Opening Statements: Wizards at Kings, Game 70 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Opening Statements: Wizards at Kings, Game 70

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Updated: March 22, 2015

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After getting caught California dreaming by the Clippers on Friday night, the Wizards will look to get back on track against the pesky Kings. The last time the Wizards and Kings met, a little over a week ago, history was made in the form of an unprecedented comeback and leap aheaf that the NBA had never seen before. It took a fire and brimstone speech (or just some silent #WittmanFace) from Coach Randy Wittman at halftime and for All-Star John Wall to remember who he was as the Wizards outscored the Kings 67-33 in the second half, leading them to a 16 point win after trailing by 18 points. While that turnaround was impressive, it should be even more concerning to get down by that large of a margin to a team that is 20 games under .500. But after the February from hell, Wizards fans will take whatever little bit of prosperity they can have, even if it feels like one of those pointless Guinness World Records for something we’ve never heard of.

The calling card for the Wizards over that five game winning streak was getting back to the defensive ways that allowed them to be a more fearful NBA force in 2014 than the mediocre ball club they have proven to be in the early months of 2015. During the five game winning streak, the Wiz were allowing opponents to shoot just 41.5 percent from the field and an even more impressive 22.7 percent from 3-point range, well below their season average of 34 percent from 3. The opposite case was true in the Wizards streak ending game against the Clippers, Washington gave up 113 points on 50.3 percent shooting from the field and a whopping 52.2 precent from downtown. There is no shame in having an off-night against the second best offense in the NBA, but not eventually driving a red hot J.J. Redick off the 3-point line is inexcusable. There is damn sure no specialist similar to Redick on the Kings, who are one of only three teams who actually take less 3s than the Wiz.

Sunday’s game should be a conditioning exercise on how to win on the road. If the Wizards want to build on their success from last year, then winning games away from the Phone Booth needs to become more of a priority. The Wizards have lost 10 of their last 12 games on the road, which has significantly dropped the team’s road record on the season to 15-19. The more clarity that we get with the Eastern Conference playoff hunt, the more likely it appears that the Wizards will not have home-court advantage in an opening round series. Winning road playoff games was a strength last year, as the Wizards were 5-1 in road games last postseason.


 

Teams: Wizards at Kings
Time: 6:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Sleep Train Arena, Sacramento, California
Television: CSN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards favored by


 

As we all learned last Saturday, the Kings will not just roll over and give the Wizards a confidence-boosting win. Washington will have to take control of their own destiny, and hopefully it won’t take a historic comeback to get it done. The Kings have been pretty good recently at home, boasting a four-game winning streak at Sleep Train Arena. The most telling factor of the outcome of this contest could be the availability of the Kings all-star, DeMarcus Cousins, who has missed the last two games with a strained right calf. The Kings are just 2-13 in games where Cousins has not played this season. Leading the Kings in Cousins’ stead will be Rudy Gay, who missed last Saturday’s meeting with some knee soreness. Gay looked spectacular in the Kings’ last game, scoring 33 points in a victory over the Charlotte Hornets. Gay plays the position that the Wizards have the most trouble defending. While Paul Pierce is serviceable on the defensive end, he lacks the foot-speed to stay in front of athletic small forwards, and don’t get me started on Otto Porter. If he can’t close out on Hedo Turkoglu, then how the hell is he supposed to chase around after Gay?

With the NBA’s best team, the Golden State Warriors on the schedule for Monday night, a win versus the Kings seems a little more important as a confidence booster and insurance against a losing record on this current West Coast trip. It is Sunday, and I hope Randy Wittman made it to church this morning so he won’t feel bad for lighting a fire under his team’s ass. Or maybe for once the Wizards will play the complete team game that the fans have been hoping for.

Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
Writer
Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. He is going into his second season writing for Truth About It, and also writes for sports analytics website numberfire.com. You can find him in a district bike lane in the Northwest neighborhood of Bloomingdale.