December 14, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards center Nene (42) dribbles the ball in front of Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) in the first half at Verizon Center. The Lakers won 102-96. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Washington Wizards vs. Los Angeles Lakers (Key Match Up, Notes and Prediction)


The Wizards are coming off an impressive victory against the New York Knicks and they’ll have a chance to build on it against the Los Angeles Lakers tonight, who are trying to stay afloat until Kobe Bryant returns from injury. The game will tip off at 7:00 PM from the Verizon Center.

Key Match Up:

With Bradley Beal out with a stress injury, Nene will have to take some of the offensive load off John Wall. Nene has struggled over the past few games, but he’ll have a chance to bounce back against the Lakers tonight. Even though the Wizards have succeeded with their perimeter shooting so far in the season, I still believe they’ll have the most success if Nene and Marcin Gortat are consistent scorers in the post. When Nene gets going in the post, opportunities open up for Martell Webster, Trevor Ariza and even John Wall from the perimeter. Nene won’t overwhelm the Lakers with athleticism, but he could still command a double-team from the block, especially if the Lakers’ interior defense begins to struggle.

With that said, Pau Gasol has been great for the Lakers these past few games and is averaging about 18 points and 11 rebounds per game in the last five contests. Gasol struggled to get his shot going early on in the season, but he’s shot well over 50 percent from the field in the past two games with 20+ points in each game. If Gasol continues to play this well, the Lakers will continue to play above expectations, especially since they’ve surrounded the Spanish big man a ton of shooters. Nene has done a good job defensively this season and if he continues to do so tonight, the Wizards could run away with the game tonight.

Notes:

  • Trevor Ariza is expected to return to the starting lineup tonight. With Bradley Beal out at least two weeks, I’m interested to see who Randy Wittman will replace him with. This could possibly mean that Martell Webster will slide over to shooting guard off the bench.
  • Chris Kaman is listed as doubtful for the Lakers. I wouldn’t expect Kobe Bryant to make a dramatic comeback either.
  • Los Angeles has the most productive bench in the league. Even though Washington’s bench has struggled, I think that speaks more for the lack of disparity between the starters and reserves for the Lakers.

Prediction:

John Wall has been playing at an All-Star level these past few weeks, which earned him NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors. The Lakers seem to have good chemistry amongst each other, but they don’t have anyone on their roster who could contain John Wall. Their roster was essentially composed of players on one-year contracts in hopes of snagging a big time free agent during the summer, so don’t be surprised if you don’t recognize some of the faces you’ll see on the court. This isn’t the high-profiled Lakers team we’re all accustomed to seeing.

If the Wizards could limit their turnovers, which will limit the amount of fast break opportunities the Lakers will get, they should be able to pick up another ‘W’ at home tonight. Nick Young is always capable of dropping 20+, so they’ll have to contain some of his erratic shooting.

I think the Wizards will cruise to victory tonight. John Wall has been on a roll and the Lakers don’t have the personnel to stop him.

 

 

Tags: John Wall Nba Game Preview Nene Pau Gasol Washington Wizards Wizards Lakers