DC Council Opening Statements: Wizards at Hawks, Game 16 (Did someone say something about John Wall and health?)
Here to provide the DC Council Opening Statements for Washington’s 16th game of the season against the Hawks in Atlanta are TAI’s Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) and guest Kris Willis (@Kris_Willis), who writes about the Hawks for the SB Nation blog Peachtree Hoops.
Wizards Starters (2-13):
A.J. Price, Bradley Beal, Martell Webster, Chris Singleton, Emeka Okafor
(Will Randy Wittman still start Chris Singleton? Who will fill-in for Trevor Ariza? What about Okafor? We will see…)
Hawks Starters (10-5):
Jeff Teague, Devin Harris, DeShawn Stevenson, Josh Smith, Al Horford
Q #1: What have you done for me lately?
(What’s the status of the Hawks over the past week?)
@Kris_Willis: Despite a couple of close wins and a disappointing loss to the Cavaliers, the Hawks are playing really well having won seven of their last eight games. The schedule hasn’t been the toughest in the league, but I don’t think many people expected this Hawks team to be playing as well as they have this early.
Q #2: Who threw out my alarm clock?
(Which player(s) are we sleeping on?)
@Kris_Willis: Everyone is sleeping on Zaza Pachulia and the contributions he brings to the Hawks every game. Pachulia is averaging 7.1 points and 7.1 rebounds while primarily coming off the bench for the Hawks. He finished with 11 points and seven boards in Wednesday’s win over the Nuggets. Atlanta doesn’t have a ton of front court depth, and Pachulia is a key player whether he is in the starting lineup or coming off the bench.
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.)
@Kris_Willis: For the Hawks lately it has been rebounding. They were decimated by the Cavaliers on the boards last Friday but bounced back against a Denver team that came into Wednesday’s game leading the league in offensive rebounding. Offseason trades made the Hawks smaller in the backcourt, and it takes a concerted effort from all five players on the glass. There has been a couple of games where Atlanta has been over-matched rebounding the ball but have shown that if they can stay somewhat even with their opponent, it usually leads to success.
Q #4: How it’s going down?
(TAI’s general key to the game.)
@Truth_About_It: The Wizards can’t hope that Al Horford shoots 1-for-10 from the free throw line again tonight. Nor can/should Comcast Sportsnet’s play-by-play television guy Steve Buckhantz laud that the Wizards might’ve “won” last time out had Horford actually made a couple of those free throws. Ridiculousness.
Otherwise, the Wizards have achieved over 55 rebounds once this year: that previous meeting against the Hawks. If Washington can dominate on the boards, they will put themselves in a good position to win — the Wiz out-rebounded Atlanta 19-10 on the offensive glass and out-scored the Hawks 16-6 in second chance points last time. BUT, there’s a big “IF” … and that’s IF the Wizards can keep the Hawks from doing damage beyond the arc. Last time Atlanta went 9-for-25 from deep and 5-of-12 came via Kyle Korver, who also hit the game-winning 3 under Trevor Ariza’s nose. The good news is that Korver is currently hurt (and just celebrated the birth of a daughter) and will be out tonight. DeShawn Stevenson has started four of the last five games in Korver’s place and has gone 11-for-21 from deep during that time, which could spell trouble for Stevenson’s ex-team.
The Hawks are favored by 9 points and the over/under is 191.5 points (via USA Today).
@Truth_About_It: It will be a terrible tragedy tonight if the Wizards revert back to the bad team that most are used to after beating the Heat on Tuesday. We’d like to hope otherwise, but hey, it’s the Wizards. It was only 16 days ago that Washington experienced a devastating overtime loss in the ATL; only 16 days ago that Al Horford’s little brother hammed it up on camera in a manner that was degrading to some poor cheerleader handing out candy and everyone called it “cute,” because, well, fatalistically, boys will be boys. The poor Wizards actually left the floor that night jumping for joy only to find out that they lost (pushing their record then to 0-10) by the time the celebration made it to the locker room. And for that reason alone, I’m calling a 100-95 Wizards victory this evening. I know, silly me.
>> Kevin Seraphin on his “big brother” Nene: “Everything he did. Everything he will do, I will look at him. Like even if he drink something, I look at how he drink. I just look at him every time.”
>> The injury/return of John Wall is under a shroud of mystery and Randy Wittman probably absolutely hates it.
>> On the injury, Ted Leonsis writes:
I believe we are all handling John’s injury in the most professional way possible. When a doctor gives a timeline of 8 to 12 weeks of recovery, it is an estimate. We are still in this process and we, like you, await the message from the doctors and John as to the precise moment he will be ready to practice. And then play.
— Craig Stouffer (@CraigStouffer) December 7, 2012
>> FWIW, John Wall and Sixers center Andrew Bynum have the same knee doctor, Dr. David W. Altchek. And while all knees are different, Altchek has, in the past, twice adjusted Bynum’s return date. From the Sixers website on Nov. 12 (h/t SLAM):
In mid-September 2012, Bynum suffered a bone bruise of his right knee. He was examined at that time by Dr. David W. Altchek of New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery, Bynum’s longtime personal doctor who is acting as the lead orthopedist in caring for Andrew’s knee. It was initially communicated to the Sixers that Bynum should refrain from basketball activity for a period of four weeks to allow the knee to heal. His knee was re-evaluated on October 22 by Dr. Altchek, who extended by an additional four weeks to November 19 the time for Andrew to refrain from basketball activity. Andrew received a fresh MRI and was seen again by Dr. Altchek this past week on Monday, November 5. At that evaluation, Dr. Altcheck extended Andrew’s return date for a second time by an additional three weeks.
Of course, about a week later it was reported that Bynum possibly did further damage to his knee by bowling and that he could miss the entire season. So there’s that.
>> One thing Wizards fans don’t have to bitch about: not being able to watch all the games on television (well, aside from the preseason). Annually, about 10 Milwaukee Bucks game aren’t shown on T.V. and a handful of other teams come under the same issue but with not as many games.
>> Via Michael Lee’s piece on Ernie Grunfeld in the Washington Post, the Wizards team president of basketball operations implores people to look at the ‘big picture,’ specifically saying:
“We’d like to have more wins at this time, but we have to look at the big picture and see where we are.”
Here is one big picture:
Under Grunfeld, since June 2003, the D.C. pro basketball franchise has collected the second most losses in the NBA, but that could become the worst by season’s end. The Minnesota Timberwolves currently have 460 losses and the Wizards currently have 451. Because the Charlotte Bobcats franchise is only in its ninth season, Grunfeld’s Wizards have the NBA’s third lowest league winning percentage at .388. Over the four-year playoff run under Grunfeld (2004-05 to 2007-08), the Wizards fielded the NBA’s tenth best winning percentage, .521.
Also, there are these interesting follow-ups from the Twitter machine:
Tony's free to bluster as he pleases or talk to me. I'm here. I don't care. RT @Niiteiko Tony Kornheiser is killing your Ernie fluff piece.
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) December 7, 2012
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) December 7, 2012
In case you missed it…
The Wizards home video intro (via Adam McGinnis):