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Gameday: Wizards vs. Clippers – Here we go again

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Wizards (22-22) at Clippers (32-15)

January 29, 2014 at 10:30 PM
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: CSN Washington
Radio: 106.7FM The Fan

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Projected starting lineups:

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C- Marcin Gortat
PF- Nene
SF- Trevor Ariza
SG- Bradley Beal
PG- John Wall

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C- DeAndre Jordan
PF- Blake Griffin
SF- Matt Barnes
SG- J.J. Reddick
PG- Darren Collison

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Key matchups

Nene v. Blake Griffin

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The Wizards best shot at winning this matchup is putting Nene on Blake Griffin and also drawing that matchup on the offensive end. Blake Griffin has a little bit of power to go along with elite athleticism at his position. Nene is the perfect player to wear down Blake in the post and draw some early fouls on him. Getting physical with Griffin has occasionally taken him out of his game.

John Wall v. Darren Collison

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Last time against the Clippers, Chris Paul went off for one of the best games of his all-star career. He put up 38 points on 11-14 shooting, hitting five three’s and dishing out 12 assists. Wall did have 24 and 12 assists in that game too, however it wasn’t enough to keep the Wizards afloat as the Clippers downed them 113-97 in that contest. Although Collison is quick himself, Wall has the decided matchup in this one in all departments.

Spotlight

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Trevor Ariza

Although his play can be absolutely maddening and confusing at times, Ariza has been a valuable part of this Wizards team. If he’s not providing clutch defense on Steph Curry on a game-deciding possession, he’s hitting three after three to keep the Wizards in games where nobody else is really showing up. In the beginning of the season, I doubted Wittmans decisions of inserting him into the starting lineup over Martell Webster. I won’t say that I fully regret my stance, as I believe Martell would have done fine in that starting role.

However, Ariza has continued to step up when needed. He’s the third highest scorer for the team. He’s averaging close to 40% from downtown. He had a shooting slump that stretched into this month that he completely eradicated with his recent performances. He had 23 points apiece in the Suns and Jazz games and his barrage of three’s has left opposing defenses feeling helpless. They keep telling each other to shut down Bradley Beal and John Wall. The coaches tell the bench units to just worry about Martell Webster because “he’s all they got.” They keep forgetting about Ariza. Trevor keeps reminding us he shouldn’t be forgotten. Last time he was in a contract year, Ariza was a key cog for a team winning a championship in 2009. This time around he’s a key cog for a team that’s trying to make noise in the playoffs after years of silence. Ironically, Ariza is a quiet man himself; soft-spoken and calculated. He’s letting his play do the talking though.

The X-Factor

Rebounding. The Wizards are one of few teams left in the league with two true big men. You would think that would mean domination on the boards, but that has not exactly been the case. They are 16th in the league in team rebounds. The Clippers are actually right behind the Wiz in this category, sitting at 17th. However, the Clippers have DeAndre Jordan who leads the league at 13.9 rebounds per game. If the Wizards can keep DeAndre out of the lane, the Clippers should struggle to get close to their per game average in rebounds.

Bench scoring.

Jamal Crawford. That is all.

What happened last time they played?

Chris Paul dominated with a 38 point, 12 assist, five three-pointer performance. John Wall gave the Wizards 24 points and 12 assists, but it was not enough as the Clippers beat the Wizards 113-97.

Who’s hurt?

Wizards: Al Harrington.

Clippers: Chris Paul – Out (shoulder)

Outlook

The Clippers have the second best home record in the NBA. The Wizards are better on the road than they are at home, but they have not won in Los Angeles in six years. The Clippers have also taken 9 out of the 10 most recent matchups. The Wizards also are coming off of an emotional victory against the Golden State Warriors last night. They won’t have to travel far to the Staples Center, but they could come out flat after exerting a lot of energy into beating the Warriors.

The Clippers are also much better against the Eastern Conference, as they have won 11 out of 14 matchups against those teams. All stats point to the Clippers roughing up the Wizards to the point of Jan Vesely busting into tears on the bench, but these Wizards seem to defy the odds. I had the Warriors giving the Wiz an old-fashioned beatdown last night and they made me look like a complete idiot. Granted, if the Wizards winning makes me look like an idiot – stick a dunce cap on me and handcuff me to a chair in the middle of a village. I don’t care. And I certainly don’t care to make a prediction here. I’ll just enjoy this one.

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