Washington (2-5) at San Antonio (7-1)
November 13, 2013 at 8:00 PM
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
TV: CSN Washington
Radio: 106.7FM The Fan
Projected starting lineups:
C- Marcin Gortat, PF- Nene, SF- Trevor Ariza, SG- Bradley Beal, PG- John Wall
San Antonio Spurs
C– Tiago Splitter, PF- Tim Duncan, SF- Kawhi Leonard, SG- Danny Green, PG- Tony Parker
John Wall v. Tony Parker
John Wall might just be going up against his toughest individual opponent all season. Russell Westbrook is very challenging, but Tony Parker is a guy who rarely ends up “beating himself.” Parker is going to continually move around the floor, go around hard Tiago Splitter set screens, and penetrate like he is running a go pattern just to run the hitch and release the mid-range jumper. Frankly, it becomes unstoppable if he gets into a groove. Wall will have to keep fighting his way through screens all night and be very smart in how he recovers if he fails to get around one.
On the offensive side, Wall will need to push the pace and get out in front of Parker. He did a good job of pushing the break last night, but when relegated to a half-court offense he struggled to make timely passes to his roll man. Even worse, when Wall was taken out of the game, the offense struggled mightily under Eric Maynor. Washington gets hot from downtown and tends to continue to push that envelope to the point that they become cold. Wall was fantastic last night in fast break opportunities as he knew what he was going to do before he even crossed half-court. Of course it helps that Trevor Ariza was lights out from downtown, but the vision is what we will come to appreciate as the games go by. Wall did a great job of help defense last night in crowding the passing lanes and double-teaming guys like Dirk, but he will not be able to gamble tonight.
Take a look at what Tony Parker does to elite point guards when you ball-watch and play off of your man. Don’t be that guy.
Wizards’ body language. The Wizards came out of the gate losing every game, then found their groove in Brooklyn. Since then, they’ve been in two close contests against some solid squads. The Oklahoma City game was one that nobody predicted them to win, including myself, and they had the game in their grasps late in the 2nd half. Perhaps forcing a top team in the West into overtime was a moral victory of sorts, but it’s not like they had a backdoor cover. The Wizards controlled the game and botched a ten-point lead. They came back and found themselves up early and down late against Dallas. As I watched the game last night, I sat there wondering how Dallas was going to maintain its lead. The Mavericks resorted to a lot of isolation in the half-court while the Wizards were running and gunning. In my eyes, something had to give. Wall was extremely disruptive in continually stripping the opposition as a help-defender, and the Mavericks looked slow and lethargic. The rest of the game was the Wizards going back into a half-court offense that was extremely painful to watch, and leaving Dirk Nowitzki wide open on three possessions in a row. The game was over and the Wizards lost another one on the road that I honestly felt like they could have won.
Now they go into San Antonio on their first back-to-back of the season. The Wizards have not won in San Antonio in 14 years. San Antonio is 7-1 and has blown through teams like the Knicks, Nuggets, and Grizzlies. Will the Wiz Kids come out flat in a game that they are expected to lose? Or will they fight until the end and leave no bullets in the chamber? Losing takes its toll on a team and I am curious to see the body language of the Wizards tonight in how they handle the adversity.
3-point shooting. You saw this one coming. The Spurs historically shoot the ball extremely well from downtown. The Wizards are shooting the 3-ball very well this season. One of these teams will go on a run from behind the arc. Who will it be? And how will the other team recover? Wizards can not afford to leave guys like Danny Green and Matt Bonner open in the same spots they left the Mavericks in last night.
Free Throws. Every time I glance at a box score in a game that the Wizards lost by 10, I notice a few things. The Wizards usually out-rebound the opposition or come out even on the glass. The Wizards usually match the number of assists, and exceed the number of steals of the other team. The Wizards shoot the ball well from downtown. The Wizards have more fast break points than the opposition.The difference? Free-throw shooting. They continue to miss anywhere from ten to thirteen free throws a game. The perpetrator last night? Nene. The perpetrator on average? The whole team, aside from maybe John Wall who is shooting 83% on the year. The Wizards could be sitting at .500 right now if it wasn’t for botching their free-throw opportunities. They are shooting less than 70% as a team for the season.