Here to provide the DC Council Opening Statements for Washington’s 13th game of the season against the Portland Trailblazers in D.C. are TAI’s Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) and guest Sean Highkin (@shighkinNBA), who writes about the Blazers for the ESPN TrueHoop blog Portland Roundball Society, as well as Hardwood Paroxysm.
Wizards Starters (0-12):
A.J. Price, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Kevin Seraphin, Emeka Okafor
(They started last game, they’ll probably start this game.)
Blazers Starters (6-8):
Damian Lillard, Wes Matthews, Nic Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, J.J. Hickson
Q #1: What have you done for me lately?
(What’s the status of the Blazers over the past week?)
@shighkinNBA: I think reality is starting to settle in that this will be a rebuilding year. They’ve suffered ugly losses to no lesser of NBA powerhouses than the Suns and Pistons, and it’s become common knowledge that Portland is one of the most top-heavy teams in the league. The starting lineup always produces, but the bench is arguably the worst in the NBA. This has forced Terry Stotts to play key players huge minutes, and LaMarcus Aldridge is already starting to show strain.
Q #2: Who threw out my alarm clock?
(Which player(s) are we sleeping on?)
@shighkinNBA: That’s tough, because the four most high-profile players (Aldridge, Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, and Nicolas Batum) are the ones who have been handling the lion’s share of the production. But J.J. Hickson’s contributions have gone somewhat unnoticed. He still can’t guard anybody, and isn’t a long-term option as a starting center by any means. But he crashes the boards relentlessly, and has embraced his role as a cleanup man on offense.
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.)
@shighkinNBA: The obvious answer here is John Wall and Damian Lillard, but Wall’s injury kind of ruins that. Honestly, the talent disparity between these two teams, especially with Wall out, is so massive that I can’t think of a compelling matchup for this game. But it should be great for my Wack Fantasy team, as the Blazers and Wizards both have a point guard who share a last name (A.J. and Ronnie Price) who play major minutes and don’t really have any tangible NBA skills. And I drafted both of them. I’m undefeated.
Q #4: How it’s going down?
(TAI’s general key to the game.)
@Truth_About_It: Portland’s most-used lineup this season (the starters—Lillard, Matthews, Batum, Aldridge, and Hickson) have been on the floor together for 220 out of 682 possible minutes (32%) and puts up a plus-3.3 per 48 minutes. In contrast, Washington’s most-used lineup of A.J. Price, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker, and Emeka Okafor (the crew that started the season’s first seven games before Randy Wittman started making changes) has accounted for just 116 minutes on the court together out of a possible 596 minutes (19%) to the tune of minus-15.3 per 48 minutes. The new starting lineup (as Booker still might not be available tonight) of Price, Beal, Ariza, Kevin Seraphin and Okafor has played 11 minutes together (all in the last game versus San Antonio) to the tune of plus-8.7 per 48 minutes.
But, while it might be easy to deduce that each team’s bench will be key to this game, Washington’s starters, especially Ariza and Okafor, have been so wildly inconsistent that Wittman doesn’t know the whos, hows, whens, and wheres of his contributions on a nightly basis. So let’s go beyond the arc. Portland ranks fourth in the NBA in both attempted 3-pointers per game (22.2) and made 3-pointers per game (8.4), good for 37.9 percent, ranked seventh league-wide. Meanwhile, the Wizards attempt the third most 3s per game (22.9) and make the 15th most per game (6.8), giving them a percentage of 29.8, which ranks 27th in the NBA. This game will be won, but more likely lost, from the 3-point line.
The Blazers are favored by 3 points and the over/under is 193.5 points (via USA Today).
@shighkinNBA: Neither of these teams play much defense, so I’ll look for this to be a high-scoring affair, something like 114-110. I’d like to think the Blazers will win, just because they have so much more talent and will be motivated by not wanting to be the Wizards’ first win, but it wouldn’t shock me if Washington snapped their losing streak, either.
@Truth_About_It: The Wizards will win. I don’t care how, they just will. 99-98 in overtime.
Question posed to Wizards fans on Twitter: What’s the worst or best part of the 0-12 season…
@truth_about_it that it may lead to Grunfeld losing his job.
— wheelpoint (@wheelpoint) November 28, 2012
@truth_about_it Best: Singletons development Worst: Jan Vesely playing like Jan Vesely and/or Beals growing pains
— Jonathan Tito (@hibachi202) November 28, 2012
@truth_about_it Worst part: It isn’t close to over.
— Saleem the Dream (@SaleemTheDream) November 28, 2012
@truth_about_it the humiliation of everyone knowing you’re a wizards fan..ppl just pile on
— jarem yruhdwohc (@ChilledOnTheRox) November 28, 2012
@truth_about_it Worst: No $7.99 Papa Johns pizzas. Best: No Papa John’s $7.99 pizzas.
— Jey Rheta ® (@JKCove) November 28, 2012
@truth_about_it best part is we can still blindly say we’ll be ok when Wall gets back
— Colin Wilcox (@CDublin) November 28, 2012
@truth_about_it worst-Bealsand veselys struggles. Best-seraphin continued emergence
— Mitch Batchelder (@mBatch94) November 28, 2012
@truth_about_it worst part is seeing Kenneth Faried blossom in Denver while Vesely is terrible.. EG drafts how ESPN mock’s tell him to.
— Colin Wilcox (@CDublin) November 28, 2012
@truth_about_it worst part… Ernie’s still here
— Dijonay Jones (@shawty_shawty) November 28, 2012
@truth_about_it worst part…2013 draft looks to be the worst since Kwame went #1
— Tony Starks (@frankbones24) November 28, 2012
— B. Mendoza (@mrbmendoza15) November 28, 2012
@truth_about_it best part: wzzntzz
— tyler (@acousticbandit) November 28, 2012
@truth_about_it Worst part’s the days of The Jan Vesely Diaries are over.
— Lukas Kuba (@Luke_Mellow) November 28, 2012
— Raymond Lyons (@raylyonsden) November 28, 2012
@truth_about_it Looking ahead at next year’s draft class
— Calvin Lyons (@CKs_World) November 28, 2012
@truth_about_it that I got paid $24m to leave and I’m now on a division leader.
— fakedrayblatche (@FakeDrayBlatche) November 28, 2012
IN OTHER NEWS
- The Wizards had a pre-practice meeting yesterday to air out frustrations, and it included the coach, Randy Wittman (so no ”players only” stuff)… I take this to be a good sign. Well, as good as any sign can be with an 0-12 team.
- “A Fan’s Notes: The Unmagical Washington Professional Basketball Team,” by Bill Simmons’ friend and Wizards fan, Joe House.
- How will the Wizards stop rookie Damian Lillard tonight? Sounds like they should attack him on defense.
- Mike Wise is depressed. But, he won’t “truly judge” Ernie Grunfeld (or Randy Wittman) until both John Wall and Nene are healthy.
- Wizards being shouted-out in rap songs? Here ya go…