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How the Wizards game plan and 3 referee errors resulted in a Heat overtime loss

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Washington forced Miami to play small-ball for an iffy win in a tight contest against the Heat.

NBA: Miami Heat at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Three referee errors (another example to allow NFL-style challenges in the NBA) helped the Washington Wizards in their 117-113 win over the the Miami Heat, according to the Last Two Minute Report.

“The league said a five-second inbounding violation should have been called against Washington with 12.2 seconds left in overtime, after determining that Markieff Morris did not release the basketball in time.”

“Miami’s Josh Richardson was called for a foul with 1:36 left in overtime by referee Marat Kogut, and Morris made one of the two resulting free throws to put his team up 110-109. The NBA said its review showed Richardson ‘cleanly dislodges the ball from Morris.’”

“The last of the three came with just under 5 seconds left, when Heat forward Kelly Olynyk was fouled by Morris as he attempted to put back a miss by Wade and with the Heat down by two. Kogut was the nearest official to the play, and did not make a call.”

Whatever, it took more than 3 touches among the Wizards’ 497 touches to douse the Heat, which could have easily gone in Miami’s favor.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but among the factors Miami failed to execute well was missing seven free throws, the 24 fails on 3-point attempts, and dealing with Washington’s well-run game plan.

The Wizards knew their starting backcourt could outscore the Heat’s, which they did 49-32, and soundly outplay them while on the court, which they also did +36 versus -32.

Washington’s strategy relied on neutralizing Miami’s frontcourt advantage with a suffocating defense on them, and force the Heat to play the small ball style the Wizards needed to win.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks compared the team’s previous two meetings and found that in their win, James Johnson, Hassan Whiteside and Kelly Olynyk scored 24 points, while in the 91-88 loss, the same trio tallied 47 points: lesson learned for Brooks.

By the end of the third game, forwards James Johnson and Luke Babbitt attempted only 6 field goals, and centers Hassan Whiteside and Kelly Olynyk had a total of 16 attempts, which produced 22 total tries for those Miami bigs in the entire 53-minute game.

Meanwhile Washington allowed the Heat guards to hoist a ton more field goal attempts: Goran Dragic 6-15, Josh Richardson 5-9, Tyler Johnson 8-15, Dwyane Wade 8-18, for a total of 57 field tries for those backcourt players alone.

The 57 to 22 difference in shots between the smaller versus the larger Heat players barely succeeded for the Wizards, as Miami’s bench players +54 rating almost made up for the starters -74 rating (-20/5 = 4 point loss).

NBA stats introduced a new tracking metric available to the public, which follows all 1-1 match-ups during any game this season to allow after-the-fact insights on the game.

In the Heat-Wizards contest, Beal was covered by Richardson 55.4% of the time and made 8 of his 10 shots, including all 5 3-point attempts.

Winslow didn’t fare any better on his 20.5% coverage, as Beal made 4 of 5, and 1 of 1 for 3 points.

In a tiny, practically meaningless 11 number of possessions, Rodney McGruder and crafty Dwyane Wade forced Beal into 2 turnovers and no baskets.

Wade feasted on the young Kelly Oubre Jr. for 10 of his 20 points, including 4 free throws and a poke in the eye.

If we swap sides, Oubre Jr. returned the favor to score 8 points when Wade defended him, making two of his four 3-point attempts.