Opening Statements: Wizards vs Knicks, Game 3 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Knicks, Game 3

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Updated: October 31, 2015

Washington Wizards vs New York Knicks - Nov. 30, 2012

Two games into the Pace-and-Space Era for the Wizards has left diehard fans of the Washington professional basketball team in the precarious position of being content with not only the end result on the scoreboard, but also the process that has led to these wins. This team has figured out a way to step out of the basketball dark-ages and has embraced a new style of basketball that promotes the 3-point shot. Last year, the Wizards shot 16.8 threes per game, and now that number has ballooned to 24.5 (28 3PAs in Orlando, 21 in Milwaukee). Two games is a small sample size by any measure, but there is no reason to believe that this rate is not sustainable given how much everyone associated with the franchise has gone out of their way to gush over the 3-point shot.

Bradley Beal appears to be ready to take the leap from talented prospect to fringe All-Star. John Wall is embracing his newfound responsibility, sans Paul Pierce, of being an emotional and vocal leader. Even Randy Wittman seems more competent, and experimental, than ever. The Wizards have an opportunity to go 3-0 for the first time in over a decade, and if this current group is really serious about taking that next step then they can’t waste any battle in the 82 game war.

The Knicks are coming into this game with a record of 1-1. In their first contest, the Knicks utilized a balanced attack to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks, 122-97, but just one game later, old habits returned and ball-stopping Carmelo Anthony’s 10-for-27 from the field and 0-for-7 from deep took them right out the game with the Atlanta Hawks. If the Wizards are going to win their home-opener, Otto Porter is going to have the task of making sure Carmelo’s stat line looks similar to that Hawks game.

Speaking of Porter, I know many Wizards fans may be a little disappointed with his offensive production over the first two games, but he is doing an excellent job of not forcing the issue and letting his game flow naturally in the hierarchy of the Wizards offense. This is his game, after all. Wall and Beal eat first, and everyone else should get comfortable with table scraps. But what Porter can bring to the table is a defensive intensity on the wing and Stretch Armstrong-like arms on the glass.

The key match-ups for Halloween night will be the backup backcourt of each respective team. The Knicks are outscoring opponents by 20.5 points per 36 minutes when Jerian Grant and Langston Galloway are in the game, as opposed to being outscored by 12.1 points per game when starters Jose Calderon and Sasha Vujacic are on the floor. New York media already has a “clock” on when Grant will replace Calderon in the starting lineup. In past years the Wizards have been borderline unwatchable when Wall sits, but with Ramon Sessions coming off of his best game in a Wizards uniform via 23 points in the win against the Bucks, there is a cause for optimism that this match-up just may go in the Wizards’ favor.

This game will go a long way into telling us just how serious this team is for the 2015-16 season. Hopefully #WizardsTwitter can hold off on the moments of agony and down right befuddlement that have left us in the safe space of what has become a borderline group therapy session. If that disappointment does come, at least we know where to go for support.

Pre-Game Notes.

(via K. Weidie)

  • Randy Wittman and Ernie Grunfeld were excused to attend the memorial service for Flip Saunders in Minnesota this morning. They are aiming to get back to D.C. in time for the game, but are expected to arrive sometime during. Ted Leonsis covered this on his blog.
  • In the pregame, Derek Fisher cautioned that he wants his team to take open shots, but that this is “not a car race,” and that he doesn’t want his Knicks trying to beat the Wizards down the court (except in defensive transition)—video here.
  • Jared Dudley did not go through a very intense pre-game warm-up, even skipping 3-point attempts from one corner in his routine. With him playing 25 minutes in his debut in Milwaukee last night, the coaching staff might aim to rest him in back-to-backs.
  • Kevin Seraphin is back in D.C., officially (he was here for the preseason but didn’t play). Per Twitter, he’s excited to make his debut tonight. He was definitely shooting plenty of elbow jumpers in warm-ups.

 

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. 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.