Matchup: Washington Wizards (19-21) vs. Miami Heat (23-19)
When: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. (TV: CSN, CSNMidatlantic.com via NBC Sports Live Extra)
Season series: 1-1 with each team winning on the road.
When we last met: The Wizards have lost five of their last six home games. The downturn started when the Heat entered Chinatown and delivered a 97-75 beatdown on Jan. 3 as Miami forward Chris Bosh scored 23 points. Washington had just seven points in the second quarter and shot a miserable 4 of 30 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Streaks: The last two home losses, including Monday's 108-98 loss against the 3-point shooting Portland Trail Blazers, came after Washington reached .500 at 19-19. ...Things went south for Miami shortly after throttling Washington. The Heat have lost two straight and five of six including Tuesday's 91-79 setback against the Milwaukee Bucks in Miami.
Three things to know:
What's the plan: The two previous games with Miami have been similar only in that the Wizards and Heat played in each. Washington took command in the first meeting which it eventually won 114-103 with a small ball approach in part because center Marcin Gortat didn't dress. Miami countered in the rematch and then controlled the game thanks to the interior defensive of center Hassan Whiteside. "It was a huge adjustment when we played them," forward Jared Dudley explained at Tuesday's practice about the loss earlier this month. "With not having Gortat (in the first meeting) we had to go small. They countered the last time we played here. They actually subbed Bosh out early, brought Luol Deng, they started switching picks 1 through 4. Whiteside controlled that game from start to finish. Now coming back, having a scorer like Brad [Beal], having Nene, teams are going to switch 1 through 4 because with my shooting and our spacing the floor with John attacking it’s easier to defend like that. We have to be able to find different loopholes and different angles to be able to score in the half-court set when teams do that. Two different styles."
Heat chilled: Miami isn't just losing, but getting hammered. Those five losses in the last six games are by an average 14.8 points. In their last two games, both losses, the Heat trailed by at least 22 points and scored less than 80. Against the Bucks, they shot a season-low 36.5 percent from the field.
Who's playing?: That's a standard question for the Wizards these days and one we may have a handle on in advance. Head coach Randy Wittman already declared forward Otto Porter, Kris Humphries and Drew Gooden out for Wednesday. That doesn't mean others won't sit as well. No matter who plays, Gortat has a plan of attack that's beyond mere X's and O's. "We got to make shots, first thing," the big man said Tuesday. "Each one of us has to do the stuff we’re supposed to do, play hard, play defense, have a passion. Play with a character and have concentration from the first minute and just come out like you’re trying to devastate and just destroy the guy who’s standing in front of you. We got to come out and just compete. You got to outhustle, outplay the guy whose guarding you. If each one of us is going to do that we’re going to be a better team."
Meanwhile, Miami played Milwaukee without four players, including point guards Goran Dragic and Beno Udrih.