Marcin Gortat, acquired by Washington from the Suns right before the start of the season, defends Dwyane Wade
When: 7:00 PM; Friday, November 8th, 2013
Where: Verizon Center; Washington, D.C.
TV: YES Network
Fresh off their first win of the season, a wire-to-wire 116-102 beatdown of the Philadelphia 76ers, the Washington Wizards take on your Brooklyn Nets with a bit of swagger after knocking off the surprise team of the beginning of this season.
Franchise point guard John Wall is finally 100 percent after suffering a brutal knee injury last year. The University of Kentucky product, who played under Coach Calipari in Lexington, now has some complementary weapons to work with in Washington and is clearly displaying how good he can be with ample support. Wall has been great so far this year, averaging 20.3 points and 8.8 assists per on 44% field goal shooting (and 42% three-point shooting).
A big addition to coach Randy Wittman's squad this offseason was Gortat, whom was picked up from Phoenix along with Shannon Brown, Malcolm Lee, and Kendall Marshall (all of whom were promptly released by Washington) in exchange for Emeka Okafor and a 1st-round pick. Gortat is a major double-double threat who, along with Nene, gives the Wizards a very formidable frontcourt tandem. It's not easy to guard both those guys simultaneously.
Washington is missing a few key players, though, as 3rd-overall pick out of hometown Georgetown University, Otto Porter, is still out with a hip injury that has precluded him from making his NBA debut. Also, key reserve forward Trevor Booker is day-to-day with a finger injury he was expected to return from on Wednesday, but didn't, making his status for tonight uncertain.
The Nets, on the other hand, are fully healthy and are actually looking to go above .500 for the first time this season. Tuesday's Brooklyn win over the Jazz, the first of Jason Kidd's coaching career, was a relatively easy one and evened up the Nets' record at 2-2. Obviously after disappointing losses to the Cavaliers and Magic, the wins column of that record looks to be lacking a little bit. However, Orlando beat the Clippers yesterday and are owners of a three-game winning streak, so that loss doesn't look as bad now.
Brooklyn still hasn't won a road game yet on the year, as both of its losses came away from the Barclays Center. Beating the Wizards, even with their iffy record and injury problems, is no slam-dunk, especially in our nation's capital. Washington is a very explosive team, as led by Wall, and is young too, with only two players older than 30. This means the Wizards' fast-paced, uptempo offense might be a problem for the more staid and conservative Nets, who like the slow the game down whenever possible.
Facing off against Randy Wittman's energetic bunch will be a nice challenge for Brooklyn, and will show if the Nets can adapt their play against teams that won't settle for a halfcourt-based battle. Not always will the Nets be able to keep a game going at their pace, so playing at different ones is occasionally necessary.
BKN- Deron Williams (PG), Joe Johnson (SG), Paul Pierce (SF), Kevin Garnett (PF), Brook Lopez (C)
WAS- John Wall (PG), Bradley Beal (SG), Trevor Ariza (SF), Nene (PF), Marcin Gortat (C)
The Nets can't keep losing to lesser opponents on the road if they want to be a high seed in the East. Their two mulligans (the Cleveland and Orlando games) have passed, so they need to really bring the energy tonight in Washington and get off to a good start. A major key for this matchup will be if Brooklyn can match Washington's early intensity so they don't have to waste game time climbing out of a big deficit.