The Wizards will be playing their eighth home game of the season tonight, but it sure won’t look like it, sound like it or feel like it.
When King James and the 11-3 Miami Heat step onto the floor at Verizon Center, they will feel a warm embrace from a crowd heavily tilted in their favor.
“It’s not unusual for us,” LeBron James said after today’s shoot-around at Georgetown University, which the Heat used because they wanted to practice at the same time as the Wizards conducted their workout in D.C.
“It’s a very humbling feeling that you can be cheered on someone else’s floor, someone else’s city, honestly. We try to do our best by playing the game the right way.”
Miami comes into tonight’s game far outperforming the 1-13 Wizards in every offensive category. But despite being a 10-point favorites, the Heat players are not boasting overconfidence as they prepare for their first of two visits to D.C.
Asked if it will be difficult to get up for the lowly Wizards, James smiled.
“Nope,” he said. “We understand that we can make someone’s season if they beat us. No matter how they play against anyone else, they always get up to play us. We’ll be ready.”
Wade agreed, saying any NBA team that lets its guard down is ripe to beaten.
“They’re NBA players; you’ve got to respect them,” he said. “You can’t look at their record.
“Our job is to understand we’re the champions and we’re going to come here and give it our best shot.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said that although his team has put together a three-game win streak, he is still seeking consistency, regardless of the opponent.
“Right now we don’t even care who we’re playing,” Spoelstra said “We’re working on the mental aspect of our game, the discipline we need, and it will be a good test for us tonight.”
The Wizards will be without guard John Wall and forward Trevor Booker and are expected to receive only limited action from power forward/center Nene, who has topped 20 minutes just once in four games since returning from plantar fasciitis.
Wizards coach Randy Wittman said he’s not sure how long he’ll have to keep a minute count on the Brazilian big man, who is averaging 11.5 points a game, third-highest on the team.
“I think it’s just a game-by-game thing,” Wittman said. “Is it getting sore? Is it getting not as sore? When you get leaning toward not-as-sore after game then I think we’ll look to jump it up. Right now it’s still the same.”
So, despite the competition tonight, look for Nene to get somewhere in the 20- to 25-minute range.
“He’s not in game shape yet,” Wittman said. “He’s going through training camp still. His legs aren’t where they need to be; his wind isn’t where it needs to be. He knows that. That has an affect on your game. His still gives us a lot of good things. Right now I have to play him into shape.”