Everything seemed to go well for the Miami Heat with nine minutes and 47 minutes left against the Washington Wizards. The Heat had used a dominant third quarter to overcome a double-digit deficit and build an 80-73 lead in the fourth quarter. But as what has become frustrating regular for this Heat team, Miami suffered through a drought and defensive lapses at the worst time.
The Wizards turned the tables on the Heat for the rest of the fourth period, running away with a 102-93 decision after out-scoring Miami 30-19 in the period.
Many people will point to Erik Spoelstra’s decision to rest Hassan Whiteside until the midpoint of the fourth quarter as a culprit for the loss. Washington, and John Wall in particular, drove to the basket and attacked the rim when Kelly Olynyk was in for Whiteside. At one point, Spoelstra went even smaller and moved James Johnson over to the center spot, but it didn’t matter. The Wizards kept penetrating into the lane.
Whiteside finished with 14 points and 21 rebounds on the night. He went to the foul line eight times, converting six of those attempts. He was great with plays like this one, grabbing an offensive board and taking the ball strong on a second-chance opportunity.
I know it’s early in the season, but Olynyk’s four-year, $50 million contract looks like a bad deal. Bam Adebayo is a promising lottery pick who could be a reliable backup center to Whiteside right now. Olynyk is taking his minutes and preventing him from growing. And what does he have to show for it? The occasional 3-pointer to stretch the defense?
Miami’s 3-point shooting was on tonight, as the Heat shot 13-of-30 from downtown. Miami’s 3s were the key to getting the Heat out of their first-half deficit. Dion Waiters, Tyler Johnson and Goran Dragic combined for nine 3-pointers. On another note, Spoelstra has used Wayne Ellington, Miami’s best 3-point shooter, sparingly these past two games. Ellington only played eight minutes after logging nine minutes against the Pistons.
How do you climb out of a deficit?— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) November 16, 2017
Threes, threes... and more threes. pic.twitter.com/pgY8Vj7Rr0
Tyler Johnson did much of his damage in the first half to cut the Heat deficit, and Dragic scored 21 points on 9-of-17 shooting from the field and 3-of-6 shooting from downtown to go along with four rebounds. Dragic catalyzed the Heat’s third-quarter dominance, igniting a 12-1 run that brought the Heat the lead at 62-61, their first time on top since the first quarter.
Like Miami’s loss to the Detroit Pistons, who was missing against the Washington Wizards? James Johnson, who unlocked so much versatility for the Heat last year, had a sub-par game yet again. James Johnson shot an abysmal 1-for-5 shooting and scored just five points and had just two assists. Miami doesn’t look like the team that went 30-11 last year in large part because James Johnson, so integral to the Heat’s success, has not served as the efficient Swiss Army knife for Miami.
The Heat will fly to the nation’s capital to face the Wizards again on the road, Friday at 7 p.m.