The Wizards (11-38) head to Indiana to take on the Indiana Pacers (29-20) who are coming off a 100 to 84 loss to the New Jersey Nets last night. The playoff-bound Pacers lost to a Nets team that is 17-35 and finished the game with just eight healthy players. Danny Granger scored just five points in 21 minutes before fouling out.
The Wizards will be coming off of two days of rest after going 0-3 on a back-to-back-to-back. The Wizards are 2-3 this season in games played after coming off two or more days of rest. Their most recent game after two days of rest was Nene’s debut in a road win against the Nets.
Road wins don’t come often for the Wizards who are 5-19 while playing away from the Verizon Center and haven’t won a game in Indiana since April 18, 2007. Since that meeting, the Wizards are 0-7 on the road against the Pacers.
The Wizards have lost their last four games. In three of those games, the Wizards blew big leads in the second half. They were outscored 81-36 combined in the fourth quarters of close losses to the Pacers,Hawks and Pistons. In their loss to the Pacers last week, the Wizards gave up several offensive rebounds in the last minute of the game and botched an inbounds pass that cost them their chance to win.
For the Wizards to steal a win tonight, they need better production from starting center Nene. The Wizards’ last loss to the Pacer was Nene’s debut at the Verizon Center and he chipped in six points on 3-9 shooting and five rebounds in 31 minutes. Pacers’ center Roy Hibbert was able to get anything he wanted against Nene, especially late in the game when he dropped in a couple of easy hookshots over Nene’s head. Both Nene and Trevor Booker were unable to keep the Pacers of the offensive glass as the Pacers collected 14 offensive rebounds.
Match-ups to watch:
- The Front-courts: In their last meeting, the Wizards’ starting big men, Trevor Booker and Nene, were outscored 32-14 by David West and Roy Hibbert. Hibbert and West each shot over 50% from the field. Nene and Booker are both questionable for tonight’s match-up. Nene played Monday against Detroit while Booker sat out with knee and foot issues. If neither Booker nor Nene play tonight, it will certainly be a tough game for the Wizards to say the least. A front-court combination of Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin and Brian Cook is not the answer for the size that Indiana has. Even if Nene and Booker play, their roles will probably be limited. Expect Seraphin to log more minutes either way. He has that combination of size and toughness that could be effective at keeping Hibbert away from the rim. Seraphin has also shown us how his offensive game has progressed. In his last five games, Serpahin has averaged 10.2 points and is shooting 56% from the field.
- Jordan Crawford vs Paul George: Both Crawford and George have established themselves as great young talent in the league. Both are athletic and can pour in points. Since Nick Young was traded to the Clippers, Jordan Crawford has taken over the scoring load for the Wizards. Tonight he’ll look to extend his current streak of six straight games with 20 or more points and continue his great month where he has an average of over 17 points per game. George isn’t a volume shooter like Crawford. In his last six games, he has attempted more than nine field goals only once. Crawford has attempted 13 or more field goals in each game over that same span. George is a bit of a size mismatch for Crawford as well. Crawford gives up four inches and 20 pounds to George, who is an agile defender. Crawford will likely have a tough time getting some of his shots off over the long arms of George.
- Chris Singleton vs Danny Granger: Granger leads the Pacers in scoring at 17.8 points per game and is a solid perimeter defender. Singleton has had difficulties this year offensively, but has had some decent games since the All-Star break. Arguably his best game of the year came against the Pacers last week when he scored 16 points on 6-10 shooting and hit three of four from three-point range. Singleton’s defense will be important in keeping Granger from getting hot.
Fun fact about tonight’s game: Guard Cartier Martin returned to the Wizards and signed a 10-day contract with the team Wednesday after spending time in China and the D-league. Martin shot 55.6% from beyond the arc in seven games with the Iowa Energy of the NBA Developmental League. Last year with the Wizards he had one of his better games of the year against the Pacers on December 29. In 13 minutes he scored 11 points on 4-6 shooting while connecting on all three of his attempts from three-point range.
My prediction: Washington 80 Indiana 89. Indiana is 15-7 at home this year and is only allowing 92 points per game in those games. The Wizards’ offensive struggles are well-documented and I don’t see anything that would fix that tonight. If Nene and Booker sit out, it could be worse.
The game tips off in Indiana tonight at 7:00 pm ET.