Game Preview: Washington Wizards at New Orleans Pelicans (Key Match Up, Notes, and Prediction)

Dec 11, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Washington Wizards center Nene (42) rebounds a ball over New Orleans Hornets power forward Anthony Davis (23) during the second quarter of a game at the New Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Washington is back on the winning track after picking up another road win against the Charlotte Bobcats last night, but they’ll be back on the road tonight against the New Orleans Pelicans, who are coming off a blowout loss to the Miami Heat. The game tips off at 8:00 PM.

Key Match Up:

Marcin Gortat has had an up and down season thus far, but for the most part he’s been one of Washington’s most consistent bigs. When the Wizards traded for Gortat, we were skeptical about his ability to hold up defensively, but he really stepped up against Al Jefferson last night in Charlotte. Gortat isn’t as good of a defender as Emeka Okafor, but he definitely set the tone defensively for Washington last night. Jefferson has torched the Wizards in the past and Gortat held him to just 6 points on 9 shot attempts. Gortat was also active on the offensive side of the floor, contributing with 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Anthony Davis is one of the NBA’s emerging young stars, so Gortat and Trevor Booker, along with the rest of Washington’s bigs will definitely have their hands full. Even though he’s just in his sophomore season, Davis has already stepped up as one of the league’s elite big men. Averaging over 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game, Anthony Davis will certainly be a candidate for the Most Improved Player award. Davis is capable of knocking down shots from the perimeter, but I think the Wizards will live with those made shots. According to NBA.COM, he’s shot under 40% from the mid range area, so it’ll be important for the Wizards to make him take perimeter shots. The Pelicans don’t really have a ton of size, so the Wizards should have an advantage down low, especially with Marcin Gortat.

Notes:

  • For a team that lacks size, the Pelicans are a surprisingly good rebounding team. They’re 12th in rebounds per game.
  • The Heat scored 64 points in the second half against the Pelicans. Head coach Monty Williams wasn’t pleased with their effort, so look for them to try and bounce back defensively tonight.
  • New Orleans has the 8th highest offensive efficiency, above teams such as the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors. (NBA.COM)
  • They also have the 3rd worst defensive efficiency in the league. So, yeah. They don’t play much defense.

Prediction:

Washington managed to score 97 points against an elite defensive team last night, so they shouldn’t have too much trouble scoring against the Pelicans tonight. Anthony Davis is having a breakout season, but the Pelicans still find themselves at 3 games below .500. The Wizards have been better on the road than they have at home, but the Pelicans have done a good job at controlling their home floor this season.

With that said, I think the Wizards will find a way to get the ‘W’ tonight. They seem to realize that they’ll need to beat teams that are under .500 if they want to remain in the playoff picture, and now that the Eastern Conference is getting somewhat stronger, the Wizards have to find a way to win these games away from home. Jrue Holiday has been shooting at a very high level at home, but John Wall has stepped up against other top guards this season, so I don’t expect that to change tonight. Bradley Beal scored 21 points last night in limited action and it seems like his shooting woes are behind him. Marcin Gortat also had a bounce back game last night and everyone’s confidence seems to have grown. Washington should find a way to sneak out of The Big Easy with another road win.

Topics: Anthony Davis, John Wall, Marcin Gortat, Nba Game Preview, Washington Wizards, Wizards Pelicans Preview, Wizards Vs Pelicans

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