home 2015-16, Blogs, Game Coverage The Crystal Ball: Forecasting the Wizards Week Ahead (vs. Pacers; at Hornets; at Celtics; vs. Raptors)

The Crystal Ball: Forecasting the Wizards Week Ahead (vs. Pacers; at Hornets; at Celtics; vs. Raptors)

The Crystal Ball is a weekly feature forecasting the future for the Wizards week ahead..

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This week’s games:

HOME vs. Indiana Pacers
AT Charlotte Hornets
AT Boston Celtics
HOME vs. Toronto Raptors

Lets go Wiz!


Tuesday, November 24th

HOME vs. Indiana Pacers

What to Watch: A winning streak? The Wizards are looking to extend their season long winning streak to four games. It won’t be easy. The Pacers are 8-5, and sitting in 4th in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards are in 7th, at 6-4. Ten games is far too early to panic, but it’s not too early for reality, and here’s the reality: The East is not nearly as bad as we anticipated. As Wizards fans, we were almost taking for granted we’d be in the top four and have at least one home court playoff series, if not more. Instead, the East has 11 teams currently above .500, and there’s no reason to look at any of the teams hovering around the Wizards and think that they’re going to drop off in any significant manner. The Wizards are going to have to earn that top 4 seed. Shoot, they’re going to have to earn their playoff spot, period.

Beating the Pacers at home for a fourth straight win is a good step toward earning that spot. But this is not your 1 year old kid’s Pacers. Gone is the plodding, rim protecting, vertical Roy Hibbert. Gone is the pick-and-pop tough guy David West. Gone is the old, crafty, below-the-rim Luis Scola. Out with the slow, in with the new.

Monta Ellis has infused the offense with a burst of pace, and 11 players averaging at least 16 minutes per game means that fatigue will not be an issue. The Pacers don’t play as fast as the Wizards by any means, but they CAN play that way in decent sized spurts.

With Frank Vogel coaching, toughness has never been an issue. The Pacers have downsized physically, but the heart of the Pacers hasn’t changed. Speaking of the heart of the Pacers….

Key matchup: Paul George vs. Team Defense

After this gruesome leg injury over a year ago, Paul George is back, and he is better than ever. Thus far, George is averaging career high in points (25), rebounds (9), and assists (5). He is shooting 44% overall, and 42% from three. He has scored 20+ points in 9 consecutive games (with his last game being the only time in that stretch he was held under 25).

Guarding Paul George is not a one man effort. The Wizards defense will have to be up to the task, communicating on defense, and helping and recovering on time. George will attack in a variety of ways: He will run pick and roll from the top of the key, and off of both wings. He will post up, and score from the post, or pass effectively when the double team comes. He will pull-up from mid-range when you close the lane, and attack the rim when you don’t.

There’s a reason the Pacers sit at 4th in the East, and that reason’s name is Paul George.

X-factor: Turnovers. The Wizards are averaging 14.2 turnovers per game in wins, but 19.0 turnovers per game in losses. The Pacers rank 2nd in the NBA, forcing 18.0 turnovers per game, and rank 3rd in the NBA in defensive rating. The Wizards can either take care of the ball, or take an L.

Fun factor: None. This is a game against the current 4 seed in the East, with one of the current top MVP candidates in the league, who currently look like they will be jockeying with the Wizards for playoff positioning all season long. This game is all business.

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Prediction: Wizards control the Pace. W.


Wednesday, November 25th

AT Charlotte Hornets

What to Watch: The New look Hornets! Nicolas Batum! Jeremy Lin! Jerememy Lamb!

Ugh….

The more stings change, the more they stay the same. Every game facing the Hornets is still the least anticipated game of the season for me personally. The Hornets still play through Big Al Jefferson in the post and still have the low percentage shooting Kemba Walker running the show. Their point guards still love settling for pull-up midrange jumpers off the dribble.

With that said….The Hornets rank FOURTH in the NBA right now in offensive rating, behind the Warriors, Thunder, and Cavs, and just ahead of the Clippers and Spurs. What?! That’s Linsanity!

