Though the Miami Heat probably wouldn't admit this, they didn't take the Wizards as serious as they should've Jan. 15 at Verizon Center. In that meeting, they allowed 43 points in the first quarter and lost in a blowout.
Those Wizards never had a winning streak longer than three games, never could get above .500 and had trouble with playing down to their opposition.
These Wizards (33-29) have won eight of nine games after Saturday's 114-107 win at the Milwaukee Bucks and have a 17-14 road record that puts them in elite NBA company.
The Heat (43-17) will be playing the second game of a back-to-back following Sunday's 95-88 overtime loss at the Chicago Bulls. They're in the thick of the race for the No. 1 seed in the East with the Indiana Pacers.
This time, however, the Wizards will have to rely on playing smaller to exploit Miami's inability to consistently compete with skilled low-post players. They don't have Nene (left knee) and likely won't have Kevin Seraphin (right knee) for the seventh consecutive game. Marcin Gortat, however, is in top form running the pick-and-roll with John Wall, who undoubtedly will have to deal with the ball being trapped.
Wall had seven turnovers against Milwaukee, not exactly a defensive juggernaut. In his career, he's 4-9 vs. the Heat and he has never beaten them with LeBron James in the lineup more than once in a season.
That's because when the Heat are at full-strength early in the season, the Wizards usually don't have a chance. Later in the season, with the postseason near and their seeding secured, the Heat tend to rest James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
They probably won't have that luxury Monday.