By: Jeremy Hyman
The Wizards return to action tonight to host the Brooklyn Nets at Verizon Center (7:00 pm | TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). This will be the first meeting of the season between these two teams and the first time ever the Nets play in D.C. hailing from Brooklyn.
The Wizards will try and snap a three game losing streak after they fell, 89-81, to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.
The Nets are coming off one of their better wins of the season as they took down the Oklahoma City Thunder, 110-93, on Wednesday night in Oklahoma City. The win improved their record to 17-15 overall, and 3-1 under interim Head Coach P.J. Carlesimo. The Nets ousted Avery Johnson as Head Coach last week and hoping that the change will spark their team after a disappointing month of December in which they went 5-12.
The Wizards met the Nets in the preseason at Barclays Center and fell 98-88 on October 15th. It was the Nets opening game at their new arena and they played many of their starters extended minutes for a preseason game. Deron Williams played 31 minutes while their new addition, Joe Johnson, played 37 in the win. The Nets rely on their backcourt to do much of their scoring and when they singed Johnson to pair up with Williams, they were hoping to form one of the more formidable backcourts in the NBA.
The Wizards will need to get off to a stronger start than they did on Wednesday night in which they fell behind by 15 points in the first quarter. Slow starts have plagued the Wizards for much of the season and against a team with as many weapons and closers as the Nets, they won't want to be forced to making a late comeback.
Trevor Ariza is getting close to returning from his calf injury and there is a chance he could play tonight, although he will have to test out his calf at shootaround and before the game for that to happen.
The action kicks off at 7pm.
Bradley Beal was just named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for the month of December in which he averaged 13.1 points per game and led all rookies with 41 assists. Beal scored eight points in the fourth quarter in Wednesday night's game and nearly led the Wizards all the way back against Indiana. He showed signs of being a true fourth quarter closer, which is something the Wizards have been without this season. As he matures and grows, Beal could be that guy for the Wizards.
The Nets made a big splash this past off-season when they signed all-star guard Joe Johnson to a large deal and paired him up with all-star Deron Williams. Johnson is a pure scorer who can do it in many ways. He is fearless with the ball in his hands and can knock down jump shots from anywhere on the court. He's certainly a guy the Wizards need to watch when the Nets are on offense and this could be one of Beal's tougher defensive assignments of the season.
Beal is averaging 16.6 points over his past three games, while Joe Johnson put in a season-high 33 points on Wednesday night. This will be a matchup to watch tonight at Verizon Center.
In the below clip, Bradley Beal talks about winning the Rookie of the Month award for December.
In this clip, see some of the top highlights from December of Bradley Beal.