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Wizards vs. Pacers preview: Get that dirt off your shoulders


Wizards (16-17) at Pacers (28-7)

January 10, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
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- Roy Hibbert
PF- David West
SF- Danny Granger
SG- Paul George
PG- George Hill


Key matchups:


Paul George v. Trevor Ariza

Well, when you’re Paul George you usually get thrown into this section. Or maybe it’s more so the guy guarding Paul George. Danny Granger will draw Trevor Ariza and vice versa based on the positional matchups, but with Granger on a minutes limit we will likely see the classic Ariza versus George showdown.

We harped on this last time, that being the similarities between Ariza and George. They are both long and athletic, they can both get hot from downtown, and they are both defensive-minded. That last sentence was painful to write, as I just put Ariza and George in the same long and elaboratory statement.

Paul George is like how Trevor Ariza would play if he was on a cocktail of human growth hormone and Adderall. Last time out, George had 23 points, which was part of an irrelevant stat line that wasn’t totally responsible for the stomping the Pacers put on the Wizards. The Wizards were depleted and the guys who did suit up were no-shows.


Marcin Gortat v. Roy Hibbert

Another matchup to pay attention to is Gortat and Hibbert. Gortat held Hibbert without a field goal in the first half of the last matchup. Eventually Hibbert found his way to the point column but Gortat’s effort and performance was commendable as a whole. If you throw in Gortat’s team-high 17 points and 10 rebounds, you can see why he might be integral to the teams chances of getting into the win column tonight.


Jan Vesely.

Yo. You’re either smiling or continuing to read with a face of disgust. You probably look like how Jay-Z looked after he heard the “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” instrumental. Curious. Enamored. Slightly confused.

So last night I was hanging out with some friends, notably Ahmad Ayyad, owner of the popular local bar and lounge Darna. It’s a great place to hang out during the week and party at on the weekends, which is probably why a select few Wizards players actually go there when they need a chance to get away from work. Yes I am advertising, but I can also vouch for the quality of this place. Go ahead, ask Jan though, he will tell you. I don’t advertise often though in my articles, let me tell you that.

*Cut to shot of me drinking Pepsi and smacking my lips*

After a hard day of work, a can of Pepsi always cools me down. Ahhhh…

Okay, back to brass tacks. So we were discussing the Wizards and how they are playing as of late and somebody said …

“Oh yeah, Vesely had a great game last night.”

So I pulled up his stat line and saw 12 points and seven rebounds.

And ya know what…that is great.

Jan Vesely has been a running punchline for so long. Yes, he is a bust when you take into consideration his draft place. Is that his fault? Blame the Wizards for taking him so early. At that, it’s hard enough to be drafted by a D.C. sports team and be successful. I’m not making excuses for players who don’t work hard, but the expectations and eventual backlash of not meeting them is outrageous around here.

At this point, Vesely should be appreciated for what he brings. He hustles, he brings energy, and he scraps. He displays flashes of very good athleticism from time to time but at this point we shouldn’t expect him to turn into anything close to a dominant forward. I’m not even quite sure why there are games he doesn’t get any playing time. It seems Wittman glued him to the bench for a stretch of games at a time when I thought he was very good for the bench unit. Maybe with some positive reinforcement and confidence from his coaches he can develop some more skills that can make him more of a threat.

Just this last game against the Pelicans, he had an eight point, four rebound run in the 2nd quarter that helped the Wizards take control of the game. He’s made key plays in games that have shifted the momentum in the Wizards favor. He had a very good third quarter against the Bobcats this past Monday in a game that the Wizards won. Teams don’t pay attention to him and he can take advantage by being an active cutter to the basket. Nobody expects much out of him. He’s an underdog.

The X-factors:

Bench play.

It will be the usual time restrictions for Beal and Nene, which means every Wizards’ contribution will be needed to even compete in this game. The Pacers added a lot of depth to their bench in free agency and in retooling their starting lineup. The Wizards look to have gotten their depth at a yard sale. They will need Vesely and Garrett Temple to come out strong because Lance Stephenson is a known commodity in the world of bench players. He came close to a triple-double in the last contest against the Wizards. Stephenson is questionable with a knee injury though so if he is out then the Wizards will have to combat the likes of….Chris Copeland?

2nd chance points.

The Wizards need as many attempts as they can get their hands on. If Vesely gets some burn and Booker gets some shine it will likely be from offensive rebounds and putbacks.

What happened last time they played?

The Wizards had a three-game winning streak going into Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, and got stomped en route to a 20-point loss. John Wall rarely attacked the rim and finished with eight points on 4-of-14 shooting. Paul George led the Pacers with 23 points, and Gortat led the Wizards with 17 points. The Wizards had zero fast-break points in this game. At that point the Wizards were 2nd in the league in fast-break scores. The Wizards had 18 turnovers, shot 40% from the field and 33% from behind the arc. To top it off, they were missing Nene, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter (okay maybe Otto was a given).

Who’s hurt?

Al Harrington and Glen Rice remain out. Lance Stephenson is questionable with a knee injury.


If there was a worst time to catch the Pacers, this is it. They’re coming off of a loss to an Atlanta team devoid of Al Horford, and the Wizards went into the last Pacers game at the Fieldhouse with a three-game winning streak before they were promptly crushed by Indiana.

However, Beal, Nene, Wes Unseld, Gilbert Arenas, and Walt Bellamy were all out. You can’t expect the Wiz Kids to win without all of their prized possessions? I’m not concerned about this game being on the road, as the Wizards have played better away from home. In addition to that, the Pacers don’t exactly have the best home-court advantage in the grand scheme of things. Granted, they play well at home but it’s not exactly the Arrowhead Stadium of basketball arenas.

The Pacers haven’t seen Beal this season so I’m curious as to how they will play him. Nene wasn’t playing last game and Gortat pulled down 10 boards. Let’s see how the Nene and Vesely combo can be a change of pace after the Gortat and Booker combo wreaks havoc on the hearts and minds of the Indiana Pacers front court. Who’s going to guard Garrett Temple? Has Frank Vogel even considered all of these factors?

The Wizards have to get out on the fast-break quick. It’s their chicken and rice. I’d say it’s their bread and butter but that’s reserved for their 3-point shooting. Either way, there will be a lot of food to go around tonight and let’s hope the Wizards are hungry. Especially Jan Vesely.

Get that Dirt off Your Shoulder.

we are Hoop District

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