Earlier this week, I talked with Matt Pineda of Hot Hot Hoops about what to expect heading into the Wizards’ home-and-home with Miami this week. Now, that we’re one game in, I returned the favor and asked him about his thoughts on Wednesday’s game and what we can expect in the rematch on Friday.
It felt like the Heat made some nice adjustments in the second half, particularly in the third quarter to get back in the game. What do you think was the difference and can that carry over to Friday's game?
Primarily, they created energy. Whiteside got on the boards and Waiters created off the dribble and got to the rim. That is always going to be the successful formula for this team. It changed again when the Heat turned the ball over, took out Whiteside and then were limited with the contributions of Richardson and Winslow. Miami is a good team when Dion Waiters is successful at attacking, it's just not happening consistently. The Heat have shown extra energy levels when needed, and the potential of falling three games under .500 should propel them to come out with a lot of energy on Friday.
Only three teams give up more free throws than the Heat this season, and we saw how that hurt them on Wednesday as Washington got to the line for 31 shots. What do you think has caused the issue and is there anything Miami can do to adjust on Friday?
I think the issue here is that they try to be so aggressive on defense. They are not a great half-court offensive team, so they tend to try to be aggressive on defense to create turnovers and transition opportunities. Sometimes that works, other times it leaves them in the bonus four minutes into a quarter and that's when it really hurts. The best way for them to adjust this is going to be to play conservative on defense, but they won't do it. This is why they are 6-8, they do well some nights but not other nights.
Hassan Whiteside dominated Washington's centers, but only got eight shot attempts. What do you think the Heat will do to get him more involved?
The short answer is that they won't. The truth is the Heat run very little for Hassan, so when he gets the ball, he tends to attack because if he doesn't, his best bet is to score off a rebound or an alley-oop. Miami runs their offensive sets designed through their three guards — Tyler Johnson, Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters — and then a second set through James Johnson. Whatever is left over from is created from their movement. He will only get more shot attempts through the penetration of those players.
Big picture, how are you feeling about the Heat? Do you think they'll improve on this slow start or is this about what you expected?
I am not excited. I think they are stuck in mediocrity. I like our players, everyone is a good asset, but the team just doesn't have the mojo of a John Wall. They don't have an extra level. Some teams can get away with just scoring. The Heat need to play hard, shoot well, and defend like crazy to be successful.
Big picture, I think the team recovers here and makes the playoffs and is above .500, but I don't see them as a threat to any of the top 4-5 teams in the East.