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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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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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The Teams: Washington Wizards (0-9) vs Atlanta Hawks (5-4)

The Time: 7:30 PM

The Location: Phillips Arena. Atlanta, Georgia

The Coaches: Randy Wittman (18-40 with Wizards) and Larry Drew (89-68 with Hawks)

The History: In 274 games, the Wizards have lost to the Hawks more than they’ve won, being down 141-133 all time. They’ve played a lot over the years and this is one of their closer series all time, so it’s typically a good ball game every time these two teams step onto the court.

Why you should watch: Nene is coming back!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Halleeeeeelujaaaaah! With reports coming out that Nene is expected to be in action for the first time Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks, Wizards fans breathe a collective sigh of relief. Well, what’s left of the fan base that has been bludgeoned nine times to the face this year through loss after loss. But now, Nene is back to bolster a frontcourt that has been shredded game after game in the paint and has been unable to score too much there either.

Nene brings both, and a bit of rebounding prowess that might offset the inability of a certain French forward, and with them he also brings the promise of shattering that unsightly goose egg in the win column. Last season when the Wizards traded for Nene, they got considerably better as a direct result. They weren’t blowing teams out, of course, but they were actually winning. If he can provide similar results, Wizards fans will embrace him with open arms.
Key Points and Storylines

1.) What impact will Nene have?

Look, who knows what version of Nene we’re going to be getting. That has to be said, because he has yet to play a single game of basketball during this short NBA season, and it may take him awhile to get the hang of things again. He’s a fantastic player, but it might take time for him to get back into the swing of things. If he can make a quick recovery, then this team will be all the better for it. Conversely, if he looks slow and rushed back onto the court, then it will show and the Wizards may still be better served waiting more time for him to come back.

Nene is going to be asked to rebound and defend a lot since Okafor is in the dog house (really, the entire team is in the dog house). I’m just not sure he can do that right away…

2.) Can the Wizards shoot better?

Shooting under 40% as a team for the entire season (dead last in the NBA) is a recipe for an 0-9 season. The Wizards have followed that recipe to a T, and if they were wise, would do their best to deviate a bit from that course. Without better shooting, Washington will continue to pile up losses. Having one of the most efficient shooters/scorers in the NBA today in Nene will be a huge boon for getting that number above 40%, but that won’t change the fact that the Wizards take bad shots.

Early in the shot clock three pointers by A.J. Price and Jordan Crawford don’t help a lot, and Bradley Beal going 4-12 (as he did last game) has to change. Taking good shots is directly correlated to how many points this team has been scoring, which at 89 per game is last in the NBA as well. Changing that number, given the somewhat passable defense they’ve been playing, might secure a victory for Washington.

Prediction: Wizards win a close one against their divisional rival Atlanta Hawks ON THE ROAD in Nene’s return.

99-98 Wizards

 

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Shaun Livingston Stroking J’s for the Wizards


The Teams
: Utah Jazz (4-6) vs Washington Wizards (0-7)

The Time: 7:00 PM

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

TV, Radio: CSN (TV), 106.7 FM (Radio)

The Washington Wizards are at it again for the second straight year; that is, they are attempting to halt a seven game losing streak in hopes of not breaking the franchise record for consecutive losses to start the season. Tonight’s entree? The Utah Jazz (because that name makes a lot of sense), who are coming off a 99-93 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers and have now lost two straight games. Fortunately for the Wizards, they make be in some luck tonight as the Jazz aren’t particularly good on the road, winning only one of seven games on the road this season (that one came against Toronto).

Meanwhile, the Washington Wizards have been getting throttled at home and away, thanks in large part to slow starts and poor shooting everything play from their starters. Of course, things could very well get worse with the questionable health of starting point guard A.J. Price heading into this game. Price turned his ankle earlier in the week against the Mavericks, which forced the Wizards to go out and sign the beloved Shaun Livingston in hopes of getting some depth at the position. With John Wall out, Livingston could see quite a bit of minutes today against the Jazz.

Why you should watch: The Wizards should win tonight

Yes, if you have been following this blog for any amount of time this year, you will have realized that we have predicted this plenty of times this season…but this time we mean it! The Utah Jazz are terrible on the road, and the Wizards are going to benefit from that big time. The Jazz shoot 42% from the field and average a shade under 92 points per game on the road this year. Contrast that with the fact that, at home, they average 100.7 points per game, and you can see why the Wizards might have a chance. I’m not predicting that Jazz fans will travel well for this game, so there could very well be plenty of Wizards fans who will actually give them an advantage in their home arena.

