Boston at Washington
7:30 P.M. ET
Boston: 109.2 points/100 possessions (10th)
Washington: 102.3 points/100 possessions (26th)
Boston: 100.7 points allowed/100 possessions (2nd)
Washington: 108.6 points allowed/100 possessions (20th)
Probable Wizards starters: Rashard Lewis, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee, John Wall, Nick Young
Injuries: OUT: Shaq, Perk, Delonte, J.O Washington: Lewis (questionable, knee) Kirk Hinrich (questionable, elbow) Josh Howard (out, knee)
The C’s leave town for the first time in two weeks to the Verizon Center, where the Wizards have won all 12 of their games this year. The C’s, winners of five straight will head into the nation’s capital down their top three centers, as Shaq did not make a trip with a sore hip. The good news? The team is 9-1 without Shaq, and undefeated with Semih Erden in the starting lineup (4-0). All signs point to the team extending to that streak tonight against the underwhelming Wiz who were blown out by the Suns at home last night.
WHAT THE WIZARDS DO WELL:
Make You Turn The Ball Over: The Wizards are 4th in the league in opponent’s turnover rate, which combined with the C’s well documented turnover follies (26th in league in turnover rate) could provide a little bit of a problem tonight. Add in the fact that this one’s on the road and I could easily see the C’s shooting themselves in the foot all night, making this one closer than it should be on the second half of a back-to-back. Rajon Rondo is the guy to keep an eye on here, as he has been especially sloppy (4 turnovers/game) with the ball this year.
Hit The Offensive Glass: The Wiz aren’t even a top 10 team in this department, but I’m adding this in anyway, due to their sheer athleticism up front, combined with the absence of the Diesel, one of the C’s best defensive rebounders. McGee is one of the best offensive boarders in the league, and Blatche has given Boston a fair share of problems over the years. Look for Semih(automatic) to step up on the glass tonight coming off a season-high 7 boards last night. Either that, or expect him to foul out in 18 minutes. Either way, it will have to be a team effort on the glass tonight to contain the Wiz so expect Pierce to get involved.
WHAT THE WIZARDS DO POORLY:
Too many to list, so let’s go with bullet points! The Wiz are amongst the bottom 5 teams in all of these categories.
So as you can see, they are pretty well rounded with their weaknesses. There’s obviously plenty of talent here between Wall, Young, and company but nearly every part of their game, especially the offense, is incredibly inefficient under Flip Saunders. And sadly, Rashard Lewis hasn’t been the saving grace nearly no one in D.C. thought he would be when dealt for Gilbert Arenas last month. They also haven’t won a road game yet, so I kind of have to throw that in here too.
PLAYERS WHO MAKE ME WORRY:
Nick Young – During a season of turmoil, Young has been a consistent positive for Saunders, posting terrific numbers since being inserted in the starting lineup. Ray Allen, Marquis Daniels, and Pierce will have their work cut out for them tonight as they try to contain the USC guard, who is averaging 22 ppg in the his last 10, along with 46 percent shooting from downtown. You also may remember Young tearing it up in garbage time during the C’s blowout win in Boston earlier this year. It appears that was no fluke.
PLAYERS WHO DO NOT MAKE ME WORRY
Anyone matched up against a motivated KG. Which I think we’ll see tonight. That was from Ryan’s preview of Washington earlier this year. And coming off a calf injury and a strong performance last night, Blatche should be in for another long night, similar to the 10 point outing he had in the team’s first matchup
WHAT WE WANT TO SEE FROM BOSTON TONIGHT:
Ball movement. Semih not fouling out. Big Baby continuing to operate down low. Pierce continuing his first quarter dominance. Keeping McGee and Blatche off the glass. And oh, a win.
Boston 98, Washington 91. Closer than it should be, but the Wizards actually play fairly well at home and should be steaming coming off a bad loss. The good news is the Verizon Center will likely be crawling with C’s fans. Boston has trouble containing Young, but they pull away in the fourth so we don’t have to see a repeat of this. As awesome as it is, I prefer easy wins.