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Category Archives: Washington Wizards

With the holiday season upon us, it’s time to start spreading some seasonal cheer and nobody in the NBA needs the love more than our Washington Wizards. Currently sitting at 3-16, the Wiz started the season with a franchise worst 12 game losing streak before finally knocking off the Blazers, Heatles, and Hornets in their last 7 games. With games against the struggling Lakers tonight and a rematch in South Beach Saturday, than 4 games in 5 nights before Christmas, the Wiz have a chance to build some positive momentum going into 2013.

The team has been hit with all sorts of adversity already in the young year, but I’ve been impressed with their effort level and fight. Sure, we haven’t won many games, but we aren’t rolling over for anyone either. We’ve missed Nene for over a month, still haven’t seen our franchise player, John Wall, lace it up this year and have lost spark-plug AJ Price, the overpaid Trevor Ariza, and hard-nosed Trevor Booker for different lengths of time, but Randy’s bunch continues to fight night in and night out. The reality is the Wizards don’t have the talent to sustain these types of extended injuries to our best players and stay in the playoff hunt as fans all hoped going into the year.

The season may be disappointing, but that doesn’t mean the whole team lands on Santa’s naughty list. We at the DC Dime have collected a list, and checked it twice, and are happy to publish the holiday wishes from our favorite team.  All we want for Christmas is some wins, guys, but we hope all your season’s wishes can come true too.

Jordan Crawford: All I want for Christmas is some 4th quarter help. As much as I like having the green light to do my thing, it’s getting frustrating doing it all myself. Santa, when are  all the guys getting back?

Bradley Beal: All I want for Christmas is a healthy Point Guard that can help make my life easier on offense. I’m a shooter and scorer, and a certain pass first guard that hasn’t played with me yet this season would be the ultimate holiday gift.

Jan Vesely: All I want for Christmas is to develop a semblance of an offensive game. I know I can make an impact for the team on the defensive end, but my offensive offense has kept me firmly on the bench.

Kevin Seraphin: All I want for Christmas is the starting nod. Sure, I’m not a tough defender/rebounder, but I am the team’s only player creating offense in the paint. I’m a bit inconsistent, but I’m also only 23! Santa, I just want coach to let me play through it and learn, I’m a big part of this team’s future.

AJ Price: All I want for Christmas is to get back into the lineup. I’ve been able to showcase what I can do for the first time in my career here in Washington. With Wall coming back my minutes will definitely decrease. I want to continue to show my worth to help this team win. Hope the hand heals fast, Santa.

Chris Singleton: All I want for Christmas is a little recognition. I’ve been one of the team’s most consistent performers all year, but I feel like our fans barely know my name. Hell, Sam Presti wanted me as part of the Harden trade, that makes me a somebody right? A loud cheer is all I need to make my holidays complete.

Nene: All I want for Christmas is for this pesky foot problem to go away. It’s been two years, it’s really getting old.

Trevor Ariza: All I want for Christmas is to get cut a little slack, Santa. It’s not my fault I’m overpaid and incapable of performing up to my contract. I’ve quickly become a fan-favorite to hate, don’t they realize I can hear their groans when I run an isolation and force a bad jumper. I’m trying hard guys, when I get back into the lineup I’ll show you.

John Wall: All I want for Christmas is my two healthy knees, my two healthy knees, my two healthy knees. All I want for Christmas is my two healthy knees for this to be a Merry Christmas. (And John that’s all we want too)

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The Washington Wizards, with the help of a furious rally starting in the third quarter and stretching into the fourth, were able to make the Atlanta Hawks nervous last night after falling behind by 18 before ultimately falling to their division rival 104-95. Washington cut the Hawks lead to 84-82 before Atlanta finished the game on a 20-13 run ending any hope of another Wizards comeback. Kevin Seraphin and Bradley Beal led Washington on offense with 19 and 18 points respectively. Beal was the only starter to crack double digits as the other four Wizards starters (AJ Price, Chris Singleton, Martell Webster and Emeka Okafor) could only muster 20 combined points on the evening going a combined 10-23 from the floor and 1-2 from the foul line.

Washington simply did not put a full 48 minutes together on the road in Atlanta like they did at the friendly confines of the Verizon Center earlier in the week against Miami. While the comeback is admirable this team simply does not have the level of talent to constantly dig themselves out of double digit holes. It feels like a broken record when I say it but the story remains the same in a majority of these losses. Until this team can put a full 48 minutes together and compete on at an NBA level these results will continue. Quite frankly, even whenever this team finally gets back to full health it would still be rough to continue playing this way night in and night out and expect to compete for victories.

The Hawks absolutely blitzed Washington last night as all five of the Hawks starters scored in double digits led by Josh Smith and his 23 points and 15 rebounds. Al Horford made his presence felt as well as he notched another double double finishing the game with 14 points and 14 rebounds on 7-11 from the field. Washington had no answer for these two players last night and when you let them go off and allow all three of their starting guards to score at least 15 points like the Wizards did last night you really stand no chance.

