By: Jeremy Hyman
The Wizards make their first official visit to Barclays Center tonight as they take on the Brooklyn Nets (7:30 pm | TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). The Wizards did stop in Brooklyn during the preseason and played the first ever NBA game in Barclays Center, but tonight will be the first one that counts. The Wizards and Nets season series is tied at 1-1.
Bradley Beal will once again be a gametime decision as he continues to be listed as day-to-day with a sprained left ankle.
In Beal's place, Trevor Ariza made the start on Wednesday night in Minnesota and did a nice job on both ends of the court. He had 10 points in the first quarter alone and finished the game with 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Ariza is now averaging 14.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists in his last seven games. However, the Wizards suffered a disappointing loss where they finished with a season-high 24 turnovers. They let an eight point fourth quarter lead slip away and dropped a game they probably should have won. But, now they need to turn the page and beat a Brooklyn team coming off a lopsided win in Charlotte.
It would be difficult to forget the first meeting these two teams played as it was one for the ages. Unfortunately, the Wizards came out on the wrong end of that one as they let an eight point lead slip away at the end of the first overtime and fell 115-113 in double overtime. It was Joe Johnson who hit the game-winner in that one and he will once again be a focal point for the Wizards tonight.
Johnson's backcourt mate, Deron Williams, has seen his numbers drop this season, but has picked it up lately. He has scored at least 20 points in four of the Nets past five games and remains the engine that makes the Nets offense go.
The last time these two teams met, the Wizards handled the Nets with ease in an 89-74 win back on February 8th at Verizon Center. Nene led the team with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Martell Webster added 16 points in the win. In two games this season, Nene is averaging 20 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. He and his fellow big man Emeka Okafor will be heavily relied upon to own the paint against a tough front line in Brooklyn. Okafor has posted six double-doubles in his last seven games.
In their last 10 road games, the Wizards haveheld their opponents to under 100 points. This marks the longest such streak in the NBA this season. The last time the Wizards held 10 straight opponents on the road to under 100 points was February 15-March 24th of 2002 (13 straight).
The action kicks off at 7:30pm.
Since John Wall's return, the Wizards are 14-12 and their scoring and offensive efficiency have increased as Wall has opened up the floor for his teammates. Wall scored a team-high 19 points to go along with his seven assists on Wednesday night in Minnesota and they will look for a similar effort from their leader tonight.
As mentioned earlier, Williams' numbers are down this year, but he is not someone the Wizards can sleep on. His scoring has increased over the last few weeks, but If the Wizards can force him into tough shots and keep him out of the paint, they will give themselves a good chance to win tonight.
In this clip, John Wall pulls off an impressive 360-layup.