Jan 16, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) battles for the ball against Washington Wizards small forward Martell Webster (9) during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Sacramento Kings defeated the Washington Wizards 95-94. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Kings Preview (1/28/13)

Washington is coming off a very impressive victory against Chicago, which extended their winning streak at home to five games. With momentum on their side tonight, the Wizards have a legitimate chance to pick up yet another victory at home against the Sacramento Kings.

Key Match Up

As Kevin Broom pointed out, Emeka Okafor has been a very big factor in Washington’s recent success. ‘Mek’ has consistently contributed for Washington on both sides of the floor, but mainly in the rebounding category. Okafor has grabbed over 13 rebounds per game in Washington’s last five outings, which obviously factors in since the Wizards are ranked 8th in rebounds per game. Nene, who is known for his offensive skills more so than his rebounding capabilities, has also benefited from sharing the floor with Okafor. Nene has expressed his gratitude in having another big man in the post, who knows how to space the floor and make cuts to the basket when necessary. Okafor has been more than a defensive anchor thus far, and Washington will need that tonight as ‘Mek’ will be paired up against one the best young centers in the league, DeMarcus Cousins.

Cousins, who is notably a former teammate of John Wall at the University of Kentucky, has a reputation of torching the Wizards. ‘DMC’ scored 21 points and grabbed 16 rebounds the last time the two teams met. Outside of Philadelphia’s Andrew Bynum, DeMarcus Cousins is probably the most talented and versatile center in the entire league. Young NBA centers are usually touted as ‘raw’ without much back to the basket skills. Cousins is the complete opposite. His post skills are great, and his ability to hit the 15 foot jump shot makes him nearly unguardable.  Okafor will need to do a good job in defending Cousins without fouling, as Cousins has a tendency to fall in love with his jump shot, rather than playing in the post. If Washington forced Cousins to step out of his comfort zone, they should be put in a great position to pick up their sixth consecutive victory at the Verizon Center.

Other Notes/Links

Prediction

Washington has been on a roll, which has consequently sparked some ‘playoffs?‘ talk amongst the fan base. Although the post season may seem light years away, Washington has been on a roll lately. They haven’t been this fun to watch in a long time, and I’d look for them to pounce on the Sacramento Kings who are on a three game losing streak.

With John Wall in the lineup, Washington has played like a completely different team. As a result of John Wall’s play making ability, guys such as Martell Webster who aside from a handful of games, was largely invisible for the most part this season, have become a vital contributor in Washington’s offense. Team’s such as the Kings, who aren’t a particularly good defensive team, are forced to collapse on Wall which leaves Webster, Beal, or Jordan Crawford open on the perimeter. Wall should come out aggressive, as he did the last time Washington played Sacramento, and look to attack the basket every chance he gets.

Bradley Beal, who scored 26 points against the Kings on January 16th, should also look to regain his mojo against a weak defensive team. Beal often struggles with taller guards as he himself is a bit undersized, but he doesn’t have to worry about the tonight since the Kings themselves have a plethora of undersized guards.

Sacramento doesn’t like to move the ball a lot, but they do have the talent to knock down jump shots. Aaron Brooks, Marcus Thornton, Jimmer Fredette, as well as a number of other wing players, are all capable of hitting the three ball. Besides DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento doesn’t have many low post threats to go inside to, which forces them to play iso ball the majority of the game.

The momentum is on their side. Washington has won 7 of their last 10 games, but they cannot overlook any team for that matter. With that said, Washington will continue to their hot streak, and pick up their sixth consecutive win at the ‘Phone booth’.

 

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Tags: Nba Sacramento Kings Washington Wizards

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