It was an0ther rough road lesson for a team still searching for their first taste of victory away from home. The only saving grace is that there is no time for the Wizards to think about this loss as they find themselves right back at it this evening against the Golden State Warriors in D.C.

The Teams: Golden State Warriors (12-7) vs. Washington Wizards (2-14)

The Time: 7:00 PM

The Place: Verizon Center (Washington D.C.)

TV/Radio: Comcast Sportsnet DC/106.7 The Fan DC

Why You Should Watch:

Stephen Curry might put on a shooting display. The Warriors come to the Nation’s capital having won nine out of their last twelve games as Curry and David Lee have been leading the way for the Warriors for the most part. Andrew Bogut continues to struggle to get healthy making the Monta Ellis trade from last season look more and more questionable with every game Bogut misses which certainly wasnt the plan when the Warriors made that trade last year. On the season Golden State is 6-4 on the road and are coming off of back to back wins on the road over Detroit and Brooklyn respectively.

Why The Wizards Can Win:

This game is being played at home. So far, and especially of late, the Wizards have shown they are playing much better basketball at home than they are on the road. This isnt overly surprising as most teams do better playing in their own arena than when they have to travel throughout the country. Golden State is in the middle of their longest road trip of the season and could be primed to be picked off by a team they could potentially be taking lightly. Should the Wizards be able to slow down the Warriors duo of Curry and Lee then they should be in this game at the end with a chance to get their third win at home in as many tries.

Pick:

I think both teams will come out sluggish as both played in different cities last night. As the game bores on look for Bradley Beal to build off of last nights 18 point effort and for Kevin Seraphin to continue to be the Wizards best offensive big man as Washington takes the game at home over the streaking Warriors.

Washington: 94

Golden State: 89

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The Teams: Washington Wizards (2-13) vs. Atlanta Hawks (10-5)

The Time: 7:30 PM

The Place: Philips Arena (Atlanta, GA)

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet, 106.7 The Fan DC

Tonight the Wizards make a return trip to the arena known as the “Highlight factory” to take on their divisional foe the Atlanta Hawks. This marks the second trip by the Wizards to Atlanta on the year as their first visit ended with a crushing last tenth of a second defeat. Thankfully, the Wizards have been playing pretty decent basketball as of late winning two of their last three games. Hopefully this road trip goes a bit better than the last trip the Wizards took away from home when they were blown out by the New York Knicks.

If you read the preview for the game against the Heat on Tuesday night you noticed that I stressed the effort level that the Wizards needed to exude to have a chance to win. The Wizards outworked the Heat on Tuesday night and that is why they were as successful as they were against the defending champions. Any loose ball or rebound was aggressively gone after by Washington and it helped propel them to victory. Randy Wittman stressed that the Wizards needed a “Statement game” against Miami and that is exactly what he got out of his team.

The Hawks come into tonight’s matchup having won seven of their last eight games with a two point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers being their only blemish on the current run they are on. Al Horford, who had 25 and 12 in a win over the Nuggets on Wednesday night, will be the Hawk to keep an eye on as he has posted a double-double in three straight games. Emeka Okafor, Kevin Seraphin and Nene will have their hands full with the Dominican center by way of the University of Florida this evening. If Horford is allowed to go off and have a big game a la the likes of David West, Roy Hibbert and every other opposing big man that has given it to Washington this season the Wiz Kids will have a steep hill to climb to win their second game in a row.

As has been the theme of the season so far, the Wizards will need a big game out of Jordan Crawford in order to remain competitive. With John Wall still out of the lineup without any indication of when he may return from his knee issues Crawford’s importance to this team has increased significantly. Despite coming off the bench and averaging only 30 minutes per game Crawford has proven to be the Wizards most reliable scoring option. Tuesday, Crawford led the team in points and assists coming off the bench. If he were to have a similar performance tonight in Atlanta I like the Wizards chances at winning back to back games for the first time this season.

Prediction:

Washington Wizards: 94

Atlanta Hawks: 90

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The Wizards have won three games in a row versus the Miami Heat stretching back to last season, let that sink in for a second.

This is the third longest winning streak against the Heatles for this franchise since Miami’s inception in 1989. For some perspective, the last time the Wizards/Bullets won at least three games in a row against Miami was the 2007/2008 season. The time before that? How about the first four meetings between the two teams all the way back in 1989/1990.

Going into last nights contest I said that for the Wizards to be successful in their quest for a second victory on the season they would have to out work Miami in every facet of the game. To be honest, that is exactly what happened at the Verizon Center Tuesday night. Washington came out with a lot of energy, as I thought they would, in response to the beating the Knicks handed them last Friday at the Mecca of basketball in New York City and took it to the South Beach trio all night long.

Washington was able to put up 60 points in the first half, a season high, on 58% shooting (21/36) from the floor. This was the first of many impressive stat lines for this team on the evening. Washington outrebounded Miami 44 to 43 on the evening led by Kevin Seraphin who pulled down 10 rebounds off of the bench. The Wizards were uncharacteristically unselfish last night as well setting a season high for assists in a single game with 31. When you can have assists on 31 of the 38 total baskets you score in a game more times than not you are setting yourself up for success.

