The Back Story (The Clippers lead the season series 1-0):
|12/14/13||Washington||Clippers 113, Wizards 97||Recap||Box|
The Big Picture:
The Clippers are finally back home after seven games and 12 days on the road, though they head back out tomorrow. But for one night in two weeks, the team gets to play in front of their own fans after sleeping in their own beds, and it probably feels pretty good. It probably feels pretty good to have come back from the trip with five wins against only two losses as well, and with several of their rivals beginning to falter (San Antonio, Portland and Golden State all lost last night) the Clippers have a chance to start making up some serious ground. A win against the Wizards would leave them just a game behind Portland for third place in the West. That the Clippers have been making up ground in the standings while Chris Paul has been hurt is remarkable, but the team has played well, they're moving the ball, and Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick, DeAndre Jordan and Darren Collison have all been playing some of their best ball of this or any other season. The Wizards are not to be taken lightly, but if the Clippers can continue their red hot shooting, it shouldn't be a problem. If they struggle from the outside it could be a different story.
The Wizards have a lot of talent in their starting five. Consider that John Wall is a former first overall pick and will probably make his first All Star roster tomorrow; Bradley Beal earned one of the 28 spots in the USA basketball player pool; Trevor Ariza has a NBA championship to his name; and Nene and Marcin Gortat form one of the most imposing front lines in the NBA. The Wizards probably should be better than .500, but they are dangerous, and they did the Clippers a very big favor in knocking off Golden State last night. Whether they have enough left in the tank to now beat the Clippers as well remains to be seen.
- Comparison of key metrics. Washington is a good defensive team and a mediocre offensive team. With Beal back in the lineup (he missed 10 games earlier this season) the offensive should be getting better.
- Home record. They haven't been there in awhile so it hasn't done them much good lately, but the Clippers have the second best home record in the NBA and the best home record in the Western Conference. They are 18-3 and will look to improve on that tonight.
- Record versus East. After opening the season 3-5 against the East, the Clippers are 11-3 since then. Given the way the Western Conference has dominated the Eastern Conference this season, it only make sense, but it took a long time for the Clippers to begin to assert their dominance over the Least.
- Back-to-back. It's the best of both worlds for the Clippers. The Wizards hung on home loss on the Warriors in Oakland last night, and now they have to come into Los Angeles on no rest. Beating the Warriors and the Clippers in back to back road games would be quite an accomplishment for the Wizards if they can pull it off.
- Collison on Wall. Darren Collison is fast with the ball, but no one is faster with the ball than John Wall. Keeping Wall from going coast to coast for easy buckets will be a key to this game. Collison needs to make Wall work for his chances.
- Big bigs. In a league where fewer and fewer teams have one legitimately center-sized player, the Wizards have two in Nene and Gortat. Washington is one of the few NBA teams that isn't giving away size or strength to the Clippers in the starting lineup. In fact, the Wizards may go at Griffin with Nene, try to overpower him or draw some fouls.
- Otto Porter. The Wizards lottery pick, Otto Porter, was chosen third overall in the June draft. He missed the start of the season with a hip injury, and didn't make his NBA debut until December. However, although he's healthy, he can't crack the Washington rotation, having played just a little over 200 minutes this season.
- Three point shooting. Beal is hitting better than 40% from deep this season, Trevor Ariza has been deadly from the corner this season, and Martell Webster has been very good as well. Basically, the Wizards will have two wings who can really light it up on the court at all times and the Clippers will need to do a good job defending the three points line.
- Connections. Antawn Jamison had his most productive seasons in Washington, twice making the All Star team. 8,736 of his 20,006 career points were scored in a Wizards uniform. Trevor Ariza was a teammate of Chris Paul and Willie Green in New Orleans. Former Clipper Sam Cassell is a Wizards assistant coach.
- Get the Washington perspective at Bullets Forever.
- Shakespearean reference:
Comedy of Errors -- Act IV, Scene 4 -- Antipholus of Ephesus
Peace, doting wizard, peace! I am not mad.