The Miami Heat are second in the Eastern Conference and will face the Washington Wizards tonight. The Wizards come into the game with a 14-28 record and are in 11th place in the east. As it stands, the Heat will likely compete in the playoffs due to great contributions from young players, including Kendrick Nunn, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. The Heat could also be without veterans Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic, as well as sharpshooter Duncan Robinson.
One major flaw defensively for the Heat this year has been the absence of forward Justise Winslow. He has been out for quite some time, but is working his way back. Recently a nice bonus has caused the re-emergence of James Johnson. The forward could end up on the trading block, but has been playing better recently.
Tonight’s 7:30 p.m. home matchup against the Wizards — in which both Wizards star John Wall and Heat playmaker Jimmy Butler will be out — is just a prelim. The main event is Friday night’s 8 p.m. throwdown against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers will come to play at the AAA potentially without star forward Paul George. Kawhi Leonard is expected on the court barring any resting. After last night’s game against the Mavericks, the Clippers moved to second in the Western Conference.
They have one of the best two-way players in the NBA and a dominant force in Leonard. It hasn’t been the best year for the team, even with a 31-13 record, but they have done better than other teams in the West that are underperforming compared to preseason expectations.
For the Heat, 20-year-old Herro has started to hit the rookie wall. Though he has cooled, in no way has he turned into a liability on the court like guard Dion Waiters. What’s good for the Heat is that Nunn has continued to perform well and now Johnson has stepped up to the plate.
With Johnson getting more minutes, there is speculation in the media about the motive for the move. Why wasn’t he playing more in the first place? Was it to improve his trade value? Heat fans love looking at pieces the team could add before the February 6 trade deadline in the NBA and some fans have been ready to ship off Johnson for quite some time. It’s going to be hard for the Heat to send pieces out and expect what the godfather Pat Riley calls “an orca.” They would need to match salaries and there are not too many options for the heat to go after.
Pat Riley is no longer chasing whales. He’s now after “orcas.” “I’ll keep my harpoon out there,” he says.
— Anthony Chiang (@Anthony_Chiang) June 21, 2019
The big name that was rumored over the offseason was guard Bradley Beal of the Wizards. After a lot of speculation, Beal signed an extension with the team and it looks like this move will not happen any time soon. The team is young and an NBA Championship is not expected, but if they could move the right player for the right price, they should.
They’ve proven they are a force at home with a 19-1 record and the Clippers, if Leonard is playing, will test the team. It will be vital to see if the Heat can hang with the bigger teams. They beat the Bucks and Sixers this season, two teams who were seen as the biggest contenders from the east. A win against an almost 100 percent Clippers team will be huge for the team. A good game from Herro and Johnson would be great to continue to add value to the roster.