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Gameday: Wizards vs. Spurs – The final boss

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Spurs (35-13) at Wizards (24-23)

February 5, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
TV: CSN Washington
Radio: 106.7FM The Fan

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Projected starting lineups:

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

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C- Tim Duncan
PF- Boris Diaw
SF- Danny Green
SG- Corey Joseph
PG- Tony Parker

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Key matchup

John Wall v. Tony Parker

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John Wall comes into this game having to directly up against one of the most difficult point guards in the NBA to contain. Parker has a dizzying array of spin moves and head fakes and he’s relentless in his attack.

Au contraire, Wall has become relentless in his. If we take Parker’s much higher efficiency on offense out of the equation, not much separates their individual skills. Albeit they utilize them differently- John Wall is averaging slightly more than PPG than Parker, more APG, and more RPG. Wall is shooting better from behind the charity stripe, and he’s obviously a much better defender. Parker does put in some effort on defense, but his physical limitations in terms of playing screens and having to body up with bigger point guards leave him giving up points in bunches. Parker essentially makes his offense his defense. Having to follow Tony Parker all around the court, fighting through every screen, and figuring out the angles he likes to take can be mind-numbing. He leaves opposing point guards fatigued, confused, and frustrated. Just ask Russell Westbrook.

Now perhaps this video is more indicative of how Westbrook struggles to concentrate on the task at hand, but Westbrook and and Wall have shared a few similar traits in the past. Both have utilized their speed and sheer agility to dominate games, sometimes neglecting their smarts. They have both improved upon that immensely, but it just goes to show how Tony Parker can outsmart his opposition, rendering their physical skills useless on the defensive end.

Wall did a great job on fighting through screens and making big plays in the OKC and Portland games. He needs to keep that same attitude. Be careful though John, these Spurs are a submission team. They will continue to attempt to execute things until they get them right. Tony Parker is the head surgeon on a team full of guys with scalpels with no mercy. Wall needs to disrupt Parker’s flow off of the bat, because he always seems to get in a groove.

Spotlight

Kevin Seraphin

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Many teams can live with John Wall putting up 20 points and 10 assists. They’ve learned to live with Trevor Ariza hitting a few three’s and grabbing six or seven rebounds. They saw Bradley Beal shoot the lights out at Florida. What does throw other teams off is when Kevin Seraphin comes out and dominates their team. I bet that his name doesn’t even come up when other teams are gameplanning for the Wizards. Taking his valuable but scattered string of strong performances for the Wizards, it should come up.

Against the Portland Trail Blazers, Seraphin did a little bit of everything. He did a little bit of everything he wouldn’t have been able to do if Trevor Booker didn’t miss the game for personal reasons. Seraphin had a season-high 19 points on 7 of 10 shooting with five rebounds in just 23 minutes off of the bench. I’m sure we all remember his 18-point second half against Dwight Howard and the Rockets this past January. Something about Dwight Howard in the locker room lamenting the fact that he let Kevin Seraphin dominate him in a large portion of a game just makes me giggle.

Anytime Seraphin has a game like this, you can see how effusive the praise is from his teammates. After this most recent contast, Martell Webster gushed about how talented Kevin Seraphin is.

“Kevin can do a lot of great things, and all he’s needed is the minutes.”

Webster went on to say how #KSLife just needed to work hard on his rebounding (implying that he had) and everything else would fall into line.

Imagine how good this team would be if they could count on Kevin Seraphin to contribute on a night to night basis.

Imagine how Earth would be if we had no gravity.

Hopefully we find out about one of these things.

The X-Factor

Defense, defense, DEFENSE!!
The Wizards have won games because they’ve played great defense. That defense has led to a good flow on offense. That’s because they’ve turned turnovers into transition points. They scored 18 points in transition against Portland as opposed to six for the Trail Blazers. They crowded the opposition at the top of the arc in the OKC game, forcing turnovers and fast-break points. If they thought playing defense against Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Alridge and Damian Lillard was hard, think again.

The Spurs are like the final boss in a video game. The last level bad guy. The final bad guy isn’t the strongest, or the fastest, but he’s the smartest. Hopefully our young guys like Beal and Wall and watching and rewinding the film ad nauseum prior to tonight’s tip-off. They can’t just come out here and hope to catch on; they need to know what’s going to happen before it happens. Washington has allowed an average of 85.3 ppg in its last three wins against offensive powerhouses like Golden State, Oklahoma, and Portland. That could be the magic number tonight.

What happened last time they played?

Tony Parker and five other Spurs scored in double digits as San Antonio beat the Wizards 92-79 in San Antonio on Nov. 13th. Wall had a quiet night as he scored 14 points, but on 5 of 19 shooting.

Who’s hurt?

Wizards: Al Harrington (knee)

Clippers: Kawhi Leonard (hand)

Outlook

The Wizards are in the zone right now. San Antonio is a different test altogether, as they combine discipline with the best coaching in the league. The Wizards have done a good job on both ends of the ball lately. The Spurs have done a great job on defense this year – that is when they aren’t playing the best teams in the league. The Spurs shut down mediocre attacks. However, the Spurs have an abysmal record against the top seeds in the league.

If the Wizards can find any creases in this Spurs defense, this game could go heavily in the Wizards favor. This matchup is a huge litmus test for the Wizards. The Spurs weakness is exactly what we have been waiting for the Wizards to be. With Gortat and Nene posing offensive threats, and Beal and Wall being young phenoms, and Trevor Ariza being Mr. Reliable, we’ve been waiting for this offense to take it to the next level of consistency and borderline dominance.

So if the Spurs routintely shut down less than good offenses, and the Wizards win tonight, what’s that say? It says absolutely nothing you fool! Kawhi Leonard isn’t playing. Wizards by 5.

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