Pregame news of Hassan Whiteside being out seemed like an ominous sign, but the Heat came out firing on all cylinders lead by James Johnson’s 6 points in the first quarter, which understated the intensity and energy he brought on the floor.
By halftime Miami had a 12-point edge 60-48, with only 3 made treys, but played bully-ball in the paint on 23 of 31 shooting, for an astounding 74%.
The Heat in the third quarter kicked it up a notch as the 3’s started falling, the free throws kept coming, and Miami’s 43 points (highest scoring quarter since 2013) produced a 37 point margin, 103-76 over the visitors.
Kelly Olynyk had the only double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while James Johnson was Miami’s leading scorer at that point with only 20 points.
The final box score showed what an incredible team effort the win was: Wayne Ellington and Dwyane Wade took the most attempts at 11 each, James Johnson’s 20 points were the most, 7 other players were in the double digits, nobody had more than 8 rebounds except Olynyk, and J. Johnson’s 5 assists lead the team.
What the team did was play an intensely tight defense (9 steals), which suffocated the Wizards’ players into tough one-on-one isolation plays and poor shots for most of the game.
Justise Winslow and Wade left the game with injuries, so we’ll have to wait to see their availability, along with Whiteside’s, once the doctor’s evaluate them.
One notable achievement was the Heat finally got into the green on the point differential for the season at +0.3 per game.
If the Heat go 11-4 or better for the rest of the season, they clinch a playoff berth, i.e. the future is in their hands.