It was going to take an inspired effort by multiple Wizards players to take down the defending champions last night, thankfully there were plenty of Wizards who stepped up to the plate…mainly Jordan Crawford and Kevin Seraphin. Crawford was feeling his jump shot early on and, in typical JC fashion, Crawford filled it up leading the Wizards with 22 points and 6 assists. Kevin Seraphin provided another massive boost off the bench for the Wizards as well. The French big man finished the evening with 16 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes. What was so special about Seraphin’s performance last night was how lights out he was from the floor. Seraphin took 12 shots and converted on 8 of them, shooting 75% from the field against the defending champions is one solid night at the office.

It needs to be noted that the Miami Heat did not just roll over and give this game away to Washington as some would assume. There was not a comfortable Wizards fan in the arena last night until the clock showed 0.0 and the Wiz Kids had officially doubled their win total on the 2012/2013 season. LeBron had a triple double, Chris Bosh went 8/11 from the field and Dwayne Wade finished with 24 points so the big three certainly showed up. The entire Heat roster probably didn’t play their best game by any stretch of the imagination, as most NBA teams couldn’t hang with them were they clicking on all cylinders, and that was good enough for Washington to creep up and earn the upset victory. Wizards players. coaches and fans alike had to withstand a furious comeback by the Heat as Miami closed what was a 10 point cushion down to a one possession game with less than 10 seconds remaining before they were finally able to do some celebrating.

A win is a win and for Wizards fans they have been few and far between so far this season. Washington has won two out of its last three including its last two games at the friendly confinds of the Verizon Center. Washington has a chance to stretch their win total to three as they travel to Atlanta this Friday to avenge a one point loss at the buzzer to the Hawks. Check back later in the week as we will have a full preview of Friday’s contest.

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Its game time here at the Phone Booth y’all. The Wizards are taking on the defending champion Miami Heat in, what one can only hope, will be a competitive matchup for 48 minutes. When we have credentials we like to live blog the game so for your reading pleasure I present Heats vs Wizards…Round 1.

Pregame Intros: LeBron James and Dwayne Wade receive major pops from the crowd as they are announced in the Heats starting lineup. No such love for the rest of the players on Miami or any of the players on the Wizards unfortunately…Share the love DC!

First Quarter:

12:00: Miami wins the opening tip and Chris Bosh starts the Heats off with their first bucket of the evening…Here we go!

10:57: Thought more fans would be booing Rashard Lewis but I guess I cant blame them, most Wizards fans probably forgot what he’s looked like since he never took the floor here.

9:11: Bradley Beal to the bench after picking up two early fouls and two early buckets…Not a good combination.

7:32: Dwayne Wade is going to have a field day with Jrodan Crawford guarding him 12-10 Heats.

6:10: Holy Crap RGIII is here AND the Wizards are winning?!?!?! Wiz 15 Heats 12.

5:21: We got a timeout on the floor and after that lukewarm reception for RGIII and a Wizards lead we find ourselves at Washington 15 Miami 14.

4:44:  Ariza to Seraphin for a one handed slam to the portion of the crowd that is here to support the home teams delight. Wizards 17 Heats 16.

3:29: We have our first Nene sighting of the evening as he is at the scorers table ready to check in…RGIII definitely flinched as the Brazilian walked by so its safe to assume Nene means business tonight. Wizards 21 Heats 18

2:34: At the under 3 tv timeout the Wizards lead the Heat 23-18…Whats going on here?

0:00 Wizards lead after one 30-25

Second Quarter:

9:30: Jordan Crawford nails another three putting the Wizards up 37-32…Jordan is feeling it tonight and that is always a good sign for the Wiz Kids.

9:00: We have a Miami timeout on the floor as Washington stretches their lead to 39-32…Spo visibly upset from the Hockey Press Box.

6:26: Martell Webster with the drive and the and 1 putting the Wizards up on the Heats 46-39. Miami without any PG right now as Chalmers hurt his hand. Time for Washington to take advantage.

4:50: We have a timeout on the floor as the Wizards lead Miami 50-44 with the home team about to get two free ones from the line.

4:07: WIZARDS UP 10!!!!! Webster with a top of the key three puts Washington up 54-44.

2:24: Under 3 TV timeout and the Wizards…Yes, the Wizards…lead 56-46 over the Heat.

Halftime: Wizards lead the Heats 60-54…Furious rally late by Miami is answered by the WizKids to keep it a two possession advantage after 24 minutes.

More Halftime: Wizards shot 21/36 in the first half and lead by 6…They better keep this pace up.

Third Quarter:

12:00 Wizards going with Beal, Price, Okafor, Singleton and Ariza

Heat going with LeBron, Bosh, Wade, Lewis and Harris

11:05 Wizards strike first as AJ Price hits a baseline jumper from about 18 feet.

