WIZARDS (14-17) at BOBCATS (15-20)
January 7, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC
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- Al Jefferson
PF- Josh McRoberts
SF- Chris Douglas-Roberts
SG- Gerald Henderson
PG- Kemba Walker
John Wall v. Kemba Walker
Their numbers on the year are eerily similar, except for the extra four dimes that Wall dishes out per game. Other than that, they are nearly identical in scoring, approximately 19 ppg, and both pulling down roughly four boards per game. Wall has had his shining moments this year, but he is currently on somewhat of a slide as he has scored less than 15 ppg his last two contests. This slide is following his recent streak of games with 20+ points. As the numbers show, Wall has an advantage in being able to take the game over via distribution, as he is third in the league in assists per game.
The last time the Wizards had a victory over a team on the plus side of .500, Wall put up 26 points, 12 assists, six rebounds, and five steals. Perhaps he will need a similar game for the Wizards to break their three-game skid. Unfortunately a stat line like that happened for the first time in the franchise’s history when Wall accomplished it. Walker is averaging 21.3 ppg on a 46% clip in his last 11 games. Walker is coming off of a 30-point performance in a home win against Sacramento, so you could say he’s coming into this game “hot.”
Despite the similarities in stats and scoring streaks, Wall is a better player that can do more damage if he’s utilizing all of his powers. Unfortunately, the Wizards team is in a slump right now and it’s hard to distribute effectively when missed shots slow down the offense.
Bradley Beal. After another unfavorable performance by Bradley Beal in the Wizards most recent loss, Twitter world started to pop off with a mostly unfavorable comparison for Beal. Two words.
Now I’m not going to delve into whether those comparisons are accurate. However, us Wizards fans shower our talented Wiz kids with effusive praise. Nick Young is a known chucker. Not all Wizards fans hated him, but his sole dimension as a player revolved around high volume jump-shooting. If Beal is being compared to Nick Young, it’s a brief and comparative summary of how he’s played as of late. Beal is a scorer. He is a shooter, a deadly shooter at that. He needs to try to get the most efficient and most open shots he can get. He also needs to have the confidence that comes as a package deal with good shooters. Beal will need to walk the fine line of being smart but also feeling like he can hit any shot that he attempts. Tonight will be our first observation as to how Mr. Beal handles this.
Side note: Please don’t say that Beal doesn’t have these available shots to him. As stagnant as the Wizards offense can get, Wall has done a good job of finding guys open via cross-court passes and failed attempts of “hockey assists.” They’ve been failed attempts because the Wizards have been missing shots, open shots at that.
3-point shooting The Wizards are a team that likes to get going early from downtown. They get a lot of open looks from behind the arc thanks to John Wall’s ability to drive and kick and find shooters in both of the corners. Guys like Beal, Ariza, Webster have the ability to knock down four or five tre’s per game. However, over their last three games the Wizards are shooting 27% from downtown. They are hanging around 38% for the year, which is good for 4th in the league. The Wizards boast three of the top 40 three-point shooters in the league. The Bobcats are shooting less than 34% on the year from downtown, meaning if the Wizards can get going early and build a lead, the Bobcats will have to grind their way back into it without much help from the money ball..
What happened last time they played?
The Wizards took an L down in Charlotte at the Time Warner Cable Arena. The Bobcats, a 15-52 team in 2012-2013, beat the Wizards 119-114. Gerald Henderson lead the way with 27 points, as Nene put up 21 for the Wiz Kids. The Wizards were 5-26 on the road last year, an abysmal record, but losing to a pitiful Bobcats team had to sting the most. The Bobcats only averaged 92.7 ppg last year, and the Wizards gave up much more than that.
Al Harrington and Glen Rice remain out for the Wizards. For the Bobcats, Jeff Taylor is out for the season and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is out with a broken hand.
These ain’t your auntie’s Bobcats. This Charlotte team is only giving up 95.8 ppg, which is the third-lowest average in the NBA. That figure has them jumping up 26 spots ahead of their defensive rank last year. They are stacked with young and emerging talent, and anchored by 29-year old Al Jefferson. Jefferson has scored in double-figures in 22 straight contests. He’s averaging 21 ppg and 11 rpg. He will likely give the Wizards a lot of trouble inside.
However, just when we are ready to give up on the Wizards, they always find a way to draw us back in. They have dropped three straight games after they went on a 5-1 stretch at the end of December. It’d be #SoWizards for them to come out and take this game before losing their next couple. It’d also be #SoWizards for them to play up to their level of competition. It’s not #SoWizards that this young team plays better on the road, in contrast to them being a much better home team last year.
As I said before, the Bobcats aren’t the Bobcats you imagine when their name comes to mind. They are very talented, but so are the Wizards. Wall and Beal should be able to outplay Walker and Henderson. Booker is averaging almost 9 ppg and 13 boards over his last three games, and he should be able to continue on that path as he goes up against Josh McRoberts. Wait, am I setting an expectation for Trevor Booker? I should slow down. Gortat will have to hold his own against Al Jefferson, but that should be evened out by Trevor Ariza having an A-three-za game against the infamous Chris Douglas-Roberts. He sounds like a dreaded pirate from the 1400’s.
Wizards > Pirates.
Wizards > Bobcats.
In terms of cities, Washington > Charlotte.
I’ve stopped looking at statistics and data to make my predictions. According to my new way of dictating the game results, Washington takes this one in a landslide.