Washington (2-4) at Dallas (4-3)
November 12, 2013 at 8:30 PM American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX TV: CSN Washington Radio: 106.7FM The Fan
Projected starting lineups:
Washington Wizards C- Nene, PF- Marcin Gortat, SF – Trevor Ariza, SG- Bradley Beal, PG- John Wall
Dallas Mavericks C- Samuel Dalembert, PF- Dirk Nowitzki SF- Shawn Marion, SG- Monta Ellis, PG- Jose Calderon
Bradley Beal v. Monta Ellis
Bradley Beal is averaging 21 ppg this season and has been on fire (47%) from downtown. His percentage from inside the arc could improve, as he is shooting roughly 40%. Tonight he likely faces off against one of the best offensive players in isolation in the league.
Ellis is notoriously known as a “chucker” who utilizes his offensive repertoire through volume shooting, but he is shooting a career high 48% from the field so far this season. He has scored a minimum of 18 points in every game this season, and that is where Beal should set his worst case scenario of how many points he should conceivably allow.
Monta Ellis is going to keep shooting all night and score, it is inevitable. However, Beal should focus on limiting him to less than 16-18 points while forcing him to achieve that by taking tough, contested jumpers. As much as Monta Ellis is considered a chucker, he is also considered a below-average defender. Beal has flourished all season offensively against whatever opposing teams have thrown at him, and he should, for lack of a better term, “destroy” Monta Ellis.
Jonathan Hildred Wall, Jr. Jose Calderon will be guarding Wall (on paper), and he shouldn’t stand a chance. Then again, we have said that about Wall’s opposition in a lot of games. Now don’t get me wrong, Wall has filled up the stat-sheet in a variety of ways, and we here at Hoop District think he has been playing well. However, he has shot less than 30% from the field in two games this year. He has shot less than 40% in another two games this year. He has shot over 50% in two games, but those were both against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Unfortunately for Wall, he won’t be playing against the 76ers every game. Wall has taken double-digit shots in every game this season and has only converted double digit baskets once this year. From downtown, Wall has either been absolutely abysmal, or he has been lights out. Admittedly, he has shot well from the free throw line on average, but the Wizards can’t afford too many bad shooting nights from their star when they have to overcome poor free-throw shooting, a leaky defense, Trevor Ariza’s existence on offense, and puzzling coaching decisions. The next step for Wall is playing a complete game. If he has a game that he dishes out more than ten dimes, then he likely did not shoot the ball well. If he has a game with 3-4 steals, he likely also had 4 turnovers. The overall averages of 18 ppg, 9 apg, and 4 rpg are very good, but the efficiency and consistency is lacking.
There are a few X-factors that could decide this game.
Points in the paint should be an advantage for the Wizards, as Nene and Gortat should have an advantage in posting up Dalembert and Nowitzki. Nowitzki is tall enough to contest shots, but he has shown a tendency to put less than minimal effort in moving his feet and putting in an effort to stop shots at the rim. We saw against the Thunder that Gortat has a few post moves in his bag of tricks and he should be able to utilize them against a sub-par isolation defender in Nowitzki. Dalembert is a physical player and Nene should be able to use that to his advantage by getting himself in good position early and forcing fouls.
Secondly, free throw shooting will also be important. The Wizards might have lost Sunday’s game in Oklahoma City because of poor free throw shooting. They are shooting 68% from the charity stripe, and Dallas is shooting 83%. If the Wizards want to beat a high octane offense like Dallas, they will have to take advantage of every “free” point that they can get.
What happened last time they played?
The Wizards lost by 9 to the Mavericks at the Verizon Center back on New Years Day. They could not overcome the balanced scoring of the Mavericks, who had six players in double figures. Vince Carter and Bradley Beal were the game high point scorers for the Mavericks and Wizards, respectively. The Wizards had the lead at halftime, but a 35-point 4th quarter for the Mavericks in which they outscored the Wizards by 16 was the deciding factor.
Chris Singleton remains out for the Wizards. If nobody breathes on Nene the wrong way he should be good to go. Otto Porter is still on a milk carton. For the Mavericks, Devin Harris is out with a foot injury. Shane Larkin is an obvious scratch for the foreseeable future. Brendan Wright is also out with a shoulder injury.
The Wizards need to get out on the fast-break early and often to take advantage of offensive-minded players like Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki. Shawn Marion can’t cover everybody. The Wizards have to shoot the ball well from downtown and ESPECIALLY the charity stripe. The Wizards have to rebound the ball well and win the battle of points in the paint. The Wizards have to do all of these things well because the Mavericks are undefeated at home. The Mavericks have won the last 6 meetings between these two teams. The Mavericks have been dominant at the American Airlines Center. I usually pick against the Wizards in such scenarios, but I am going to go against the grain this time. The Wizards are too athletic for the Mavericks. Usually, athleticism doesn’t sway my opinion when the skill is lacking.
However, last game the Wizards showed me a lot. They did show me how to cough up a double-digit lead in the 4th quarter and shoot poorly from the free throw line. In contrast, they also showed me that they will show no fear in competing in big games on the road against stacked competition. The Wizards can’t become a team that is just “happy” to lose games in overtime to great teams like the Thunder. Frankly, they aren’t. The look on Bradley Beal’s face showed a thirst to have a great game and have it lead to victory. The look on Wall’s face said that he is tired of losing. Wizards by 6.