9:21 AJ Price pulls up from FedEX Field and hits a deeeeeep three putting the Wizards up 67-58

8:29 We have a timeout on the floor and the Wizards lead the Heat by 10 once again 69-59

5:57 Washington still controlling play as they lead Miami 73-65 with the Chipotle Burrito Dash taking center stage. LeBron James also just truck sticked some poor kid sitting court side while attempting to get a steal. Im sure he’ll get some nice shwag out of it.

4:13 We have our first LeBron James Phantom Foul Call Alert!!! James hits the FT to cut the Wiz lead to 6 at 77-71

2:26 Udonis Haslem steps in and takes the charge after LeBron is rejected to the delight of those in attendance…Wizards lead Miami 80-73.

1:19 Crowd booing a Mike Miller foul…Because, Wizards. Reported that Trevor Ariza has suffered a strained calf muscle.

0:00 After three quarters the Wiz Kids are clinging to an 82-78 lead over the Heats

Fourth Quarter

12:00 Livingston, Nene, Seraphin, Webster and Crawford in for the Wiz…Miller, Allen, LeBron, Haslem and Bosh for Miami.

11:16 Wizards strike first as Martell Webster knocks two down from the line after a Haslem foul on a dunk attempt.

11:03 Fourth Quarter means Chick-Fil-A time for those in attendance…Chris Bosh has none of it however knocking down both from the charity stripe.

9:25 LeBron getting to the rim far to easily so far in the fourth, Washington needs to stay in front of him or this lead will be gone. Wizards up 86-84.

8:56 At the under 9 TV timeout the Wizards lead the Heat 86-84.

6:47 And the lead is gone as Chris Bosh beats everyone to a loose ball off a jump to tie the game at 88.

5:33 At the under 6 TV timeout the Wizards lead the Heat 93-89. Miami ball out of the break as LeBron blocked a shot off a Wizards player.

3:43 LeBron officially has his triple double…Wizards lead 97-95 as the arena is going nuts.

2:42 Timeout Miami as Jordan Crawford hits an elbow jumper to put Washington back up by 4 at 99-95.

2:28 LeBron misses two FT’s free Chick-Fil-A for everyone!!!!!

53.3 Timeout Washington off of the Mike Miller miss, Wizards lead 101-99 with the ball.

10.9 LeBron misses a three point attempt and the Wizards get the rebound. Foul on Miami sideline out of bounds for the WizKids up two.

6.9 Jordan Crawford knocks down two from the line after Miami got right to the rim out of the timeout to cut the lead to one. Miami takes another TO, one remaining, down 104-101. Sidelines out of bounds on the way.

2.2 LeBron misses a corner three…Nene with the rebound and Miami immediately fouls. 99.99999999% sure the Wizards are actually going to win this game.

0.0 WIZARDS WIN! WIZARDS WIN! WIZARDS WIN!

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The Teams: Miami Heat (12-3) vs. Washington Wizards (1-13)

The Time: 7:00 PM

The Place: Verizon Center (Washington, D.C.)

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet, 106.7 The Fan DC

The defending champions travel to the Phone Booth tonight to take on our Washington Wizards in what I will imagine will be an arena more full than usual due to all of the Miami Heat “fans” that will be in attendance.

Miami has won six in a row coming into tonight with sights on keeping that string of victories going. LeBron James and Chris Bosh have been shooting lights out this season as both are right around 55% on the year. While Dwayne Wade isn’t faring quite as well from the field as the other two, shooting a measly 49%. When you add Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen) and Rashard “I found the fountain of youth in South Beach” Lewis to the fold it makes the Heat a more dangerous offensive team. It will be tough for this undermanned Wizards squad to keep pace with the Heat without playing close to a perfect game.

This is Washington’s first chance to take the floor against someone else since last Friday’s 21 point drubbing by the New York Knicks. Ideally the Wizards come out tonight hungry to get that bad taste out of their mouth but they are running into one might tall task. Randy Wittman will have to do his fair share of coaching tonight to beat the Heat for the third straight time stretching back to last season.

Tonight, like every other night until Wall and Nene are both back, will be about effort. The Wizards needs to out work the Heat if they want to win this game tonight, simple as that. If the Wizards want it more than Miami does then they could find themselves with a shot to steal one this evening.

Prediction: The Wizards come out with energy but are eventually broken down by the three All-Stars on Miami in the second half.

Miami: 97

Washington: 88

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The Teams: Washington Wizards (1-12) @ New York Knicks (10-4)

The Location: Madison Square Gardens, New York, New York.

The Time: 7:00 PM EST

TV, Radio: CSNW, 106.7 FM

The History: Over 276 regular season games, the New York Knicks hold a significant advantage, winning 164 games to Washington’s 112.

The Washington Wizards, a day removed from their relieving 84-82 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers (their first of the season), travel to New York to take on a Knicks team that has cooled off significantly as of late. Although they beat the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday night, they have lost three of their last five games played. Admittedly, all of those losses have come on the road, but two of them were against teams without a winning record (Dallas and Houston). Needless to say, they haven’t been playing particularly well after starting the season off on a nine-game winning streak.

