When the Washington Wizards visit the Miami Heat on Tuesday night, the Wizards again will be without star Bradley Beal and once more will unveil all the tricks at their disposal to have success without him.
Last season, the Wizards were 2-10 without their floor leader. This season has been a different story, with the Wizards 4-1 without the three-time All Star who leads Washington in scoring (23.3 points per game) and assists (5.9).
That means Spencer Dinwiddie will be expected to do more. In the five games without Beal, Dinwiddie has taken over with an average 24.4 points. For the season, Dinwiddie is averaging just 12.8 points.
“You’ve got to work within the group and the system,” Dinwiddie said. “We’re trying to make everything work well. We’re trying to figure that out.”
Beal is one of three Wizards player out due to COVID protocols and is joined on that list by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (11.0 points) and Raul Neto (7.8 points).
Caldwell-Pope started 67 games with the Los Angeles Lakers last season and shot 41 percent from 3-point range. This season, in 31 starts, he is shooting 37.8 percent from that distance. Neto, a backup point guard, is beloved for his tenacity.
The Wizards have yet to get a minute this season from starting center Thomas Bryant (knee surgery) or starting power forward Rui Hachimura (personal reasons). Hachimura has been in uniform the past two games, however, and his return could be imminent.
“By my account, and I’m not a medical professional, he looks great; he looks ready,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said Monday. “We don’t want to get ahead our ourselves and skip steps, but when the time is right, we’ll throw him out there.”
The Wizards, who exceeded expectations with a 10-3 start, have slumped since, going 7-13. On the road, the Wizards are 9-11, while the Heat are 11-4 at home. The Heat and Wizards have split two games this season, with each squad winning at home.
Miami has its own COVID battles as Kyle Lowry landed on the list just before the Heat’s win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday. Lowry is averaging 13.9 points and ranks fifth in the NBA with 8.2 assists.
The Heat also are missing their top two centers, Bam Adebayo (thumb surgery) and Dewayne Dedmon (knee sprain).
Omer Yurtseven, 23, made his first career start on Sunday, scoring 16 points with a game-high 15 rebounds.
“You are seeing the skill level (Yurtseven) has,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
The Heat also got Jimmy Butler back from a tailbone injury and Caleb Martin back from COVID protocols. Butler, who missed 12 of the past 13 games, scored 17 points with 11 rebounds. He leads the Heat in scoring (22.5 points) and steals (2.2) while grabbing an average of 6.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists a game.
Martin scored 17 points off the bench on Sunday, and he has shown the potential to help add to Miami’s firepower. The Heat thrive with shooters such as Tyler Herro (20.2 points), Duncan Robinson (11.1), Max Strus (11.0) and Gabe Vincent (8.6).
Herro, who ranks second in the NBA in bench scoring, was ejected from the Magic game after getting hit with two technical fouls. It was his first career ejection.
–Field Level Media