Here to provide the DC Council Opening Statements for Washington’s 11th game of the season against the Bobcats in D.C. are TAI’s Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) and guest Ben Swanson (@CardboardGerald), who writes about the Bobcats for the SB Nation blog Rufus On Fire (@Rufus_On_Fire).
Wizards Starters (0-10):
Shaun Livingston, Jordan Crawford, Bradley Beal, Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin
(…assuming Randy Wittman keeps the same starters from last game — we’re still not so sure about Vesely starting, but he matches up against Byron Mullens better than he does against Josh Smith.)
Bobcats Starters (6-5):
Kemba Walker, Jeff Taylor, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Byron Mullens, Brendan Haywood
Q #1: What have you done for me lately?
(What’s the status of the Bobcats over the past week?)
@CardboardGerald: Since we last met, the Bobcats have gone 3-2. Charlotte has emerged as a dominant force in the East, including wins over the super-healthy Timberwolves, Milwaukee’s only basketball team led in PPG by a mascot and the best NBA team in all of Canada. In fact, it could be argued that the Bobcats are the best team in the history of sports. Maybe not successfully, but it could be argued! They’re now without Tyrus Thomas (yay?) and will have to give more time to Bismack Biyombo and Hakim Warrick. Ben Gordon is back as well, which hopefully should help the Bobcats not be sadly dreadful from the 3-point line.
Q #2: Who threw out my alarm clock?
(Which player(s) are we sleeping on?)
@CardboardGerald: Ramon Sessions has re-emerged as neat-o point guard who likes to score lots of points off the bench. After falling off the face of the Earth (aka going from being on the Lakers to signing with the Charlotte Bobcats), Sessions has added a punch off the bench as a slasher and passer. Most of all, he’s added efficiency in adding ability to get to the line.
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.)
@CardboardGerald: I don’t really know much about the Wizards, but Kemba Walker is playing really well so far this season and I love Shaun Livingston so I’ll say that. Livingston’s size and quickness can combine to pose a problem for the significantly smaller Walker.
Q #4: How it’s going down?
(TAI’s general key to the game.)
@Truth_About_It: Last time out, the Bobcats simply destroyed the Wizards in the paint, 46-to-24, and Ramon Sessions did his share of damage off the bench (21 points, 7-for-18 FGs) with slashing drives to the rim. Also, Ben Gordon didn’t play that game due to a family emergency; he’s another small guard, in addition to Kemba Walker, that the Wizards aren’t built to defend (without John Wall). Of course, when the Bobcats beat the Wiz 92-76 on November 13, Randy Wittman was still turning to a starting lineup of A.J. Price, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker, and Emeka Okafor. That unit, which started the first seven games of the season, holds down a plus/minus per 48 minutes of minus-15.3 on the year.
Since changing his starters (twice over the last three games), Wittman has most often turned to Price, Jordan Crawford, Ariza, Jan Vesely, and Okafor — they are dead even with a total of zero in plus/minus over 28 minutes. Wittman’s second most-used lineup: Shaun Livingston, Beal, Chris Singleton, Booker, and Kevin Seraphin — a total of plus-2 in eight minutes. Of course, Wittman has used 52 different 5-man units over the last three games (149 total minutes — 21 lineups have been on the court together for three or more minutes).
What does it all mean? It means the tinkering coach continues to find subtle hints of success. It also means that Nene, who made his season debut on Wednesday in Atlanta (plus-9 in 20 minutes), makes a big difference in the complexion of the Wizards (which is also why, when healthy, he’s traditionally been one of the NBA’s best in individual plus/minus). Now about those Charlotte guards…
The Wizards are favored by 4 points (first time they’ve been favored all season) and the over/under is 186.5 points (via USA Today).
@CardboardGerald: Frankly, I’m not really sure how the Wizards are favored. The Bobcats beat them just 11 days ago by 16 points. I guess they’re well-rested. I doubt it’ll be enough. The Bobcats are really young and Mike Dunlap has them playing solid defensive ball. Their main defensive weakness is the three-pointer and the Wizards shoot a rather poor percentage. So I think Charlotte narrowly avoids defeat. Bobcats: 99 | Wizards: 95
@Truth_About_It: This is my lock of the year (imagine a gigantic cartoon lock being placed on a blogging couch): the Wizards will beat the Bobcats. It’s gotta happen… it’s just gotta. But don’t bet the house on it or anything. Because although I’m calling for the win, I say the Wizards don’t cover the spread: Washington 97, Charlotte 94. #SoWizards
[stats via NBA.com/stats]