Team Records: Portland (44-20) at Washington (38-28)
Game Info: 4 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM.
Vegas Line: Washington -2
Refs: John Goble, Tony Brown, Nick Buchert
The Skinny: The Blazers look to continue their winning ways as they play the second half of a back to back in Washington against the surging Wizards. Washington has won four of their last five games after struggling following the all-star beak.
Last Time They Met: LMA decided that he didn’t need that surgery quite yet and his return propelled the Blazers to a big victory. LMA led Portland with 26 points and 9 rebounds in the 103-96 Blazers win.
Projected Wizards Lineup:
PF: Nene Hilario (Brazil, 13th season) – 11.3 PPG, 5 RPG, 2 APG
SF: Paul Pierce (Kansas, 17th Season) – 12.8 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2 APG
C: Marcin Gortat (Poland, 8th season) – 12.1 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.1 APG
SG: Bradley Beal (Florida, 3rd Season) – 14.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.1 APG
PG: John Wall (Kentucky, 5th season) – 17.2 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 10 APG
Player to Watch: Bradley Beal (pictured at right) – John Wall is a fine player, but he alone cannot lead the Wizards to the promised land. They need more than that and Bradley Beal is a a big part of what they need. A sweet shooting guard with a nice stepback game, Beal is a nice complement to Wall’s style. He has struggled to stay healthy at times, but when he plays, he usually does so well. The Wizards are 27-17 when he starts, and 11-11 when he does not. He can be a capable defender but can be beat one on one. Still, he’s not the main piece of the puzzle but he is a big one and the Wizards need him to perform if they want to make it farther this year than they did last year.
Did You Know?: Paul Pierce recently surpassed Alex English for 15th in all time scoring.
Song of the Day: “America the Beautiful” by Katherine Lee Bates. You always hear the first verse but my personal favorite is the third, which goes in part “O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife. Who more than self their country loved And mercy more than life!” Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SG Wesley Matthews (Achilles)
Washington: Out-PF Kris Humphries (Groin), SG Garrett Temple (Hamstring)
Re-Evaluating Washington: Building Off Success
Much like the Blazers, the Wizards weren’t expected to do much in the playoffs last year. Yet, they did, upsetting the Bulls before bowing out quite respectfully to the Pacers in the second round. The challenge for them, as it is for every team in that situation, is to make it not only back to that point but father. Although the Wizards haven’t added much, and their coaching is okay at best, they are a year older and wiser and that may make a difference. You still wouldn’t favor them to make it past the second round, they may not indeed make it back there at all, but they certainly can as long as they build off last year’s success.
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 100 points. When the Wizards hold opponents under 100 points, they are 22-8. If they can do so Monday, they certainly stand a good chance of making that mark 23-8.