When the year began, the common sentiment was that if Anthony Davis didn't win the Rookie of the Year award, it would be because he was injured or because someone put up some dazzling offensive numbers to outshine Davis' defensive impact. Enter Damian Lillard. He comes into tonight's game averaging 19 points and six assists per game, which are very similar numbers to last year's Rookie of the Year, Kyrie Irving. He's stepped in and made the transition from the end of the Brandon Roy/Raymond Felton/Jamal Crawford era much smoother for Blazers fans.
Where, When, and What Channel: The game will start at 7 p.m. at the Verizon Center. You can watch it on Comcast SportsNet.
Why You Should Care: After tonight's game, the Wizards don't face another sub-.500 team until December 11 when they face the Hornets. If the Wizards don't win tonight, 0-17 is very plausible, even if John Wall returns at some point during that stretch.
What They Do Well: If nothing else, the Blazers starters have played quite well in the early going. Lillard has stepped in and become an excellent scoring option right off the bat. Nicolas Batum is playing up to his contract. Wes Matthews is looking at home as he settles back into being the 4th option, where he's better suited.J.J. Hickson is finally playing like the guy Cleveland thought he could be back in the LeBron era, and LaMarcus Aldridge is still LaMarcus Aldridge, even though he's in a bit of a funk this season and might not play in this game.
What They Do Poorly: The starting lineup can pack some punch offensively, but they're not going to get much from the bench. Worse yet, neither unit is performing well on the defensive end. The Blzaers are a bottom-five defensive unit. Aldridge and Hickson give the Blazders some nice versatility on offense, but they're not great at shutting down the paint area. The Blazers are allowing a league-high 28.5 attempts per game at the rim, according to Hoopdata, and opposing teams are shooting 66.8 percent on those shots, the fifth best average in the league.
How the Wizards Match Up With Them: The Wizards come into tonight's game dead last in attempts at the rim, a full two shots per game behind Philadelphia. Tonight is a night where Randy Wittman needs to use some plays that give Jordan Crawford and Bradley Beal opportunities to attack the rim, especially if Lillard is covering them. This is a game where the Wizards' offensive weaknesses match-up well with Portland. If they can keep the Blazers' starters in check, TONIGHT COULD BE THE NIGHT.