The Washington Wizards have lost three consecutive games, including last night’s disappointing game against the new look Memphis Grizzlies. On the other hand, the San Antonio Spurs, who the Washington Wizards will meet in the second game of a back to back, haven’t lost in over three weeks. Washington’s chances of winning and picking up just their fourth road victory of the season, don’t look very good tonight.
Key Match Up
After straining his shoulder in last night’s game and giving us Wizards fans a mini heart attack, John Wall will probably be active against the Spurs tonight. Wall has made the Wizards a much better team in the month of January, but we haven’t seen that improvement ever since the Wizards took out the Chicago Bulls. Washington’s offense has become very stagnant, as they’re turning the ball over at a higher rate than we’ve seen all year. John Wall needs to do a better job in his decision making in order to cut down his turnovers. It’s evident that Wall’s confidence dips every time he turns the ball over, since he becomes more hesitant to make the pass and doesn’t look as involved in the offense as he did prior to the bad decisions. With Bradley Beal still out due to a right wrist injury, Wall doesn’t have very many shooters surrounding him. Martell Webster is virtually the only capable knock down shooter in the lineup, which makes defending John Wall easier than its ever been. With no one able to knock down shots, teams can collapse on Wall which forces turnovers or ill advised shots. Wall will certainly have his hands full tonight, since the San Antonio Spurs remain one of the best defensive teams in the league.
Averaging over 20 points and nearly 8 assists this season, Tony Parker has emerged as an MVP candidate once again this season. Parker is known for his elusiveness and scoring ability, but his unselfishness is part of the reason the Spurs are the number one ranked team in assists per game. Tony Parker is truly a perfect point guard. He’s everything I want John Wall to become. Parker, though not as athletic as Wall, is one of the quickest guards in the league. Unlike Wall, Parker has mastered his speed and has learned how to commit without hurting his team. His jump shot has vastly improved throughout his time in the NBA and it continues to improve year in and year out. Parker is shooting a career high .396 percent from beyond the arc. Parker is a player John Wall should really try to study and emulate. His floor leadership is amongst the best in the league, but Parker simply knows how to get it done. I’ll be interested to see how well Wall will compete with Parker this season, since Wall has only averaged 8 points per game in their past match ups.
- As noted, John Wall strained his left shoulder last night against the Grizzlies. Although his status is unknown, I’m assuming he will give it a go since he returned to the game last night.
- Should the Wizards seek a new coach? Here’s a great piece by Wiz of Awes’ own Nithin, on Randy Wittman and his production as the head coach.
- Bradley Beal won the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month once again for the month of January. His absence is far stronger than I would’ve expected. Without Beal, Washington has to rely on Martell Webster to knock down the majority of their three point opportunities.
- Great story on Garrett Temple and his journey through the NBA.
- Washington only took three free throws last night, which almost made history in the NBA. Let’s hope the officials make it up tonight.
- Besides their miserable play as of late, there’s not much else going on in Wizards Land.
Washington struggled mightily to get their offense going against the Grizzlies last night. It doesn’t get any easier tonight as the San Antonio Spurs are ranked fourth in defensive efficiency.
Without any shooters or a consistent low post threat, the Wizards will struggle once again tonight. Nene is virtually the only big man the Wizards have who can knock down the fifteen foot jump shot as well as get it done in the low post. The only problem is, teams such as the Spurs will be dialed in on Nene. Despite his lack of athleticism and youth, Tim Duncan has maintained his defensive prowess. Thiago Splitter also does a good job helping Duncan close out on the opposing big men, which shuts down their productivity.
Defense isn’t the only thing San Antonio is great at, which has propelled them into elite status. Besides being a top 5 defensive team, the Spurs are also ranked fifth in offensive efficiency. Manu Ginobili has been been dealing with a hamstring injury, but Tony Parker, Danny Green and their other wing players have done a great job in filling the void. San Antonio knows how to get the most out of their players, better than any other team in the league. They’ve surrounded Tony Parker with shooters such as Danny Green, Gary Neal, and even Kawhi Leonard who’s more than capable of hitting the three point shot. Washington will be forced to play help defense on Tony Parker, which leaves Leonard and Green wide open. Both Green and Leonard shoot over 40 percent from beyond the arc. The Spurs are basically the perfect offensive team. They have a low post threat in Tim Duncan, a facilitator in Tony Parker, and tons of knock down shooters.
The only edge Washington has over San Antonio is in the rebounding category. Emeka Okafor has averaged over 13 rebounds per game in the past five outings. Consequently, the Wizards are ranked ninth in rebounds per game. The Spurs are currently 20th in rebounding per game. Washington struggled rebounding against the Grizzlies, so everyone needs to do a better job tonight. John Wall, Martell Webster, and even Nene needs to help Okafor out by ‘gang rebounding’.
With all of that said, I just don’t see it happening tonight. San Antonio has been a model organization for as long as I could remember. Washington does have a tendency of beating teams when all odds are against them, but I can’t imagine them pulling off an upset against the Spurs.
San Antonio isn’t the type of team to play down to their opponents level. Moral victories don’t exist, but that’s the only thing Washington will probably leave the Alamo City with.
All statistics used are from either HoopData.com or ESPN.com