Washington (22-8) at Dallas (22-10)
December 30, 2014 at 8:30 PM
American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
The Wizards squared off against these Mavericks..well, not exactly THESE Mavericks back in November at the Verizon Center, a 105-102 loss in Washington. Since then, the Mavs have made just a few tweaks to their roster in hopes of catapulting themselves to the forefront of the Western Conference title race. By hauling in Rajon Rondo and Dwight Powell from the Celtics in exchange for Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder and Brandon Wright, the Mavs have equipped themselves with an elite floor general to ride along with an already ample arsenal of shooters. The Mavs have won three of their first five games with this new unit.
Rondo faces a familiar friend in Paul Pierce tonight when the Wizards come to town. Seven years he and Pierce spent in Boston, including one in which they won a world championship. After the trade, Pierce shared his thoughts:
“I was shocked definitely, because I thought this was a year they were going to maybe this summer find some pieces to put around him. But he had a great run in Boston, and as long as he’s happy, that’s all that matters.”
Yeah, yeah, that’s cute and all but let’s move on. Pierce, now a Wizard, has likely come to the realization that in his 37th year of life and 17th in the NBA he is now actually experiencing the best point guard he’s ever played with. Not for nothing, the tread on Pierce’s wheels are a bit frayed to profit fully from John Wall’s masterful touch, but nevertheless the perfect situation for him as his career dwindles closer to its end. Pierce was actually great last night in Houston, though. 21 points including 11 in the 3rd quarter and it was his elevation that helped counter a few of Houston’s runs and keep the Wizards ahead.
— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) December 30, 2014
Two quick thoughts as they pertain to tonight’s game:
1) Beal’s performance last night cannot be just a one night stand.
So yeah, Bradley Beal had himself a little bit of a breakout performance in Houston, huh? Who am I kidding, he was effing phenomenal! And when I say breakout, I’m specifically applying the term to him breaking out of a Wittman-branded steel shell of long 2 attempts and raining fire from long range, going 5 of 11 from behind the arc. But you see what happens when you let the man commit to a more effective shot selection? He scores 33 points and rises to the occasion even when the rest of his teammates are a few steps slower. With the Mavericks bringing a high-octane offense comprised of a few shooters of their own, Wittman cannot allow Beal to revert back to bad shooting habits and settling.
Reflection time: Bradley Beal made his 2014-15 season debut against the Mavs on November 19, scoring 21 points in 26 minutes.
2) The bench performance last night had better been just a one night stand gone wrong.
They were awful last night. Kris Humphries (-5) went 0-6. Drew Gooden (-11) wasted nine basketball minutes of everyone’s life. Otto Porter (-15) dropped an egg and Seraphin (-15) was OKAY with his five rebounds. Rasual Butler did his usual thing, hitting a few 3’s when they mattered but was still a team worst minus-22. Andre Miller (-8) also played safe. The tail end of a back-to-back on the road tonight? Against a title contender? Yeah, besides Bradley Beal the second unit are another important key in keeping the Wizards afloat, especially if the starters begin to gas out.
The Mavericks are the league’s top scoring team at 109.5 points per game. Washington ranks 4th in points allowed at 96.8 points per game. Sounds fun, right?
The Wizards again face a team who love to fire from deep. The Mavericks are 3rd most frequent 3-point shooting team, averaging around 27 again and making a moderate 35% of them. However, 3-point shooting doesn’t seem to be that much of a threat. Dirk is only shooting 34% while Monta Ellis makes only 31% of his.