Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press)

Wizards vs. Bulls Preview (12/29/12)

Last night, the Washington Wizards finally snapped an eight game losing streak against the depleted Orlando Magic. Tonight, they’ll look to continue their success by winning their second game in as many nights.

Key Match Up

With Derrick Rose still recovering from his devastating ACL injury, the Bulls are left looking for offense. One player who has emerged as a strong catalyst in the Bulls’ offense, is Joakim Noah. Noah has averaged over 13 points and 10 assists this season, and is considered one of the best passing big men in the NBA. While dishing out nearly 5 assists per game during his last five outings, Noah has been forced to carry the load on offense with the Bulls missing many of their offensive threats. Noah is a type of player every team would love on their team, but hate playing against. His length and defensive prowess has catapulted him into one of the best defensive players in the league. His ‘Kevin Garnett’ like intensity doesn’t hurt either. Needless to say, you’ll never catch Joakim Noah take a possession off.

The Wizards haven’t experienced a shortage of defense from their big men up front either. Emeka Okafor has been nothing short of spectacular on the defensive end of the floor thus far. Sporting just over two blocks per game during the past few match ups, Okafor has been living up to his ‘defensive anchor’ label which has been put on him by his teammates. Okafor’s help defense has been rubbing off on other players such as Nene and even perimeter players like Bradley Beal. ‘Mek’ will have his hands full when he’s matched up against Noah.

Other Links/Notes

  • Luol Deng and ‘Rip’ Hamilton are both expected to return against the Wizards tonight.
  • Is Jan Vesely a lost cause? He certainly isn’t helping his case.
  • Amin Vafa, of Bullets Forever, takes a look at how the Wizards front court contributed to their recent victory.
  • How about that Garrett Temple guy? He scored 13 points to go along side 6 rebounds and 6 assists last night. The Bulls don’t have much help in the back court. The ‘Temple of Doom’ has a chance to become another cult hero in D.C.
  • Chicago is ranked 24th in offensive efficiency, while your Wizards are still in last place. This should be a barn burner.
  • The Bulls are a pretty mediocre team on all fronts. With the loss of Omer Asik, the Bulls did lose some size, but the Wizards obviously still cant sleep on Carlos Boozer or Joakim Noah.

Prediction

This is a second game of a back to back for the Wizards. At this point in the season, the Wizards can’t take any team lightly, especially a team which has been on their own losing skid.

The Bulls have lost two games in a row, and will use the Wizards to get over the hump. With the loss of former MVP, Derrick Rose, the Bulls are a fringe playoff team. The Wizards are exactly the type of team the Bulls wait to pounce on. With just four wins the entire season, the Bulls will use the Wizards as a platform to shake off their recent cobwebs.

The Chicago Bulls are a scrappy defensive team, similar to the Wizards. Noah and Luol Deng are probably their most formidable defenders, with Taj Gibson anchoring their bench.  Their lack of depth in the back court has really hurt Chicago this season, as they are more reliant on players such as Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson. Rookie Marquis Teague has even gotten some extended minutes as of late.

Injuries have hurt both teams this season, but the Bulls have still managed to stay afloat. Many things have to go right for the Wizards to pull out a win in ‘The Windy City’.

Nene has been very limited in back to back games. He’s without a doubt the Wizards’ number one offensive option when he’s on the floor. If Nene decides to rest, or limits his minutes even more so tonight, Washington will have a very difficult time generating offense. Jordan Crawford has to continue his ridiculous shooting display. I feel as if bringing Crawford off of the bench motivates him to get going at a quicker pace than usual.

Defending All-Star, Luol Deng is no easy task. Even though he’s coming off an ankle injury, he’s still one of the best small forwards in the game today. Carlos Boozer is another player who has spurts of success. Though he’s certainly not what he used to be, Boozer has the potential to create some instant offense.

If you read my past game previews, you can tell that I’m pretty optimistic when it comes to the Wizards. For the sake of continuing my optimism, I’ll predict the Wizards to pull of an upset.

I asked Wiz of Awes’ own, William Stokes, to predict the outcome of tonight’s game.

William Stokes: This is gonna be an ugly game. Both the Wizards and Bulls are good defensive teams but bad offensive ones. While you should expect a low scoring affair, the Bulls are still better at both offense and defense. Bulls win, 88-80.

 

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