Wizards vs. Clippers Preview (2/4/13)

January 19, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin (32), Washington Wizards center Emeka Okafor (50) and center Nene (42) look for the rebound in the first half of the game at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Wizards are trying to avoid their fifth consecutive loss, as they return home tonight to face the struggling Los Angeles Clippers.

Key Match Up

The L.A. Clippers have lost 5 of their last 7 games without Chris Paul. With ‘CP3′ in the lineup, the Clippers are ranked third in offensive efficiency. Paul’s ability to read the offense is uncanny. He’s without a doubt the best pure point guard in the league today. Without Paul however, the Clippers are forced to rely on Eric Bledsoe to fill the void. Bledsoe is a capable starting point guard in the NBA, but he’s certainly no Chris Paul. Bledsoe, a former teammate of John Wall at the University of Kentucky, put up a valiant effort in L.A.’s loss to Boston yesterday, scoring 23 points to go along side 7 rebounds and 10 assists. He’s definitely capable of getting it done, but I’d like to think John Wall will have the edge in tonight’s match up.

Wall, who was bothered by a shoulder injury, scored 21 points and dished out 9 assists in Saturday night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs. Coming into the game, Wall I was interested to see how well Wall will play against Tony Parker, who is regarded as one of the best point guards in the NBA. Wall did enough to dig his team out of a 20+ point hole, but didn’t do enough to close out the victory. Washington has played better with Wall in the lineup, especially in the month of January, but have lost four consecutive games. Washington needs to continue to play with the same fire as they did when John Wall returned to the lineup, and that starts with John Wall himself. I’d like to see Wall get engaged early, since he’s still on a time limit and doesn’t have to worry about defending Chris Paul. John Wall really needs to take advantage of tonight’s situation. There aren’t opportunities where the Wizards could pick up a win, especially against a team such as the L.A. Clippers.

Other Notes/Links

  • Bradley Beal is listed as day to day for tonight’s game, but I wouldn’t expect him to make his return tonight. Cartier Martin and Trevor Booker are also doubtful to play.
  • Mike Prada of Bullets Forever, took a look at tonight’s point guard battle. I think it’s time for John Wall to take that next step and start to separate himself from the Eric Bledsoe’s of the world. There’s no reason why anyone should think Bledsoe is a better player than John Wall, but there are still skeptics. Tonight, Wall has a great opportunity to go out and prove how much better he truly is than Bledsoe.
  • Washington scored 9 points in the second quarter against the Spurs. Jeff Newman looked at the ‘dreaded third quarter’.
  • Let’s hope Jan Vesely doesn’t get punked by Caron Butler tonight.
  • Not much else going on in Wizards land. Hope you all enjoyed your Super Bowl Weekend.

Prediction

Washington hasn’t played as well as we had hoped since January.

The once ‘playoff hopes’ are now virtually dead, and the Wizards are trying to avoid their fifth consecutive loss. With that said, Washington is a better home team than they are away. The Clippers are dealing with their own struggles, including a disappointing loss to the Rajon Rondo-less Boston Celtics. If their was ever the time get an upset victory at home, it would be today.

With or without Chris Paul, the Clippers are still a dangerous team. They’re a top five team in offensive efficiency, overall defense, and assists. They have the best bench in the entire league, with Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, and normally Eric Bledsoe all supporting their starters. The Wizards on the other hand, are the worst offensive team and albeit a decent defensive team.

One advantage Washington does have over Los Angeles is their ability to score in the post. Nene is a far superior player than Blake Griffin when it comes to scoring inside and he’s an overall more polished player. Griffin, who doesn’t post that many blocks, is still a capable defender. When Nene steps out and hits the fifteen foot jump shot with consistency, Griffin will be forced to play tighter defense, which opens up lanes for John Wall and Washington’s other guards. DeAndre Jordan is one of the best shot blocking big men in the NBA, but doesn’t have the talent to really score on the low block. I personally think Washington’s front court could potentially outplay Los Angeles’.

And of course, with Chris Paul out, Washington will certainly have the advantage at the point guard position. Wall will need to do a better job controlling the ball, in order to cut down his turnovers. Turning the ball over is a no no, especially when you’re playing against a transition team like the L.A. Clippers. If Washington gives the Clippers any opportunities in transition, it’ll turn into another long night.

With all of that said, I’ll be optimistic once again. Washington hasn’t played at the Phone Booth in a few games, so I’m guessing they’ll come out to play. If John Wall takes advantage of Bledsoe, Washington can pick up yet another upset victory.

Washington will sneak out with a 95-92 victory, ending their four game losing skid.

 

Topics: Blake Griffin, John Wall, Los Angeles Clippers, Nba, Washington Wizards

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