Dec 9, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards small forward Trevor Ariza (1) dribbles as Denver Nuggets small forward Wilson Chandler (21) defends during the second half at the Verizon Center. The Nuggets defeated the Wizards 75 - 74. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

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

The Washington Wizards are coming off a victory against the Los Angeles Lakers and they’ll look to conclude their west coast trip with a 2-2 record today against the Denver Nuggets. The game will tip off at 5:00 PM (EST) from the Pepsi Center.

Key Match Up:

John Wall is talked about being one of the quickest guards in the entire NBA, but Nuggets’ Ty Lawson isn’t too far behind. Like the Wizards, Denver relies on Ty Lawson for much of their offensive productivity as he’s grown into a true floor leader since entering the league a year before Wall. Averaging over 18 points and 9 assists per game, Lawson is one of the most underrated guards in the NBA and he’s played at an All-Star level this season despite missing some time to injury.

Wall scored 28 points to go along side 14 assists against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, but he’ll be faced with much stiffer competition when matched up with Lawson. Wall has had trouble guarding small guards and at 5’11″, Ty Lawson might be the most effective “small guard” in the NBA. Lawson makes up for his lack of height with speed and quickness, and he’s surprisingly been able to get to the basket despite not having the height of a typical guard. Wall has to force Lawson into tough perimeter shots, and even though he’s capable of knocking down shots outside of the paint, I’m sure the Wizards will live with any shot he gets from the outside. Wall was also very aggressive against the Lakers and that has to continue against Denver. The Nuggets aren’t a very good defensive team and he should be able to get some easy baskets as long as he doesn’t settle for shots.

Notes:

Prediction:

Washington hasn’t been able to get much rest during their west coast road trip, so playing in the high altitude against Denver certainly couldn’t help. With that said, the Wizards have to find a way to beat teams that are well below .500 and they’ll have a chance to do so against Denver.

Like Washington, the Nuggets play at an extremely fast pace and Ty Lawson has led the way in transition. Their big men, Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur, and even Timofey Mozgov are all capable of running the floor with their guards, making them very tough to defend in the open court. Faried and the rest of their bigs set the tone with their energy, especially on the boards, so Marcin Gortat and Trevor Booker have to be ready to mix it up down low.

Denver also has some players that are capable of scoring 20+ points on any given night and defending Randy Foye, Wilson Chandler, and the rest of their key offensive players has to be a priority for the road team.

I think the Wizards will prevail over Denver. John Wall and Bradley Beal should be able to dominate again while Marcin Gortat and Trevor Booker match up pretty well with Denver’s bigs.

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