Blazers Attempt to Avoid Being First Victim of Woeful Wizards

Rob Carr

Portland's horrible defense meets Washington's horrible offense as the Trail Blazers face the Wizards tonight. What kind of space-time vortex will be formed when these opposing forces collide?

Before we preview the Portland-Washington game, Blazer's Edge offers condolences to Houston Rockets Head Coach Kevin McHale upon the passing of his daughter, Sasha. Our hearts and thoughts go out to him and his family. They won't be reading a game preview on a Trail Blazers site but remembering them seems appropriate, as does remembering that sports are part of life...an important part sometimes, but only a part nonetheless. No matter how your team performs, there are bigger things in the world.

As for the Wizards, they're currently sitting on 0-for-the-season. Yup, 0-12, having lost their first dozen games.

They lost to Cleveland, really bad

And twice to Charlotte, that's just sad

They bowed to Bucks and Jazz and Hawks

The Spurs and Pacers cleaned their clocks

They fell to Boston and to Dallas

If L's were bricks they'd have a palace

'Cross D.C alleys, roads, and streets

the sickly stench of their defeats

pours forth, and their supporters cry,

"What have we done, oh why, oh why?"

But they know in their heart of hearts

that once streaks come, they must depart

that someday soon their team will see

a grand and glorious victory

But when will come this day so bright?

Quoth the raven, "Not tonight."

Or at least we hope.

That victory could come tonight if the stars aligned perfectly. The Wizards don't have John Wall back yet but they might have Nene, maybe sorta. He's been absent all season but played a couple games last week...coincidentally Washington's closest contests of the year. His foot is sore so he sat out their last game versus San Antonio. If he plays tonight it'll be a major bonus for Washington. Even the old, center-stocked Blazers had trouble handling his physicality. The new-look Blazers are likely to stand in slack-jawed wonder as he dunks like a fiend.

The Wizards sport a starting backcourt of A.J. Price and recent draftee Bradley Beal. Price is a career 37% shooter, firing at a 36% clip this year. Beal is shooting 33%. You begin to see their trouble.

Power forward Kevin Seraphin is shooting 48% from the field, which on this team pretty much makes him Bobby Freakin' Jones. He's no rebounder and not a great defender though. Trevor Ariza occupies the other forward spot for now. Whatever you once thought he was, he wasn't. Emeka Okafor starts at center. Normally centers are a concern for Portland but Okafor holds the ball, shoots a horrible percentage, and the Blazers don't have to be scared of his paint defense because the Blazers never, ever score in the paint. Even his rebounding is down.

Quick, pick two words to describe this starting lineup.

If you said, "Sad Trombone", give yourself a cookie.

Washington's bench could cause some concern for the Blazers. Shooting guard Jordan Crawford has had some nice games. Martell Webster can still shoot. Power forward Trevor Booker was actually a starter before he was injured and he's listed as day-to-day. If he comes back, he can rebound. Overall, though, it's a weird mish-mash of one-dimensional players. This beats Portland's weird mish-mash of no-dimensional players but that probably won't be enough to turn the tide.

The Wizards are horrible, horrible, horrible shooters. They're the only team in the league with an aggregate field goal percentage below 40%. They're marginally better at the three-point shot, ranking 27th in the league instead of dead last. This is good because they shoot a ton of them. Portland usually begs the opponent to get into a long-range contest with them. Washington is one of the few teams that will oblige. Obviously the Wizards are last in the league in offensive efficiency. They're also last in points in the paint scored. They occasionally manage some fast break points. That's about it. They average but 90 points a game total.

Defensively the Wizards aren't all that bad. You'd expect that of a team featuring Okafor and Ariza, I suppose. They keep opponents out of the paint. They're middle-of-the-road in fast break points allowed. Their shooting percentages allowed are hovering in the 20th out of 30 teams range and their defensive rebounding percentage ranks 16th. Compared to the rest of their portfolio all those numbers look pretty good. The problem is they'd have to give away points like Scrooge McDuck gives away gold coins in order to counterbalance their horrible offense. They're not that good defensively.

Based on talent the Blazers should probably win this game. Portland has at least a couple budding stars. The closest Washington has right now is Nene. The most interesting aspect will be Portland's worst-in-the-league percentage defense versus Washington's worst-in-the-league percentage offense. It's the resistible force versus the movable object. Which will prevail? If Portland dogs it and gets lazy the Wizards could come away with their first victory of the season here. If the Blazers play any kind of defense, though, the almost can't help but win. Their offense is that much better.

This game starts at 4:00 Pacific and will be televised on CSNNW.

Bullets Forever is your Wizards link of the day.

Your Jersey Contest Form for this game.

Portland Trail Blazer tickets for all games are available from Blazer's Edge sponsor TiqIQ.

--Dave (blazersub@gmail.com)

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