Game Preview: Wizards vs. Nuggets
By: Jeremy Hyman
After their win streak was snapped at three on Wednesday night, the Wizards look to start a new one tonight when they take on the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center (9:00 pm | TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). This is their first meeting of the season and they will meet again on February 22nd at Verizon Center.
Wednesday night may have been the most frustrating loss of the season for the Wizards as they let one slip away in the final seconds in Sacramento. They will need to take the positives from that game and apply them to the rest of this west coast trip as it will not get any easier starting with the Nuggets tonight.
The Nuggets are a team that can score points in a hurry and love to play an up-tempo style of offense. They will run for the full 48 minutes and the Wizards transition defense will be one of the keys to their success. Similar to the Wizards, they don't rely on one main scorer, but rather get contributions from a lot of different players. They have a strong starting unit and a lot of depth coming off the bench with veterans like Andre Miller, Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewer, and former Wizard JaVale McGee.
The Wizards are starting to share the ball on offense, which resulted in 32 assists for the second game in a row. The last time Washington has recorded at least 32 assists in back-to-back games was April 6th and April 8th of 1997. That's quite a feat for a team that is just getting healthy and gaining cohesion on the court. Because the Nuggets play such a fast-paced game, they are prone to give up a lot of points and average giving up just over 100 per game. With John Wall back in the lineup, the Wizards will not shy away from running with the Nuggets and will look to answer their up and down play with some of their own.
Tonight will be the first time Nene returns to Denver after playing his first nine and a half years there with the Nuggets. It will likely be an emotional return and it is always hard to judge how that will affect one's play. For a veteran like Nene, after getting a nice hand from the crowd during introductions he should be able to focus on the game and give the Wizards another solid game in the post.
The action kicks off at 9pm.
Bradley Beal is averaging 20.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in his last four games. Beal is shooting .722 from three-point range (13-18) over the last four games. In the month of January, Beal leads all Eastern Conference rookies in points per game (18.8 ppg), three-point field goals made (22) and three-point field goal percentage (.611).
Beal is coming off a career-high 26 points on Wednesday night, shooting 6-7 from behind the arc. It was Beal's best shooting performance of his young career and he continues to gain confidence with each game. After winning Rookie of the Month in December, he is well on his way to another award for the month of January.
Opposite Beal tonight is a new member of the Nuggets, Andre Iguodala. This is someone the Wizards are familiar with from his days in Philadelphia and is a guy that can fill up the stat sheet. He's not quite the scorer he once was, but he is still a threat who can score from the perimeter or more so from his slashing ability.
In the below clip, Bradley Beal talks with Dave Johnson after Wednesday's game in Sacramento.
In this clip, John Wall feeds Bradley Beal for the slam.