Jan 14, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards point guard John Wall (2) defends Orlando Magic point guard Jameer Nelson (14) during the first half at the Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA Today Sports

Game Preview: Washington Wizards vs. Orlando Magic (Key Match Up, Notes, and Prediction)


The Wizards are quickly climbing up the Eastern Conference standings with 8 wins in the month of November, but they’ll have to carry it over to this month and it all starts with the Orlando Magic. Tonight’s game will tip off at 7:00 PM from the Verizon Center.

Key Match Up:

This year’s NBA Draft class hasn’t been very good thus far, but Victor Oladipo has still managed to show some flashes of the player he could potentially become in the future. The DMV native is averaging about 15 points in the last five contests, and he’ll certainly be in competition for the Rookie of the Year award as the season progresses. Like John Wall, Oladipo possesses a ridiculous amount of athleticism which has helped him become a recognized defender even throughout his career at Indiana University. Even though he’s primarily played the shooting guard position, Orlando’s brass is hoping that he’ll eventually transition into a point guard so they’ve been experimenting with him this season. He still has some improving to do, but he’s definitely a stand out rookie amongst his competition.

With that said, John Wall has played at an All-Star level this entire season and it continued on Saturday night against the Hawks. Wall finished the game with 26 points and 12 assists against Jeff Teague, who could also potentially make an appearance at the All-Star game. Wall has gotten back to attacking the basket, and it’s opened up the floor for everyone on the court, including himself. Once Wall establishes his driving game, his jump shot has looked much better than when he settles for it. Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza are getting tons of open shots as a result of Wall’s aggression, and it has to continue against the Magic tonight. Oladipo is pretty good at disrupting offense, but he’s never matched up against a player with John Wall’s speed so he has to take advantage of that in transition.

Notes:

  • Nene wasn’t too pleased with playing 35+ minutes with a sore achilles against the Hawks, but it appears that he’ll be ready for tonight’s game.
  • Jameer Nelson sat out against the Spurs on Friday, but he did travel with the team to Washington according to ESPN.
  • With a win tonight, the Wizards could tie the Atlanta Hawks for third place in the Eastern Conference. How things have changed, eh?
  • Arron Afflalo is quietly having a tremendous season with the Magic. He’s averaging over 21 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists per game.
  • Nikola Vucevic has also been a double-double machine this season. He’s averaging 15 points and slightly over 11 rebounds per game. Marcin Gortat has to have a bounce-back game tonight.
  • Despite their losing record, the Magic have maintained a pretty good defense. They rank in the top-15 of defensive ratings.

Prediction:

The Wizards have a chance to finally get a .500 record with a win tonight.

Orlando isn’t very good, but they still pose some problems for the Wizards. Washington tends to struggle against elite rebounding big men, and if Marcin Gortat doesn’t do a good job on the glass tonight, the Wizards could be in some trouble. Andrew Nicholson and Mo Harkless have also been pretty good this season, so the Wizards can’t overlook Orlando tonight.

Washington will get the ‘W’ at home tonight. The players understand how important it is for them to take care of home games, and losing to teams below .500 at the Verizon Center would be unacceptable. Prior home losses to the Cavaliers and 76ers have taught the Wizards how to close games effectively and I don’t think they’ll have much of a problem beating Orlando tonight. John Wall has been on a tear and the Magic don’t have the personnel to contain him.

 

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