Here to provide the DC Council Opening Statements for Washington’s 60th game of the season on the road against the Brooklyn Nets are TAI’s Adam McGinnis (@adammcginnis) and guest Jeremy Gordon (@jeremypgordon), who writes about the Nets for Brooklyn’s Finest, an ESPN TrueHoop Network blog.
Wizards Starters (19-40):
John Wall, Trevor Ariza, Martell Webster, Nene, Emeka Okafor
Nets Starters (35-26):
Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Reggie Evans, Brook Lopez
Q #1: What have you done for me lately?
(What’s the status of the Nets over the past week?)
@jeremypgordon: Something embarrassing I’ve got to admit: I’ve only watched one of the three games that have aired in the last week, because two of them came over the weekend—when I was with the rest of the TrueHoop contingent at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, and thus unable to get to a television (because, honestly, who watches basketball when you’re with other basketball writers?). But since the All-Star Break the Nets have floated around the league like one of those World War II biplanes you can make die cast models of—good enough to stay in the air, and yet outclassed by the modern game. They did blowout the Bobcats the other night, though, so watch out.
Q #2: Who threw out my alarm clock?
(Which player(s) are we sleeping on?)
@jeremypgordon: Deron Williams, though it feels weird to say any of us are sleeping on a two-time Olympian just a few years removed from averaging 20-10. But he got a very, very slow start to the season, which is why his post-break numbers have been a revelation: 21.5 points per game on 45/48/90 shooting, along with a tick over seven assists. Apart from the numbers, he’s also looked crisper than he did before the time off—which makes sense, since he went on a juice diet and also got that blood-spinning procedure that Kobe had during the off season. If only the rest of us could be afforded such luxuries when needing to get in shape.
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.)
@jeremypgordon: In general I’d keep an eye on the fast break—the Nets are so-so at guarding in transition, and speedy guards give them fits. I haven’t spent a lot of time watching the Wizards this year—surprise, they’re not often on national television—but I know John Wall and Bradley Beal can get around, so I’m interested to see how the Nets respond. They handled Ramon Sessions by slapping Keith Bogans on him, and Bogans just couldn’t stay in front. On the other hand, Gerald Wallace is coming off a season-high five-block performance—some of them in transition—so maybe he’ll be extra anxious to fly around.
Q #4: How it’s going down?
(TAI’s general key to the game.)
@adammcginnis: The Wizards are weird team to figure out. They defeat playoff-caliber teams—including the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets—but then lose to fellow bottom feeders in Detroit Pistons and Minnesota Timberwolves. It is over cliché to state how you play up (and down) to your competition, but the Wizards really do fit the bill. It will be interesting to see how they respond in their first regular season game in Brooklyn versus a decent Nets squad. The keys are: can the Wizards limit the Nets offense again and, simply, can they just protect the damn basketball. Washington’s calling card all season has been their stalwart defense, ranked 6th in NBA for allowing fewest points per game. In last meeting between the clubs, Washington had one of their best defensive showings of season, holding Nets to 74 points and .329 shooting. This was a crucial element in Washington’s 15-point victory and a much different outcome than Wizards heartbreaking double-overtime defeat to Nets in their previous matchup.
The Wizards coughed up 24 turnovers in Wednesday night’s embarrassing loss in Minneapolis. John Wall and Nene combined for 13! So they probably should avoid that if they want to pull off the ‘W’ in Jay-Z’s favorite spot on Friday night.
The Spread: The Wizards are six-point under dogs to the Nets; the over/under is 182.5 points (via USA Today).
@jeremypgordon: Nets, I’m blanking on a reason other than “Why not?”
@adammcginnis: Wizards will keep the game close, but likely fold in the end. They will miss Bradley Beal’s scoring down the stretch and, overall, they are just a bad road team, even with John Wall. Nets win, 95-85.
Wall meets the H.O.V.A.
Video won’t embed, so [click here].
There cannot be a post without a Andray Blatche mention. Part III in my “Andray Blatche Masterpiece Theater” series: