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Wizards vs. Heat Pregame: What Is This Team?

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Miami at Washington

January 20, 2016 at 7:00 PM
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
TV: CSN Mid-Atlantic
Radio: 99.1FM


Last time they met was..

January 4, 2016 – Verizon Center, DC: Heat 97, Wizards 75
Game Notebook 32 – Wizards vs. Heat: Off Night For Wall Grills Wiz


What to watch

I’m not even sure any more. What is this team? What are we supposed to believe about them? Contender? Certainly not. Pretender? Evidently so. Whichever way you want to lean, there’s no question the Wizards have been an absolute shit show of confusion.

Walk with me. After losing 3 of 4 games in mid-December, they won 4 straight, then lost 2 in a row, then lost 5 of 6 with the only win coming against the Magic and they doesn’t really count because the Wizards have beaten that team so many consecutive times that Ted Leonsis might as well own a pair of keys to the Epcot Center. Anyway, they again win 4 straight and then bam, here we are on another two game-slide. It’s like the perpetual circle of death. They can beat good teams on the road, but they can’t win at home. John Wall wins Player of the Month for December, then wins Player of the Week this month, but then gets all shy and bashful in the face of CJ McCollum and Damian Lilliard on Monday afternoon and misses 12 of 15 jump shots and never gets to the free throw line. Not once. In other breaking news, Marcin Gortat is bitching about injuries and questioning why his teammates are getting hurt so easily and why for so long. Randy Wittman remains getting out-coached on a nightly basis and in the simplest of measures. The Wizards having been spending weeks trying to climb back over .500 (they haven’t had more wins than losses since November 24), and just .. yeah, everything sucks.


Key Matchup

The District of Columbia vs. Hassan Whiteside

The Case: The Heat have struggled over the past few games, losing 5 of their last 6, losing four of them by double-digits, and in the last two games, they’ve failed to score at least 80 points. But the team’s regression has had no individual reflection on Hassan Whiteside, who in the two previous Heat losses combined still managed to make 15 of 18 shots, grab 29 rebounds, and block 6 shots. He’s a terrorizing incubus to anyone in his vicinity near the rim. Although he struggled to score against the Wizards in their last matchup, he remained a wrecking ball on the glass with 13 rebounds, and a swiper in front of the rim with 6 blocks. For the season, Whiteside remains atop of the league in blocks per game at 3.9, ahead of the rest of the pack by a landslide (The Brow at 2.44 BPG).

The Verdict: Who are we kidding? There’s no stopping this menace to society. And as recent history has proven, even when the rest of his team is indicted on charges of struggling, he’ll still elude basketball justice and get away scot-free.


X-factor

Coaching

“Your false as a team, is my failure as a head coach.” — Likely never Randy Wittman.

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When listening to Randy Wittman sound off on why his team lost or in what areas they struggled, he’ll give you point blank answers. What he won’t admit while doing so, is that a good number of the issues he brings up are a direct cause of his coaching mishaps. Time and again this season, opponents find glaring holes in the Wizards defense and exploit them relentlessly, sometimes to the point where they go on large runs like the 17-0 one the Blazers went on in the 3rd quarter on Monday afternoon. Possession after possession the Blazers rotated guys around the perimeter knowing that the Wizards were weakly safeguarding it, and as a result, the Blazers rained fire from downtown. No adjustments were made. A few games ago, Kyrie Irving went off for 19 points in the 4th quarter because his defenders willingly switched off on him on every screen, allowing Irving to dictate his matchups and destroy them accordingly.

The transparency of the Wizards defense is a direct fault of the coaching staff, and considering that Wittman is a supposed defensive-minded coach draws the question of, what good is he if he’s not really good at what we thought he was only good at


Prediction

Marcin Gortat is upset. John Wall is likely upset. Maybe that bodes well for the Wizards after a some despair? Maybe that helps them establish some sort of identity moving forward? Or at least their identity for tonight? Optimism has broken me for years as a Wizards fan. And maybe it’s gotten the best of me now. F it. Maybe the Wizards win. Let’s get it.

we are Hoop District

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