Jordan Crawford is coming off a fantastic 21 point, 7 assist performance against the Mavericks that almost brought the Wizards back from a 15+ point deficit, and it looks like he may be the starting point guard today. Even if he is the starting shooting guard, he’ll be going against either Mo Williams or Gordon Hayward, neither of which are going to be remotely good at guarding him. Crawford has a good chance to go off tonight and will have ample opportunity to shoot, so I could easily see him getting hot and becoming a major factor in this game going the Wizards way.

Key Storylines and Questions

1.) Will the Wizards get off to a slow start again?
Washington has been pretty terrible in the first half this season against, well, anyone. Against the Mavericks, it was the 19 point first quarter that put them behind early. With the Bobcats, it was the 12 point second quarter that doomed them. Hopefully Randy Wittman didn’t forget to fill up the tank against the Jazz tonight, so the Wizards won’t have to go to the gas station (the bench) to get moving early. A solid first half will go a long way to securing a Wizards victory.

2.) Shaun Livingston 2.0
Shaun Livingston’s last game with the Washington Wizards was back in 2009 against Indiana, where he put up 10 points and 7 rebounds in a 98-97 victory. Let’s just hope he can provide that same kind of boost this go ’round, because the Wizards are barren at the point guard position right now. He won’t provide the same boost from the three point line as A.J. Price has kind of done this year, but his passing ability may be much needed. That is, if he is any bit of the player the Wizards had a crush on a few years ago. The Wizards victory hinges on whether or not he is in shape enough to play solid minutes, and if he can dish the ball out to scorers like Beal and, believe it or not, Martell Webster (who can actually hit open shots).

Prediction: Wizards win this one by hitting a lot of their shots (which aren’t tons of three pointers) and minimizing turnovers.
101-97 Washington

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The Teams: Washington Wizards (0-3) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (2-1)

The Time: 7:00 PM

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

The History: The Wizards are 77-110 All-Time against the Milwaukee Bucks, going 1-4 last year. The Wizards won their last matchup against them, however, 121-112 at home.


Why you should watch: 
The Wizards could very well get their first win at home!

Since Washington started off terribly against the Boston Celtics at home last Saturday, they lost their home opener as a result. Bradley Beal and the rest of the starters were playing terribly, and were yanked in favor of Kevin Seraphin and Jordan Crawford. The two of them managed (albeit not singlehandedly) to cut a 16 point deficit to tie the game late, but the Wizards couldn’t finish the Celtics off. Now they take on the Milwaukee Bucks, who are a shaky 2-1, and have a very good chance to take this one.

Led by PG Brandon Jennings and SG Monta Ellis, the Bucks are an offensive heavy team that doesn’t really play a whole lot of defense. Their front court is less than daunting, with Samuel Dalambert not necessarily being the most dangerous threat down low, and Larry Sanders just coming into his own in the league. Basically, this means the Wizards are going to have a chance to score a lot of points, and have as good a chance as ever to pick up a win here.

Key Points and Storylines

1.) Bradley Beal vs. Monta Ellis

Bradley Beal finally started to take more than ten shots last game against the Celtics, much to the delight of Wizards fans, and the results were promising. With 16 points on 6-of-15 shooting, Beal wasn’t shooting well but it was a major improvement over his previous game, where he didn’t make a single shot (his only two points coming off free throws). Now he has a chance to go up against a player who plays worse defense than a misplaced traffic cone in Monta Ellis, so he could be primed for a big game.

Monta is a fantastic scorer, to be sure. He takes a lot of shots and defending him is a hassle given his quickness and ability to get the basket on slashes. But at a generous 6’2 (in Strength Shoes), Ellis is far from what one could consider a defensive strap. Other shooting guards routinely have career nights against this guy, and though I’m not suggesting Beal can do that, I do think he can have a pretty monster game.

If the Wizards can run a lot of plays through Beal (including some screens to get open from three), he may win this matchup against Ellis. Or rather, he could have a game that will whet the appetites of impatient Wizards fans who want results now.

