Here to provide the DC Council Opening Statements for Washington’s fifth game of the season against the Pacers in Indiana are TAI’s Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) and guest Jared Wade (@Jared_Wade), who writes about the Pacers for the TrueHoop blog 8 Points, 9 Seconds (@8tps9secs).
Wizards Starters (0-4):
A.J. Price, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker, & Emeka Okafor
Pacers Starters (2-4):
Sam Young, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, David West, & Rob Hibbert
Q #1: What have you done for me lately?
(What’s the status of the Pacers over the past week?)
@Jared_Wade: Miserable and getting miserabler. They got blown off the court by the Spurs, they had an epic, fourth-quarter collapse to lose to Atlanta (scoring nine points in the final period), and they lost in one of the most embarrassing ways you can last night, letting Minnesota’s Chase Budinger hit a game-winning uncontested layup right before the buzzer. The silver lining is that their offense has gone from completely inept in their first four games to merely not good. Plus, George Hill has joined David West as a second offensive presence. But let’s put it this way: they’ll be happy to see the Wizards at home tonight.
Q #2: Who threw out my alarm clock?
(Which player(s) are we sleeping on?)
@Jared_Wade: Lance Stephenson. He has been the only bench player (aside from Tyler Hansbrough at times) to provide anything, and he may actually be a good NBA player. We saw nothing but the occasional highlight during his first two seasons, but he is now stringing together good possessions on both ends of the court and helping out the offense even when he isn’t scoring. And as far as putting up points, he’s averaging 13.5 points per 36 minutes while shooting 52.4 eFG%.
Q #3: What game-within-the-game counts most?
(What matchup between two players or between each team in a particular statistical category is most important.)
@Jared_Wade: I think whichever starting backcourt plays better has the best shot to win. Indiana’s front court, despite Roy Hibbert’s ongoing struggles, should be able to out-play Washington’s on talent alone, so if the Wizards can’t make up that disadvantage, the Pacers should be able to snap their losing streak. George Hill put on a show last night and will be coming in hot, so it will come down to Paul George. He has only shot better than 40 percent in one of six games this season and badly needs a break-out game. Look for him to drop 20 on less than 15 shots against inexperienced defenders.
Q #4: How it’s going down?
(TAI’s general key to the game.)
@Truth_About_It: Trevor Booker and Emeka Okafor might be badly out-matched by David West and Roy Hibbert. With the 4/5 duo of Booker and Okafor on the court, the Wizards snag 38.7 rebounds and score 28.2 points in the point (PITP) per 48 minutes while opponents pull down 47.2 rebounds and score 45.0 PITP per 48 minutes. That’s quite a discrepancy. If the Wizards expect to have a chance, these two will have to punch first. Do the “Cook Book” and “Wikipedia” have it in them?
The Pacers are favored by 8.5 points and the over/under is 185.5 points (via USA Today).
@Jared_Wade: 96-87, Indy.
@Truth_About_It: Perhaps the best part about Washington losing their fourth game in as many on the season is that they get to play the very next night. All the Wizards need is for some guys to get hot on offense, which won’t be easy against Indiana’s defense. But if the Wizards starters stay engaged, and if they are able to establish an inside-out game with Kevin Seraphin and strong bench play as backup, and if they can manage to sink 12 or more 3-pointers, then I’m fine resting an upset prediction on all these ifs—Wizards 95, Pacers 93.