Nov 17, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson (25) is defended by Washington Wizards power forward Kevin Seraphin (13) during the second half at the Verizon Center. The Jazz defeated the Wizards 83 - 76. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Wizards At Jazz Preview (1/23/13)

Just days removed from a miraculous victory against the Portland Trail Blazers, the Washington Wizards will have a chance to close out their West Coast road trip with a winning record. They’ll meet the Utah Jazz tonight in Salt Lake City.

Key Match Up

Nene is coming off what was arguably his best game of the season, scoring 17 of his 24 points in the first quarter on Monday night. He looked to assert himself early, scoring on Lamarcus Aldridge at will. It was great to see him demand the ball, as he’s deferred a bit since John Wall’s return. Emeka Okafor also contributed to the win, scoring 13 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. In a recent interview, Randy Wittman went on to say that Okafor has been playing his most consistent ball of the season as of late. Nene and Okafor both feed off each other, as they’re both capable passers in the post.

They’ll be matched up against one of the best big men duos in the NBA in Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap. Jefferson has a reputation in torching the Wizards, every time the two teams are matched up. He averaged 21 points and 13 rebounds for his career against Washington. Millsap, who’s numbers are slightly down from last year, has had a bit of a resurgence in the past five outings, averaging close to 16 points and 8 rebounds. Both big men are skilled and able to hit the mid range jump shot, as well as play in the post with ease. I’ll be interested to see how well the Wizards duo, matches up against Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap.

Other Links/Notes

Prediction

The Washington Wizards are on a roll. I can’t remember the last time they’ve finished +.500 on a West Coast road trip, and tonight they have a chance to do so.

As Mike Prada of Bullets Forever mentioned, the Utah Jazz are a fairly mediocre team. They’re ranked in the middle of virtually every category, besides defense. According to HoopData, the Jazz are the 9th worst defensive team in the NBA. That can be a problem, especially since it seems like the Wizards have all the momentum on their side. Despite John Wall and Bradley Beal struggling on Monday night, the Wizards ‘depth’ and defense lead them to an upset victory in Portland.

Utah is a very deep team when it comes to their front court rotation. As mentioned, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are very versatile big men. Their other big men like Enes Kanter, and Derrick Favors, who scored 19 points and grabbed 8 rebounds on Saturday night, can also get it done on occasion. Although they’re not a very good rebounding team, their size makes them a capable rebounding team. They also have guys like Randy Foye and Gordon Hayward, who are capable of hitting the three ball. Both players are shooting over 40 percent from beyond the arc. Washington needs to do a good job of defending the post, while not falling asleep on their perimeter defense.

With that said, Washington has won 5 of their last 7. It seems as if they’re finally turning their season around. Utah doesn’t have a deep guard rotation, so Washington should have a significant edge there. John Wall didn’t have a great game Monday, and he did have a few good games against Utah in the past. I’d look for Wall, who’s very motivated due to the lack of exposure, to have another exceptional game tonight.

Again, if Washington can contain Al Jefferson, and Emeka Okafor should be able to, they’ll finish out their 5 game West Coast trip with 3 victories. I’ll be optimistic, and predict that they’ll leave Salt Lake City with another win.

 

Next Wizards Game Full schedule »
Wednesday, Oct 2929 Oct7:30at Miami HeatBuy Tickets

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