2.) Kevin Seraphin’s scoring streak

Seraphin has been nothing short of impressive for the last 16 games, of which he has scored 10 or more points in each of those games. On the year, Seraphin is averaging 17.5 points and 8 rebounds per game, and has clearly benefitted from his experiences during the Olympics this summer. He is playing with a confidence that is making fans forget that the guy he backs up (Nene) hasn’t played a game this year. Tonight he goes up against Larry Sanders, who has just as notably stepped his game up this season, but will be facing a real test tonight against a very hot forward.

Seraphin’s success has come from his newfound jumper, which is clearing up space for him down low to pull off some finesse moves. If he can continue to knock down 15 foot set shots on a consistent basis, the Seraphin will continue to have monster games against forwards that aren’t as athletic as he is. It’s simple math.

Prediction

The Wizards should very well win this game tonight for their first win of the season. They have been playing really good basketball lately, and while they haven’t been able to close games out against the Celtics, they are due for one. Since the Bucks can’t really play defense all that well, I’m going with the Wizards, who have actually played relatively well on defense.

Wizards win, 105-98

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By: Willis

Wednesday, March 20
@ 7:30 pm Washington Wizards (10-34) vs New Jersey Nets (15-32)

Starting Lineup

PG: John Wall vs Deron Williams

SG: Jordan Crawford vs MarShon Brooks

SF: Chris Singleton vs Gerald Wallace

PF: Trevor Booker vs Kris Humphries

C: Kevin Seraphin vs Shelden Williams

Why you should watch: Nene will finally play…we hope

The debut of Nene Hilario has finally arrived. Despite being traded to the Wizards on Thursday of last week, Nene has yet to see any action on the court with the team. Completing the league mandated physical took awhile, but now Nene is all systems go. He’s gotten a few practices with the team under his belt as well, which means he’s likely not going to look completely lost. He also gets the added benefit of playing against a 6’9 piece of swiss cheese Shelden Williams.

Williams has been filling in recently for the injured young star Brook Lopez, whose ’11-’12 season has been derailed by injuries. Unfortunately, filling in for Shelden Williams means giving opposing centers career games. The latest example would be Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers. On Monday, despite having not scored in double-figures all month long, Thompson obliterated Williams for 27 points and 14 rebounds (with 8 offensive boards). Before that? Chris Kaman ate him up for 20 points (a game which he had a -20 plus-minus rating) and Dwight Howard for 18 points in consecutive games. Nene, assuming he plays, should give Shelden work.

His athleticism will be way too much for Williams, who moves like frozen syrup, to contain. He’s stronger, smarter, and is going to be a pick-and-roll machine with John Wall. If I had to predict his box score, I’d go with 18 points and 8 rebounds. The only reason he won’t grab 10 boards is probably because there won’t be many misses against one of the worst defending teams in the NBA.

Underlying Storyline: John Wall matches up against All-Star Deron Williams

It’s not really an underlying storyline as much as it is a very important game for John Wall. Deron Williams is, without a doubt, one of the top 5 point guards in the NBA, and it’s great for bragging rights to compare one team’s superstar to our own. The two have played one another twice in John Wall’s two-year career, with each point guard winning one game apiece. They last met during the first game of this season, with Williams coming close to a triple-double with 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists. Wall wasn’t playing his best ball to open the season, and only hit three shots en route to a 13 point, 8 rebound, 5 assist performance. In that game, Mr. Kardashian Humphries stole the ball from John in the last few seconds with the Wizards trailing by three. Chances are good he hasn’t forgotten being out-dueled.

In terms of playing style, Wall and Williams aren’t even close to the same player. Deron is a huge fan of the three point shot, and hurls 6.6 per game (hitting 35% of them); Wall has only taken 23 three pointers all season. He’s got a deadly first step that has tripped up many a defender throughout his seven-year career. Even though he looks a little husky, Williams ability to change directions on a dime is unparalleled; Wall is built like a Ducati 999, with lots of straight ahead speed and quick acceleration. Williams likes to shoot more than getting to the rack; Wall is the complete opposite.

It’s important to note, however, that the Wizards are a completely different team, as is Wall. New coach, better shooting by the point guard, and a new center means that Wall is going to want to right the wrong from that Day One loss against the Nets.

Prediction: The Wizards have lost two straight games, but the Nets have lost three! Based upon that, and the fact that Washington hasn’t necessarily played the worst ball lately, the Wizards should win. Nene is going to provide the added boost to the front line offensively and guide this team to victory. Wizards 105-99.

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