|Wizards, Heat set for two games in three days|
MIAMI -- On Monday, Washington Wizards point guard John Wall received a signed copy of quarterback Tom Brady's best-selling book
For the next couple of nights, however, the Wizards and the Miami Heat will be trying to get the best possible book -- aka scouting report -- on each other.
That's because the Wizards (8-5) and Heat (6-7) will play each other twice in three days. Wednesday, they meet minutes from South Beach at AmericanAirlines Arena. Friday, they play just a short cab ride from the White House at Capital One Arena.
The Heat are coming off a 3-3 road trip that is indicative of their season to date -- no winning streak larger than two games and no losing skid more than three contests.
Nevertheless, the Heat seem encouraged by the trip in which they beat the Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz.
"I think we made big strides," starting small forward Josh Richardson told The Miami Herald. "Our intangibles got a lot better."
That may be, but the three teams the Heat beat all have losing records, and Miami's three losses were to teams with winning records. In that last group are three division-leaders: the Golden State Warriors, Denver Nuggets and Detroit Pistons.
Further, Miami is only 3-3 at home this season, and a .500-type record here at the Triple A likely won't be good enough to fulfill the Heat's playoff aspirations.
On a positive note, Miami's defense has improved of late, and the Heat rank third in the Eastern Conference in points allowed (103.1 per game).
Richardson said the return of shot-blocking and shot-altering center Hassan Whiteside -- he missed five games early in the season due to a bruised knee -- is a major factor in Miami's improved defense.
"I don't think we were guarding like we knew how to at first," Richardson said. "But our defense has ramped up (lately)."
Washington's defense, meanwhile, ranks only 10th in the conference at 105.9 points per game. But the Wizards have the No. 1 offense in the East (111.4 points per game) and No. 2 in the NBA behind Golden State. The Wizards are also second in the East in point differential (plus 5.5).
Wall's speed at point guard makes the Wizards go -- just like Brady sits at the controls of the high-powered New England Patriots in the NFL.
Perhaps that shared trait is what prompted Brady to send Wall his book, which is titled: "The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance."
The two men don't know each other personally, but Brady -- according to a report in the Washington Post -- wrote a message to Wall in the book that read: "To John, Incredible Player!"
Wall was moved by the gesture, calling Brady the "Greatest of All Time."
Wall told The Post: "It was an honor for me to get a book from Tom Brady. I'm going to send him a jersey ASAP. Hopefully, he will send one in return."
Wall is averaging 20.3 points and 9.7 assists this season, and the latter figure ranks third in the NBA, less than one helper per game behind top-ranked James Harden.
But Wall, 27, has even more to give considering that last season he averaged 23.1 points and 10.7 assists -- both career highs. He and shooting guard Bradley Beal -- who leads Washington with a 23.8 scoring average -- form a terrific backcourt.
Miami's backcourt doesn't quite stack up with Washington's duo, at least numerically. Point guard Goran Dragic leads Miami in scoring (19.8 ppg) and assists (4.8). Shooting guard Dion Waiters is averaging 16.4 points.
The Heat's advantage lies with its strong bench, and that's an area where Washington has struggled this season.
Miami's bench crew includes forwards James Johnson (12.4 points, 5.8 rebounds) and Kelly Olynyk (9.8 points, 5.8 rebounds). Miami's top reserve guards are Tyler Johnson (9.9 points) and shooter Wayne Ellington (7.1 points).