Scouting Report: Washington Wizards
Though they lost to the Pacers last night (Who hasn’t?), the Wizards have been playing much better basketball as of late. At 7-9, they currently occupy the seventh spot in the East, but they’re a very dangerous 4-2 in the nation’s capital, which is where Atlanta will be Saturday.
The Hawks do catch a break as leading scorer Bradley Beal is hurt, but Washington still has players who can score. Five others are also averaging at least 13 point per game for them, including John Wall, whose 8.8 assists also lead the conference. He’s making a strong case to be the East’s starting point guard in New Orleans, but I’m sure Jeff Teague will have something to say about that in what should be a fun individual matchup between the two. Wall will shoot if you leave him open, but his specialty is breaking guys down off the dribble and getting to the rim to draw contact or leave it for someone else. He has the most free throw attempts on the team and shoots 88 percent from there, so it’s best not to hack him, but rather force him into tough shots.
Nene and Marcin Gortat occupy the frontcourt, and both have done well early in the season. Nene is a typical bruiser; a guy who will beat you up inside and make you work for everything. He crashes the boards hard, and when he catches in the post he’s looking to draw contact. Gortat is more of a craftsman down low, but he has some range as well, so Al Horford will have to step out on him if he gets his mid-range game working. Horford and others should also be aware of him on the defensive end, as he averages almost two blocks per game.
Trevor Ariza is playing the small forward position and will be matched up with DeMarre Carroll. Ariza is a bit more athletic, so Carroll’s task will be keeping him grounded and denying dribble penetration.
Washington likes to run and takes advantage of the transition game to score when they can. Though the Hawks’ transition defense was better Friday, it’s something Coach Bud is still looking to see improvement with. I expect Atlanta will be tested in that area, though an open, fast-paced game could also work to the Hawks’ advantage, especially since they’ve been struggling to score in the half court.
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