The Washington Wizards dropped their first preseason game on Tuesday against the Brooklyn Nets, but they’ll have a chance to redeem themselves against another Eastern Conference powerhouse this afternoon versus the Chicago Bulls in Rio De Jenerio, Brazil. The game is scheduled to be broadcasted on NBATV at 5:00 PM.
Key Match Up
Ever since getting drafted first overall out of Kentucky in 2010, John Wall has drawn comparisons to Derrick Rose for his entire career as a Wizard. Even though they’re completely different players, both Wall and Rose are two of the most explosive point guards in the NBA, and possibly two the league has ever seen. Both players have gone through a series of unfortunate injuries, but whenever we’ve gotten to see them match up against one another, they haven’t disappointed.
Unlike Wizards head coach, Randy Wittman, Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau won’t play Rose an extended amount of minutes, so we won’t get to see the two play for very long. Since the Wizards have only played on preseason game, and have spent these past couple days in Brazil, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Wittman opts to play Wall 20-25 minutes once again. Derrick Rose scored 13 points on 3/8 shooting against the Memphis Grizzlies to lead the Bulls to their second preseason victory on Monday, but more importantly, Rose looked just as explosive and quick as he did prior to the ACL injury which kept him out the entire season this past year. Wall wasn’t a stranger to injuries either, as he missed nearly half the season to a stress injury. Now that both guards are healthy and ready to lead their respective clubs, I’d expect fireworks in Rio.
The Brazilian crowd has been anticipating this match up for quite some time, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they produce a very intense atmosphere.
- The Wizards coaching staff opted to start Trevor Ariza on Tuesday, even though they had one of the most productive lineups in the league with Martell Webster on the floor.
- Trevor Booker is expected to make his return against Chicago after undergoing a knee procedure about 3 weeks prior to the start of training camp.
- Joakim Noah is also expected to play against the Wizards.
- Both Chicago and Washington were top 10 defensive teams this past season in terms of efficiency, but they were also ranked in the bottom 10 offensively. I’d expect both teams to remain atop the league defensively, but I also expect them to dramatically improve offensively with Wall and Rose back for a full season.
- John Wall and Derrick Rose have only played against each other four times, with Wall win-less in all four games.
Even though the preseason is all about experimenting with lineups, and playing some of the younger players for an increased amount of time before the regular season, both teams have played with great intensity and winning in Brazil will provide an even greater incentive.
The Derrick Rose and John Wall match up will inevitably overshadow Nene’s long awaited return to Brazil, but this will probably turn into a home game for the Wizards. They have to do a better job of limiting turnovers, which was a glaring issue for the Wizards against the Nets. Without Emeka Okafor, the Wizards have to rely on a collective effort for rebounds, and it won’t get any easier against Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer. Unlike Washington, the Bulls have some front court depth with Taj Gibson coming off the bench, so the Wizards need to do a better job at crashing the boards. It’s preseason, but the coaching staff and management is analyzing how the team will move on without Okafor, but they need to have a better showing on Saturday. Jan Vesely grabbed 12 rebounds after getting inserted into the starting lineup along side Nene, but the rest of the group has to make a concerted effort on the boards, especially since no other starter came even close to grabbing double digit rebounds.
Preseason means a lot more for teams like the Wizards, who are trying to make the playoffs for the first time in nearly half a decade. Washington is assessing virtually everyone on the roster, and if they fail to make up for the absences on the court, I could see them potentially trying to make a move to help their playoff chances. Washington needs preseason games to help their young backcourt become accustomed to playing with one another, and they simply need to see what they currently have on the roster.
The Chicago Bulls will be a tough task for the Wizards, but it will help them gauge where they stand amongst the rest of the Eastern Conference. With all that said, I think Thibodeau will be conservative with his starters’ minutes, and the Wizards will sneak out with a victory in Nene’s homeland.