By: Jeremy Hyman
The Wizards play the second leg of a back to back stretch tonight when they take on the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Field House (7:00 pm | TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). The Pacers lead the season series, 2-0.
The Wizards are coming off a 103-94 loss to the Dallas Mavericks last night, while the Pacers beat the Memphis Grizzlies, 88-83 on Monday. This will be the third meeting between the two teams, with both of the previous meetings coming down to the final minutes of the game. Unfortunately for the Wizards, the Pacers held on for the first two wins, but they will look to turn the tide tonight and beat the Pacers for the first time.
The Pacers have won five of six games and are playing more like the playoff team they have become over the past few years. They have not allowed a team to score over 100 points since December 9th against Oklahoma City. The Wizards rank at the bottom of the league in points per game, averaging just over 88, which means the Wizards will need to pay extra attention to offensive execution tonight.
Bradley Beal was in the midst of a three point shooting slump before going 4-7 from downtown last night. They will need to rely on Beal and the guard play once again against a big Pacer team. They also have seen Emeka Okafor attain double doubles in four of their last five games which is encouraging as him and Nene are starting to form a nice partnership down low.
It was David West and Roy Hibbert who combined for 50 points the last time these two teams met, but a lot of experts feel that Paul George can be the Pacers most dangerous player with Danny Granger out of the lineup. George is averaging 16.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game this season and will be key to the Pacers attack.
The action kicks off at 7pm.
After a slow start this season, Emeka Okafor has really turned it on of late, averaging almost 10 points and over 10 rebounds per game in his past nine games. He has double doubles in four of his last five games and has become the inside presence the Wizards wanted when they traded for him this off-season. One reason he may be having more success is because he is now being paired with Nene who has moved into the starting lineup as they form a nice post partnership.
Okafor is a known as a solid center who can be a defensive presence and getting this kind of offensive production out of him is a bonus. He is knocking down the midrange jumper along with hitting jump hooks from the low post.
On the other side, is the former Georgetown Hoya Roy Hibbert. After starting to separate himself as one of the best centers in the east last year, Hibbert has taken a step backwards this year, seeing his scoring drop and his field goal percentage fall nearly 100 points. With that said, he did drop 20 points on the Wizards in their last meeting and is still a threat on the low block. The Okafor-Hibbert matchup should be a good one to watch tonight.
In the below clip, Emeka Okafor addressed the media after Monday's practice.
In this clip, Okafor scores on the reverse layup.