Team Records: Washington (8-30) at Portland (20-20)
Game Info: 7 p.m., TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.
Vegas Line: Portland -6
Refs: Bill Kennedy, Matt Boland, Haywoode Workman
The Skinny: After a fifth straight loss on Saturday to the Bucks, Portland looks to right the ship and get back on track as they face the suddenly hot Wizards at home. Don’t be fooled by the Wizards’s record, they have been playing much better as of late. Washington is 3-2 in its last five games and have been close in both of their losses. Oh and of course they already beat Portland once this year.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers gave the Wizards their first win of the season as they played a truly awful game, falling behind early and holding on late in a game that frankly Portland had no business even being in at the end.
Projected Wizards Lineup:
PF: Nene (Brazil, 11th season) – 12.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.5 APG
SF: Martell Webster (Seattle Prep (HS), 8th Season) – 9.5 PPG, 4 RPG, 1.7 APG
C: Emeka Okafor (Connecticut, 9th season) – 8.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.1 APG
SG: Bradley Beal (Florida, Rookie) – 13.9 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.7 APG
PG: AJ Price (Connecticut, 4th season) – 8.8 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 4.7 APG
Player to Watch: John Wall (pictured at right) – John Wall finally returned five games ago from his serious patella injury and it has made all the difference in the world to the beleaguered Wizards. Bradley Beal now has a player who knows how to pass the ball to him in the right position to shoot and make open 3s, they have someone who plays good defense and they have a player who can attack the rim seemingly at will on offense. On offense, Wall is good when he tries to attack the rim but when he settles for jumpers he is less than spectacular and he still turns the ball over too often (although less than he did his first few years in the league). On defense, Wall has quick hands and the ability to stay in front of players. He will be another real challenge for Lillard Monday night.
Did You Know?: The Wizards are the only team in the NBA to have 11 different players record a double double this season.
Song of the Day: “My Boyfriend’s Back” by the Ravonettes-Wizards fans have to feeling pretty good now that John Wall is back and other teams need to watch out. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliot Williams (Achilles), Questionable-C Meyers Leonard (Ankle)
Washington: Out – PF Cartier Martin (Knee)
Re-Evaluating the Wizards: The Joys of a Proper Point Guard
There is no question that the Wizards were a raging dumpster fire for much of this seasons, winning only 5 of their first 33 games and looking alternatively occasionally promising and hopeless, often in the same game. Yet when John Wall came back, it all changed, and the question is why? Well, there are three primary reasons. First, you have a very good player to run your offense and one who has both the skill and vision to get the ball to teammates in the best position for them to score. Second, you have a player who can drive it to the rim and score it himself, something that AJ Price certainly could not do. Third and perhaps most importantly, you have a more than competent defender to place on the other teams’s point guard, a key need in a league that is seeing more and more good point guards come out every season. In short, the Wizards turned from road kill to a team that you have to put up a good effort to beat, all because of the return of John Wall.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They lead after three quarters. Portland can’t keep playing this game of falling way behind, making an insane comeback and hoping to get lucky in the end. To beat the Wizards Monday they must take charge from the beginning and lead from ahead rather then come from behind.
Washington wins if: Hold Portland under 90 points. A difficult ask but if the Blazers are sloppy as they were Saturday, its very possible to see the Wizards winning one Monday.