Jan 10, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (55) is guarded by Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (4) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

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


The Washington Wizards have lost 4 of their last 5 games and need to get back on track at home. Well, it won’t get any easier tonight as they’ll meet the East’s best, Indiana Pacers, tonight at the Verizon Center. The game will tip off at 7:00 PM.

Key Match Up:

The Indiana Pacers haven’t played well as of late, but they are coming off a win over the Miami Heat and they’re also looking to solidify their spot as the top team in the Eastern Conference. With that said, Paul George has also had some up and down games recently, but he did bounce back against the Heat, scoring 23 points to go along side 8 rebounds in the win. George, who’s the reigning Most Improved Player of the Year, has really emerged as one of the league’s best swing men this season and the Pacers might go as far as George can take them. His athleticism and ability to shoot from the outside makes him a very tough cover for anybody in the NBA, so Trevor Ariza will definitely have a lot on his plate tonight.

Ariza is undoubtedly Washington’s best perimeter defender, and although his defense hasn’t necessarily slipped, Washington hasn’t been very good on that side of the floor since Nene went down with injury. The Wizards have to do a better job of keeping their opponents from getting to the basket at will and their defense has really faltered over the past few weeks. It’s Ariza’s job to keep George away from the basket, forcing him to take tough outside shots. Indiana hasn’t really been spectacular offensively and making it tougher on George will obviously have an effect on the outcome of the game.

Notes:

Prediction:

The Pacers have dominated their two prior match ups against the Wizards this season, and although I think Washington will give them some trouble, I don’t think they have enough to pull out an upset victory.

Paul George, Lance Stephenson, George Hill and even some of their bench players like Evan Turner are all capable of going off on any given night and I don’t think Washington’s defense is capable of containing them, especially without Nene. The Pacers are also one of the league’s best rebounding teams, and Roy Hibbert and David West should have an advantage over Marcin Gortat and Trevor Booker.

John Wall and Bradley Beal are both going to need spectacular games if the Wizards are somehow going to win. I wouldn’t be surprised if they do, since stranger things have happened, but a lot has to go right and I just don’t see it happening.

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