Here to provide the DC Council Opening Statements for Washington’s 63rd game of the season against the New Orleans Hornets in D.C. are TAI’s Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) and guest Mason Ginsberg (@MasonGinsberg), who contributes to the ESPN True Hoop Blog Hornets 24/7.
Wizards Starters (21-42):
John Wall, Garrett Temple, Martell Webster, Nene, Emeka Okafor
Hornets Starters (22-43):
Greivis Vasquez, Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Anthony Davis, Robin Lopez
Q #1: What have you done for me lately?
(What’s the status of the Hornets over the past week?)
@MasonGinsberg: Nothing pretty. The epic collapse the Hornets suffered last Wednesday night against the Lakers that saw New Orleans fail to score in the game’s final seven minutes still stings. The only win the team has recorded since the fist day of March was a last-second home victory on Sunday night over the Blazers. At this point, though (as I’m sure Wizards fans are cognizant of as well), many followers of the team are more focused on the loss column for draft lottery reasons than the win column.
Q #2: Who threw out my alarm clock?
(Which player(s) are we sleeping on?)
@MasonGinsberg: The Hornets have quite a few players who have exceeded expectations this season. Most people have taken notice of Greivis Vasquez by now, a candidate for this season’s Most Improved Player award. However, players like Robin Lopez (19.3 PER), Brian Roberts (3.1 AST/TO ratio), and Al-Farouq Aminu (26.4 percent Defensive Rebound Rate, first in the NBA among small forwards) have all made bigger strides than expected.
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.)
@MasonGinsberg: The Hornets have to force turnovers. Since John Wall returned on January 12th, the Wizards have boasted a defensive rating of 97.1, which would be 2nd best in the entire NBA if maintained for the entire season. On the flip side, they have turned the ball over on 16.7 percent of their possessions since that date and 16.3 percent of the time over the course of the whole season, the latter being the fourth-highest rate in the NBA. Against a team as solid defensively as the Wizards, generating turnovers is the best way to give them trouble. Unfortunately, the Hornets are the fifth-worst team in the league at forcing turnovers with an opponents’ turnover rate of just 14.5 percent, which means that doing so won’t come easy for them.
Q #4: How it’s going down?
(TAI’s general key to the game.)
@Truth_About_It: New Orleans on December 11, 2012 was the site of Washington’s first road victory on the season. Since, in 2013, they have picked up four additional roadies (two in January, in Denver and in Portland; two in February, in Milwaukee and in Toronto). Meanwhile, the Hornets, who have only one more overall win than the Wizards, have picked up 10 total road victories on the season.
Back to that December 11 game… That night Jordan Crawford led the Wizards to a 77-70 win with 26 points, four assists and six rebounds (only two other Wizards scored in double figures: Brad Beal with 15 and Nene with 10). That night, with Crawford scoring 12 of his points in the fourth quarter, it was really about his sizzle of offense shining through a pile of shit, which was everyone else’s offense. Are we in for more of the same tonight? Maybe, but not exactly. You see, the Wizards, even without Bradley Beal, have much more offensive flow with John Wall, who has found his scoring confidence lately. The Hornets have also allowed the fourth most attempts from the corner 3 in the NBA this season (436), and they are allowing opponents to shoot the fourth best FG% from that area (42.9%). With the Wizards now one of the NBA’s best corner 3-point shooting teams, expect this discrepancy to determine the game.
The Wizards are favored by 3 points over the Hornets. The over/under is 188 points (via USA Today).
@MasonGinsberg: This is going to be a horrible, low scoring game. I’m going 84-82, Wizards.
@Truth_About_It: Greivis Vasquez (or Eric Gordon) being able to check John Wall? Good luck / Ain’t happening. The Wizards will continue their solid play at home with a 95-87 victory.