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Game 10 Preview: Blazers at Wizards

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A Look at the Wizards

The first thing that jumps out at you looking at Washington is obviously their Big Three.  Gilbert "Fauxstradamus" Arenas leads the team in scoring at 21.7 per game and Caron Butler is right behind at 21.6.  Antawn Jamison adds 18.3.  It's a formidable trio.  But just like that Playboy Playmate you've been drooling over when you get up close you see there's a lot of makeup and airbrushing going on with these guys.  Let's start with the great Fauxstradamus himself.  If he tries to drop 50 on the Blazers I'm thinking it wouldn't be half bad, as he's only shooting 37.7%.  At that rate it'll take him 67 shots to get his 50, leaving 16 for the rest of the team.  Even being charitable and giving him 10 points from the foul line and a couple extra for threes it would still leave the team in the mid-eighties at best.  Obviously it's a ridiculous scenario but it does point out how far his percentage has fallen.  Butler is shooting a very nice 48% but Jamison is below Arenas even, at just over 35%.  These guys live by quantity of shots, not quality.  Also Arenas and Butler are turning it over more than 4 times per game each.

After you delve past the Big Three Washington's scoring becomes almost non-existent.  Nobody else averages double figures.  Center Brendan Haywood shoots 52% and power forward Darius Songaila shoots 45% (not great for that position) but everybody else just falls off the table completely.  The Wizards shoot a horrid 39.2% as a team.  Even worse, their three-point percentage is 25.8%.  How do they survive?  So far they barely are, at 3-5.  A warning though:  those three wins have all come in a row, the streak is current, and it has been against lesser teams.

As you might expect, the Wizards are very good on the offensive boards with all of those misses coming off.  They also allow their opponents some.  Like most of the teams we've been seeing lately they tend to commit and force a bunch of turnovers.  They like to get a lot of shots up so expect a quick-paced offense.  They also draw a ton of fouls and the uys that get them are good free throw shooters.  As we saw last year they can be brutally bad on defense but they seem to have righted the ship so far this season.  They have only allowed 100 or more points three times in eight games:  103 to Boston, 118 to Denver, and 119 to Indiana, all losses.  They've held their opponents under 90 for three games straight, as we said all wins.

What I'd Like to See:

  1.  The number one rule when playing a team that values quantity of shots over quality is to limit their possessions.  The most basic way is rebounding.  We have to keep Brendan Haywood off of the offensive boards tonight while somehow managing to still protect the rim from drives.  This will be no easy task.  They are very good at slashing and rebounding.
  2. Limiting our own turnovers will also be important.  Guards, when you meet pressure DEAL WITH IT!  Get the ball forward and look for an easy shot in the lane.
  3.  It is absolutely crucial to take advantage of this team's poor outside shooting.  Points in the paint should be a critical stat.  We should pack it in and hope they fire away.  If we lose that way it just wasn't our night.
  4.  Getting back quickly on defense is a must.  A dunk-fest would seal our doom.  Hustle, hustle, hustle.
  5.   This team basically never passes the ball.  Staying in front of your man should be 99% of your defensive chore tonight.  Also some quick doubles might be in order.  A lot will depend on how ready Joel Przybilla is.
  6.  All other things being equal more efficient possessions will usually trump frequent possessions.  We have to get back to the offense we've been taught:  moving the ball, moving people, setting screens.  Going one-on-one off the dribble or shooting contested jumpers plays right into these guys' hands.  We can't slow it down and hold the ball.  We need to get a productive shot each time down the floor.
  7.  Lamarcus will be key in this game.  He'll need to man up on help defense, grab rebounds, and also be the focal point in the offense.  I fear Brandon will have his hands full on the defensive end.  He'll probably do fine but it would surprise me to see him score big.  Lamarcus on the other hand has a scoring and quickness advantage over whoever the Wizards send to face him.  This would be a perfect night for 30 and 10 from the big guy.
One thing's for sure:  this game should be a lot more fun to watch than last night's UglyFest 2008 in Philly.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

P.S. If Nick Young plays watch out for him. He's the kind of guy who could burn us.

P.P.S. Make sure to check out BulletsForever to see a friendly enemy preview.