Here to provide the DC Council Opening Statements for Washington’s 47th game of the season at home against the Los Angeles Clippers are TAI’s Rashad Mobley (@rashad20) and guest Fred Katz (@fredkatz), who writes about the Clippers for the ESPN TrueHoop blog Clipperblog.
Wizards Starters (11-35):
John Wall, Garrett Temple, Martell Webster, Nene, Emeka Okafor
(still no Bradley Beal, but Trevor Booker slated to play)
Clippers Starters (34-15):
Eric Bledsoe, Willie Green, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
[UPDATE: Griffin out with a left hamstring strain.]
Q #1: What have you done for me lately?
(What’s the status of the Clippers over the past week?)
@fredkatz: The Clips haven’t really put together a complete game in about eight contests. Even in their two wins over the past week, they have had struggles on both ends of the floor. No Chris Paul hurts, but this is a team that should still be playing better than it is right now.
Q #2: Who threw out my alarm clock?
(Which player(s) are we sleeping on?)
@fredkatz: Eric Bledsoe. It’s kind of a perfect point guard match-up, right? The backup vs. the starter. Bledsoe was Wall’s immediate relief at Kentucky, helping to inspire an Elite Eight run. He is quick, bullish, and ferocious on defense, but he’s been inconsistent. If he shows up like he did in Boston on Sunday—posting 20 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds—watch out for some exciting one-on-one point guard play.
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.)
@fredkatz: Rebounding. For all their struggles, the Wizards are actually a pretty decent team on the boards. That’s an area of the game in which the Clippers struggle. If the Wizards are able to put together a dominant rebounding game, that could sway the advantage in their favor.
Q #4: How it’s going down?
(TAI’s general key to the game.)
@rashad20: The Wizards averaged 98 points a game during that 10-game stretch in January, when they won seven of 10 games. Shooting guard Bradley Beal was the leading scorer during that run with 15.1 points per game, which included a 23-point performance in a victory over the Denver Nuggets and career-high 26 points in a loss to Sacramento. In the four losses since that hot streak ended, the Wizards have averaged just 85 points per game. Beal has played just once due to his injury wrist, and even then he scored just six points in 24 minutes. In the three games he’s missed, Garrett Temple, Beal’s replacement in the starting lineup, has averaged just 2.6 points per game, and his backup, former starter Jordan Crawford, hasn’t fared much better by averaging just 5.6 points per game (7-for-22, or 31 percent).
If the Wizards want to cure their scoring woes—that includes their indefensible 10-point second-quarter scoring average in the last three games—it starts with the shooting guard position. Jordan Crawford has to get back to his semi-reckless (very semi) style of basketball and score enough points to cause defenses to pay more attention to him, and less attention to John Wall. And if Coach Randy Wittman insists on starting Garrett Temple over Crawford, he must implore Temple to be more aggressive. After all, he’s starting at the shooting guard position, that’s what they should do.
The Spread: The Wizards are three point dogs to the Clippers; the over/under is 184.5 points (via USA Today).
@fredkatz: This might be the game to break the Clippers’ two-game losing streak… But Clips win, 99-85.
@rashad20: The home cooking of the Verizon Center breaks Jordan Crawford out of his funk. He will score 22 points and lead the Wizards to a 94-90 victory.
MAMA THERE GOES THAT (BAD) MAN
Back on January 19th, when the Clippers and Wizards met, Blake Griffin was responsible for this:
… and this:
We here at TAI certainly don’t condone retaliation, nor are we in the business of typing the kind of prose that will provoke such reactions—we suspect that, publicly, Coach Randy Wittman feels the same way. But if I’m Trevor Booker (who is slated to return to action), I’m not only intent on letting Blake Griffin know “what it was,” as Jordan Crawford would say, I’m also urging Nene, Kevin Seraphin, and maybe even Jan Vesely, to do the same thing. [UPDATE: Of course, with Griffin out, the Wizards will have to fall back to simply letting the basketball court know that they came to play.]