The Wizards' frontcourt faced a starting duo of Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah in their first preseason game. Tonight's matchup gets no easier, as Anthony Davis and Omer Asik will lead the Pelicans.
Where and when: Tip off is at 7 p.m. at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, FL. Unfortunately, the game will not be televised, though it can be heard on 99.1 WNEW.
Will the Wizards be able to handle the Pelicans' starting frontcourt? The Wizards had some difficulty Monday night dealing with Gasol's ability to hit the midrange jumper consistently. There aren't many big men who are threats from that distance, but Davis has certainly evolved into one of those players. This, combined with his freak athleticism, make him one of (if not the) best big men in the League.
With Nene supposedly ready to play tonight, we will see how Davis responds to some toughness or whether his length and quickness will be too much for our sore-footed Brazilian. When Nene is sitting, though, problems could occur. Kris Humphries is out tonight, DeJuan Blair is incredibly undersized for this matchup and Drew Gooden probably isn't physical enough. Then again, there aren't many teams that do have a player to match up with Davis. Daniel Orton may get some run, too.
Asik was stuck in a rotten situation behind Dwight Howard in Houston last season, but he will be counted on heavily in New Orleans to be the Robin to Davis' Batman. Marcin Gortat should have some interesting battles with him, though I think Gortat has the upper edge here. He's just as physical as Asik, but quicker. Kevin Seraphin could match up decently as well.
Can the Wizards improve offensively? The ball movement was a little stagnant at times against the Bulls, but then again they are one of the NBA's premier defensive teams. It was also the first time playing with each other against an opponent other than themselves. But we'll let the shooting statistics against Chicago do the talking here:
- John Wall: 1-7
- Bradley Beal: 4-12
- Paul Pierce: 0-3
- Otto Porter: 1-10
Shots have to drop. Let's hope that upward trend starts tonight.
Can the bench continue to produce consistently? Glen Rice Jr. did his part, leading the team with 18 points against the Bulls. As a whole, the bench produced a very respectable 45 points in very extended minutes that will not be had when the regular season rolls around. Porter needs to find his shot, though his movement off the ball was pretty good and he did a decent job chasing Doug McDermott all over the court defensively. Since those two will probably be relied upon heavily to bring firepower off the bench during the season, consistency from them is key. Rice Jr. needs to continue and Porter needs to step up tonight.
Who will win? The Pelicans have a strong starting lineup but not much coming off the bench. If the starters get their act together offensively and the bench produces at a high rate, as they did against the Bulls, the Wizards should be able to take this one.