Here to provide the DC Council Opening Statements for Washington’s ninth game of the season against the Pacers in D.C. 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 (0-8):
A.J. Price, Jordan Crawford, Trevor Ariza, Jan Vesely, Emeka Okafor
Pacers Starters (4-7):
George Hill, 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: As was the case when these two titans last clashed, the Pacers remain a mess. They had one stellar (home) win over Dallas on Friday but got beat in Milwaukee on Wednesday and in New York on Sunday. Two straight-up blowouts. I’m sure Wizards’ fans are used to weeks full of that much futility, but Indiana only got trounced a handful of times last season, and I don’t think they ever got manhandled twice like that in a five-day period. Moreover, they also lost embarrassingly at home against Toronto, even though the Raps only scored five points in the entire fourth quarter. In short, trying times in Pacerville and the team is probably—no offense—pretty happy to be coming to Washington.
Q #2: Who threw out my alarm clock?
(Which player(s) are we sleeping on?)
@Jared_Wade: Tyler Hansbrough continues to play well. He is (by far) the team leader in getting to the line per 36 minutes at 9.7—which is more than Kevin Durant, Kobe, Lebron and Carmelo. He is also posting his best rebound rates, on both ends of the floor, since his rookie year (when he played little and had a lot of garbage-time All-Star games). Hansbrough’s shooting accuracy will never be off the charts given how undersized and spastic he is with his attempts, but his true shooting is currently a career-high, despite some free throw troubles. And qualitatively, he is the one guy on Indiana’s bench who can come in and change the flow of the game. Given how Roy Hibbert has played so far this season, Wizards fans may prefer the Pacers’ starting bigs to the, so far, more potent Hansbrough/David West pairing.
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: This feels like a George Hill game. He took a lot of bad shots in yesterday’s loss to the Knicks and I’m sure he knows it. Running a competent offense is his responsibility. I doubt that burden will turn him into Rajon Rondo or Steve Nash overnight, so I presume he’ll try to fix it the best way he knows how: by individually trying to light up A.J. Price, a guy he knows well from last year. It’s possible he makes just as many bad decisions as he did yesterday and scuffles again. Then again, it’s A.J. Price.
Q #4: How it’s going down?
(TAI’s general key to the game.)
@Truth_About_It: The Wizards scored just 13 fourth-quarter points (to Indiana’s 19) when these two teams played on November 10, a four-point 89-85 Pacers win. That night, Kevin Seraphin didn’t attempt a shot in 3.5 fourth-quarter minutes, and Jordan Crawford went 1-for-2 from the field (both attempts were 3-pointers) in just under five minutes of fourth-period play. If the Wizards are to finally win a game, these two will have to score, and their points will have to come down the stretch. The Wizards score just 88.5 points per 100 possessions in the fourth quarter, worst mark in the NBA—Orlando is second-worst,scoring 94 points per 100 fourth-quarter possessions. To note, Washington averages an NBA-worst 90.9 points per 100 possessions over all quarters. To also note, Crawford is shooting 42.2 percent from the field on the year, but only 27.3 percent in fourth quarters… Hopefully the shoes that Crawford keeps in his fridge will stay cool long enough for his steez to get hot in the end.
The Pacers are favored by 2.5 points and the over/under is 180 points (via USA Today).
@Jared_Wade: Pacers win, 92-80. The team that played so well last year may be dead and gone, but I still have to think a few of these players have enough pride that yesterday’s loss will motivate them to will one out against the winless Wizards.
@Truth_About_It: Something has GOT to give… And that’s why I’m predicting a 83-80 Wizards win. The offense between these two teams may be ugly. We’ve already mentioned Washington’s league-worst 90.9 points-scored per 100 possessions, but Indy is second-worst in scoring 93 points per 100 possessions. Somehow, some way, the home team will find the slightest bit of confidence to give them the edge and their first regular season win since April 26, 2012.
Hansbrough vs. Honza: a battle of NBA whites.
[Stats via NBA.com/stats]