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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Washington Wizards Preview

The Blazers look to snap a two-game skid at home against the Wall-less Wizards.

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Portland Trail Blazers v Washington Wizards Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (13-10) vs. Washington Wizards (12-10)

Tuesday, December 5th - 7:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: None
Wizards injuries: John Wall (out), Sheldon Mack (out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBATV (outside of Portland)
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Bullets Forever

The Blazers need a bit of redemption after two disappointing home losses. The last game, a 116-123 defeat at the hands of the Anthony Davis-less New Orleans Pelicans, was less competitive than the score would indicate.

The Wizards will be facing the Blazers on the second game of a back-to-back. On Monday night, Washington got absolutely destroyed by the Utah Jazz 116-69. This game was lopsided after just a few minutes into the first quarter, so the Wizards’ starters might be relatively fresh and a bit angry. Revenge might also be on the mind of Washington. It was only about a week and a half ago that the Wizards hosted the Blazers, resulting in a memorable 108-105 victory for Portland, thanks in large part to heroics from CJ McCollum.

What to Watch For

  • Who will win the battle of the paint? The Wizards are still adjusting to basketball without John Wall. When they’ve had success without him, they’ve generally done well with inside scoring and rebounding. Against the Pistons on Friday, for example—a 109-91 victory—Washington won the scoring battle in the paint, 54-38, and the rebounding battle 49-32. Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat need to be kept in check for the Blazers to have a good night.
  • Can the Blazers bench keep up with the Wizards? Portland’s bench is ranked 24th in scoring. Washington isn’t that much better at 19th, but they are improving as they find their roles changing with the injury to Wall. Where Portland’s bench has an advantage is with rebounding, pulling down three more rebounds per game than Washington’s bench. If Portland’s reserves can keep up with Washington’s in scoring and win the battle of the boards, that might just provide the boost the Blazers will need.
  • Can CJ bring on the scoring? CJ has been held to under 20 points three games in a row, shooting 23.5 percent from three over that span. When the team is getting contributions on offense from the entire rotation, the Blazers can afford a poor shooting night from CJ. However, the Blazers are struggling a bit to find a groove on offense and they really need him to be more efficient. The last time he was truly shooting “CJ-like” was, coincidentally, was against Washington when he went 11-for-20 from the field and 4-for-7 from deep. A solid shooting performance from CJ will go a long way to snapping the Blazers’ two-game losing streak.

What They’re Saying

Candace Buckner of the Washington Post tells us that the Wizards are suddenly very good at defending the arc:

Over the past dozen games, the Wizards (12-10) have held opponents to 43.1 percent shooting from the field, tied for the best mark in the league. While the team allowed an average of 113 points in its two most recent losses after all-star John Wall was sidelined, Washington has given up the second-lowest points-per-game average in regulation (98.1) over the same 12-game stretch.

This can be traced to Washington’s improvement along the perimeter, where wings and big men alike have accepted a greater commitment to defending three-point shots.

Ex-Blazer Tim Frazier has been the starting point guard in John Wall’s absence, but Tomas Satoransky might nip ahead of Frazier in the pecking order according to Nicholas Arguelles of Wiz of Awes:

While there were high hopes for Frazier’s play heading into the season, the three-year man out of Penn State has had a rough start to the season. Frazier is averaging 3.7 points, 3.9 assists, shooting 40.3 percent from the floor and a career-worst 25.9 percent from three...

So what are the Wizards’ options at the moment? Well, I think what we have here is a very compelling situation. In the last four games, Washington’s most impressive point guard hasn’t been Frazier, but instead, it’s been none other than the two-year guard out of the Czech Republic, Tomas Satoransky.

Who needs to step up for the Wizards in John Wall’s absence? Number one on the list is coach Scott Brooks according to Alan Jenkins of Bullets Forever:

As mentioned by Ben Mehic, the honeymoon is over for Brooks. And if he wants to recreate an optimistic buzz around this team and its fanbase, here’s his chance.

Many thought Brooks was a not-so-creative inside the box hiring during the Summer of 2016. We’re only at the quarter pole of the season but his rotations still make you scratch your head, sometimes doesn’t make in-game adjustments fast enough, the team easily loses focus, and it looks like it may have spread to the rest of the coaching staff.