Bobcats (39-38) at Wizards (40-37)
April 9, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
TV: CSN Washington
Radio: 106.7FM The Fan
Projected starting lineups:
C- Marcin Gortat
PF- Trevor Booker
SF- Trevor Ariza
SG- Bradley Beal
PG- John Wall
C- Cody Zeller
PF- Al Jefferson
SF- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
SG- Gerald Henderson
PG- Kemba Walker
Last time they met was..
March 31, 2014 @ Time Warner Cable Arena
This game was about as dishearteningly #SoWizards as one could imagine. In what’s become a storied matchup this season in the NBA, the Wizards and Bobcats faced off in the Queen City just over a week ago with critical playoff implications on the line. For the Wizards in particular, it was a game they needed to win to officially RSVP their spot in the postseason festivities. And for the first half of the game, they played like it, streaking into the half on a 40-point 2nd quarter performance. But the second half was a whole ‘nuhva tale. A late 3rd quarter surge jump-started the Bobcats’ comeback and by the 4th quarter, the Wizards had checked out. Outscored 30-14 in the final period, the Wizards became completely lackadaisical, committing blooper after blooper while Al Jefferson and Chris Douglas-Roberts took charge for the Bobcats.
The Bobcats shot just 3-for-21 from downtown. Kemba Walker was 0-for-10.
The Bobcats shot 34 free throws and made 29 of them. Kemba Walker was 9-for-10. Oh, and the Wizards shot just 13 free throws all night.
For the most part of this season, well, at least the parts before the month of March, Chris Douglas-Roberts hadn’t been terribly relevant. However, since the beginning of last month, his playing time has increased as has his production.
Against the Wizards on March 31, CDR scored all of his 18 points after the 1st quarter including 8 critical points in the final period, complementing an equally strong performance by his teammates Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker. The three combined for 25 of the Cats’ 30 4th quarter points and while Kemba’s clutch free throws late in the game sealed the game for Charlotte, it was CDR’s energy and resilience that kept the game a thrilling experience.
Despite the fact that CDR suffers from Fraggle Rock syndrome, he’s got a combination of speed and strength that was very hard for the Wizards to defend last time around. Sprinkle a little jump shot range over that as well and you’ve pretty much got the recipe for the #WizardKiller he became. He shot 7-for-9 from the field, two of which came from downtown while the rest came at the rim. He can maneuver and move toward the rim and past defenders with or without the ball and finishes at a high percentage. Poor on-ball defense and late rotations are what will hamper you when dealing with CDR. But perhaps the return of a special someone can help avoid some of these inadequacies…
Elements. Options. Two beautiful things in basketball and Nene provides both of them. And to that, I say WELCOME THE &%#@ BACK, sir.
The Wizards survived 21 games without their multi-dimensional big man going 12-9 but his absence glared at us in several facets of the game and we couldn’t hide our faces from it. It’s not so much the fact that the Wizards don’t have a viable replacement for when he’s out — Gortat has been great — it’s simply what the Wizards lose when he’s out. Nene provides a skill set on both sides of the ball that, simply put, is a season-deciding component for the Wizards.
Offensively, he’s the co-option to John Wall in terms of facilitation. Nene has a premiere ability to run the offense around him in the post thanks to his swift passing skills and accurate shooting from midrange areas. And while we’re growing to love or hate the screen and handoff play between Marcin Gortat and Bradley Beal, there’s no question we’ve missed one Nene specialty: his proficiency in screening off defenders and passing to back cutters going to the rim.
On defense, Nene’s size and mobility allow him to defend the rim as well as pick and rolls and even defend out to the perimeter against stretching big men. This was an element missing in Nene’s absence and something that Gortat — again, who did all he could in anchoring the middle — just isn’t nimble enough to accomplish like Nene.
Against the Bobcats tonight Nene will be restricted “early on for sure,” per Michael Lee’s report from Coach Wittman and is said to be “eased in” to the action in his first game back. He’ll also be wearing a bulky protective knee brace so it’ll be interesting to see how much that impacts his movement considering he’s already rusty.
Leave no stone unturned..
The timing for Nene’s return could not have come at a better time than on a night when they’ll direly need his presence against the Bobcats. Only one game separates the two teams for the 6th seed in the East with the Wizards currently holding fort. A Bobcats win would tie them with the Wizards in the win/loss column but a 3-1 season advantage would give them the edge.
A Wizards win, however, would all but solidify the 6th seed for them with four games remaining after tonight. It won’t clinch the spot tonight, but it would give them a two-game advantage in the standings and knot up the season series with Charlotte at 2-2. The next seeding tiebreaker is conference winning percentage and the Wizards have an advantage there as well.
So, another big stage for the Wizards and another stone to turn as they continue their quest into the postseason with John Wall and Nene leading the trail. See you at the Phone Booth!