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Game 71 Preview: Wizards versus Trail Blazers

Update (11:12 AM): The Portland Trail Blazers have announced that center Marcus Camby will not play tonight due to an ankle injury suffered against the Los Angeles Lakers.


Game Time:  7:00 p.m.  TV:  CSNNW

If losing contained calories the Wizards would be obese.

It's not an idle comparison.  Washington has all of the classic habits of an addictive eater.  They'll have a couple nights of great behavior, say their 83-79 victory over the Blazers on December 3rd or their 85-83 win over the Celtics on the 22nd of January or--in a feat of unprecedented willpower--back-to-back wins on the 15th and 17th of January against the Raptors and Jazz.  But in between those "now I'm starting my diet" moments it's binge-binge-binge-binge-binge-binge-binge.   They can't seem to win a game without losing for the next two weeks straight.  They're 5-23 in their last 28 games with 8, 7, and 6-game losing streaks (in that order) thrown in that stretch.  They won their last game against New Jersey so this game should kick off their 5-game losing streak.

How did this come to pass?  Washington keeps returning to the fridge every five minutes to grab some lazy transition defense.  When they bypass that they hit the cupboard of no paint defense.  They don't burn off any fat with their defensive rebounding either.  Only Golden State has a lower defensive rebounding percentage.  Their shooting percentage allowed and three-point percentage allowed numbers are totally empty calories, chocked with saturated fat, good only for giving their fans heart attacks.  Cleveland's combined percentages might be worse, but not by enough that you'd notice a difference.  And unlike the Cavs the Wizards salt any number of fouls into their defense, rendering it junk food, pure and simple.

Led by high-scoring guards John Wall and Nic Young, Washington's offense looks dangerous on the surface.  But it's all artificial ingredients.  Sure, either guard can top 20 with ease.  But most nights they don't individually, let alone at the same time.  Young is out tonight, as are forwards Rashard Lewis and Andre Blatche, who might as well be guar gum and Red Dye #5 for all the nutritional content they add to this team even when they're available.  Shooting guard Jordan Crawford has posted three straight 20-point efforts in Young's absence.  Center JaVale McGee posts decent games.  But it all amounts to the 22nd-most points per game, 25th-best shooting percentage, 27th-best three-point percentage, and 26th-best free throw rate in the league.  The Wizards score the 6th most points of anyone in the league on the break and that's it for them.  It's fast food or nothing.

No surprise, then, that at 17-51 the Wizards are a solid candidate for Biggest Loser.  Even worse, they're 1-31 on the road, Cleveland doing the honors for the single loss.

This will be the final game of the season that Portland can pretty much count on winning...the last truly pathetic team the Blazers will face.  The Blazers simply need to post another effort like they did against Cleveland.  Or heck, they could just post the fine effort they displayed in L.A. in their last game.  The first will net a 30-point win, the second at least 15.  Get back in transition and don't be total fools on offense and the game is yours.  There's not much more to it unless you're an Armon Johnson or Chris Johnson fan hoping to see plenty of minutes for your guy.  There's a decent chance of just that.

Enjoy the oasis before the tough desert slog that will be the final eleven games of the season.

Bullets Forever probably thinks this season is lasting forever.

This would be your Jersey Contest form for this game.

--Dave (