Kevin C. Cox
Can the Wizards get revenge after last month's dramatic double-overtime loss?
Andray Blatche is back ... again! Let's preview Wizards-Nets.
Where and When: The game is at 7 p.m. at the Verizon Center. You can watch the game on Comcast SportsNet.
What happened the other time these two played this year? Brooklyn won a double-overtime thriller at the Verizon Center, thanks to a dagger from Joe Johnson. The shot from Johnson negated an outstanding performance from Bradley Beal who had 24 points, six rebounds, four assists, an impressive dunk over MarShon Brooks and a three that forced double-overtime in the loss. The player who logged the second most minutes that night? Garrett Temple, who had eight points, 11 assists and seven rebounds in the tight loss.
What are the Nets good at? Brooklyn is a top-10 offensive unit thanks in large part to their ability to control the paint. They're pretty average in terms of shooting the ball, but they get plenty of second chances thanks to Kris Humphries, Reggie Evans, Brook Lopez, and yes, Blatche (averaging a career-high 2.2 offensive rebounds per game this season).
But really, the biggest reason for the Nets' success this season has been Lopez, who is putting up monster numbers this year. Carmelo Anthony is the only other player in the league besides Lopez with a usage rate above 29 and turnover rate under 10. He's blocking shots at a higher rate than Dwight Howard. The only three players with higher PERs than Lopez this season are LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul.
What are they bad at? Defensively, they've got their issues. They've done a surprising good job of keeping teams off the charity stripe and from taking lots of threes, but that's partly because they're getting lots of good shots in the paint and elsewhere.
How much better is Andray Blatche really playing this year? It really is amazing how much a change of environment and role has changed Blatche's game for the better. After seeing his effective field goal percentage dip into the thirties last year, he's rebounded to post an eFG% of 49.4 percent, which would the third-best on the Wizards this season. The biggest reason for that? Check his shot distribution. Last year, he only took 27 percent of his shots at the rim, and 42 percent from 16-23 feet. This year, 53 percent of his shots are coming at the rim, and another 21 percent are from 3-9 feet out. Blatche finally stopped taking the shots everyone wanted him to stop taking in Washington and he finally became the player we all wanted him to be here. Funny how that works.
Did Blatche send you a valentine? We haven't gotten one yet, but we're holding out hope it's on the way.
How do the Wizards match up tonight? It's still too early into John Wall's recovery to say if the Wizards are as good healthy as the Nets are, but clearly their first meeting showed they could hang around with Brooklyn, even without Wall. Of course, tonight they'll either have a very rusty Beal or no Beal at all, so it's a little too early to chalk up a win tonight just because Wall is back, but we should be in for a fun one tonight.
Where can I find out more about the Nets? Nets Daily is tremendous.