Victor Oladipo scored 20 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter and connected on seven three-pointers for the Miami Heat. They would rest six-time All-Star Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro in a 114-108 loss to the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
“Maybe this is the path for this group, that’s the way I look at it, we’re a dangerous team. We’re getting a confidence about how we’re playing,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, whose team finished first in the Eastern Conference standings a season ago before losing in the conference finals to the Boston Celtics in seven games.
Daniel Gafford had 22 points and eight rebounds, Corey Kispert scored 19 points for Washington, and Jordan Goodwin added 16 points. It was a matchup between two short-handed teams, the Wizards have been without three-time All-Star Bradley Beal for the last nine games because of a sore knee, Kristaps Porzingis for five games and Kyle Kuzma for ten games. The Wizards would also snap their four-game losing streak with their victory over Miami.
“It’s good to see them celebrate each other even when it’s not going well, to offer words of encouragement. To try to breathe life or confidence in certain guys. It goes a long way,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said.
Cody Zeller would also record 17 points as the Heat prepare for an NBA play-in tournament appearance on Tuesday.
“This is our reality, and you have to embrace that, this is a totally new experience for all of us. It’s not exactly where we wanted to be heading into this season, going back to training camp. But that is totally irrelevant. We have this in front of us and it’s competition. It’s great competition with a lot at stake,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Seventh-seed Miami will host the eighth-seed Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night at 7:00 P.M. EST, meanwhile the ninth-seed Toronto Raptors will take on the tenth-seed Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night in the first two games of the Eastern Conference play-in tournament.
The play-in matchup with the Hawks will actually be a rematch of last year’s first-round playoff series, which Miami won in five games over Atlanta. The Heat also won three of their four meetings against the Hawks during the 2022-2023 regular season.
“This will be a different format, so let’s go for it. Let’s do it,” Erik Spoelstra said.
Before the Heat gear up for the play-in tournament, they have one last contest left in the regular season at home. They take on the Orlando Magic at Kaseya Center on Sunday at 1:00 P.M. EST. The game will also broadcast on the Bally Sports Network.
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