Road-challenged Heat travel to face Beal, Wizards

Field Level Media

March 08, 2020 at 1:39 am.

The Miami Heat, who have struggled away from home all season, will visit the Washington Wizards and red-hot Bradley Beal on Sunday night.

Miami has won 17 more games than Washington this season, but the Heat are just 13-19 on the road. The Wizards are 15-15 at home.

In addition, Beal is coming off a 35-point night Friday as the Wizards defeated the visiting Atlanta Hawks 118-112. He made 13 of 21 shots from the floor, including 7 of 10 on 3-pointers.

Beal has scored 25-plus points in 21 consecutive games, tying LeBron James for the second-longest streak by an Eastern Conference player since 2000-01. Allen Iverson had 25-plus points in 27 straight games that same season.

A two-time NBA All-Star, Beal, 26, is second in the NBA in scoring (30.5) while also leading the Wizards in assists (6.1).

“I’m in a rhythm now, and I’ve got to credit my trainer,” Beal said, referencing Drew Hanlen. “He came out for a day or two, and we watched film. Ever since then, I’ve been knocking down threes.”

Beal, who is 6-foot-3, is making 35.2 percent on 3-pointers, his field-goal percentage is .458 and his effective field-goal percentage, which gives extra weight to 3-point success, is .522. He has made at least six 3-pointers in a game six times this season.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks has also praised Beal’s defense, calling him a “two-way player,” as well as his consistent practice routine.

Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce compared Beal to former star NFL running back Barry Sanders.

“Name a guard who changes directions better than (Beal),” Pierce told The Washington Post.

On Sunday, the Heat will deal with the Beal challenge while also working to change their trajectory as a road team.

Miami has lost four straight road games, including a 110-104 defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.

“We clearly weren’t sharp,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We weren’t able to get over the hump.”

Miami, already playing without guard Tyler Herro and center Meyers Leonard due to ankle injuries, lost forward Jae Crowder when he took an elbow to the jaw from Pelicans star Zion Williamson. Crowder did not return, and his status for Sunday is questionable.

The Heat are relying on a core group of Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson on the perimeter, and post players Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk.

Butler leads Miami in scoring (20.5), assists (6.2) and steals (1.7). Dragic leads the reserves with 16.4 points and 5.1 assists. Nunn, who is averaging 15.5 points, has been a revelation as an undrafted rookie. And Robinson has made more 3-pointers in a single season, 233, than any undrafted player in NBA history.

Up front, Adebayo made his first All-Star Game this year due to his versatile talents, averaging 16.0 points, a team-high 10.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and a team-high 1.3 blocks.

Olynyk, a reserve, is averaging 7.9 points and 4.5 rebounds while making 44 percent of his 3-pointers, ranking second on the team in that last category to Robinson’s 44.9 percent.

Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford told the Sun-Sentinel that Adebayo and Olynyk make the Heat more difficult to match up vs. other teams.

“They are so skilled that if you jump up early, they drive it,” Clifford said.

Beyond Beal, the Wizards’ next best scorer is Davis Bertans at 15.3 points per game. Thomas Bryant leads the team in rebounds (6.9), but point guard Ish Smith, who is averaging 4.8 assists, is out due to a hamstring injury.