Open Thread and Contest: Game 56

Regular Season Game 56
Heat (27-29) at Wizards (31-24)
Verizon Center
7 PM
CSN

Previous Results: Wizards 106, Heat 95.

Perrenial nemesis Miami comes to the Verizon Center tonight, and both teams are likely to be shorthanded.  In the last game, Miami played without Dwayne Wade and Shaquille O'Neal, but still kept the game close thanks to a ridiculous shooting display by James Posey.  Shaq is back tonight, but Wade is out again with his separated shoulder.  

As for the Wizards, it's entirely possible that Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler could both be in or out of the lineup.  Butler remains a game-time decision for tonight, but it doesn't look like the back has improved much.

Jordan said he didn't know the availability of forward Caron Butler, who missed his second consecutive game Tuesday night and was sent home in the afternoon to meet with team doctors about his balky back. Jordan added that he wasn't certain if Butler's injury is more serious than diagnosed. "We're not sure about anything -- I'm not," he said. "We'll see what the doctors say, whether it's spasms. I don't want to speculate."

When I hear something like this, I can't help but think that this injury is worse than the team is letting on.  Why would Eddie go out of his way to mention that the injury may be more serious than diagnosed?  In additon, you have to wonder whether the relationship between the coaching staff and the team doctors is where it should be.  Remember, Darius Songaila's back turned out to be much worse than expected, and now Caron's back has caused him to miss more time than he thought.  My guess is he doesn't go tonight.

As for Jamison, he wants to play, but the doctors aren't as willing to turn him loose.  He's been participating in practices and shootarounds, and you can tell that he's itching to get back in there.  He casually mentioned a couple weeks ago that he was targeting a March return, and today is the last day of February.   Eddie said in the same article above that Jamison isn't going to play today, but Jamison is leaving the possibility open.

With one of those two in the lineup, I expect a Wizards win.  But if both don't play, we're going to see more of the same from the previous two nights.  Shaq may be old, but he's still going to command a double team, and the Wizards will still have trouble getting out on Miami's shooters.  The good news is that Miami is not a particularly good defensive team, as they surrender above-average PERs to every position.

The key to this game may be DeShawn.  If he's hitting his open jumpers, then less defensive attention will be paid to Arenas.  DeShawn needs to have a strong offensive game for the Wizards to take this one.

Heat blogs: Crazy From the Heat, Ira Winderman.

Your lines for tonight:

Heat at Wizards: Wizards by 4.
Over/Unders (again, pick all of them until everyone's status is clear): 69.8 for Big 3, 49.5 for Big 2, 29.2 for Arenas.  

This is an open game thread, and since this is Miami, I think it goes without saying what this thread is for.

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