Opening Statements: Wizards vs Nets, Game 66
First things first. According to Michael Lee of the Washington Post, the Great Bradley Beal Disaster of March 14, 2014, appears to have been avoided. Beal was carried off the court in dramatic fashion late in Washington’s overtime win over the Orlando Magic last night with what turned out to be a sprained ankle.
Beal is listed as questionable today but my money is on him suiting up tonight against Brooklyn. Speaking of the Nets….
Brooklyn is on fire. Since January 1 the Nets are an Eastern Conference best 23-9 and have moved into a virtual tie with Washington for the fifth seed. Brooklyn is fresh off an emotional win over the Heat on Wednesday and spent the last two days “resting” in Miami. This game certainly has playoff implications, but not as much as you might expect. Washington already owns the season series by virtue of two early-season wins (Washington only plays Brooklyn three times this season).
Teams: Wizards vs Nets
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, DC
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/THE FAN-FM 106.7
Spread: Brooklyn fav’d by 3 points.
Wizards tickets … anyone?
Click to get them served up for cheap via TiqIQ and TAI.
Q #1: The Nets’ season got off to a rocky start. However, Brooklyn has the Eastern Conference’s best record since January 1 at 23-9. Is Brooklyn’s 2014 resurgence the “new normal” or do you expect a regression to the mean in March and April?
@uuords: A little bit of both? They’re playing over their heads and their rate of causing turnovers is just unsustainable. But they’ve completely changed their playing style since Lopez went down, inserting Shaun Livingston as a havoc-inducer and playing a more frantic defensive style. They’re more 23-9 than 10-21, but they’re also more 33-30 than both.
Q #2: Be honest. How scared were you for the future of the Nets franchise when Jason Kidd was spilling drinks, Brook Lopez was going down for the year again, and the Nets team salary page on ShamSports.com was a terrifying place to visit (it still is)?
@uuords: I never thought the Nets would fire Kidd, if only because you don’t fire a coach in his first year. It’d be another frantic move that just wouldn’t have made sense—they’d already put their eggs in his basket, and once he demoted Lawrence Frank, you knew who was in charge. But it was certainly a different world. Now, the weirdest part of the future is that the Nets have played their best ball since Lopez went down and their best players are their cheapest and oldest.
Q #3: Speaking of Lopez… What’s the deal with him? Do Brooklyn fans still want to build around him? Do you trust him to play consecutive full seasons?
@uuords: I think they do. The Nets aren’t stupid, they know that Garnett and Pierce only have so much time left and they can’t build around them. They can certainly build a successful team with Lopez at center, but their recent resurgence is a teaching experience for him: he’ll need to be a more willing passer for this team to succeed. But feet for big men are scary, scary injuries. The Nets performed a specific type of surgery that re-aligned his foot in an attempt to take pressure off the affected area, which is a good thing, but four surgeries in two years on a foot is a bad sign.
Q #4: Shaun Livingston seems to make tons of new fans at every NBA stop (including Washington) but he never sticks around. How instrumental has Livingston been for the Nets this season? Do you think Brooklyn will keep him?
Q #5. What match-up do you think will have the biggest impact on Saturday’s game? What stat or Nets player should Washington fans pay attention to?
@uuords: The Nets have to contain Marcin Gortat to win this one. Their Achilles heel is rebounding and defending big post players without Lopez and Garnett, and if they can’t force Gortat out of the paint and keep the ball out of his hands, they’re going to struggle mightily. For the Nets, I’m curious to see how they match up in the backcourt—they may want to put Livingston on Wall instead of Beal since Wall is the primary facilitator. If they can keep Wall at least semi-contained, it really changes the flow of the offense.
No Brooklyn Nets preview is complete without an Andray Blatche update. Here are a few thoughts from the Wizards 16th man via this morning’s shoot-around.
Ever wonder who Andray’s favorite Wizards coach was?
He was a smart guy. His offensive plays were made for the 4 and 5. He told it how it was.
On whether returning to play in D.C. means anything anymore:
Honestly. I’m over the whole situation. This is a great city. It’s great that the team got better. I’m happy for them. I don’t have any problem. I’m quite sure I’m going to come out tonight and get booed but…
I assured Andray that every player who comes back gets booed—even Nick Young:
That’s why it definitely does not bother me anymore. When Nick called me and told me they booed him, I was like, it doesn’t make any sense.
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