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Wizards vs. Nuggets Pregame: Matching Denver’s speed and strength


Denver (9-9) at Washington (12-5)

December 5, 2014 at 7:00PM
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
TV: CSNWashington
Radio: 99.1FM

The Wizards come off an electrifying win on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Lakers by welcoming talented, yet erratic Denver Nuggets. Denver started the season with a win, but immediately after dropped six (!) straight contests, forcing many to wonder again if the much praised Brian Shaw hire was, well, the right one.

The Nuggets, however, would right the ship and pull off a string of five wins, including a road victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers and a home win against a Bulls team at full strength. Of note from the Chicago matchup was Kirk Hinrich’s ankles being laid to rest (R.I.P.):

Kirk’s body just kind of gave up. It was like his brain submitted a help desk ticket, but there was no one on staff to process it.

Denver has all the markings of a .500 team. They continue to do what they do well, ranking 5th in the league in scoring and 6th in overall pace. Ty Lawson remains one of the most unheralded point guards in the league, and Kenneth Faried plays like some supra-human being incapable of fatigue.

On the other side of the ball, however, they sag. Despite a solid front court, the Nuggets are nearly last in the league in both opponent points per game and defensive rating. This is probably due to lack of depth beyond Faried and Timofey Mozgov, who are spelled by J.J. Hickson, an undersized power forward/center, and the up and down play of . . . hmm . . . what’s that guy’s name?

Oh, right.

The Wizards are good and the league is on notice. The team continues to get the best of a roster now more balanced than it’s been in recent memory, and consequently, they find ways to win.
There are some good matchups in this game, but Washington will have to keep its streak alive in a game they should win.

Last time they met was..

March 23, 2014 @ Pepsi Center, Denver. The Wizards lost 102-105.

The Wizards last met the Nuggets at the close of a disappointing 1-3 West Coast road trip. Washington had topped the Lakers two nights before, but not before losing contests to the Sacramento Kings and Portland Trailblazers.

This was a high scoring matchup in which Beal and Wall combined for 36 points, and Marcin Gortat played his way to an excellent 16 and 10 effort. Drew Gooden added 15 from the bench, but weighed down the team with a poor -11 efficiency rating. Andre Miller, in his return to his former home, notched only 2 point and 1 assist in thirteen minutes of play.

For Denver, Faried put up a 20 and 8 line, and the team got a whopping 52 points from its bench, including 10 from a guy named . . . wait, hold on . . . hmm.


Areas of Focus

  • Keep Faried off the Glass

Kenneth Faried enjoyed a coming out party this past summer, when he played an instrumental role in Team USA’s FIBA championship. He plays with an unparalleled sense of energy and assertiveness, and can be nearly unstoppable on the boards. His game outside the paint, however, is less than stellar. Faried enjoys most of his success under the basket and getting garbage points, but doesn’t play much of a face-up game.

Assuming Nene gets spot minutes at best, Kris Humphries will draw arguably his second toughest matchup this season (first being Anthony Davis) in Faried. Outside of pace, both Humphries and Faried have a similar style of play, so it will be up to the Wizards’ front court to continue rebounding at a high rate. Humphries and Gortat and pulled down combined rebound totals of 24, 15, and 31 over the past three games.

  • Matching Denver’s Speed

While John Wall and Ty Lawson have similar styles of play; Washington’s overall pace is at about the middle of the pack in the NBA. One of Denver’s strengths is fast break points scored, where as a team, they rank 9th overall in the NBA. They have the personnel in Lawson, Faried, and Wilson Chandler to exhaust teams, and Nate Robinson off the bench will be a challenge.

The key to slowing down the Nuggets will be, of course, controlling turnovers and excellent rebounding. Washington can excel in the half court.

Who’s Out?

Wizards: Nene practiced yesterday, but remains questionable for tonight. Martell Webster remains out.

Nuggets: Javale McGee is questionable, and Randy Foye is out.

Paying Homage

mike adams

Michael Adams, who played five seasons for the Nuggets, bookended his Denver tenure with three seasons playing for the Washington Bullets. Michael was short, man. And he played on some awful, awful Bullets teams in the dark, sticky dungeon that was the Capital Centre. I used to live less than 10 minutes from the Capital Centre, and with the team being so dismal, tickets would practically be dropped in the bottom of your fast food bags, unsolicited.

Some Bullets players would patronize businesses not too far from the arena, including my barbershop which was close by. I’ll never forget one of the barbers saying that even in the mid-90s, Michael always wanted the same traditional bowl cut and goatee shape up. Nothing else.

Once, one of them tried to give him a fade and Michael jerked his head away. Easy on the fade, man. Just keep it basic.

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