Jan 7, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Washington Wizards forward Trevor Booker (35) looks to shoot as he is defended by Charlotte Bobcats center Al Jefferson (25) during the first half of the game at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

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


Even though the Washington Wizards are currently in the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference, they have a number of teams trying to catch them in the standings, including the Charlotte Bobcats. The game will tip off at 7:00 PM from the Verizon Center.

Key Match Up:

When NBA pundits talk about All-Star snubs in the East, guards like Kyle Lowry or Lance Stephenson are often mentioned, but Al Jefferson deserved to be on the roster as much as anybody included. Jefferson has been one of the best big men in the NBA this season and he’s led the Charlotte Bobcats on their recent surge as they make a final push for a postseason spot. Jefferson is averaging over 20 points and 10 rebounds this season, but he struggled against Marcin Gortat earlier in the year, scoring just 6 points in 35 minutes of action.

With that said, Jefferson has been averaging close to 27 points and 11 rebounds on 60% shooting over the past 5 games and has been absolutely dominating. Gortat will have his hands full tonight, but he has to force Jefferson out of his sweet spots like he did in their first match up. There aren’t too many big men in the NBA with the scoring skills that Jefferson possesses, making him an extremely tough cover, but Gortat has proven that he’s capable of containing him. If Al Jefferson is kept at bay, the Wizards shouldn’t have an issue getting the home win tonight.

Notes:

  • Kevin Seraphin practiced yesterday and is expected to return tonight. He missed 7 straight games with a sore knee.
  • The Bobcats are also expecting to have Gerald Henderson back in the lineup.
  • Charlotte has the 7th highest defensive rating in the NBA. Steve Clifford has done a tremendous job at turning his team around and it’s evident in their improved defense
  • Although they’re much improved defensively, the Bobcats still have one of the worst offenses in the league. They have the 6th lowest offensive rating.

Prediction:

Despite falling apart against the Miami Heat late in the fourth quarter, the Wizards showed some resiliency and fight down the stretch and I think they’ll carry that over tonight against the Bobcats.

For the first time in a long time, both Charlotte and Washington are battling for playoff positioning, making tonight’s game very important for both teams.

Washington beat them earlier on in the season, but Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker have both been playing great basketball as of late and I wouldn’t read too much into the first game. John Wall has struggled in the past few games and I’d expect him to look for a bounce back game against Charlotte. He needs to pick up his aggressiveness as he’s settled for way too many jump shots recently. Charlotte isn’t necessarily known for their rim protection and he shouldn’t have a problem getting to the basket tonight.

I think the Wizards will sneak out with a home win tonight. Even thought the Bobcats are definitely improving, Washington can’t afford to lose home games to teams below .500.

Tags: Al Jefferson John Wall Marcin Gortat Nba Preview Washington Wizards Wizards Vs. Bobcats Wizards-bobcats Preview