1. Paul Pierce explains importance of Nene
"We feel like most nights Nene has a matchup (advantage). Unfortunately we don't go to him more every night but that's really not the way our team is built," Pierce said of the 7-footer's 9 of 14 shooting in Wednesday's 105-103 overtime loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
So, the real question becomes why not?
"We're a continuity offense where five guys touch the ball," Pierce said. "It shows you what type of scorer he is when you give him the ball. He's a physical player. He's strong to the bucket. He's tough to stop one-on-one."
The team's previous game against the OKC Thunder was the first time Nene has played more than 30 minutes in a game since his five-game stretch of missed games back in late November/early December due to plantar fasciitis. He's put up 20 or more points in two of the past three games. He's always been an influential player in Washington, so we'll see if his recent run of strong performances is something the Wizards will look to take advantage of.
2. Pierce giving Wizards a voice
Bradley Beal has been saying since training camp that the biggest thing he has seen and learned from Pierce, above all, has been his extreme trash-talking skills. Gortat can't help but notice his big mouth, either. Pierce's presence has been about more than just what he does with the ball in his hands. It's been his confident demeanor and never-ending ability to talk endless amounts of trash to his opponents.
3. Shaq wants Gortat and Beal playing in All Star Game
Warranted or not, Shaquille O'Neal wants three Wizards in this year's All Star Game. John Wall has already been named a starter by the fans. Shaq wants Wall's backcourt mate, Beal, voted in by the coaches as a reserve along with the Polish Hammer, Gortat, in New York City on All Star Weekend. Shaq's fellow TNT analyst, Ernie Johnson, concurred with O'Neal about rewarding Gortat for his influence on the winning Wizards.
4. Wizards' needs at trade deadline
The Wizards are sitting pretty with their 29-14 record in the Eastern Conference, but they could still make some moves before the trade deadline passes in order to bolster their roster. What moves need to be made? Another wing shooter? A stretch four? There are a few players that the Wizards might want to look to acquire.
5. Wizards face Portland Trail Blazers tonight
The Blazers (31-13) got some unfortunate news in recent days with the news that their star forward, LaMarcus Aldridge, will be out for the next 6-8 weeks following surgery on his thumb. While this doesn't bode well for Portland, it's something the Wizards (29-14) must push hard to exploit -- see no. 1 above -- if they want to come away with a win tonight.
Oh, and somehow stopping Damian Lillard would be nice, too.
Tip off is set for 10 p.m. ET at the Moda Center in Portland. You can watch on Comcast SportsNet if in the DMV, or on NBATV if elsewhere. You can also listen on 99.1 WNEW.