A pair of Southeast Division rivals, the Washington Wizards and Miami Heat, square off in preseason action today in Miami (7:30pm ET Wednesday).
Washington has gotten off to an excellent start in preseason, winning all three of its games. Miami is 2-2, with two wins sandwiching a couple losses in the middle of their preseason slate.
Both teams approach this contest with mostly full rosters. So which one will prevail tonight? Let’s outline some major keys to tonight’s game and make some predictions and picks on the betting lines for the contest.
Can the Wizards’ Suspect Depth Keep Up With the Heat’s Strong Bench?
Last season, the Wizards and Heat relied on very different methods of success. Washington had one of the best starting lineups in the league and poor depth, while Miami had a mediocre starting unit and several effective bench players.
In 2017-18, both teams should have similar strengths and weaknesses. Without Markieff Morris at power forward, though, the Wizards’ dynamite starters aren’t quite as strong. The onus falls on the bench to make up for that.
The Wizards’ Ian Mahinmi, Tomas Satoransky, Mike Scott and Tim Frazier will have to keep up with the Heat’s James Johnson, Tyler Johnson, Justise Winslow and Wayne Ellington. That’s a major talent mismatch in Miami’s favor, but can Washington’s bench change that for just one game?
Will the Heat’s Frontcourt Size Beat the Wizards’ Small-Ball Approach?
Without Markieff Morris, the Wizards are playing two wings as their forwards: Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Ombre Jr. Both guys are certainly more perimeter-oriented on offense and have the lanky builds of guys who don’t spend much time near the basket. Center Marcin Gortat has good size, but he’s just one player.
Miami, meanwhile, has a starting frontcourt of Hassan Whiteside and Kelly Olynyk. Both are seven-footers and tip the scales at 265 and 245 pounds, respectively. Olynyk shoots from the outside some, but he’s much more interior-oriented than his Washington counterpart (probably Porter).
Washington will aim to win this game with speed and shooting. Miami will probably try to slow down the pace of the contest and win the rebounding battle. Which approach will prove most effective?
In the Event of Goran Dragic Not Playing, Do the Heat Have Enough Perimeter Offense to Match the Wizards?
Dragic led his Slovenian squad to the country’s first EuroBasket tournament win last month. The veteran point guard was the tournament MVP and clearly left it all on the floor for the championship-winning team.
Erik Spoelstra has rested Dragic during the Heat’s last two preseason games to keep his floor general mentally fresh. He hasn’t decided what he’ll do for Wednesday, but Dragic’s status for the contest certainly plays a role here.
The Heat could have trouble matching the production of the Wizards’ dynamic backcourt regardless of whether Dragic plays. John Wall and Bradley Beal combined to average 46.2 points and 14.2 assists per game last year.
Meanwhile, Miami’s Dragic-less backcourt (Josh Richardson and Dion Waiters) put up 26.0 points and 6.9 assists per game combined last year. Subbing in Dragic for Richardson makes those numbers 36.0 and 10.1, respectively.
Our Preview’s Washington Wizards vs. Miami Heat Picks & Betting Predictions
Washington is undefeated, but it has played a Chinese team, the New York Knicks without Kristaps Porzingis and the Cleveland Cavaliers without their top eight rotation players. Their record, for now, is fool’s gold.
In a preseason setting where teams usually play most of their roster and depth is significant, I expect Miami to run away in this contest at home.
- The top rated offshore oddsmakers, for the most part, avoid listing NBA preseason odds because there are so many variables. However we have a savior in 5Dimes, the only one to have betting lines. They offer the Heat as favorite by one point. Expect Miami to cover here with their size and depth advantage, even if Goran Dragic doesn’t play. Bet on Miami -1pt @ -115 only with 5Dimes Sportsbook.
- Miami should control the tempo of this game, keeping it under control on their home floor to prevent John Wall from wreaking too much havoc in transition. Because of this, expect the over/under to go under 203.5pts @ -115, again this betting market is only on offer with 5Dimes.