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Wizards vs. Warriors game preview: Strictly business, never personal


WARRIORS (22-13) at WIZARDS (14-16)

January 5, 2014 at 6:00 PM
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
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- Andrew Bogut
PF- David Lee
SF- Andre Iguodala
SG- Steph Curry
PG- Klay Thompson


Key matchup:

The backcourts.


I vividly remember discussing some of the NBA’s best backcourts this past summer. There was so much hype around Wall’s expected improvement and Bradley Beal’s early development. The backcourt of Wall and Beal was placed near the top, with one backcourt clearly taking the top spot.

Klay Thompson and Steph Curry are tough to bet against in any matchup. They can both shoot the lights out, and they both have a variety of moves to go to inside the arc. Beal and Wall need to put up points to keep this Wizards team in the game, but they also need to ensure to get back on defense to guard the two sharpshooters for the Warriors. While Thompson and Curry are the heart of the Warriors team, Golden State can still pull off a win with them having bad nights.

If Wall and Beal suffer, the Wizards likely lose. Heck, if one of them has a bad night then the Wizards likely lose. I don’t believe we’ve seen this matchup in full as Beal was out last year, and Klay Thompson spent a lot of time covering John Wall. When they did play last year, Thompson and Wall got into a minor scuffle. Wall ended up being ejected after having a few choice words for Thompson. We will have more on that later. Perhaps we will see them draw one another again, but I’m sure the dynamic of Bradley Beal’s presence could alter Golden State’s game plan.

I trust Wall to keep up defensively with whoever stands in his way. I have no contention with Bradley Beal’s defense as the effort is there, but he has struggled with scorers who can pull up and shoot or put the ball on the floor and use an arsenal of moves at the rim.



Marcin Gortat. After he was the center of attention in the midst of voicing his complaints with his role in the offense, he hasn’t exactly used it as a chip on his shoulder. I won’t say the effort hasn’t been there, but Gortat has struggled mightily in nearly all facets of the game. He hasn’t been rebounding well and he finds himself missing shots that he is accustomed to making. He is visibly frustrated with his level of play and there isn’t a clear reason as to why he is having so much trouble. In his last five games, he’s averaging just 5 rebounds. The Wizards have also dropped five of their last six games at home. This time frame also coincides with Nene being pushed into a reserve role. Gortat needs to show the team and the fans that he can play well without Nene in the starting lineup or the fans will continue to turn on him. It’s not entirely fair, but this is the business that was chosen. Step your game up Gortat, it’s strictly business never personal.

The X-factors:

Rebounding. Once again, when the tallest player on the court is averaging 5.4 rebounds in the last handful of games, rebounding will be an issue. The Wizards found themselves in the thick of things against the Raptors until Toronto decided to start offensively rebounding the ball at will without any sort of resistance from the Wiz Kids. Tonight the Wizards go up against Bogut and Lee, who are no slouches in the rebounding department. The Warriors are 2nd in the league with 46.5 rebounds per game. Where do the Wizards rank? 22nd – with 42.5 per game. If Gortat can’t carry his weight, the Wizards will need guys like Ariza and Booker to crash down. If one player can’t crash down often, it will be Wall as he will need to worry about Steph Curry in the open floor.

Nene Hilario, Shawn Marion
Bench play. Forget bench play, I might as well have just said “Nene.” Nene will be the best player of the two reserve units and he has to make his presence felt. While the Warriors starting lineup is daunting, their bench leaves a lot to be desired. The Wizards have an equally weak bench, but Nene coming off of it helps a little. Vesely could find some minutes in a game like this where the teams are bound to run up and down the floor.

What happened last time they played?

“Take it to the basket, I’ll knock your ass out!”

The Warriors beat the Wizards at Oracle Arena behind Steph Curry’s 35 points and 8 assists. Cartier Martin (yes) led the way for the Wizards with 23 points. Curry left the game in the 4th after tweaking an ankle, but his performance was still enough to build a sizable lead for the Warriors as they won 101-92. Ariza and Beal missed this game. As we mentioned before, Wall and Thompson did get into a mini-altercation in this game that resulted in Wall being ejected. It looks like Wall was yelling at Klay to “take it to the basket, I’ll knock your ass out,” followed by a four line chorus of “take it to the basket!” I’m guessing John Wall didn’t get a Christmas card this year from Klay Thompson. I’ll be sure to check out the pre-game/tip-off handshakes.

Who’s hurt?

l Harrington and Glen Rice remain out. Jermaine O’Neal remains out for the Warriors. Festus (isn’t that the holiday they always reference in Seinfeld?) Ezeli remains out as he recovers from a right knee surgery. I have no idea why I told you all of that information. I don’t think anyone is really curious as to why Festus Ezeli is out, but he sounds like the type of guy that would torch the Wizards for a career-high in points and rebounds.


I spent a lot of time harping on the Wall/Beal matchup against Curry/Thompson (in which I believe the Warriors have an advantage) and I forgot that Andre Iguodala plays for this team. I didn’t emphasize enough that Trevor Booker will be starting with a struggling Gortat against Andrew Bogut and David Lee as a part of a Warriors team that is top two in the league in rebounds. The Warriors are 4-0 on this recent road trip that includes a marquee win over the Miami Heat, and a comeback win against the Atlanta Hawks.

Coming into D.C. and going up against a Wizards team that has dropped five of the last six at home and continues to shoot themselves in the foot should be promising for the Warriors. The Warriors have taken nine of the last 12 matchups from the Wizards, as they won both games last season. Washington has also not beaten a team with a winning record since they beat Atlanta on November 30th. Golden State is a winning team.

The Wizards continue to be a losing team. At one point they were “third in the Eastern Conference” with basically a .500 record. However, they have no true identity and find themselves coughing up big leads or giving the opposing team big leads with poor decision making across the board. They are poorly coached, and the bench is non-existent. Unless things dramatically change, I can’t expect them to beat any representation of a quality basketball team. I’m trying not to be too hard on them, but it’s strictly business – never personal. Warriors take this one by a dozen.

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