The Scouting Report: at Washington Wizards
Projected starting line-up: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Paul Pierce, Nene Hilario, Marcin Gortat
After a wonderful start to the season and threatening for a while for a top seed, the Washington Wizards hit a midseason rough patch like many other teams in the Eastern Conference have.
The Wizards struggled for about a month and have just recently started to get some wins back under their belt. They’ve won three straight games although one comes with the asterisk of the Memphis Grizzlies resting their four best players in a nationally televised game last Thursday. The Wizards have been shaky at best, sitting in fifth in the Eastern Conference.
They finished fifth last season and it didn’t hold them back from winning a series and giving the Pacers a scare in the second round. Luckily for the Wizards, it looks like they ended their skid at the right time. However, the 6th seed Milwaukee Bucks find themselves just four games back of the fifth seed with a quarter of the season left to play. So, the Wizards aren’t guaranteed a return to the 4-5 match-up just yet.
The Wizards need this game, which could be said for all teams on this road trip, save for Orlando. The Blazers will need to take some big punches from the Wizards, much like they did Sunday against the Raptors. If they can survive the early flurries, Portland should be able to outlast them in the second half. However, there is also always the possibility that John Wall lights it up and Portland can’t handle him.
The way that the Blazers are playing right now, it’s tough for anybody to beat them. The Wizards’ level of play has seemed to decline recently while the Blazers are building towards a competitive playoff run.
The Wizards also might be saving themselves a bit, knowing they can survive. It’s the NBA’s dog days right now as the NCAA tournament takes center stage.
The Blazers beat the Wizards back in January in LaMarcus Aldridge’s first game after deciding to put off thumb surgery. The Blazers won a close one but they didn’t have Robin Lopez or Nic Batum.
Even though they had a low stress ending Sunday, playing a playoff team on the road on the second night of a back to back is no easy task.