The Wizards have had 3-days to rest after botching another close game on Monday night against the Denver Nuggets, but they’ll meet the third place Atlanta Hawks on the road tonight. The game tips off at 7:30 from the Philips Arena.
Key Match Up:
John Wall has undoubtedly become the best point guard in the Eastern Conference this season, but some may argue that Jeff Teague is right behind him. Wall got the best of Teague just a few weeks ago in a Wizards victory, scoring 26 points to go along side 12 assists at home. There aren’t too many point guards that could keep up with John Wall, and Jeff Teague struggled to stay in front of him in transition, which obviously didn’t go all too well for Atlanta.
Teague will definitely compete for an All-Star spot, but he hasn’t played at the level we saw at the beginning of the season as of late. He’s averaging just 14 points and 6 assists in the past five games, three of them which resulted in losses. He hasn’t shot the ball well this season, and I’m sure Wall will do his best to make him take tough shots from the perimeter. Much like Wall, Jeff Teague has the capability to slice defenses with penetration. It’s important to keep him out of the lane, so he has a harder time creating shots for his teammates. Atlanta isn’t very deep at the guard position, so if John Wall could contain Jeff Teague, they’ll have a tough time pulling out the ‘W’. With that said, John Wall has to remain aggressive against a smaller guard like Teague. He’s shown that he’s incapable of defending him, which will draw help defenders from all angles, leaving Wall with plenty of options. I’m sure Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster will get plenty of opportunities to score off Wall’s drives, but he also has to make sure to get Marcin Gortat involved.
- Kyle Korver has hit an NBA record for most consecutive games with at least one 3-point field goal made, and he’s currently at 91 straight games. He didn’t play in Washington’s victory over Atlanta on November 30th.
- Speaking of three point shooting, Martell Webster will be back in the Wizards lineup tonight. Nene will likely remain questionable.
- Lou Williams hasn’t been great this season, and it’s expected since he’s coming off an ACL injury. Washington has a tendency to get torched by scoring guards, and can’t allow that to be Lou Williams tonight.
- The Wizards and Hawks are essentially even in offensive and defensive ratings, so I’d suspect a close game tonight.
The Wizards have essentially had this entire week to practice the things they’ve struggled with, which is mostly closing out games. John Wall has called himself out, and I’m sure they’d like nothing more than to leave Atlanta with a win.
Paul Millsap scored 23 points against the Wizards last month, and with Nene probably out, they’ll need Trevor Booker to step up on the defensive side of the floor. He did a pretty good job against the Denver Nuggets on Monday, and I’m sure he knows that defense is what will get him consistent playing time, even when Nene returns from injury. Al Horford has complemented Millsap very well, so Gortat obviously needs to be solid defensively.
I think the Wizards know they must string a few wins together, especially since some of the teams lower in the standings have gained some ground. John Wall will be the best player on the floor, and I think they’ll have enough to sneak out a victory.