The Wizards (23-39) continue their home stand Sunday night against the Miami Heat (40-23). Washington defeated the shorthanded Atlanta Hawks on Friday night and will aim to get a win streak started. Miami is coming off a loss to New Orleans and is 5-5 over their last 10.
Washington continues to straddle the line between improving their lottery odds or making a late push for the playoffs. They are 4.5 games behind the eight seed Orlando Magic. With only 20 games to go, it would take an uncharacteristic run of consistent winning for the Wizards to close the gap.
Key Matchup: Bam Adebayo vs Wizards Frontcourt
Scott Brooks has started both Moe Wagner and Thomas Bryant at the center spot over the last two games. Ian Mahinmi is definitively out of the rotation for the remainder of the season, which is a great opportunity for one of these young centers to establish them self as the starting center heading into the offseason.
All-Star Bam Adebayo is averaging 16 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game for Miami. He has given fits to nearly every elite center in the NBA this season, most recently Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Vucevic.
I expect Brooks to give Bryant the start again, since he is who the team has more money tied up in moving forward. Brooks and Tommy Sheppard need to give Bryant a hard look over the last 20 games of the season, because Bryant has not made enough improvement this year to warrant the contract extension he signed last offseason. He will either be the Wizards’ center of the future, or a key piece in a trade package.
- Bradley Beal has extended his franchise record streak of games scoring 25+ to 21 games. He has shown no signs of slowing down, so I’d expect him to extend it to 22 tonight. Miami is one of the league’s best defensive teams, so his points won’t come easily tonight.
- Miami currently sits in fourth in the Eastern Conference, 3.5 games behind Boston and 2 games ahead of Indiana. Miami has a great home court advantage in the playoffs. Every game from here on out should be considered a must win for them. It would be surprising if Washington is able to sneak another upset over them at home, but we’ve seen them beat just about every good team this season.
Points spread: Miami -5 (-110)
Money lines: Miami -215; Washington +170
Point total: O/U 231.5