Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Miami Heat (61-16) At Washington Wizards (29-49)

If the Heat beat the Wizards, they will clinch the number one overall seed in the NBA playoffs, and home court advantage for the duration of the playoffs.

The Wizards have been struggling offensively as they are 27th in the league in points per game.  They are shooting 36.5% from three point range, and 43.4% from the field.  In the past ten games they have struggled as well, winning only four games.  As much as they have failed offensively, the Wizards have had success on the defensive end giving up only 100.4 points per 100 possessions — the rate that the Miami Heat give up.

Unlike the Wizards though, the Heat score 110.4 points per 100 possessions compared to the Wizards’ paltry 97.9 points per 100 possessions.  The Heat also shoot 39.3% from three point range and 49.5% from the field.  In the past ten games the Heat have gone 8-2 which is surprising given the fact that Miami mainstays Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and Mario Chalmers have all been in and out of Miami’s lineup in the past ten or so games.

The key for the Wizards is utilizing the effectiveness of the Beal, Nene, Okafor, Wall, Webster lineup.  When this lineup has played this season (albeit a minuscule 142 minutes) they have outscored the opposition by 24 points per 100 possessions.  This lineup has shot an outrageous 45.7% from three point range and 49.6% from the field.  Luckily for the Wizards, this lineup is the second most used lineup so we should see a lot this lineup tonight.

The key for the Heat is LeBron James and how much support he gets.  In the past ten games, the Heat bench players have been a mixed bag:

  • Norris Cole has played the most (149 minutes) of any Miami player and is shooting 45.5% from three point range.
  • Shane Battier has played 130 minutes and is shooting only 33.3% from the field and from three point range.
  • Mike Miller has played 135 minutes and is shooting an absurd 53.1% from three point range.  There was once a point in my life where I viewed Mike Miller as a joke of a basketball player.  I take it all back.

Please forgive me, Mike Miller!

  • Rashard Lewis has played 143 minutes (second-most) and is shooting 37% from the field and 22% from three point range.

If the bench players can put together a comprehensive game (and for the most part, they are playing fairly well) then the Heat are truly going to be unstoppable as they have one of the deepest benches in the league.

Tonight’s game will be a test (assuming that the likes of Wade, LeBron, Bosh, and Chalmers might be out) to see exactly how good the Heat bench is.

Fast Break Points:

  • Miami is 2-1 vs. Wizards.

  • In the past two games Chris Bosh has been out.  In the past two games, the Heat have out-rebounded their opponents.
  • LeBron James on whether he will play in all of the five remaining regular season games: “I mean, I want to play, but I’m going to go against myself for the first time in my career.”

Tags: Game Preview Miami Heat Washington Wizards

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