The Wizards have done their part to disrupt the Eastern Conference playoff picture in the past three weeks – winning four of seven games against teams in the top nine spots – and they did the Miami Heat a favor Monday when they upset the Chicago Bulls.
Miami defeated Chicago three days later to move within 1½ games of the Bulls for the top overall seed in the East, and in the NBA. “They are still fighting for a chance to get the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs. They are a very tough team to play, especially at home,” said Wizards point guard John Wall.
The Heat has the best home record in the NBA at 27-4 and Milwaukee is the only team with a losing record to win at American Airlines Arena this season. While the Wizards would like to affect the playoff picture, Miami isn’t worried much about being the top seed.
“It’s not our destiny. It’s the Chicago Bulls destiny, how they finish, so they are in control,” Dwyane Wade said. “We can’t concern ourselves with that. We just want to continue to play well and go into the postseason healthy.”
LeBron James led Cleveland to the top overall seed in 2008-09 and 2009-10, but the Cavaliers failed to reach the NBA Finals each time. In his two Finals trips in 2007 and 2011, his teams were the No. 2 seed in the East.
“Me, personally, it doesn’t matter for me,” James said. “I’ve always kind of, whatever matchup we get, you’ve got to prepare the same way. Once the postseason starts, seeding, it starts you at home, if you are the higher seed, but at the end of the day, it’s a seven game series and you’ve got to win four, however you do that. If it’s all four at home or on the road, however you do it, you’ve got to win games.”
As Miami prepares to host the Wizards for the first time this season, the Heat might be looking into resting its star players in advance of the playoffs. Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said every player on his roster is a “game-time” decision.
“Whatever Spo say. I’m going to go with Spo,” James said, when asked about possibly resting. “You know me, I always love to be in uniform but Spo put everybody as a game-time decision. I’ll see what he say.”
Coach Randy Wittman said Nene will play against the Heat but he will again be used in a limited role off the bench, backing up Kevin Seraphin. Nene provided a boost with 14 points and five rebounds in the Wizards’ 121-112 win over Milwaukee. “His presence. His experience. His ability to score in the post. Just his know-how in playing, when he’s on the floor,” Wittman said, explaining Nene’s effect on the team.
Wade said the Wizards are dangerous, not only because of their recent success, but also because their record is so bad. “They are playing so free and there is no scheme. It’s a lot of one-on-one basketball, not a lot you can scheme. It’s always the toughest time of the year, for teams gearing up for the playoffs against teams that’s not. It easier to play against teams that’s gearing up for the playoffs as well. Just got to come out and make them see our defense. Make them feel our defense and execute on the offensive end.”