Miami Heat look to build on Hawks win, host Washington Wizards Saturday

Jan 20, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Miami Heat forward Luol Deng (9) makes a moves to the basket as Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) defends during the first quarter at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 20, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Miami Heat forward Luol Deng (9) makes a moves to the basket as Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) defends during the first quarter at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

Preview of the Miami Heat’s matchup against the Washington Wizards.

Wizards (25-28) @ Heat (30-24)
Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida
When: Saturday, February 20th 7:30 PM ET
Watch: FS-SUN, NBA League Pass

How about that?

The three guys, Hassan Whiteside excluded, that were most mentioned in trade rumors for the Miami Heat on the days leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline came up the biggest for the Miami Heat in Friday night’s victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

Luol Deng and his expiring $10 million contract scored a season high 30 points on 11-17 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds. Goran Dragic and his misfit near max contract chipped in 17 points, 10 assists, and 5 rebounds, while Josh McRoberts and his glass body assisted with 19 points, 10 assists, and 6 rebounds. Justise Winslow, who was reportedly made unavailable but still garnered interest, almost threw in a fourth double-double for the Heat on the evening, scoring 13 and grabbing 9 rebounds.

The revenge of the guys on the trade block?

The Heat win last night was impressive, even if it was only one game. Whiteside missed the game because he was suspended for a cheap shot elbow he threw against the Spurs in the last game before the All-Star break. Dwyane Wade missed the game because his ever so bothersome knee issues reared its ugly head again. We all know that Chris Bosh and Tyler Johnson are out for a while. Combining that with two players being traded Thursday, the Heat could only dress nine players for that game.

Now the Heat get to return home for the first time after the All-Star break and face another division rival, the Washington Wizards. They’ll hope to have Wade back against the team that took down the Chicago Bulls in blowout fashion on Friday evening.

Whiteside will also be returning from his suspension, which should help against the big Marcin Gortat and protect the rim from a driving John Wall.

Tonight’s matchup between the two division foes will take on even more importance, as this will be the final time these two square off in the regular season. The Wizards hold a 2-1 advantage in the season series and it will be important for Miami to tie the season series, to avoid losing a potential tie-breaker, if it ever gets to that point for playoff seeding. That and for pride as well.

Miami will enter this contest in fourth in the Eastern Conference, trailing the third place Boston Celtics by one game, the second place Toronto Raptors by 5.5 games, and the jewels of the East Cleveland Cavilers by 9.5 games. At 30-24, the Heat are not quite where they want to be, but way ahead of where they were a season ago.

On the other hand, the Wizards enter the game at 25-28, 2.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the East and 4.5 games behind the Heat. They have been a disappointment this season and have a lot of work to do to turn their season around and get back to the playoffs.

Injury Update: According to, Dwyane Wade is scheduled for an MRI for today. It is not known yet if he will be available to play, although he did note the MRI is more a precautionary measure.

X-Factor: Josh McRoberts

With Bosh out for the foreseeable future, the importance of McRoberts for the Heat has risen tremendously. McRoberts is the best power forward option for the Heat behind Bosh and Deng the Heat currently have.

McRoberts game is different from either Bosh or Deng, as he looks less for his own shot and more to create for his teammates. McRoberts needs to be more aggressive looking for his own shot though, in order to get the defense to respect his scoring and open the floor for the Heat a bit more.

He did an excellent job of that in Friday night’s win over the Hawks. McRoberts, in a season-high 30 minutes played, scored 19 points, dished out 10 assists, and grabbed 6 rebounds. He did this on 8-for-13 shooting, including 3-for-5 from downtown, where he had made only 3 of his 24 threes coming into the game.

The 19 points and 10 assists were his career highs with the Heat and the 30 minutes and 6 rebounds were his second best with the Heat.

This is the McRoberts that the Heat will need moving forward. He will not be needed to come close to a triple double for the Heat every game, but if he can stay healthy and contribute, it will be a much-needed aid for the Heat.

Key Stats:

Miami Heat offensive efficiency: 23rd, 101.6 points per 100 possessions
Miami Heat defensive efficiency: 6th, 100.7 points per 100 possessions

Washington Wizards offensive efficiency: 17th, 102.6 points allowed per 100 possessions
Washington Wizards defensive efficiency: 19th, 104.5 points allowed per 100 possessions