Cooled by the Heat
The Wizards had just beaten the Heat at home in overtime just five days prior, but this time Miami had both Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo and, predictably, they made a difference. Herro's presence was felt in particular in the fourth quarter when he got hot from three and helped the Heat hold off a valiant comeback effort for the Wizards, who trailed by as many as 21 points.
The loss was a rare one for the Wizards, who came into this game winning six of their last seven. They had played their last six at home, however, and Wednesday's game against the Heat was the beginning of what will be a big test moving forward. It was the first of 16 road games in the Wizards' next 22 games overall. They just proved they can hold serve at Capital One Arena but will now need to show they can translate their success elsewhere.
Kyle Lowry gave them trouble on Friday and he was once again very good on the offensive end. He had 28 points and shot 5-for-6 from three. The Wizards made matters worse for themselves by missing eight of their 19 free throw attempts.
The Wizards will get another shot at the Heat on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. For now, they will celebrate the holiday together as a team, with a loss to chew on with their turkey and cranberry sauce.
Missing key guys
Both teams were without some of their best players. While Miami did get Adebayo and Herro back, Jimmy Butler and Duncan Robinson were absent, as was Max Strus. The Wizards, meanwhile, were missing Bradley Beal, Rui Hachimura and Monte Morris, the latter two missing their second consecutive games.
Beal, Hachimura and Morris were all considered questionable leading up to this game, as Beal has a right thigh contusion and both Hachimura and Morris are dealing with right ankle soreness. All three were gametime decisions, per reports out of Miami, but were not able to give it a go. Maybe they will be ready to return on Friday. Regardless, it looks like the season series between these teams is going to be largely affected by injuries, given they play three times in a span of just eight days, which is highly unusual.
Trouble with the zone
While the Wizards were able to solve Miami's zone on Friday by making 15 threes and finding daylight in the middle, they had a lot of trouble with it early in this one. Washington went 3-of-20 from long range in the first half, which helped Miami build their 21-point lead. The Wizards caught a rhythm in the second half to finish the game shooting 10-for-38 (26.3%) from the perimeter. Still, it wasn't their best night from beyond the arc, as evidenced by Kyle Kuzma (33 points) going 2-for-13.
The Heat did a good job of contesting a lot of the Wizards' outside shots, leading to them attempting some from deeper range than usual. But it was also apparent they could have used Beal to break down the zone by getting past the first line of defense. The Wizards had trouble getting into the lane and it's hard to replace that element when you remove a scorer as dynamic as Beal.
Deni was good
One of the Wizards' standouts on the offensive end was Deni Avdija, who started his ninth consecutive game and got going early with 10 points in the first half. It was his sixth time in seven games reaching double-figures in scoring. He finished this one with 12 points, a career-high 10 assists, nine rebounds and two blocks.
You can tell Avdija's confidence is building by some of the moves he's attempting off the dribble. In the first half against Miami, Avdija sharply executed a stepback three. It was the type of play you see much more often from Avdija in international tournaments and offseason practice runs that surface on social media.
Barton showed signs
Through a month-plus of this season, the Wizards are still waiting for Will Barton to be the player they know he can be. In Wednesday's game, he looked like his usual self, dropping 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting along with seven assists and seven rebounds. He was able to get downhill off the dribble quite a bit, particularly in transition.
Barton shot the ball much better than usual, but he also had some standout plays operating as the point guard of the second unit. For instance, he had a nice behind-the-back dribble move before dumping it off to Daniel Gafford for a baseline slam. Barton also had a steal and a breakaway slam. He had a few rough turnovers, but all in all it was an encouraging game he can build off of.