D.C. Council Opening Statements: Wizards vs Trail Blazers, Game 47
Yeeaaaaaah, it’ll be this season’s first meeting between the two clubs. They’ll meet again, in Portlandia, on March 20. The Wiz went home winners after the last two meetings (11.28.2012 in D.C., 1.21.2013 in PDX), but this year’s Blazers team is tough. They have the third-best record in the strong Western Conference, going 13-9 against teams .500 or better, and have shot down lesser teams with jumpers all season long.
Look for the matchup between centers Marcin Gortat and Robin Lopez. Both were key members of a Suns frontcourt between 2010 and 2012. Both are playing well on their new squads, Lopez in particular. He came into the year with 15 double-doubles in his career and has already posted 17 double-doubles this season. Lopez is also averaging career-highs in offensive rebounds per game (3.9), defensive rebounds per game (4.3) and total rebounds per game (8.2).
Teams: Wizards vs. Blazers
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Television: CSN, CSNNW
Radio: WFED-AM 1500 The Fan, Fox Sports Radio 620 AM
Spread: Wizards fav’d by 1-to-1.5 points
Wizards tickets … anyone?
Click to get them served up for cheap via TiqIQ and TAI.
Q #1: LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard were named to the 2014-16 USA Men’s National Team Roster, and are All-Star reserves.
What’s the scouting report on that duo? And what’ll it take to keep them together (Aldridge is an unrestricted free agent next year)?
@joe_swide: I’ve read that in certain First Nations tribes, they had a war chief and a peace chief. For the Blazers, LaMarcus is the peace chief. When things are good, the offense swirls in beautiful anarchy (good anarchy, like people living in government-less farming communes) around LaMarcus, the great stoic high post monument in whose mighty shadow we happily reap our crops. But when things break down and the barbarian hordes set fire to our fields and steal our small children, we turn to the war chief, Damian Lillard. Lillard doesn’t need teammates. He is an army of one, a war machine a la Don Cheadle in Ironman packed with all manner of weaponry, from dirty crossovers to intercontinental ballistic jumpers to daisy-cutting dunks (as Toronto saw on Saturday).
Oh and as far as keeping them together with Aldridge’s looming free agency? PAUL ALLEN HAS STACKZZZ! DUDE HAS A SUBMARINE!
Q #2: The Blazers have the third-fewest losses (4) against teams below .500. They have more wins this season than they had in the two seasons before. Is Terry Stotts a genius?
@joe_swide: I don’t know that Terry Stotts is a genius because I have yet to have it proved to me that Stotts isn’t just a robotic avatar created by analytics-genius Ben Falk.
Jokes aside, the synergy between Falk’s philosophy, GM Neil Olshey’s player decisions, and Stotts’ playing style and in-game decision making has been the enormous reason for the recent turnaround. Valuing 3-pointers and creating a defense built to isolate ball-handlers for midrange shots are obvious signs of modern basketball thinking.
But Falk’s influence and that synergy also reveal themselves with things like the stretch when Meyers Leonard (hated yet adorable villain of Blazers Twitter) supplanted Thomas Robinson briefly in the rotation, what I believe to have been an experiment to see if small-sample lineup stats were indicative of any greater trends. The experiment more or less failed as the team saw its first struggles of the season in the midst of endless and increasingly mean-spirited Leonard remarks, but that sort of thinking is refreshing and why the Blazers have found so much success with largely the same roster.
Q #3: Explain this shot chart:
Also I’m struck by the symmetry inside the arc. I’m gonna meditate on that for a while.
Q #4: On the subject of “THREEEEEEZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ,” the Blazers take the fourth-most 3s per game (24.9) and are second in 3-point percentage (38.4%). Who do the Wizards need to stop?
@JohnCTownsend: Randy Wittman has surely put his defensive spotlight on Wes Matthews. He’s fourth in the league in made 3-pointers (125) and is shooting a career-high 42.2 percent from downtown.
If a sharp-shooting guard isn’t scary enough, hear this: Lillard, Matthews and Nicolas Batum have combined for 342 3-pointers this season … more made 3s than 12 NBA teams. Also, the Blazers have made NBA history by being the first team to make 21 shots from 3-point land twice in one season.
Running Stotts’ shooters off the line is a must tonight.