With seemingly a mere flick of the wrist, Andre Miller lobbed a pass 85 feet to a streaking Bradley Beal, allowing the young guard to catch the ball mid-stride and lift in a quick lay-up.
On Monday, the Wizards made it look easy.
Trevor Ariza had a game-high 25 points, Nenê added 18 points and the Wizards emphatically defeated the Heat, 114-93, before a sellout crowd of 20,356 at Verizon Center in their final home game of the regular season.
“It was more like a scrimmage game than a big battle,” said Marcin Gortat.
Michael Beasley had a team-high 18 points for Miami (54-27), which has lost four of its last five and was without LeBron James and Chris Bosh because of what coach Erik Spoelstra said were “just a few little things that [are] the residual of a long season.”
Monday’s game was remarkably similar to the teams’ meeting in Washington earlier this season, when the Wizards took a 25-point lead after the first quarter, pushed their lead to 34 during the second quarter and won, 114-97.
This time, they built their lead on a remarkable second-quarter shooting performance, when they made their first 11 shots and finished 15-for-16 from the floor. The highlight was the long pass to Beal, which began when Miller reeled in the rebound of a missed three-pointer by Mario Chalmers.
Beal, who caught the pass just outside of the restricted circle, drew a foul from Toney Douglas and punctuated the play by making the ensuing free throw.
“The safety bit on the ball fake, so I was able to beat the corner and I got free for the touchdown,” Beal joked, evoking memories of his high school football days. “Hopefully the Redskins will pick me up.”
Washington led 70-48 at halftime, then pushed that lead to 36 points in the final minute of the third quarter. The starters had all exited the game by the fourth quarter; John Wall, held scoreless in the first half, finished with just four points but had 13 assists in just over 24 minutes.
That allowed Nenê, who was held out as a precautionary reason Saturday in the Wizards’ victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, to see 24 minutes in his third game back from a sprained MCL in his left knee.
Dwyane Wade, the lone member of the Heat’s “Big Three” to suit up on Monday, finished with nine points in 18 minutes as he continued to return from a strained left hamstring. Douglas had 14 points, while Ray Allen added 13.
The Wizards could have cemented at least the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference with a victory over the Heat and if the Atlanta Hawks beat the Charlotte Bobcats, but the Bobcats climbed out of a 15-point deficit to start the fourth quarter and won on a buzzer beater by Chris Douglas-Roberts.
That means Washington’s playoff fate likely won’t be decided until its regular-season finale on Wednesday, when it hits the road for a game against the Boston Celtics.