The Wizards closed out 2013 on a high note and now they’ll have a chance to start this year on an even better note, with a chance to go over .500 tonight against the Dallas Mavericks at home. The game will tip off at 6:00 PM from the Verizon Center.
Key Match Up:
Although Dirk Nowitzki is on the tail end of his career, he’s still capable of scoring the ball at a very high level. The Mavericks have changed their roster quite a bit since winning the NBA Championship in 2011 and they haven’t seen the same amount of success since then. The Mavericks beat the Wizards by double digits in November, but Nowitzki was held to just 19 points on 19 shot attempts by the Wizards. If Washington could contain Nowitzki, then they’ll obviously have a greater chance at winning tonight in the nation’s capital.
With that said, Trevor Booker has to find a way to step up defensively. Nowitzki is one of the craftiest big men the NBA has ever seen and Booker tends to struggle on the defensive side of the floor. Nene is still on limited minutes, so Booker will inevitably get matched up with Nowitzki for much of the game. Nowitzki is the best in the business when it comes to making tough shots, but I think the Wizards will live with those attempts, given that they should have an advantage on the boards.
- Marcin Gortat was visibly frustrated at himself after grabbing just 3 total rebounds against the Detroit Pistons on Monday. The Mavericks are 27th in the NBA in rebounds per game, so Gortat should have a chance to redeem himself tonight.
- The Mavericks got obliterated by the Phoenix Suns last month, so look for the Wizards to try and emulate their performance. Like the Wizards, Phoenix relies on their backcourt for much of their production and the Mavericks have struggled against teams that like to go up-and-down the floor.
- According to Stats.NBA.COM, Dallas has the seventh highest offensive rating. They’re right above the Los Angeles Clippers and Suns.
- Dallas is also in the bottom ten defensively. Washington has to take advantage of their poor defense.
Both teams will have significant advantages against each other. Washington should get the better of Dallas in the rebounding department, while the Mavericks will likely perform at a higher level than the Wizards on the offensive side of the floor. John Wall and Bradley Beal should push the ball at every chance they get against the aging Mavericks group, which should create some easy baskets for the Wizards.
Monta Ellis is capable of going off for 30+ on any given night, so the Wizards will have to try and force him into tough perimeter shots. If the Wizards could contain some of Dallas’ scorers, they should give themselves a chance to win the game tonight. With that said, I think the Wizards are going to come out strong today, knowing that they have an opportunity to get over the .500 hurdle. Washington has never been over .500 this season and I think they’ll pull off the upset tonight.