(Zhong Zhi/Getty Images)
(Zhong Zhi/Getty Images)

Key matchup: Wizards Depth vs. Hornets Depth.

The Hornets have six players averaging in double digits, including the Jeremy Bench Duo (Lamb and Lin). Lin is by no means the star he was for a hot second in New York, but he’s a fantastic NBA back-up point guard. He plays with confidence, swagger, and has the haircut to show for it. There is very little drop-off between the Hornets starters and their second unit.

With the Wizards, we never know. Some nights Nene is in full fledged Marshawn Lynch Beast Mode, and some nights, his game speaks with the same tone as Marshawn’s new Pepsi Commercial.

Ramon Sessions always brings the effort, but often leaves his lay-up guide on the team bus. Do we really know what to expect from Garrett Temple and Gary Neal? Actually, do we even know WHO to expect in the game, between Temple and Beal?

The second units will play a big part in this game. Let’s hope it’s Beast Mode kinda night.

X-factor: Home Court. Of the Hornets seven wins, five have been at home. It’s certainly not the atmosphere, which is generally pretty stale and dull. Still, the Hornets sport an offensive rating of 111.5 at home, compared to 100.3 on the road. To put that in perspective, the Golden State Warriors offensive rating for the season is 111.8. The Kings, Bucks, and Jazz currently sit at 100.3.

Hyperbolically speaking, the Hornets at home are like the Golden State Warriors (yes, it’s numbers like that that make haters hate on analytics). Realistically speaking, the Hornets are just plain better at home. Let’s hope the Wizards don’t ket them look like the Warriors.

Fun factor AND Prediction:

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Friday, November 27th

AT Boston Celtics

What to Watch: PACE!! You know the Wizards play fast, currently sitting at 4th in the NBA in pace. Did you know the Celtics rank 5th?? The Celtics also score 103.7 points per game, good for 5th in the league. The Wizards sit at 103.6 points per game.

This will not be the slow-it-down, half-court game that we’ve become accustomed to in years past. Isaiah Thomas and John Wall will be going up-and-down, back-and-forth, mano-y-mano. In the half court, they’ll lock into a top-of-the-key screen battle, with Wall looking to create opportunities for everyone, and Isaiah Thomas looking to score at every opportunity.

Strap in.

Key matchup: John Wall vs. Everyone.

Isaiah Thomas. Avery Bradley. Marcus Smart. Jae Crowder. Everyone is going to take a shot at John Wall, and Wall needs to make everyone miss. The Celtics don’t have any intimidating or dominant interior defenders, which means he should be in attack mode with equal intentions to finish for himself as to set-up others. Look him for him to live in the pain all night long, resulting in lay-ups, FTs, or his beloved corner 3 assists.

X-factor: Celtics 3 point shooting. The Celtics attempt 28.8 3FGs per game, good for 3rd in the NBA. They make 31.3% of those threes, good for just 23rd in the NBA. If the Wizards can hold them below this average, it should be a good night. If they shoot around 35% or better from long range, brace for the worst.

Fun factor(s): John Wall vs. Jae Crowder, Round 2!

The first time they played, this happened:

That was never really settled. Tonight, they get to settle it!

Prediction: Wiz #2 > Cs 3s


Saturday, November 28th

vs. Toronto Raptors

What to Watch: Paternity. This is simple. Stats don’t matter in this match-up. Trends don’t matter in this match-up. Only one thing matters in this match-up. We OWN the Raptors.

Key matchup: Bradley Beal vs. Kyle Lowry.

THIS:

X-factor: Celtics 3 point shooting. The Celtics attempt 28.8 3FGs per game, good for 3rd in the NBA. They make 31.3% of those threes, good for just 23rd in the NBA. If the Wizards can hold them below this average, it should be a good night. If they shoot around 35% or better from long range, brace for the worst.

Fun factor:

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That should tell you everything you need to know about this rivalry. There’s no way they have these towels for every team. This is the most randomly intense rivalry in the NBA today. Which will make it all the more fun when….

Prediction: ….we smash the Raptors again. Can’t Fu%^ with us, Kyle!

we are Hoop District

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