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Game 20 Preview: Blazers vs. Wizards

A Look at the Wizards


To be fair to Washington, and despite their 3-12 record, let’s begin this preview by taking a look at what’s good about this team.


1.  They’re more likely than any other NBA team to make an appearance in a J.K. Rowling book.


2.  They have Caron Butler, which means in the unlikely event they should pull out a win tonight I can type the uber-nifty headline, “The Butler Did It!”


3.  They have an owner named Abe, making him one of only three people (Abe Vigoda and Grandpa Simpson) to use that name since Lincoln was assassinated.


4.  Michael Jordan is no longer their GM.


5.  They don’t turn the ball over much.


Aaaaaaaand that’s about it, folks.


On the other side of the ledger they defend horribly…inside, outside, you name it.  They do not block shots.  They cannot stop the three.  They don’t keep people out of the lane.  They don’t force that many turnovers.  They give up 103 points per game, though the stat is somewhat misleading as they’ve often held opponents below 100.  They’ve just had some bad blowout losses.


But wait!  There’s more!


They don’t shoot well.  They don’t take many three-pointers and they miss the ones they do take.  They have two 20-point scorers with a bunch of guys whose offense is either underdeveloped or never developed.  They don’t get assists either, mostly because they’re more awkward than a Scooby-Doo plot reveal in their offensive sets.  Half the players can’t run them and the other half don’t look that interested in helping those who can’t.


But wait!  There’s more!


The Wizards aren’t bad offensive rebounders but that’s where the story ends.  They are lousy defensive rebounders.  As we all know lack of defensive rebounding makes your defense have to work even harder and eliminates easy buckets for your team.


The Wizards somehow pulled a 95-87 win over the Jazz out of their hats three weeks ago.  They also beat the Warriors 124-100 and the Nets in their last game 108-88.  They are capable of losing no matter which side of the century mark they end up at.  They play closer games and have a better chance when the score is higher.


Keys to the Game


1.  Let me introduce you to Washington’s scorers:  Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison.  Butler has averaged 25 ppg in his last five outings, Jamison 24 ppg.  Pick one.  Either one.  You have one of them in mind?  Good.  Now hold that guy to 15 points.  You win.  End of story.  Let the Wizards’ supporting cast do whatever their little hearts desire.  They go up and down too much to count on.  Focus on these two.


2.  If you do not play inside in this game you are foolish.  That’s not to say the Blazers should avoid open jumpers but they need to come after the ball has entered the paint and hopefully been scored there a couple times.  The Blazers should not employ the jumper-laden offense they demonstrated in New York.


3.  Rebound.  You can against this team.  It’s like a submission hold.  Slap it on and there’s no way out.  It may take a while, but they’ll go down.


4.  The easiest way to win a game like this is to jump out early and make them play catch-up.  Much like a football team with no deep passing game the Wizards will get in trouble if they have to play from behind.  Besides the one way to lose this game is to turn them into an energetic bunch playing without a care.  Teams are less energetic and carefree when they’re getting dominated early.  This will be particularly important because both teams are playing the second night of a back-to-back.


Final Thoughts


If the Blazers lose this game something went wrong.


Check out the Wizards’ point of view at BulletsForever.


Don’t forget to enter the December Jersey Contest here.


--Dave (

P.S.  This game starts at 4:00 Pacific.