Meanwhile, the Wizards are on their first win streak of the season. It wasn’t pretty against Portland, and they almost blew a fifteen point lead in the process, but it was their first victory. My guess is that the Washington Wizards would like to compliment that win with yet another one, but nothing about this season has proven to be predictable except for losses. Jordan Crawford had the hot hand against the Blazers, scoring 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field. He’ll look to ignite Washington’s offense yet again, as they’ll need it going up against a Knicks team that ranks fourth in the league in scoring at 102 points per game.

Why you should watch: A possible win streak against a team that may actually be beatable

I know it sounds ridiculous that a Wizards team that has lost 12 games this season while only winning one of those, but it’s actually possible. New York hasn’t been playing that well in the past week, as they’ve given up 96 or more points in four of their last five games. Teams that give up 100 points or more consistently can sometimes be beaten when their shots aren’t falling. If Carmelo Anthony, the team’s leading scorer and potential MVP candidate, and his shots don’t go down then the Wizards might be able to catch them off guard. That being said, considering ‘Melo has shot 50% or better in 7 of the 14 games that he’s played this season, it’s easier said than done.

But even if Carmelo Anthony does score, there’s a chance that the Wizards could still win by minimizing the impact of some of New York’s other players. Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith, New York’s second and third leading scorer, are streaky shooters at best. Neither one is setting the world on fire, either, with both shooting 42% from the floor. If the Wizards can keep those two away from the three point line, then they may stand a chance at shutting down this offense altogether.

Yes, New York is balanced, but they’re also very streaky and when the three ball isn’t falling, they are prone to losing games.

Key Points and Storylines

1.) Jordan Crawford has to keep his hot hand going

When Jordan Crawford is actually hitting his shots, the Washington Wizards become a team that is capable of competing offensively with other teams, which given the defense they’ve been playing, is really all they need. Crawford has unfortunately not fared too well against the New York Knicks historically; he is shooting a woeful 23% from the field against them in 3 games over his career. Worse still, his road performance has been only slightly better this season; he’s hitting only 38.9% from the floor over six games. That really doesn’t bode well for the Wizards hopes of success.

Then again, Crawford is capable of going on five or six game hot streaks from the floor, as he did late last season where he had that many games shooting 45% or better from the field. Quite frankly, that’s all we’re asking out of the guy — go on a hot streak and establish yourself as a potent scorer. If he can do that against a Knicks team that will give him those kind of shots, then the Wizards may be in some luck.

2.) Kevin Seraphin and Nene have to use their athleticism tonight

The two best low post scorers for the Wizards are going to be facing a tough task tonight against one of the more impressive front court units in the NBA. Tyson Chandler is an expert at clogging up the lane for opposing big men, and Rasheed Wallace has channeled Father Time and asked for a career revival on the defensive end. Between those two, the Knicks have a front court capable of making life difficult for anyone with their length. In Nene and Seraphin, the Wizards have two guys who can score down low, but are considerably less vertically talented as Chandler and Wallace, meaning they will have to be crafty to score without being blocked.

Nene and Seraphin are both more athletic and quicker than their counterparts, so they may be able to sneak in a few baskets. They also have relatively decent shots from midrange, so that could force Chandler and Wallace to venture a bit further out from the hoop. Doing that would open up the lane for Crawford and (hopefully) Beal to slash the lane. If they can manage that, the Wizards will be headed towards another victory.

Prediction: Washington probably doesn’t have the firepower to keep up with a Knicks team, and a loss after their first win seems entirely probable.

Knicks win 100-92

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When noteworthy events happen in the land of the Washington Wizards we like to break down our opinions in a feature we call the “Pick and Pop”. Ending a 12 game losing streak to open the season and winning your first game in over 200 days seemed like as good a reason as ever to polish the old P&P off to share with you all today.

1) Thoughts on finally winning a game?

Willis: Celebrate good times, come on? How am I supposed to feel about winning one game in twelve? I’m a smorgasbord of emotion, mostly because we won a game in which no one played particularly well against a sub .500 team for the first time this season. We turned the ball over way too much (16), lost the rebounding battle (45-42), shot 15 fewer shots (86-71). The difference was literally that we made one more shot. If it weren’t for Jordan Crawford and the Trail Blazers missing nearly every shot they took, this is more than likely a loss.

But again, I’ll take it, because an ugly win is still a win. Kevin Seraphin got himself a double-double, and Damian Lillard was held in check by A.J. Price (who had himself another bad shooting night). I have a hard time being upset with the effort level, although blowing that 16 point lead shows clearly that we still have to work on some things.

Bohlin: IT HAPPENED!!!  WE DID IT!!! Last night’s win over the Portland Trail Blazers was much needed for this franchise and its fan base. In typical Wizards fashion, this win did not come easy as Washington nearly choked away a double digit lead in the fourth quarter as they finished the game just one for their last eleven from the field.

