13 is a scary and unlucky number according to common culture. The Wizards season has also been somewhat scary and unlucky. But after a positive week, and a four game winning streak ending against the Celtics, things seem to be heading in the right direction. The Wizards managed 14-point road wins in Chicago and Indiana last week, and were happy to see the return of guard Bradley Beal to the lineup on Wednesday against Milwaukee. In Friday’s game against the Pacers he lit up the box score for 22 points in 22 minutes on 15 shots. At this point in his recovery the Wizards staff is being cautious in their approach and opted to rest Beal for Saturdays game against Boston. John Wall did all he could to help the team come out victorious, posting a stat line never before seen in the NBA.
Unfortunately, Washington came up two points short in the end, but lucky for the Wizards, they have another chance against Boston at home on Monday, January 25th, and they only have two more sets of back-to-backs before the All-Star break in a month. Things seem to be coming together at the right time. Lets see if it can stick.
As it’s the 13th week we’re going to take a look at 13 of the most frighteningly bad plays of the season.
NBA Fright Night
This Week’s Matchups
Monday vs. Trail Blazers (18-25)
A matinée MLK day game in D.C. looms first for the WizKids. They face the young and new look Trail Blazers. Heavily advertised this offseason, Portland lost four its five starters, and its sixth man. Point guard Damian Lillard still runs the ship, and has been joined this year by Most Improved Player of the Year front-runner CJ McCollum. The league’s third highest scoring duo, averaging 45.1, has averaged over 38 shot attempts and 5.5 three point makes per game. Portland has been a surprisingly intriguing team because of these two, and finds itself in 10th place in the Western Conference, only 1.5 games behind the Jazz, who come to town on Saturday.
The Blazers have been recently inconsistent in this season, beating Cleveland by 29 three weeks ago, and losing to Philadelphia by 25 last Saturday. Additionally, the team is 10-9 at home but 8-16 on the road. Their frontcourt while talented, is extremely young, which gives Washington an area to exploit in what should be a very fast paced game. The 2pm ET tip will probably lead to a slow start for both sides, but as the game plays out, expect points to come in bunches as both teams are in the top half of the league in offensive rating.
Beal is available (and gonna make it reign) and will play, while Humphries, Porter, Anderson, and Gooden will sit.
The NBA has made a habit of having Washington play on MLK day, and the Wizards have won 5 of the last 6, 4 of 5 with Wall, and are 2-0 against Portland on the holiday.
Side Note: Damian Lillard is dropping his first music video on TNT Monday, and he’s shown great rapping skills before.
Wednesday vs. Heat (23-18)
Division rival Miami comes to town on hump day and Washington this is game 3 of 4 meetings on the season. Each team has won on the other’s floor, but this go around Miami may be without point guard Goran Dragic who is nursing a strained calf. The teams last played at Verizon on January 3rd and the Heat won 97-75. The shortcomings for the Wiz included a seven point 2nd quarter which Washington could never recover from, 34% shooting for the day, including 4-30 (13.3%) shooting 3, and only 13 free throw attempts. Gary Neal and Bradley Beal didn’t play in this game so the shooting numbers should improve in this meeting.
Although Miami is about average on offense, they’ve gotten by on a top 7 defensive unit and the absurd talents of Hassan Whiteside, when he comes to play.
Star Dwayne Wade returned Saturday in Oklahoma City after missing Friday’s game against the Nuggets with sore shoulders. Wade should be available on Wednesday, but as always his status will require monitoring. John Wall has only two turnovers in the two games against Miami this year, and if he can keep those numbers low this game, the team should have a great chance with all its key player (minus Otto) available. Interestingly, though the NBA told Wall he can no longer pay assistant coach Howard Eisley when he has 3 or more turnovers in a game. Hopefully, that isn’t a reason for the recent uptick in turnovers, as he’s averaging 4.8 turnovers per game in January.
Saturday vs. Jazz (18-22)
The Return of the King! Or Trevor Booker that is. Cook Book and the 8th place Jazz come to DC on Saturday in the last game of a four-game road trip. The team is expecting to get borderline All-Star Derrick Favors back from injury at some point this week, but having missed 13 straight games his minutes and production should be limited. Instead the team will continue to lead on forward Gordan Hayward, guard Rodney Hood, and center Rudy Gobert. All three have been key to the team’s success this season, but second year Dukie Hood has been especially of note. Averaging 13.2 points on the season, Hood is averaging 17 points in 8 January games, and is shooting 49% from 3 on 5.6 attempts per game this month. With the team’s struggling point guard play, 6’8″ Hood and 6’8″ Hayward have done most of the ball handling this year, and will create matchup difficulties for Washington with their mix of shooting, driving, and height.
As this is the last game of their road trip it’s possible Utah looks ahead as they’ll play the next 6 games at home, where they are 12-9 on the season (vs. 6-13 on the road). This will be the second leg of a back to back after playing in Brooklyn on Friday night, but Utah is 5-4 on the second leg of back-to-back, so maybe this won’t be an issue for them. Lastly, for Washington, the starters last year were around their averages in the two meetings last year, except for Gortat who posted averages of 6 points and 8.5 rebounds against Utah. Hopefully Wall and Randy come out looking to get Marcin going and make him comfortable against one of the better rim protectors in Rudy Gobert.
Side Note: Jazz head coach Quinn Snyder looks like a villain.
Spurs 7’3″ center Boban Marjanović is one scary dude.