 points, combined with 20% shooting from the floor by Miami were the key factors that allowed the Wizards to stay in contention and cut a double-digit deficit to only seven going into the fourth.
WAKE UP, JAVALE:
Pam McGee must have went old school on her son when she scolded him for his February slump. If that is true, credit her for her JaVale McGee’s impressive stat line last night. McGee finished with 24 points and 13 boards. He attacked Joel Anthony early, but made his usual mental mishaps down the stretch, enough to earn a negative in the game’s +/- category. Still, McGee’s overall production on offense was a vital factor in the Wizards weathering the Miami storm. It was also the reason we saw Kevin Seraphin on the floor for only 120 seconds.
For what it's worth, the Wizards' success in these areas paved the way for another “moral victory”, or “respectable loss” and avoided them getting blown out to Winchester.
And now for the routine article buzzkill: Jordan Crawford.
JC was headed in a different direction last night, putting up about as dud of a game as he ever has. He finished making only 2 of 12 shots and missing 4 of 6 free throws. Sorry.
To the dismay of about 10,000 fans, Lebron had a fairly quiet game. The usual wow’ing lobs were enough to get his fans out of their seats a handful of times, but the main event belonged to Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Overall, the Big 3 accumulated for 64% of the Heat’s point total.