That one shot was massive though. Jordan Crawford’s three pointer late in the fourth quarter and some timely free throw shooting by Emeka Okafor are what solidified this victory for the Wizards. Until Wall and Nene are back and healthy, or in Nene’s case as healthy as he can possibly be, it will take efforts like the one from last night and a few lucky bounces going our way for the Wizards to continue to notch victories under their collective belts.
2) What do we need to do to win a second game?

Willis: Continue to have some bounces go our way for once. The clutch shots toward the end of the game started going in for the Wizards, and that really helped out a bunch. Washington finally went on one of those runs that end up being insurmountable for an opposing team, and that 16 point run was what decided things. The starter still have to play better, as Ariza is not going to be 6-of-9 every game for Washington. Someone has to continue to emerge as a scorer outside of Kevin Seraphin. We’re looking at you, Bradley Beal.

That being said, the bench should simply continue their strong play with Jordan Crawford igniting the offense. I said in the offseason that his ideal role is a sixth man who can command a second unit and beat up on “scrubs”, and that’s what Crawford does. Portland’s second unit was horrible, and the Wizards beat them down.

Bohlin: Compete. The fact of the matter is that right now the Wizards don’t have the talent necessary to win NBA games with any sort of consistency. When a team is lacking in that area their best chance to be successful lies in the amount of effort they put towards their goal, victory. Until the Wizards get John Wall and Nene back for the long haul this team is going to have to outwork every opponent they face if they want to continue to enjoy the feeling that was felt throughout the Verizon Center by the Wizards faithful last night.

3) What is your starting five and why?

Willis: Beal, Crawford, Singleton, Nene, and Okafor

I don’t care if this means the Wizards don’t have a point guard, but I think these five give the Wizards the best chance to win and score points. Nene can dish out to Bradley Beal at the point, Crawford, at times, has proven himself to be a talented passer, and Singleton is a defensive presence that can guard wing players effectively. Meanwhile, Okafor takes up space. You could argue that Seraphin should be in there, but Nene and him are very similar in nature and would not really mesh that well.

I keep Beal in there as a starter because he simply has to get minutes. Relegating him to the bench with scant minutes and pummeling his already fragile confidence is the wrong thing to do. Eventually, he’s going to figure out how to play the game, and that comes with experience. No, we don’t want to give him the experience of losing, but when Washington won that game he really had nothing to do with it. His play was poor, and he got benched. He should still start.

Bohlin:

1)      Shaun Livingston

2)      Jordan Crawford

3)      Trevor Ariza

4)      Kevin Seraphin

5)      Emeka Okafor

The rotation for the Wizards has been a point of contention for a couple of weeks now. Randy Wittman has tried just about every possible combination imaginable for this team through the first 13 games and until last night not a single one of them had proven to be effective enough to win a game. If I making the lineups for Washington night in and night out this is how I would start each and every game until Wall and Nene return.

With Livingston running the offense players such as Jordan Crawford have the opportunity to do what they do best, score, because Livingston’s first inclination on offense is to create for others as A.J. Price’s first inclination has seemed to lie closer to finding his own shot.

Jordan Crawford, to this point, has been our most reliable offensive weapon which is saying a lot considering his reputation of being a volume shooter. His best role with this team will inevitably be coming off the bench as the team’s sixth man, however, with the Wizards performing as woefully on offense as they have been early on this season his inclusion into the starting lineup had to take place.

Ariza and Okafor need to start as they are our best two options at their respective positions and also the fact that they are two of the highest paid players on the team which, more times than not (Sorry Rashard Lewis), equates to big minutes and many starts over the course of 82 games.

Kevin Seraphin is my last choice as a starter. Seraphin has proven that the offensive display he put on at times in the Olympics was no fluke. His baby hook shot move in the paint has been largely unstoppable this season as Seraphin has become highly effective when taking that shot. He has earned this distinction with his play so far and will likely continue to see big minutes as the Wizards ease Nene back from his foot injury.

4) MVP and LVP so far

Willis: MVP is spelled Nene in my book. He’s our best player when healthy, and Washington plays considerably better the second he touches the floor. Without him, we’re still winless. I know he only had a modest 6 points and 6 rebounds last game, but his impact is felt in so many more ways than just in the box score.

I think back to when he actually manned the point and dribbled the ball up court (in a very unsightly manner, however), and didn’t turn the ball over. He scooped up a rebound, couldn’t find anyone right away, but took the ball up the court to eventually find a man. It’s not even a huge deal, but it’s just the smooth, calm, do-whatever-it-takes manner in which he plays that gives the Wizards a big boost of confidence.

LVP – Jan Vesely for so many reasons. He’s not very good and his PER of 4 shows that. Outside of Nene, Crawford, and Okafor, everyone else has been below average on the PER scale (15 is average, everyone aside from those three is below it). Beal and Price sit around 10, Ariza and Singleton around 13, but Vesely? Four. FOUR. He’s done nothing to convince me that he won’t be out of the league in another year or two when his contract runs out, mostly because I can’t think of anything he can do particularly well aside from rebound.

His complete lack of an offensive game from anywhere on the court outside of dunking tells me that he really, really needs to find a mentor or be relegated to trying to deflect tip ins at the end of games (as he did against Portland last night).

