November 28, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0) dribbles the ball as Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal (3) chases in the first half at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 84-82. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Trail Blazers preview: Another chance to get above .500


After pulling off an upset against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Wizards will look to get over the .500 mark tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers. The game will tip off at 7:00 PM from the Verizon Center.

Key Match Up:

Damian Lillard took the league by storm in his rookie season, and has made the All-Star team in just his second year in the league. Unlike a lot of other young point guards, Lillard opted to stay in college for the full 4-years, and it’s really helped his development as a player. Averaging over 20 points and nearly 6 assists per game, Lillard, along with LaMarcus Aldridge, has helped carry the Blazers on an tremendous unexpected regular season run. With 34 wins and just 13 losses on the season, the Blazers have been one of the top teams in a very tough Western Conference, and Damian Lillard’s heroics have definitely played a big part. Like our good friend Gilbert Arenas, Damian Lillard sports the number 0 on his jersey, and he’s showed some similarities with his ability to deliver in the clutch.

John Wall has a tendency to take games off defensively, especially against lesser opponents, but he has showed up against some of the league’s premier point guards. Wall played terrific defense against Stephen Curry and I’d imagine that he’d treat his match up against Lillard the same way. Wall has taken these high-profiled match ups personally, and he’s finally showing flashes of becoming an elite perimeter defender. Lillard is shooting over 41 % from beyond the 3-point arc, so I’m sure Wall will try to limit the amount of good looks he gets from deep. Lillard is capable of getting into the lane and his ball handling is tremendous, and he’s been a tough cover for virtually every point guard in the NBA. If John Wall could contain Lillard, building on his recent performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder, I think the Wizards could give themselves another chance to pull of an upset.

Notes:

  • Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, and LaMarcus Aldridge have all been great offensively this season. The Blazers are first in points per game.
  • Portland is also first in rebounds per game, and that could be credited to Aldridge and Robin Lopez.
  • Although they’ve been great at scoring the ball, the Blazers are ranked at the bottom-10 in defensive rating, according to NBA.COM

Prediction:

A lot has to go right for the Wizards to get the win tonight, and since they’re looking to get over .500, I wouldn’t expect them to beat the Blazers.

LaMarcus Aldridge has been on a tear, averaging well over 20+ points and 10+ rebounds this season, and he’s been a legitimate MVP candidate. Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, along with their new and improved bench, have helped the Blazers become one of the top teams in the NBA. Mo Williams and Dorell Wright have gave them some valuable scoring off the bench, and I’m not sure the Wizards will be able to contain their offense.

Nene and Marcin Gortat have to come prepared to battle on the glass, while John Wall and Bradley Beal will likely carry the load offensively. Nene usually struggles against lengthy forwards like Aldridge, so that could be a problem. Nicolas Batum has also been underrated this season, and Trevor Ariza will be very important defensively, once again.

I don’t think the Wizards will win, but stranger things have happened. Let’s just hope this isn’t another typical .500 game from the Wizards.

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