By Cardell Dudley
Wizards (14-13) vs Grizzlies (8-19)
When: Wednesday, December 12 at 7 p.m.
Where: Capital One Arena in Washington D.C.
TV: NBC Sports Washington / Radio: 1500 AM
Wizards: John Wall (Probable, Knee), Sheldon Mac (Out, Achilles)
Grizzlies : Mike Conley (Out, Achilles), Wayne Selden (Out, Quadricep), Brandan Wright (Out, Groin)
The Wizards finished 2-3 on their five game road trip following last night’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets 103-98, their second straight loss to teams with losing records. During their two game losing streak, the Wizards gave up a 108 points per game.
Washington’s bench led by the hot Mike Scott, is averaging 41.7 points over the last nine games. Scott has shot 21-26 (80%) from the field over the last four games.
106.1 points per game
104 points against
45.1 Field goal %
97.6 points per game
101.8 points against
44.6 field goal %
What to keep an eye on
Better impact from the WIzard’s front court: Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat combined for 11 points and gave up a combined 28 points to Rondae Hollis Jefferson and Tyler Zeller in Washington’s loss to Brooklyn. This is on the heels of Morris and Gortat combining for 11 points and 9 rebounds against the Clippers, yet, allowing Danilo Gallinari to score 25 points and Deandre Jordan to grab 17 rebounds. This has to change if the Wizards are to get on a winning streak. Their play has been so erratic, that Brooks has been finishing games with Jason Smith and Mike Scott. Wall’s probabe return should help them offensively with his ability to get them easy baskets. Defensively, they have to take it personal and make a stand. Both are talented enough to compete with any front court in the league, and are veterans, no reason why they should have performances like they have had, in the last two games. They face a good test once again in Gasol, lets see how they respond.
Possible return of John Wall: Obviously, having Wall would’ve made a big difference for the Wizards on this road trip, you don’t find 20 point, 9 assist, 3 rebound nearly 2 steals for his career players walking down the street. Washington went 4-5 while Wall recovered from severe knee inflammation. If he’s healthy enough to return tonight, he should provide a much needed jolt to the Wizards who need it. His ability to create for others and put pressure on opponents in the half court and in transition has been sorely missed due to the inconsistent offense from some of the Wizards starters.
Containment of Marc Gasol and Tyreke Evans: Everything Memphis does offensively, flows through Gasol and Evans. Gasol although not quite having the season he did during his all star 16-17 season, he’s still averaging 19 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.2 assist a game. This means the Wizards defense will have to be locked in, due to Gasol’s ability to not only get his but make the others around him better. Evans is quietly having a resurgent season right now. After an injury plagued career, the former lottery pick is picking up where he left off during his outstanding rookie season. Evans is averaging 18.2 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assist on 47 percent shooting from the field, 40 percent shooting from deep and 77 percent shooting from the line, making this easily his best season as a pro, due to his efficiency shooting the ball. If Washington slow them down, it should be a smooth path to victory, although as you can see, that’s easier said then done.