Bohlin: MVP: Jordan Crawford

Could you imagine how uncompetitive this team would be were it not for Jordan Crawford? Honestly, I don’t want to and am glad it is not something that is worthy of discussion. The shooting guard from Xavier has been exactly what the Wizards need him to be so far as this team has struggled to put points on the board without him on the floor. It is very likely that Crawford’s role will change as the Wizards get closer to full health but he will remain a much needed weapon nonetheless.

LVP: Jan Vesely

As much as I want him to be good for this team the progression just hasn’t been there. David Aldridge said it best on Tony Kornheiser’s radio show in DC that Jan simply “Can’t play”. Aldridge went on to say how he doesn’t feel that Vesely will last five years in the league. That is the number six overall pick we are talking about here people. In last night’s win over Portland, Jan played a total of 0.2 seconds…and that was just so he could guard the Blazers last ditch inbound pass from half court. To say Jan has been a disappointment thus far isn’t doing justice to the word disappointment. He may turn it all around and prove Aldridge, Kornheiser, myself and thousands of other Wizards fans who feel the same way wrong, and I legitimately hope he does. I just don’t see it happening for him or this franchise any time soon. It’s really hard to take up for a guy who has five more fouls on the season than he does total points and is 3-13 from the foul line.

5.)  Bradley Beal – What gives?

Willis: He can’t shoot, that’s what gives. That is largely based on the fact that he has little confidence in himself, so that will hopefully change. But he takes a lot of midrange jumpers, and those are suicide for a rookie scorer in the NBA. That’s a veteran shot, not one for the young bucks like Beal. His tendency to be inanimate on the offensive end kills him overall, and he simply has to work more on being aggressive (while playing smart at the same time).

On a positive note, he can rebound relatively well for his position, and he knows how to move the ball around and not have the offense die as soon as he touches it. But until he can start to contribute on the offensive end, which is what he was brought in to do, his play will draw the ire of Wizards fans who watch Damian Lillard, Brandon Knight, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist shine.

Heck, of all the rookies playing right now, Beal has been far less impressive than almost all off them. Harrison Barnes is starting to get it, Andre Drummond has been surprisingly effective, John Henson has done the same thing. Of the first ten picks, only Terrence Ross and Austin Rivers have had less of an impact. That’s not good.

Bohlin: It has been an up and down start to young Bradley Beal’s NBA career. Being shoved into the spotlight without your starting point guard, John Wall, and one of the league’s best big men in creating space for shooters, Nene, has put him behind the 8 ball. Unlike Vesely, Bradley Beal has shown flashes of the skillset that many fans saw during his time at Florida. I said it over the summer before we drafted Beal that he will benefit more so than any other player on our roster from playing with Wall and Nene. The addition of those two to the lineup will provide Bradley with more opportunities to take open shots while not being the main focal point of the opposing defense. I still think Bradley Beal is going to be a very effective NBA player for a long time, it’s far too early to pass judgment on him otherwise.

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The Teams: Washington Wizards (0-12) vs Portland Trail Blazers (6-8)

The Time: 7 PM

The Place: Verizon Center, Washington D.C.

The History: The overall series nod goes to the Trail Blazers, who have a slim 52-49 advantage in the win column.

Here we go again. The Washington Wizards look to end their season-long losing streak in the final game of their three-game home stand against the Blazers. Coming off a brutal 118-92 drubbing by the San Antonio Spurs, Washington has had over 24 hours to brood and get over a loss that typified the season as a whole. Well, the Wizards are going to need some luck to break through that win/loss barrier tonight, and considering how little they have had of it this season, tonight feels like they may catch a break.

The Blazers are on a two game losing streak, having dropped road games to the Brooklyn Nets and the equally-as-woeful-as-the-Wizards Detroit Pistons. They have been playing poor defense and are relying entirely too heavily on All-Star forward/center LaMarcus Aldridge to win games. As a result, they have lost three of their last four. Their rookie phenom Damian Lillard has also had his fair share of struggles shooting the ball as well, leading to the Blazers being under .500 for the first time this season. So will the Wizards get a win tonight?

Why you should watch: Damian Lillard is an absolute animal

Damian Lillard, the guy the Wizards passed up on with the third pick in the draft, was not expected to be this good, this soon. Averaging 19 points, 6 assists, and shooting 40% from long range isn’t something you would expect from a rookie point guard, but here we are. Lillard has set the league on fire and is a major reason why the Blazers have any wins at all. When he’s on, they are a formidable Western Conference team with a deadly in and out game. Without him, they are a poor shooting unit that has no real scoring options outside of LaMarcus Aldridge.

Lillard, as I said before, has had some issues with knocking down shots over the last two games. He’s only hit eight of his last 30 shots, and unsurprisingly the Blazers have lost both matches. He hasn’t been particularly good on the road this season, shooting 41% from the field (as opposed to his 47% mark at home), which bodes well for the Wizards. Slowing him down will be a difficult task given how well he excels at the pick-and-roll offense, but it isn’t impossible. Brandon Knight of the Detroit Pistons gave him work, and on the defensive end he hasn’t shown that he is elite by any stretch.

