The Miami Heat probably thought they could come into Verizon Center and play hard for just one quarter to get a win, and that's exactly what ended up happening. The Heat turned up the screws defensively in the fourth quarter, turning a slim six-point lead after three quarters into a 17-point victory.
This loss wasn't a matter of a lack of effort or even execution. The Wizards simply are too young and have too little talent to compete when the Heat dial up the pressure like they did. There were plenty of Wizards players who had good games in the first three quarters, the kind of performances that the coaching staff could build on going forward. They can choose to accept that and look at this game as a positive despite the score, and I don't think I'd argue too much. Still, the fourth quarter was troubling, as was Miami's ability to coast and turn it on.
I can accept a lot of fan's conclusions of this one. On the one hand, we know this Wizards team isn't as talented as the Heat. On the other hand, this game got out of hand really quickly and exposed the limitations of all of the players on the Wizards' roster, John Wall included. It'll be interesting to see how the organization portrays this loss.
More notes below the jump:
- Great play to begin the game getting JaVale McGee a post-up on the move on Joel Anthony. I missed who set the cross-screen, but that kind of stuff develops when the ball moves quickly on the perimeter at the same time the cross-screen is being set. Too often, the ball movement is too slow for those kinds of plays to happen.
- The Wizards were making some nice cuts to the rim early slipping screens. Miami trailed them all the way, but did so aggressively. They also pressure pick and rolls, so it was a nice adjustment by Trevor Booker to slip the screens early.
- Against a team like Miami, every possession matters. That's why it was so disheartening to see Nick Young fail to re-post Chris Singleton with Mario Chalmers on him. Young instead dribbled to the corner, took a contested 18-footer and screwed up Washington's transition defense, allowing LeBron James an easy layup.
- Speaking of wasted possessions, there's JaVale McGee making a mad dash into three defenders without even looking to pass the ball. He missed it and it led to another layup. To have good transition defense, you need to be shooting from the right spots on the floor so your guards can retreat properly. When you step out of line, you better make the shot. Otherwise, you mess everything up.
- Wall missing four shots right at the rim really hurt. But if I were the coach, I wouldn't dwell on them. He did the right things, just missed the shots. No need to berate him for that or tell him to change his game.
- Lots of people wonder what Jan Vesely brings to the table. That screen he set to free Wall for his first converted layup of the game late in the first quarter is a good example. The timing of the screen is very tough, because he snuck onto the right side to pick off Chalmers. If he does that an instant too early or late, he gets called for the offensive foul. He did it at the perfect time and it gave Wall a layup.
- Of course, his lack of scoring ability also was on display early in that second quarter. But he may already be the team's best pick and roll defender.
- There's really no need for McGee to turn and face on Chris Bosh. Back him in and score over the top. Don't try otherwise. He adjusted nicely later in the quarter and got a couple shots deeper in the paint. As long as teams are going to try to cover him with a smaller guy, McGee needs to punish them.
- The Wizards' lack of depth was really exposed against Miami's bench. It seems weird to think that a team with LeBron, Wade and Bosh could beat someone with their bench, but this is an underrated Miami group. Udonis Haslem and Shane Battier are always in the right spots, and Norris Cole is productive.
- You have to appreciate Wall's devotion to pushing the ball. It caused a lot of easy baskets for the Wizards, and it convinced others to run with him. This is the most obvious advantage Wall has over anyone else on the floor, and while he still sometimes can struggle with his decision-making, it's an advantage the Wizards must use and hope he grows through it. This second quarter showed the true potential of Wall's speed.
- Four missed layups for Wall, one missed dunk by Booker. That's the game right there, at least as of the second quarter. It's unfortunate, too, because both Wade and LeBron were hitting some incredibly tough shots. Those are 10 points on the scoreboard the Wizards desperately need.
- Hard to really identify what went wrong early in the third quarter. The defensive rebounding wasn't great, but that's only a small part of it. Ultimately, I think some guys were trying a little too hard to make something happen, and that cost the Wizards offensively.
- Credit McGee for putting up big numbers -- he was clearly hustling. Still, when McGee hustles, he often gets tired, and when he gets tired, he makes mental mistakes like forgetting to come over and cut off Bosh's drive to the basket.
- Good to see Wall changing speeds well and hitting a couple floaters.
- You get the sense that James coasted in that third quarter. The stepback three-pointer that resulted in an air-ball? Singleton was hounding him and James could have easily driven by him. Something to keep in mind for later, because you know James is hoping to get out of here with a W while playing at 85-percent speed.
- Wall's command of the half-court offense has improved dramatically. I especially loved the play where he rushed it down off a missed shot, pulled it back, directed traffic to the right, then found Young on the mismatch with Chalmers and lobbed a perfect pass for the layup. Much like a quarterback reading the defense, Wall let his eyes divert attention and fooled Miami.
- The Wizards showed a zone defense against the Heat, and it worked for stretches. Many teams do this to Miami, and many succeed. It helped the Wizards get back into the game. Still, it's a change-of-pace for a reason. The Heat started to figure it out eventually.
- The sooner Booker starts consistently taking the open 17-foot jump shot with confidence, the better.
- The Heat's athletes make it so hard to drive and kick, but as long as Crawford is going to take it into the teeth of their defense, he could make a bit more of an effort to draw a foul.
- Once again, Miami's bench killed the Wizards' bench early in the fourth quarter. The Wizards could never contain Norris Cole, and that hurt them. Wittman was forced to bring Wall back in way earlier than he probably would have liked.
- Young's defense left a lot to be desired in this one. The Heat ran him off lots of screens and he was way behind trying to trail them. He also was his typically late self rotating the ball. While he did score a lot, these are the kinds of games people point to when they say he doesn't do much else but score.
- The Wizards tried going zone again late to get back into the game, but Miami was prepared this time with timely weakside cuts and crashing the offensive glass. Still think the answer is better man-to-man defense instead of a gimmick there. Zone served its purpose, but it's easy to overdo it.
- Also worth noting that Miami turned up the screws defensively, especially on the high pick and roll. That's why they're such a great team. They coasted early on, but that defense showed up when it needed to show up. The Wizards' half-court limitations were exposed in the fourth quarter, but credit Miami's defense for stepping up.
- Jordan Crawford had a pretty terrible, no-good, very bad game, to say the least.