By: Jeremy Hyman
The Wizards hit the road for their final game of the 2012 calendar year when they take on the Chicago Bulls tonight at United Center (8:00 pm | TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). This will be the first of four games between these two teams this season.
Last night, the Wizards snapped and eight game losing streak by taking down the Orlando Magic, 105-97, behind 27 points from Jordan Crawford and 23 points and 11 rebounds from Nene. They overcame a 17 point first-quarter deficit to get this win and now hope to build on it tonight in Chicago.
The Bulls have not played since Christmas day when they were blown out at home by the Houston Rockets, 120-97. A very rare sight for a Chicago team that only allows opponents to average 92 points a game this year. Behind their head coach Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls are built on defense and pride themselves in their ability to not allow the opponent to score. This is one of the reasons they are off to a 15-12 start without their star point guard, Derrick Rose.
While the Wizards had little trouble reaching the 100 point plateau last night, they may need to win a game in the 90's or 80's tonight in what is expected to be a more grind-it-out game. The last time these two teams met, the Wizards beat the Bulls, 87-84, last April. This snapped a six-game road losing streak for the Wizards in Chicago.
The Bulls' leading scorer, Luol Deng (ankle), is questionable to play tonight along with Taj Gibson (ankle) and Richard Hamilton (foot). The Wizards are still without John Wall, Trevor Booker, Trevor Ariza, and A.J. Price, but all four are making progress and nearing a return to the lineup.
The action kicks off at 8pm et.
While he has battled plantar fasciitis all season, Nene has been one of the Wizards most consistent players this season. He now appears to have his legs back under him and has seen his minutes begin to increase game by game. Last night, he registered a season-high 23 points and 11 rebounds in the Wizards win over Orlando.
Nene's presence on the court affects the entire team and opens up the floor as he presents the biggest threat to opposing defenses on the post. He has great court vision and a great understanding of the game which usually results in positive things happening when he is on the floor. He has an array of post moves and is also not afraid to shoot from 15 feet if left open. The one thing to monitor tonight will be his minutes count because the Wizards are on the second game of a back-to-back. If he can't play close to 30 minutes again like last night, look for Kevin Seraphin to step up and fill that role.
On the other side will be the veteran PF Carlos Boozer. Although he is not the player he once was in Utah, he is still a rock on the post and can be a threat with his back to the basket. He has not reached double figures in the Bulls past three games and the Wizards would like to keep that streak alive with some solid post defense tonight. If they can limit Boozer and keep him off the glass, it will go a long way to getting the road win in Chicago tonight.
In the below clip, Nene gets the monster block.
In this clip, Beal finds Nene for the dunk.