Team Records: Washington (29-14) at Portland (31-13)
Game Info: 7 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM.
Vegas Line: Washington -3.5
Refs: Ron Garretson, Violet Palmer, Josh Tiven
The Skinny: The Blazers look to bounce back from whatever it is that happened on Thursday as they face the surging Wizards at home. Washington has won there of their last five. The Wizards are 9-6 against the west this year.
Last Season: The two team splits the season series 1-1, with each winning at home.
Projected Wizards Lineup:
PF: Nene Hilario (Brazil, 13th season) – 11.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2 APG
SF: Paul Pierce (Kansas, 17th Season) – 12.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2 APG
C: Marcin Gortat (Poland, 8th season) – 12.3 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.1 APG
SG: Bradley Beal (Florida, 3rd Season) – 14.7 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.3 APG
PG: John Wall (Kentucky, 5th season) – 17 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 10 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 second all-star team on Thursday and has continued to improve his entire game. 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 Saturday night.
Did You Know?: Since changing their name to the Wizards in 1997, Washington has two playoff series wins, both against the Bulls, including last year’s five game series win.
Song of the Day: “1812 Overture” as performed by the National Symphony. One of my all-time favorite experiences is listening to the National Symphony perform this song on the Fourth of July watching fireworks from the steps of the Capitol with fireworks exploding everywhere. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-C Robin Lopez (Hand), PF/C Joel Freeland (Shoulder), Doubtful-SF Nicolas Batum (Wrist), Questionable-C Chris Kaman (Leg)
The Wizards have finally taken that step into the elite. They are legit, deep, maybe not as well coached as many contenders but I’m not entirely sure that matters. Pierce was a nice addition, again more for leadership than on court performance although he’s honestly doing quite well for them. The Wizards are 13th in offense and are very good from almost everywhere, especially when Wall can get Beal going from deep. The Wizards are ranked 6th in defense and are very good at that end as well. It’d be a tough ask for a full strength Blazers team to take them down, now, home magic I hope.
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 decisively from deep, they might well win this.
Washington wins if: Hold Portland under 90 points. A doable task with this shorthanded Blazers squad and their good defense. If they do so, they will almost certainly win.