Team Records: Portland (34-13) at Washington (23-23)
Game Info: 4 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM.
Vegas Line: Portland -1.5
Refs: Jason Phillips, Pat Fraher, Haywoode Workman
The Skinny: The Blazers look to build off of their needlessly close win over the Raptors Saturday as they begin a four-game east coast swing. They open against a Wizards team that has been very inconsistent this year. Expected to take a big jump this year, the Wizards have gone decidedly sideways. Still, they are coming off a very impressive win over OKC in their last game Saturday and are not to be taken lightly.
Last Season: The Wizards swept the season series 2-0, the first time Washington has done so since the 2004-05 season.
Projected Wizards Lineup:
PF: Nene Hilario (Brazil, 12th season) – 13.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 3.1 APG
SF: Trevor Ariza (UCLA, 10th Season) – 14.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.8 APG
C: Marcin Gortat (Poland, 7th season) – 12 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.5 APG
SG: Bradley Beal (Florida, 2nd Season) – 16.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.2 APG
PG: John Wall (Kentucky, 4th season) – 19.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 8.6 APG
Player to Watch: John Wall (pictured at right) – It took a few years, but John Wall has finally blossomed into the player many had hoped he would be when he was drafted #1 overall a few years ago.. Wall was deservedly named to his first all-star team on Thursday and has shown marked improvement in turnovers, assists and steals this season. On offense, Wall is good when he tries to attack the rim but when he settles for jumpers he is less than spectacular, although dangerous enough you can’t just ignore his outside shot like you could his first few years in the NBA. On defense, Wall has quick hands and the ability to stay in front of players. He will be another big challenge for Portland Monday night.
Did You Know?: The Wizards are 0-7 this year in games where they are attempting to get above .500. Washington hasn’t been above .500 since a 2-1 start in the 2009-10 season.
Song of the Day: “Magic Dance” by David Bowie from the 1986 cult classic Labyrinth. An appropriate song for this up and down team Enjoy:
Washington: Out – PF Al Harrington (Knee)
The Wizards were among the teams expected to make the biggest jump this season, especially after they cashed in a bunch of their chips in trading for Gortat. It has been better than last year but perhaps not as good as Wizards fans would have hoped. The Wizards are a below average team in both offense and defense that frankly is pretty lucky to be at .500 so far this year. Washington is not exactly a high-powered offensive team but when they do get going well it is from beyond the arc, where they shoot 37.5%. The Wizards are good at moving the ball around on offense to find open shooters but can be vulnerable to sloppy turnovers. On defense, the Wizards do two things well, force turnovers and limit opponents to one shot. That’s good because they do a below average job actually defending the shots teams do manage to take. If an opponent can get into an offensive flow against the Wizards, Washington doesn’t stand much of a chance. The Blazers will have to do so Monday.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They make more 3s than Washington. Both Portland and Washington want to make teams pay with the 3. If Portland can outshoot the Wizards from beyond the arc Monday, they should win.
Washington wins if: Hold Portland under 90 points. A very difficult ask but if the Blazers are sloppy as they have been at times as of late, Washington should be able to win this.