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Wizards vs. Nets game preview: Pain is pleasure

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Washington (10-13) at Brooklyn (9-15)

December 18, 2013 at 7:30 PM
Barclay’s Center, Brooklyn, NY
TV: CSN Washington
Radio: 106.7FM The Fan

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Projected starting lineups:

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

Brooklyn Nets
C – Brook Lopez (questionable but expects to play), PF- Kevin Garnett, SF- Paul Pierce, SG- Joe Johnson, PG- Deron Williams

Key matchup:

Nene v. Kevin Garnett

If Wizards fans are into the kinky idea that “pain is pleasure,” then consider Nene a thorn in our side. The Wizards are 3-24 in games that Nene doesn’t play since the start of last season. In exception of Bradley Beal’s return this past week that sparked a win for the Wizards, the Wiz kids are 0-6 this season without Nene. Based on that stat and common sense, its clear the Wizards need Nene. However, the reasons he has missed those games just make Wizards fans blood boil. You can watch a whole game with Nene and he looks fine up until the final buzzer. Then the next day you find out he has chicken pox, or he stubbed his toe on the corner of his bed spring and is out for the remainder of his contract.

If I had one game to use as a microcosm of Nene’s positive impact, it would have to be the last Nets game. He forced Garnett into 2-for-11 shooting from the field, and physically worked him on offense. Nene scored 12 of his 20 points in the final 4:30 of the game, including hitting the game-tying putback that sent it to OT. Since that general space of time, Nene has been injury-riddled and borderline uninspiring.

You look back on plays like this however and realize what he can bring to this team…

Spotlight:

DO I HAVE TO PICK ONE? Let’s just look at all of the scenarios in this game…and granted this could have been included in the closing portion but I just couldn’t wait.

The Nets have been up and down this season just as much as the Wizards.

  • Paul Pierce was nearly shut out last game. He ended up scoring 4 points.
  • Kevin Garnett looked like a shell of himself last game. Nene completely dominated him. Nene is coming back off of injury in this game.
  • Joe Johnson had 29 points in the 3rd quarter last night. He hit 10 triples. Oh lawd.
  • Martell Webster hit six of his own on Monday night. That’s 18 points from downtown alone – and 30 for the game.
  • “Bradley Beal scored a game and career high in the last contest against the Nets (he bested that career high later on against OKC with 34). Beal returned from injury in Monday’s game against the Knicks and capped off a good comeback with the game winner.
  • John Wall outplayed Deron Williams when Williams was in a slump and now Deron has been playing very well the last few weeks. Wiz fans have been hard on Wall lately for his late-game mishaps.
  • Gortat complained about his role in the offense and followed that up with a dud against the Knicks. Tonight he might have to go up against a returning Brook Lopez who had been on fire before he went down with his injury last week.
  • Martell Webster was the MVP of last game even though he was sent back to the bench after Bradley Beal’s return. The constant shifting of Webster from the bench to the starting lineup combined with his recent injury has been tough on Martell but he has handled it extremely well. If he can string together another good bench performance then Wiz fans will be more than satisfied.
  • Andray Blatche.
  • Andrei Kirilenko has a contract built into his marriage in which he and his wife can have a one night stand with anybody they want once a year. Basically they can cheat on each other annually
  • The X-factor:

    Bench play. The Wizards bench is still extremely underwhelming, and that was magnified in games when they were missing their upper echelon guys, namely Bradley Beal, Nene, and Martell Webster. Now that Bradley Beal and Martell are back and playing well, and Nene is set to make his entry back into the starting lineup, it will be interesting to see how Wittman pieces it all back together. Most of these guys have played just as many minutes without each other and in scattered lineups that it will be interesting to note how they react to playing in the same lineups that began their season (an unsuccessful beginning at that).

    3-point shooting. It often makes or breaks the Wizards chances in games and the Nets are coming off shooting 56.9% beyond the arc in their last two games without Lopez. Apparently, his departure from the team due to injury helped their spacing. He will be back in the lineup so let’s see how the Nets offense tries to reinforce their dominance from downtown. The Nets hit a franchise-record 21 3’s in their last game, 10 of them from Joe Johnson, 8 of them coming in the 3rd quarter alone. Another barrage like that from the Nets and this game could be over quick.

    What happened last time they played?

    Paul Pierce and KG were non-existent. Pierce didn’t score until nearly the end of the game. Nene made Kevin Garnett look like an orphan at times, especially when he emphatically rejected Garnett at the rim in the 3rd quarter when Garnett tried to slam one home. Beal tied his career high of 29 points. John Wall had 14 assists. The Wizards erased an 11-point Nets lead within the last 4 and a half minutes of this game. Nene had consecutive three-point plays late in the 4th, along with a putback of John Wall’s missed layup attempt with 1.2 seconds left, tying the game at 99 and forcing it into overtime.

    Who’s hurt?

    Nene is looking increasingly available for this game. Lopez is questionable but expects to play. Jason Terry and Andei Kirilenko remain out for the Brooklyn Nets.

    Outlook:

    The Nets will have revenge on their mind and frankly they have been very good in the last few weeks. The Wizards have not been that great but with Beal back in the lineup they could be going through another honeymoon phase. Both teams are nearly at full strength for the most part and that makes this matchup that more exciting. The Nets have been dominant at Barclays the last few games and they look to extend that against an off and on Wizards team. The stars will be out tonight, perhaps some drinks will be spilled. I can’t wait for this one. It will be too close to call, but don’t the Wizards always make it that way? They like to torture us by keeping every game close, but I guess we enjoy it. I guess pain really is pleasure.

    we are Hoop District

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