Jim Mancari, SNYNets.com
When the Nets and Wizards met on Jan. 4, Washington was a paltry 4-26 – the worst record in the NBA.
The Wizards got off to an ice-cold start without their only superstar player John Wall. Against the Nets, not only did Wall miss the game, but Trevor Ariza, A.J. Price and Trevor Booker also were sidelined.
Yet, despite those circumstances, the Nets needed double overtime to earn a 115-113 road win.
With the Nets not exactly playing great basketball of late, tonight’s game in Washington could be a challenge for Brooklyn.
Wall has returned, and the once hapless Wizards are now 8-7 in games he’s played, including a 106-96 statement win Wednesday at home against the New York Knicks.
He scored 21 points in the game and dished out nine assists. Ariza, who has also returned from injury since the first Nets’ game, finished with 20 points off the bench.
The Nets have shown this season that they struggle against fast point guards this season. The following all had big games against Brooklyn: Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Brandon Jennings, Mo Williams, Rajon Rondo before his injury, Tony Parker, Jeff Teague, Devin Harris and Jeremy Lin.
Wall fits right into the category with these speedy guards that can attack the paint.
“I’d like us to be quicker,” Nets coach P.J. Carlesimo said before the Nets’ win last Friday over the Bulls in anticpication to face another speedy guard, Nate Robinson. “Little tiny guards are a problem. We play better against half court teams than up-and-down teams.”
The Wizards fit into the up-and-down category, using Wall’s speed to create fast break opportunities. Like many of the above-mentioned guards that gave the Nets fits, Wall can also be physical in a half court setting.
This is where Brook Lopez needs to be a force defensively in the paint tonight. He again found himself on the bench for much of the fourth quarter Wednesday night, as he had trouble stopping Pistons’ center Greg Monroe in the paint.
Wall will try to get to the hoop, but if Lopez contests his shots, Wall will be forced to kick the ball out to his teammates, who are far less offensive threats than the point guard.
The Wizards have shown they are a different team with Wall, and they’re likely to put up a strong fight tonight in our nation’s capital.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.