Opening Statements: Wizards vs Kings, Game 66 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Kings, Game 66

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Updated: March 14, 2015

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When you receive an unexpected blessing, it’s probably best to not ask questions. Just appreciate the good favor in stride. That is exactly the position that the Wizards find themselves in after handily defeating the Memphis Grizzlies JV squad on Thursday night, 107-87.

The Grizzlies were coming off a grueling stretch of games—five in seven nights—including a 95-92 loss to the Boston Celtics on Wednesday. In that game, point guard Mike Conley severely turned his ankle, so it was no surprise that the Grizzlies decided to take a conservative approach to end their four-game road trip. Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger decided it would be best to rest Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, and the aforementioned Conley.

After the game, Wizards point guard John Wall mentioned that he felt disrespected that Memphis decided to rest their starters:

“That’s how I see it. They sit them, I don’t really know the reason why. We are a team that’s on the rise and teams respect us now and then [Memphis] don’t respect us. We just wanted to come out and play basketball the right way and get the win no matter what.”

This Wizards team is in no position to question a gift of any magnitude, let alone one that will add a point to the win column. After going through the toughest stretch of the season, Wall and the Wizards need not be worried about how other teams around the NBA perceive them, but rather how they can build on their current two-game win streak with another momentum-building victory over the underachieving Sacramento Kings.

Don’t look now, but things in the Eastern Conference are actually shaping up to the benefit of the Wiz. The Wizards aren’t the only middling team in the playoff hunt. Just ask the fan bases of the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors, who are both searching for answers amidst mid-season swoons. The longer the season goes along, the more each team’s flaws are brought to the forefront, and while the Wizards stagnant offense may be viewed as a fatal flaw right now, it will most certainly not keep them from competing in a weak conference.

It may be hard to find narratives going into a game against a team that is 20 games under .500 like the Kings, but each of these games is important to the overarching picture of the 2014-15 Wizards season. The Wizards will have to face the Kings twice over the next two weeks, and the wins/losses may be the difference in locking up a very critical home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The Wizards haven’t won three games in a row since a stretch of games in early-January (Pelicans, Knicks, Bulls) and although the Kings may not strike fear in the heart of the Wizards fan base, this team is in no position to overlook any opponent. Sacramento is most certainly tired from all the East Coast travel during their current eight-game road trip: seven games in, the Kings are currently 2-5, including a disappointing loss last night to the Philadelphia 76ers.

We know what that type of hurt feels like, losing to the 76ers, and Sacramento players are professionals who collect paychecks, too. There is no doubt that the Kings players are in audition mode trying to impress new head coach George Karl. These next 20 or so games will be critical in determining who Karl would like to keep and who may become expendable going forward.

The Wizards will be very familiar with backup point guard Andre Miller, who was traded at the deadline for Ramon Sessions. Miller has played better in a Kings uniform than he did for the Wiz early in the season. He’s averaging 5.8 points and 5.5 assists in 23 minutes per game versus 3.6 points and 2.8 assists in 12.4 minutes per game as a part of the Wizards AARP second unit.

The Wizards need to continue to emphasize the defensive prowess that has seen them allow only 156 points over the last two games, especially against the Kings, a team that has no problem putting the ball in the basket, averaging 109.6 points per game over their last five in George Karl’s uptempo system. Marcin Gortat will need to continue his inspired play against Sacramento’s All-Star, DeMarcus Cousins, and hopefully the Wizards will also have Nene, who missed Thursday’s game against the Grizzlies due to personal reasons to help contain John Wall’s former University of Kentucky teammate.

With 17 games left in the season, it would most certainly behoove the Wizards to clear their mind of the recent struggles of the past, and look forward to the opportunity they have in front of them. As Irving Berlin penned in a popular song from the 1954 movie “White Christmas,” sometimes it’s better to “count your blessings” (instead of sheep).

 

Troy Haliburton on Twitter
Troy Haliburton
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Troy Haliburton is a native Washingtonian, and graduate of Gonzaga College High School and Morehouse College. Bylines on bylines on bylines.

Will write for food.