Last night's game was such a heartbreaker. Twenty-four hours after losing in overtime to the Atlanta Hawks, the Washington Wizards get to come home and play again. Tonight's opponent, the Los Angeles Clippers, are a better team, but with homecourt advantage, the Wizards might be able to snap their now four game losing streak.
Where and when? The game is at 7 p.m. in D.C.
Are they good? Yes, although they'd be better if they were healthy. The Clippers are 15-9 and would win the Pacific division if the season ended today, largely due to the brilliance of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. This is in spite of losing shooting guard J.J. Redick and glue guy Matt Barnes for significant chunks of the season. Griffin has also been limited lately, playing on a sore ankle in the team's loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday.
Who's out? Barnes, Redick, Maalik Wayns and Reggie Bullock will all be unavailable for the Clippers. The Wizards are going to be missing Bradley Beal and Al Harrington, while Nene is more likely than not going to sit for the Wizards.
What are they good at? They don't call it Lob City for nothing. The Clippers get a ton of dunks due to the athleticism of Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and the court vision of Paul. They're shooting almost 61 percent in the immediate basket area this season, one of the best marks in the NBA. Washington's lack of an elite rim protector could hurt the team tonight. Washington managed to get a win the last time they played L.A., but this was with Griffin out. Even with Nene and Emeka Okafor around to body him up, Jordan still made three of four shots and pulled down 22 rebounds.
What are they bad at? Los Angeles could really use some depth in the frontcourt. Once Griffin or Jordan sits, the Clippers are forced to either go small and slide Jared Dudley to power forward or play one of the following three players: Antawn Jamison, Byron Mullens or Ryan Hollins. None of these three is a particularly good defender, all have PERs in the single digits and Jamison is the only one averaging more than seven rebounds per 36 minutes. if the Wizards were to trade Jan Vesely to the Clippers, it's very possible he'd be the first big man off the bench for a team that hopes to contend for a title. While this shouldn't be much of an issue in the post-season when rotations tighten up, if either Griffin or Jordan were to go down with an injury or even get into foul trouble, the Clippers would be at a significant disadvantage.
How well does John Wall play against Chris Paul? Not too bad, even though he's yet to beat him. Wall's 0-5 for his career against Paul and, while they're comparable in terms of scoring and assists, Paul's shot better and turned the ball over a lot less than Wall in their matchups. Now that there's not quite as large a gap in terms of the talent around Wall versus the talent around Paul, tonight could be the night for him to make a statement and finally get a win over a guy who you could make a legitimate case is going to go down as the greatest point guard in history.
Who's the more valuable number one pick: Wall or Griffin? Griffin won the Rookie of the Year award the same year Wall debuted and was the superior player for Wall's first three years in the NBA. While Wall has hit a rocky patch lately, if he can get back to playing the way he did in November, this might be the year he surpasses him. Griffin is an incredible player and more well-rounded than he's given credit for, but he's been more or less the same player without much in the way of improvement since his rookie season. Meanwhile, Washington's offense is bad, almost historically so, with Wall off the court, while it's solid and even good at times when he's on it. At least for now, Griffin is a more productive player, but Wall is improving at a faster rate and doing more to help his team win games.
What do you think will happen tonight? Sound off in the comments and vote in our poll!
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