After defeating the former Hornets on Wednesday night, the Wizards face the current Hornets on Friday in Greenville, South Carolina. Charlotte enters the game having dropped their pre-season opener against the Philadelphia 76ers, 106-92. While losing to a 76ers team missing Michael Carter-Williams stings, the Hornets treated it like the preseason game it was, limiting players' minutes and leaving bench players on the floor during crunch time.
When and Where
7 p.m. at Bon Secours Wellness Center in Greenville, South Carolina, Once again, the game is not being televised because this makes total sense in a major professional sports league in 2014. The game will be broadcast on the radio on 99.1 WNEW.
Can the Wizards contain Big Al?
The Hornets' center was a handful for most teams in the NBA last year, and the Wizards were no exception. Jefferson had big games against the Wizards in Washington, averaging 23 points and 14 rebounds in the two Charlotte victories at the Verizon Center.
When Charlotte signed the former Jazz big man to a three-year, $41 million contract last summer, it was widely seen as an overpay. Jefferson had a reputation as a talented offensive player and rebounder, but one who had costlydefensive deficiencies. But coach Steve Clifford worked around Jefferson's weaknesses, crafting one of the league's best defenses, and Jefferson was his usual self racking up points and rebounds.
After earning a 3rd Team All-NBA, Jefferson is back and claims a renewed focus on defense this year. As someone who struggles in the pick and roll, he will face a challenge in handling the John Wall/Marcin Gortat attack. For all of Jefferson's offensive success against the Wizards, Gortat pressed him on the other end of the court, averaging 15.8 points and 12 rebounds in four games versus Charlotte. This should be a fun matchup to watch.
Will the Junior Mafia shine again?
Glen Rice Jr. has been Mr. Big Shot for the Wizards so far this preseason. Playing most of the minutes in the fourth quarter against Chicago, Rice hit several improbable shots that rallied the Wizards to an 85-81 victory. Rice ended up with 18 points on just eight shots, showing the same confidence that earned in the Las Vegas Summer League MVP. While he didn't shoot as well against the Pelicans, going 3-11 from the field and 0-5 from beyond the arc, he showed up when it mattered most, scoring six points to go with a key assist in the final four minutes.
Otto Porter Jr. didn't fare as well in the opener, making only 1-10 shots, but he did show an aggressiveness that was too often lacking during his rookie campaign. Against the Pelicans, the shots fell, and they fell when the Wizards needed them most. Otto finished the night 4-5 from the field, scoring eight of his 12 points in the 4th quarter.
Since Randy Wittman seems to be resting his starters at the end of games, the Juniors will need to keep it going for the Wizards to get the win tonight.
Which John Wall will show up?
Against the Bulls, Wall was happy with his play because despite his poor shooting, he felt he ran the point well while only committing one turnover. Against the Pelicans, he shot well enough but could not keep control of the ball. Wall finished with nine turnovers on the night, included a staggering seven turnovers in the first quarter. Against a tough Charlotte defense, Wall will have to find the right balance between aggression and control to have a complete performance.