Tyler Herro was phenomenal in the game, going off for 31 points, nine rebounds and two assists on 12-20 shooting from the floor.
Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic both played exceptionally well as well, with Butler stuffing the statsheet with 26 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, two steals and a block while Dragic tied his career high for 3-pointers on seven-of-nine shooting from deep, missing his first 3-pointer on his seventh attempt in the third quarter.
Last season, a shorthanded Wizards squad looked to be outmatched against a dominating Heat team that went on to reach the NBA Finals. The Heat lost that game 123-105 when Ian Mahinmi, Garrison Mathews and Jordan McRae combined for 82 points.
A similar vibe to that game was felt throughout the first half when a Wizards team without its two stars kept the game close, with the Heat up by only four points at the half and defense nowhere to be found.
The Wizards started the game with a lineup of usual suspects Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant occupying the frontcourt while Jerome Robinson and Raul Neto filled in for Westbrook and Beal. Unfortunately disaster struck just two minutes into regulation when Bryant went down after a scary fall and did not return to the game.
Impressively enough for Washington, the bench and remaining starters did not fold under the pressure, with Robin Lopez stepping in for the injured Bryant and putting up a stellar first half with 11 points on perfect shooting. Mathews again proved to be difficult for the Heat to contain as he had 11 points in the first half to go along with two steals, finishing with a Wizards’ team high of 22 points as a +11.
Entering the game it would be hard to imagine a Washington team without its two stars and a Miami team with Bam Adebayo in foul trouble having a shootout but that’s exactly what this game shaped into, with a 75-71 halftime score.
In fact, the Heat’s first quarter outburst of 47 points was a franchise record for first quarter points.
At the end of the first half, neither team was shooting worse than 41% from deep or 55.8% from the floor. In fact, both teams finished the game with a 37% clip from deep, though the Wizards faltered a bit inside the arc.
On-ball sloppiness continued to plague Miami as it finished with 16 turnovers to Washington’s six despite winning big in the rebounding column. That lack of finesse allowed Washington to sneak into the game late and stick around long enough to take potential resting minutes away from a team on a back-to-back.
Adebayo getting into needless foul trouble early was concerning but Herro and Butler helped keep Miami around with 16 points each in the half. Kelly Olynyk and Goran Dragic also impressed in the first half, with Olynyk accounting for 13 points including a nice fake pass to Butler on a keeper layup and Dragic accounting for 12 on four-for-four shooting from deep.
The smile on KO’s face tells us he really enjoyed this keeper pic.twitter.com/ueVMBnBRAJ— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 10, 2021
When Olynyk is hot, it’s hard to stop the Heat as he fills the offensive hole left behind by Jae Crowder at the four spot from last season. Olynyk finished with 18 points, six rebounds and five assists, helping the offense flow noticeably well.
The scoring onslaught by Butler and Herro didn’t stop when the third quarter hit, with the pair getting six quick points combined right out of the gate.
Precious Achiuwa, who has been a spark plug for the Heat all season off the bench, was the first player subbed in in the game and finished with seven points, two rebounds and a very impressive alley-oop slam from Butler in the third quarter, though he needs to work on the amount of fouls he works with each game, which truly prevents him from helping down the stretch.
Despite having over 110 points at the beginning of the fourth quarter and beating Washington by 20 at the time, Miami’s luck of having at least one awful quarter defensively was prolonged as it allowed the Wizards to get back into the game midway through the fourth quarter.
However, Herro put on the spin cycle and went to work, helping prevent a big win from slipping through the cracks.
The Heat is back in action tomorrow, Jan. 10 when it takes on the Boston Celtics who will likely be without Jayson Tatum, who is facing a 10-14 day quarantine per league policy. The game tips off a 7 p.m.