Wizards (33-31) at Magic (19-47)
March 14, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Amway Center, Orlando, FL
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- Nikola Vucevic
PF- Kyle O’Quinn
SF- Maurice Harkless
SG- Arron Afflalo
PG- Jameer Nelson
First meeting since..
February 25, 2014 @ Verizon Center
Tonight should be a perfect bounce-back game for the Wizards. The last time these two teams faced one another, the terrible Orlando defense surrendered 115 points to the Wizards, who shot 62% from 3. Trevor Ariza particularly thrived off the Magic’s inability to close out on shooters, knocking down all five of his 3-point attempts. Part of Orlando’s problem getting out on shooters was the Wizards’ ability to swing the ball beautifully, totaling with 24 team assists. Also, despite the Wizards committing 12 turnovers, the Magic never was able to capitalize in transition, getting zero points on the fast break.
One key matchup tonight will be Magic center Nikola Vucevic vs. Marcin Gortat. In his 3rd season, Vucevic is seemingly part of Orlando’s future down low and has become a double double machine for the otherwise struggling Magic. Against the Wizards in February, Vucevic scored 19 points with 14 rebounds, helping the Magic outplay the Wizards in points in the paint and on the glass. Gortat, however, has been a machine himself. A Polish one (LoLZ). Anchoring the middle in Nene’s absence has fared well for Gortat but he struggled against Al Jefferson on Wednesday. Vucevic is no Jefferson and Gortat isn’t quite Gortat after a bad game, if that makes sense. This one should be fun.
..The Silver Lining..
[Original image by John Raoux/AP]
Amid most of the ongoing predicaments in life therein lies a silver lining. A speck of hope. A reason left to live. For the Orlando Magic, that reason is Victor Oladipo.
Besides a fallout year in 2003, life in Orlando hasn’t been this rough since their inaugural seasons of the early 90s. After surviving the “Dwightmare” saga in 2012, the Magic tapped out and officially began a full blown rebuilding process which, as Wizards fans are knowledgeable of, is not to come without a shit ton of losing. Dwight’s exit was followed through with the acquisition of a few role players to piece together a support group, and in last years draft the arrival of who they hope will serve as the rebuilding nucleus, Upper Marlboro’s finest Victor Oladipo.
While the Magic nearly sent Arron Afflalo to the All-Star Game and have enjoyed a decent season out of Tobias Harris, their true prize and promise for the future lies in the progression Victor Oladipo. As a former College Player of the Year, Co-Defensive Player of the Year and 2013 All-American, Oladipo has enough dough to mold him into a complete end-to-end player in the NBA. Although he hasn’t quite earned the keys to the Epcot Center just yet, the Magic have chosen him and trusted him to be the owner of a copy in the seasons to come while they establish the movement around him.
This season, Oladipo’s numbers have been fair to decent, or decent to good all depending on your expectations for a 2nd overall pick who plays on a terribly bad team. For the Wizards to contend Oladipo tonight they must be alert for his active presence on defense. Oladipo averages 1.6 steals per game and on five separate nights this season has stole the ball fives times in the game. Offensively, Vic averages just 14 points a game and has shown the knack for getting hot from the field in spurts. However, in recent times, Oladipo has been nagged by an ankle injury and hasn’t performed very well, even missing two games.
John Wall FG% by quarter (season) 1. 50% 2. 42.4% 3. 39.7% 4. 40.4% (In the clutch: 35.4%)
— HELLO my name is (@JohnCTownsend) March 13, 2014
Yeah so it’d be swell if John can stop fading behind the curtain before the game ends. The above stats were tweeted out shortly after the Wizards’ loss to Charlotte, a game in which John scored 18 first half points to just five in the second half. It’s an interesting stat that could be drawn from both bad jump shooting and missed shots at the rim (duh) – but a good portion of those rim shots due to non-called contact in the paint.
Numbers are not liars and (sober) vision does not deceive. The Wizards have become a decent closing team as the season has come along but Wall’s shooting output in the second half and late in games often warrant, if anything, a raised eyebrow. A lot of Wizards games this year have been relatively close down the stretch which commonly extend the liberty to star players to shoot at will. Evidently, that doesn’t bode well for John Wall although his jump shooting percentage has overall improved.
The requisite for how deep into spring – and in some outrageously optimistic minds summer – the Wizards play will rely mainly on how John composes his team on the floor down the stretch and part of that comes from him putting the ball in the basket.