Take some time out of your night to watch him go to work, because you’ll be amazed at how talented he is.

Keys to the game/Storylines

1.) Bradley Beal’s shooting has to improve

Bradley Beal is frustrating a lot of fans (myself included) with his lack of aggressiveness on the offensive end of things. Far too often, he settles for midrange jumpers and three point shots instead of being as aggressive as his natural ability say he should be. For rookie shooters, the midrange jumper is a very, very common mistake. In college, they were able to get that kind of shot off with ease, and for whatever reason believe that they made a lot of them when in reality the midrange jumper is a veteran’s move.

Young players should be aggressive going to the hoop and trying to draw fouls, neither of which Beal is doing. Given that he’s shooting 32% from the floor on the season and hitting almost 90% of his free throws, statistically he should be begging to get to the line. The Wizards need him to be aggressive tonight and make some easy shots in order to get out of this funk that he’s been in.

2.) Stopping LaMarcus Aldridge

Part of the reason why the Blazers lost their game against Brooklyn was because Aldridge wasn’t playing due to a sore back. His numbers are down across the board from last year, but barely. He’s still averaging 20 points and 8 rebounds a game, which will suit the Blazers just fine. On his return against Detroit he had 32 points and 10 rebounds, which signals that he should be just fine against Washington. Okafor is going to have to play some tough nosed defense in order to contain Aldridge this game, other wise this game will get cracked open quickly.

Prediction: Wizards match up somewhat adequately with the Blazers, and thus take a homer’s victory against a team on a cold streak.

Wizards win 99-97

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The Teams: Charlotte Bobcats (6-5) @ Washington Wizards (0-10)

The Time: 7 PM

The Location: Verizon Center. Washington, D.C.

TV, Radio: CSNW, 106.7 FM

The History: The Wizards had previously won their last five contests against the Bobcats, until November 13th of this year when they dropped a game 92-76.

The Washington Wizards are hurting this year, having started the season with ten straight losses and no victories. For the past few seasons, a game against the Charlotte Bobcats would have been a remedy for a losing streak of epic proportions. Unfortunately this year, that simply isn’t the case. The Bobcats come into the District having won five of their last seven games of basketball. The only thing these two teams have in common is that they both dropped their last game to the Atlanta Hawks, with the Bobcats falling 101-91 at home yesterday.

Aside from that loss, the Bobcats have been nothing but trouble for teams, with an impressive victory against the Memphis Grizzlies last week establishing them as a much improved team. Head coach Mike Dunlap has them playing very good basketball on the defensive end, and passable offensive play as well. Rookie small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is as advertised, averaging 11 points and 7 rebounds on the year. Thing is, MKG isn’t their only weapon, as the Bobcats have six players scoring in double figures this year. Ramon Sessions, the traveling suitcase of a player, has finally made a home for himself in Charlotte, where he is an early candidate for Sixth Man of the Year with his play off the bench.

Needless to say, this game won’t be easy for the Wizards.

Keys to the Game/Storylines

1.) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist vs Bradley Beal

No, these two players do not play the same position, but they were the second and third pick in the previous NBA draft and as such their histories will be closely linked. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has, as I previously stated, been a stud this year for the Bobcats. He is one of their best players, and has scored in double figures in 8 of their 11 games this season. Against the Hawks last night, MKG scored only 11 point, but he also impacted the game in ways that many players can’t. He also grabbed seven rebounds, but he blocked four shots as well, giving him 18 on the season. For a small forward, that number is absurd.

Meanwhile, Beal has been good but not really great. His 33% shooting from the field ranks him as the second worst rookie who is playing 15 minutes or more this year. His poor play recently relegated him to the bench, but only for one game. He started against the Hawks, but shot poorly and finished with 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. He marred that performance with five turnovers, however, and he really hurt the team with those.

Both players are young, but so far it is glaringly apparent that one has been far more impressive than the other.

2.) Nene-Nene, Nene-Nene, Hey-hey hey, good try!

Nene debuted for the Wizards in the same fashion that he did after last year’s midseason trade: impressively. In 20 minutes of play against the Hawks, Nene scored 12 points off the bench by getting to the line numerous times. His presence and talent level was something the Wizards sorely missed, and it is clear that even in diminished health Mr. Hilario will be a boon for the Wizards front court.

With the poor performance of Emeka Okafor, Nene is a major upgrade who can sop up Okafor’s minutes that he doesn’t try. Given how much better of a scorer Nene is, the Wizards should see a major advantage in that department down low, which is something that they haven’t done well this season.
Take note, however. Nene only had one rebound last game, which is a very unusual number for a big man. His rebounding issues have been documented, so hopefully that is an aberration.

Prediction: The Wizards finally get a win with a rested, relatively healthy team who came off a tough loss where they played well. Bradley Beal rises to the occasion and outshines the person taken ahead of him in the draft.

90-88 Washington

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