Sure, the Wizards got things done against a seven win Philadelphia 76ers team, but now they'll have to prove their worth against a more formidable foe. The Charlotte
Bobcats Hornets are no joke. After starting the season on a bit of a hot streak, the Hornets have cooled down but still present a challenge for the Wizards.
This game will, by no means, be an easy win. The Hornets are 24-26 after a disappointing month of January where they were bitten by the injury bug and went 6-11 throughout the month. They took a disappointing loss to the Miami heat last night, but Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams were all 20 point scorers in that game.
The Wizards will need to be sharp if they want to leave Buzz City with a victory. Every game is pivotal as they head into the All-Star break and prepare to make another push for playoff seeding.
When: 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Where: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, N.C.
TV: CSN Washington
Radio: 99.1 WNEW
Wizards: Nene is questionable with a calf injury, Alan Anderson is still out with an ankle injury and Kris Humphries is out with a knee injury.
Hornets: Al Jefferson is out with a knee injury.
Keys to the game
Keep playing hard
The Wizards came out with an edge against the 76ers. That was the same effort we saw against the Golden State Warriors that had them in the game essentially throughout on Wednesday. The Wizards have to come out with that same effort on the road against the Hornets.
I'm not a huge effort guy because it takes more than just trying to play NBA basketball, but the Wizards played with an edge the last two games. It waned in the second half of the 76ers game, but they finished strong. They've got to continue this for more success.
Move quickly, but don't rush
The Wizards came into the season wanting to play at a break neck speed, but that quickly turned into a negative with all of the turnover struggles earlier in the season. They've since slowed down the pace and it's helped them out in their wins.
Overall, the Wizards have just over 100 possessions per game, but in wins they typically finish with just about 98 according to NBA.com's stats tool. The Wizards have to be patient against a good defensive team like Charlotte. The first shot is not always the best shot, and the best shot may require a bit of tweaking to find. Hopefully the Wizards aren't forced into offense they don't like in this one.
Keep Bradley Beal in attack mode
As Umair noted in last night's recap, Bradley Beal had an excellent floor game. Sure, we've seen Beal score 20-plus points before. But he's never looked more different. He's keeping his dribble alive on offense, creating space with deadly crossovers and attacking the rim like he never has.
On the other end of the floor Beal is playing hard, forcing turnovers and being a pest. It's a relatively small sample, yes. But the results are really encouraging. If Beal continues playing this way the Wizards may have a legitimate run in them.
Wiz Killer of the Night
Nicolas Batum is an easy pick because he's so good, so I'll go in the direction of Marvin Williams. He's originally a wing player but now plays a lot of stretch four minutes for Charlotte. He's got the three ball and is able to stretch the floor, can attack closeouts well and has really found his way on the offensive end in Charlotte.
Despite the evolution of the Wizards into a small ball club, they still have struggled to keep up with select stretch fours this season. Williams could be another thorn in their side as they look to continue their winning ways in Charlotte.