The Nets really put the smack down on the Spurs Monday night, winning with ease, 101-85. They still hold the six seed as they look to capitalize on a stretch of games against a slew of average to below average opponents, starting with the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. Washington’s playoff hopes have dwindled significantly, and they head into this game with a 24-36 record and the losers of four straight. Their franchise point guard —and worst contract in the league— John Wall is out for the season, and the Nets should look to capitalize on some good old fashioned Wizards Incompetence. Let’s get into it.
Where To Follow The Game
YES and WFAN at 7:30 pm, ET
Spencer Dinwiddie (thumb) is out.
The Nets win against San Antonio was a real team effort, with D’Angelo Russell, Caris LeVert, and Joe Harris being the only players with double digit scoring numbers. The Nets defense looked like a strong and cohesive unit against San Antonio, and the best way to beat bad teams is with overwhelming defense. The Nets haven’t been a great defensive team this season, ranking 17th in Defensive Rating and 21st in opponent points per game. Washington scores the 8th most points per game in the league, so despite their record it’s going to take a solid performance to shut them down.
Bradley Beal is going to be an issue. Having a career year which is in no way a coincidence considering John Wall being out, he’s putting up 29.1 points, 6.5 assists, and 5.4 rebounds on 48/36/87 shooting over his last 22 games. He was also the last player chosen in the All Star Draft which is kind of funny. He’s dynamic and can get to the rim when he wants or knock down a three in anyone’s face. After him this roster begins to get a little dicey, but he has the potential to carry a team to a win on any given night.
This Wizards team traded Otto Porter for Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker, presumably to lighten their salary cap load going forward, but Bobby Portis might be pretty good! Not as good as Otto Porter, who is absolutely lighting it up in Chicago, but decent! Portis is scoring 15.8 points per game as a Wizard and looks a little unlocked. Both him and Porter needed to be in different situations in order to reach their next level of development, and this looks like one of those rare trades that might work out for both sides.
Has anyone else noticed Shabazz Napier is working on a stepback three? Every once in a while, usually on the wing, he’ll pull a James Harden-esque stepback attempt and sometimes it goes in! This isn’t the most surprising thing in the world, with Harden becoming basically unguardable when he takes a stepback three. Naturally guys around the league are going to see that, try it in the gym, and then bring it to a game. Napier happens to have a lot of balance and economy of movement in his physicality so it makes sense he’d be able to pick something like that up pretty quickly. I like it. That being said, Napier is shooting 36/25/75 over his last 5 games so maybe the results aren’t quite there quite yet. He needs a big game to get back on track and it wouldn’t be shocking if he was able to put up a big number against this Wizards team.
Allen Crabbe has returned basically the player he was when he left, shooting 41 percent from three and scoring 12.7 points per game. If there’s been a difference, or improvement, it’s with his overall field goal percentage which has been 47 percent in his seven games back. Prior to the injury he was shooting just 34 percent from the field and 38 percent from three which were well below what he needs to shoot in order to not only live up to that contract but just be a productive player in general. It is nice having another shooter out on the floor, this team is so close to being at full strength.
The Wizards have a bunch of weak spots in their roster, but maybe none more glaring than at center, where Thomas Bryant starts and basically no one backs him up. The only other healthy center they employ who is Ian Mahinmi, who doesn’t play, which leaves the Wizards to do Center-By-Committee with a bunch of undersized forwards. This is a game where Ed Davis and even Jarrett Allen should feast on the boards. Washington is 28th in the league in rebounding. One concern: Davis has become foul-prone. In February, he’s averaging 2.6 personals in 18 minutes. That’s almost double Allen’s numbers —2.7 personals in 28 minutes.
Player To Watch
I’m going to go with Tomas Satoransky for this one. The 6’7 point guard plays hard, has a high basketball IQ and is the kind of player good teams want to have. Since taking over the starting job he’s averaging 10.1 points and 5.3 assists while shooting 50/46/72 which is truly impressive. The guy barely misses, but he’s the kind of point guard who knows it’s more important to get his team involved than put up big numbers just for the sake of it. He’s 27, and a free agent at the end of the season, and it wouldn’t be surprising if more than a couple teams were interested in adding him to their roster.
The Nets enter the game as the six seed in the East, where they’ve sat for a month. They are seven games ahead of the Wizards. With the Knicks upsetting the Magic (and with the Nets holding the tiebreaker with Orlando), the Magic has dropped to ninth, four games back of the Nets.
The Pistons, winners of eight of their last ten, are inching up and are now a game and a half behind the Nets in seventh, a game and a half ahead of the Hornets. Charlotte is three games behind the Nets. And after three straight losses, Miami is now in tenth, four and a half behind Brooklyn.
From The Vault
The Grizzlies/Spurs playoff highlight I posted the other day sent me down a YouTube rabbit hole of old playoff series I loved watching and I found one of my favorites of all time. Celtics/Bulls 2009. Playoff Rondo, Kirk Hinrich, Brad Miller, triple overtime, fights, Ray Allen scoring 51 and wearing two shooting sleeves because the Bulls were scratching his arms, it’s an absolute classic.
For a different perspective, head on over to Bullets Forever, our Wizards sister site on SB Nation.