Obviously, the final score of preseason games doesn’t matter in preparation for the games that do count but tell that to the Miami Heat and their fans after a fun 117-115 win over the Washington Wizards in their final home game of the preseason.
Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters all sat out to rest with Okaro White, Josh Richardson and Wayne Ellington joining Kelly Olynyk and Rodney McGruder in the starting lineup. White showed flashes of promise but was lost to injury after 13 minutes of play with a strained right shoulder.
The offense without Dragic predictably began a bit wobbly while the Wizards had their starting backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal leading their team to a double-digit lead but the Heat would go on an encouraging 13-0 run with a dynamic lineup of Justise Winslow, James Johnson, Tyler Johnson, Richardson and Olynyk in the second quarter to close within one point.
Ellington continues to struggle from the outside but did get back on track in the third quarter with a pair of threes off of Olynyk assists as part of an 8-0 run that gave the Heat their first lead at 65-64. The Brothers Johnson continued to showcase their undeniable chemistry in leading the Heat throughout the third quarter. Tyler has been the Heat’s most consistent player in the preseason and perhaps it’s because JJ is rounding into game shape, or perhaps it’s because he’s simply more comfortable off the bench (or maybe both), but he is quickly returning back to the player who was a matchup nightmare last season.
With Spoelstra again electing to go deep into the bench to get a better look at the rest of the roster, it was the reserves who fought hard to earn the victory. Bam Adebayo once again came off the bench in the first half, but he was much more comfortable tonight and had his best game so far with 15 points and some solid defensive moments. Richardson again played very well on both ends of the court, making a very solid case to start at either the 2 or 3 spot.
Winslow also had his best game of the preseason with seven points, nine assists and seven rebounds once he stopped trying to force the issue with his own offense and instead led the team in the second half with his playmaking and court vision as he racked up assists. He showed excellent ball handling and patience with finding his open teammates, particularly from deep to get open looks for Derrick Walton Jr. and Matt Williams late in the game.
Both teams went back and forth in the closing minutes in a mad dash to grab the feel-good victory, but it was Jordan Mickey who saved the day with the game winner from beyond the arc. It was the Heat’s highest point total and their most 3-pointers made, though half of them came from players who are likely heading to the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Miami also limited their turnovers to just 14 for the game.
The Heat wraps up the preseason on the road against the Philadelphia 76ers at Kansas City tomorrow at 8:30pm (radio only).