Opening Statements: Wizards vs Bulls, Game 36 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Bulls, Game 36

By
Updated: January 9, 2015

Washington Wizards at Chicago Bulls - Dec. 29, 2012 - Truth About It.net

Wall from Shootaround.


The new-look Wizards (they waived Glen Rice Jr., that counts as new-look, right?) had no trouble in the potential trap game against the actual new-look Knicks on Wednesday night, but that cakewalk is over.

After a brutal five-game road trip against Western Conference teams, the Wiz Kids got to take a quick joy ride back home against the now 5-33 Knicks. They get back to work against the Bulls, who unlike the Knicks (looking at you, Langston Galloway), are a full squad of NBA players.

In preparation, Randy Wittman sat Paul Pierce against the Knicks, giving the 37-year-old small forward time to practice his mean mugs and jabs (pokes) for when Jimmy, Joakim and the Bulls come to town. Smart move, Witt.

Friday night’s game, which will now be nationally televised on ESPN (flex appeal), marks the second of four meetings between the Wizards and Bulls, and the second of two at the Phone Booth. The first game of the season series saw the Wizards fall 99-91, thanks in part to Derrick Rose doing grown man things in the final stanza.

After the Wizards went on a 12-0 run midway through the fourth quarter—10 points by John Wall, plus two free throws by Pierce—to take a one-point lead, Rose took over. The 2010-11 NBA MVP singlehandedly outscored Washington 8-4 in the final three minutes of the game, metaphorically laughing at the Wizards’ rally in the process.

Nene, much like Pierce, is not fond of Jimmy Butler. Nene was not yet back to full health in the first game, meaning Kris Humphries started in his place. Martell Webster was also still on the mend, so this 2015 Washington lineup will give Tom Thibodeau and the Bulls a few different looks.

While the Wizards are coming off an easy win against an almost comically bad Knicks team, the Bulls are coming off a 97-77 shellacking, courtesy of the 13-23 Utah Jazz. It was the worst scoring output of the season for the Bulls, who shot an abysmal 33.3 percent from the field, including just 26.5 percent by the starters. And that game was played in Chicago. Rough.

The Bulls will be looking to bounce back from that catastrophe and separate themselves from the Wizards, who can supplant them for third place in the East with a win. Though they’re in fourth place heading into the weekend, the Wizards sit just three games out of first in what appears to be a wide-open Eastern Conference.

Of course, if things don’t diverge too much between the two teams in the coming week, Wizards-Bulls Round Three comes just five days later in Chicago.


Teams: Wizards vs Bulls
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Chinatown, D.C.
Television: ESPN/CSN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards fav’d by 1.5 points.


Three Things to Watch:

#1. 3-point shooting

Each team has two players who average one or more trey per game and make at least 40 percent of them: Rasual Butler (.481) and Bradley Beal (.467) for the Wizards, and Mike Dunleavy (.417) and Aaron Brooks (.416) for the Bulls.

All four players are among the top 20 in the NBA in 3-point shooting, and they combine to shoot more than 15 of them per game.

In the first meeting, each team knocked down five from distance, but the Wizards hit theirs in just nine tries while Chicago launched 17 attempts. Washington got a bit more aggressive and seemed to find a rhythm in the second half, but the Wizards only attempted two from downtown in the entire first half, both of which were by Beal. That’s basically the theme of the season though; Washington is lights out from deep but would instead prefer to shoot from just inside the arc.

Butler and Beal combined to go 3-for-5 from deep that game, while Dunleavy and Brooks went 0-for-5. Expect more than 10 combined attempts between the four players in this game, if Dunleavy, who is dealing with an ankle injury, plays.

#2. Wall v. Rose II

Rose, who has made just 28 of his last 110 shots, has been hampered by injuries all season (as has become tradition) and is enduring the worst slump of his career. Wall, on the other hand, is averaging career highs in assists, steals, and field goal percentage. He currently leads the league in assists (total and per game) and is tied with Steph Curry for the most steals in the NBA with 73.

For the season, Wall is having a better year in almost every major measurable category. The John Calipari product from Kentucky is outperforming the John Calipari product from Memphis in most traditional stats, with turnovers and free-throw percentage being the exceptions.

Once you look at advanced stats, however, Wall is crushing the former MVP, and he’s done it in a respectable sample size. Wall has yet to miss a game this season while Rose has missed 10 of Chicago’s 36 games.

 

Both had solid games in their first head-to-head this season (25 pts, 2 rebs, 4 asts, 2 stls, 5 TOs for Rose; 18 pts, 5 rebs, 9 asts, 2 stls, 4 TOs for Wall), but Rose got the W so he got the edge there.

#3. Technical fouls

If you haven’t caught on yet, these teams are not especially friendly toward each other. Notorious nice guy Pau Gasol is about the only player I don’t expect to be talking trash all game, though maybe Nene, Noah and Gortat will be able rope him into the fun.

I’m putting the over-under for technicals at three, and I’m taking the over on this one. That doesn’t include team techs, like defensive three-second calls.

 

paul-pierce-blesses-joakim-noah

Bryan Frantz on EmailBryan Frantz on LinkedinBryan Frantz on Twitter
Bryan Frantz
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Bryan is a D.C. native with a degree in something or other from UNC. He has important, interesting hobbies, but mostly he just weeps over D.C. sports teams. You can find him on the Metro, inevitably complaining about Red Line delays.