Game Preview: Wizards vs. Bobcats
By: Jacob Raim
The Wizards return home after a short two game road trip to take on the Charlotte Bobcats. (8:00 pm | TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). The Wizards have struggled against the Bobcats this year but have not met them with John Wall in the lineup, losing twice to Charlotte in November.
Bradley Beal will once again be a gametime decision as he continues to be listed as day-to-day with a sprained left ankle.
The Wizards and Bobcats will both be playing back ends of back to backs and both are coming off losses. The Wizards fell to the Nets 98-75 in Brooklyn as Deron Williams set the NBA record for threes made in one half with nine. He ended up with 42 points on 15/24 shooting and 11/16 from three point range. The Wizards struggled on offense, shooting just 35.6% and hitting just 3/17 from long distance. The Nets also dominated the Wizards on the boards, 61-44, led by Reggie Evans career high 24.
The Bobcats lost to the Thunder on Friday night, 116-94. The Thunder gashed the Bobcats defense, shooting 56.8% from the field and 50% from long range. Durant had 19 points, seven assists and six rebounds in just 24 minutes. Gerald Henderson was the bright spot for the Thunder in the loss, scoring 21 points with five boards and five assists. The loss was the Bobcats ninth in their last 10 games.
After the Wizards and Bobcats met most recently on November 24th, the Bobcats had a 7-5 record and the Wizards had yet to get a win on the season. Since then, the Bobcats have won just six times in their last 50 games en route to having the worst record in the NBA. The Wizards are 4-4 over their last eight games but lost both games on the most recent road trip against Minnesota and Brooklyn. During the teams first meeting, the Bobcats beat the Wizards by 21 in Charlotte, led by Ramon Sessions' (who will miss this contest with a knee injury) 16 points. Ariza was the lone Wizard in double figures with 19.
The second meeting was a classic. The Wizards fell to the Bobcats in double overtime, 108-106, at Verizon Center. The Wizards had opportunities to win at the free throw line at the end of regulation and the first overtime but could not get it done and the Bobcats took advantage in the second OT. If Beal does not play, the Wizards starting five will be completely different from that game. Byron Mullens was the difference maker with 27 points on 9/15 shooting.
Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson are the danger players to watch for the Bobcats. They are the only two players to be averaging double figures for Charlotte over their last 10 games with Walker at 16.9 and Henderson at 15.2. The Bobcats as a team have really been having trouble on offense, shooting just over 40% and losing by an average of 18.5 points per game over that 10 game stretch. Charlotte's defense is also a weakness as they are 28th in the NBA in points allowed per game. The Wizards should be looking to go into Nene and Okafor early and often as the Bobcats are particularly susceptible on the interior. If they protect the ball and make sure Henderson and Walker due not get out in transition too much, it should be a great opportunity to avenge the early season losses.
The action from Verizon Center begins at 8:00pm.
The first two times these teams met, the Wizards were missing Wall. Since John Wall's return, the Wizards are 14-13 and their offense has improved dramatically. Wall has led the Wizards in scoring in each of their last three games and shooting 45%. Against the Sixers during the Wizards last win, Wall hit several clutch jumpers down the stretch to seal the game. In two of those three games, he only turned the ball over twice.
Kemba Walker has been the Bobcats leader all year, averaging 17.1 points per game and 5.6 assists against 2.3 turnovers. Walker has certainly developed a fair reputation as a shoot first point guard and he has proved that this year by taking almost 15 shots per game. He has improved as a distributor though, averaging over an assist more in his sophomore campaign. Walker has an extremely quick first step and can break down defenses on his own. Walker is consider a solid defender, but Wall has a nice size advantage that he should be able to take advantage of. Knowing that Walker is trigger happy, Wall's task will be making sure that those looks are not the ones that Walker wants and making sure Walker is as uncomfortable as possible on the offensive end.
In the following clip, Wall gets to the hoop for an and-one last night against the Nets.
In this clip, Wall shows off his athleticism with this 360-layup.