With Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans, Thomas Bryant and Rui Hachimura all out with ailments, the Miami Heat entered Monday night’s game hoping to escape 2019 holding onto the East’s second seed. That would mean navigating a potential “trap game” in Washington. But, surely Miami wouldn’t lose in the nation’s capital. Not to the lowly Wizards. They’ve only fallen to one team under .500 all season.
Alas, Dwyane Wade now looks like Nostradamus with the Heat’s 123-105 loss.
Bang, Bang! Duncan Robinson’s back-to-back triples early in the first quarter set the tone. Miami started the game 6-for-9 from three-point range and trotted out to an 11-point lead. The Heat took full and frequent advantage of the Wizards’ league-worst defense.
Despite the hot start shooting, Ian Mahinmi did pose some problems for Miami’s defense. The Frenchman had the best start of his career, going 6-for-6 from the field and notching 14 points. He was the sole reason the Wizards stayed in the game at the outset. Both Myers Leonard and Kelly Olynyk struggled to contain the veteran; Olynyk picking up three quick fouls in 3 minutes.
After travailing with the likes of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in the last match up, Jimmy Butler was noticeably more comfortable in Washington. With no legitimate shot block threat inside and smaller defenders guarding him Butler was able to amass 8 points in the initial frame.
As poor as they’ve been on defense, Washington has had a very potent offense. The Wizards put up the most shots in the NBA. This proved true in the next period. Washington rebounded in the second quarter, riding a 14-2 run they would slice the Miami lead to a single point. Prompting Erik Spoelstra to call a timeout. The Wizards bench outscored Miami 22-7 in the early going. Building on Mahinmi’s 1st quarter, Jordan McRae scored 20 points to play star in the second. McRae was paced by teammate Garrison Matthews who also scored - get this - 20 points in the second quarter alone.
Bam Adebayo steadied Miami in the half with 12 points, 5 assists and 6 rebounds. With 5 minutes left in the quarter, Jimmy Butler slipped and for several minutes to follow clutched his hip. Butler had a noticeable limp but refused to exit the game. Later in the quarter Butler would land on Meyer Leonard’s foot and came up hobbling once again. Despite being banged around Butler crafted his way to the free-throw line 8 times in the half - hitting 7 of his 8 attempts.
In one of their worst defensive displays of the year Miami gave up 70 points in the first 24 minutes, including their highest point total rendered to an opponent in a quarter with 42. It was just three points shy of the worst defensive half this season. The most they’ve allowed to an opponent is 73 in Memphis, which was their only loss to a team below .500.
The unlikely trio of Mahinmi, Matthews and McRae would nearly outscore Miami in the half, combining for 61 points.
Things went from bad to worse for Miami in the second half. The Heat made just one field goal in the first 8 minutes of play. Erik Spoelstra’s crew would never recover from a dismal start and the Wizards routed the Heat going away. Kendrick Nunn only made 2 of his last 13 shots and Goran Dragic failed to make a basket in the second half. Washington scored 15 points off of 10 Miami turnovers.
Jimmy Butler was solid in the losing effort, he earned 27 points and went 15-for-19 from the charity stripe. The Wizards snap a five-game Heat win streak thanks to Garrison Matthews and Ian Mahinmi who both posted career-highs. The pair scored 28 and 25 points respectively. On the bright side, the Associate Press reports Miami finishes the decade with the best record in the Eastern Conference at 488-319.
Miami host the defending champion Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.