Nene could provide spark as Wizards host Heat

Nene could provide spark as Wizards host Heat
January 15, 2014, 9:00 am
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Wall hopes win in Chicago gives Wizards momentum

Washington Wizards center Nene (42) drives through New York Knicks power forward Kenyon Martin (3) during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. Knicks won 120-99.

(Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports)

The Wizards aren't very good at home, but the Heat pose the type of challenge that will make them have to focus in quick or risk getting humiliated. Nene, who didn't play the first time these teams met because of a sore right foot, is expected to be in the starting lineup again. 

TV: Wizards Central pregame show on CSN at 6:30 p.m. ET; followed by tip-off from Verizon Center at 7 and Wizards Postgame Live immediately afterward. Radio: 1500 AM.

Last game: Wizards (17-19) won at the Chicago Bulls 102-88 on Monday; Heat (27-10) lost at the Brooklyn Nets 104-95 on Friday, their second consecutive defeat.

Last meeting: Miami had 32 assists on 37 field goals to win 103-93 at American Airlines Arena on Nov. 3. It also converted 21 turnovers into 25 points. 

Projected starting lineups: Wizards –- PG John Wall, SG Bradley Beal, SF Trevor Ariza, PF Nene, C Marcin Gortat. Heat –- PG Mario Chalmers, SG Dwyane Wade, SF LeBron James, PF Rashard Lewis, C Chris Bosh.

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Entry passes: 1). The Wizards have kept their turnovers down recently, which is key to keeping the Heat out of transition. 2). The Heat will trap the ball on the pick-and-roll which means Wall might not have a great scoring night but shooters and cutters must respond to make them pay. 3). Nene's free-throw shooting has been atrocious, 7 of 22 in his last five games. 4). Miami isn't a great rebounding team, which is why Washington must dominate this area and Gortat especially.

X-factor: Coach Randy Wittman only used a three-man rotation in the previous game, keeping C Kevin Seraphin and F Otto Porter on the bench. Seraphin made 4 of 5 shots in 15 minutes in the first meeting. 

He said it: “You've got to scrap. They could go on a spurt but then you can't let it just happen and not do anything about it. We fought in that game. We kept scrapping. Nene didn't play that game. You learn from those. We'll look at how they attacked us and how we attacked them. Seems like a couple years ago." -- Wittman on how his team fared in Miami

Around the bend: The Wizards likely will have a light practice Thursday before back-to-back games at home Friday (Bulls) and Saturday (Detroit Pistons) and pending their performance could be off Sunday.