The Wizards make their National TV debut this season against an undermanned Indiana team. Can they make a statement tonight?
When and where? 8 p.m. at the Verizon Center. The game will be televised on both ESPN and CSN.
Who's out? Paul George is probably out for the season, George Hill and C.J. Watson are expected to miss the next few weeks with various ailments, and David West will sit out another week resting his sprained right ankle.
For Washington, Bradley Beal and Martell Webster are still out.
Are they good? This is a team that just started Donald Sloan, C.J. Miles Solomon Hill and Luis Scola last night in a loss to the Bucks. So no, they're not good, and on offense they struggle to even get into their sets. As Indy Cornrows noted, they're turning the ball over 18 times on average in their first three games of the season, and are getting killed as a result. Teams have outscored them 85-39 off those giveaways, and that problem will continue to persist if Rodney Stuckey has to be limited after suffering another ankle injury last Saturday.
Keys to the game: As always with the Pacers, the chief concern is getting to the basket, something Washington couldn't do nearly enough of in the first half of last nights game. Roy Hibbert is still a beast -- he's averaging 15 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks a contest so far -- but there's only so much he can do considering what's in front him. Their wing rotation is pretty shallow outside of Solomon Hill. He's given them good minutes and a heady defender out on the perimeter, but losing both George Hill and Watson hurts. You know it's bad when Tony Wroten is putting up 22-8-7 on you on opening night.
Washington's also up against another stretch-4 tonight in Chris Copeland, who's launching close to nine threes a game this season. Nene was better than expected defensively against Jabari Parker last weekend -- and he absolutely torched him on the other end of the floor too -- but there were understandably some slip-ups here and there on close-outs, though Copeland won't nearly be as aggressive putting the ball on the floor and attacking.
Who wins? This should come down to John Wall, who will have ample opportunities to attack on the delayed break. There's no excuse for Washington to dial back their ball pressure now, so expect their wings to continue overplaying their marks to disrupt the timing of Indiana's offense. This should be a nice turn-up before Friday big matchup against Toronto.