Jan 8, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Washington Wizards power forward Trevor Booker (35) drives past New Orleans Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis (23) and small forward Al-Farouq Aminu (0) during the first quarter of a game at the New Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Pelicans: Game Time, Key Match Up, Notes, and Prediction

The Wizards are finally back on the winning track after beating the Atlanta Hawks away from home on Wednesday. They return to the Verizon Center tonight to take on Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans. The game will tip off at 7:00 PM.

Key Match Up:

The Pelicans were expected to be one of many Western Conference teams looking to make the post-season, but injuries have derailed their season and they find themselves 8 games below .500. Though their season has been rather disappointing, former first overall pick Anthony Davis has blossomed into a superstar and has given Pelicans fans some hope for the future. Averaging over 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks per game, Davis has emerged as one of the best big men in the NBA this season. His ability to shoot from the outside, added with his explosiveness and defensive prowess has made him a nightmare for opposing teams.

Nene has been pretty good defensively this season, but he still struggles guarding forwards that could shoot from the outside. With that said, the Pelicans don’t have much size and the Wizards will likely live with any contested shots Davis gets from the perimeter. Washington’s interior defense has been inconsistent this season, but without a legitimate starting center on the roster, Washington probably won’t have to worry about giving up a ton of points down low. Nene has to force Davis to take tough shots, and although he’ll probably still put up some impressive numbers, it’s pretty difficult to win when his teammates aren’t contributing. If Nene contains Anthony Davis, the Pelicans are obviously going to have a tough time winning the ball game.

Notes:

  • This is the second game of a back-to-back for the Pelicans. They lost to the Bobcats last night, 90-87.
  • New Orleans has the 5th worst defensive rating in the NBA.
  • Only 19% of the shots the Pelicans take come from 3-point territory. Only the Grizzlies take less threes.
  • Andre Miller will make his debut for the Wizards tonight.
  • Miller’s old Denver Nuggets teammate, Al Harrington, is also expected to return to Washington’s lineup tonight.

Prediction:

Washington has to find a way to win these type of games at home. John Wall and Bradley Beal both had good games on Wednesday and they’re matched up against one of the league’s worst defenses. They have to take advantage of the mismatches, especially Wall–who’ll be defended by Brian Roberts.

The Pelicans don’t have much size, so Nene and Marcin Gortat should dominate down low. I thought they did a great job at taking advantage of their size against the Hawks on Wednesday and tonight should be no different.

Although the Wizards should win by double-digits, the Pelicans still have some players on their roster that could get it done. Anthony Davis is an All-Star, and their guards–Eric Gordan and Tyreke Evans specifically–are capable of putting up some good numbers. Washington can’t come out slow like they have in the past.

I think Washington will get the win at home. New Orleans is coming off another road game and the Wizards have had two days to rest. The team should be excited about Andre Miller’s debut and I think they’ll be ready tonight.

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