We had a full preview yesterday for the Spurs game. That was disappointing, huh? Anyway, I've got matchups but they'll be quick.
The Wizards are flying high, winners of their last two games. At 21-8, they have the same record as the Rockets. They started the season without Beal and have played through stretches without Nene and Drew Gooden and Martell Webster is out right now but otherwise they've stayed fairly healthy. They're a fun exciting team with an MVP candidate at point guard.
Last season, the Rockets had big leads and blew both before coming from behind to win late. In Washington there was a leaky roof that turned the game into a funky affair. In Houston Trevor Ariza hit 37 straight threes (all stats approximate) to give Washington the lead. Harden hit a game-winning layup to give Houston the win in that one.
Schedule breakdown: Rockets played the Spurs last night and the Wizards last played the Celtics on Saturday. The Rockets have now gone over a month without getting a team on a back-to-back. This is their fifth in that time frame. Kind of sucks, huh? I know many will say "That's no excuse. They're an NBA team and rest is unimportant because they get paid millions to dress in a costume and play a game." You're right, but Washington gets paid too. They get paid to rest and prepare for a team that has to play the night before. Back-to-backs are struggles for every team and there's proof in the records.
Tip off is at 7pm CST
Point Guard: Patrick Beverley vs. John Wall
John Wall is leading the East guards in All-Star votes, and for good reason. He's really quick and he's an excellent passer. He runs the Wizards and right now they're purring like a Lotus. His ability to create fast breaks out of thin air is incredible. He's averaging 18/10 and should be in the MVP conversation.
The Wizards are fourth in the league in assists, and teams that can pass have a tendency to pass even better against Houston.
Shooting Guard: James Harden vs. Bradley Beal
Harden didn't look like himself last night. Bradley Beal is yet another SG that can hit 3 after 3 after 3 against the Rockets. So if you thought Danny Green and Marco Belinelli were done, Beal is shooting 46% right now. From 3. So yeah...
Small Forward: Trevor Ariza vs. Paul Pierce
The Wizards let Ariza go in free agency but grabbed Paul Pierce for a cheaper price. For his part "The Truth" has been shooting worse than his career numbers and worse than he did with the Nets last year.
The trade off is that he'll be fresh for the playoffs and able to create his own offense if the occasion ever calls for it.
Ariza gets the nod here because his defense is much better than Pierce's. I would love to see him find his stroke from distance though.
Power Forward: Josh Smith vs. Nene
I like the move of D-Mo to bench so long as the team runs through him when he comes in. Otherwise, what's the point?
Smith vs. Nene should be a good matchup. Nene is two inches taller and 25 pounds heavier than Smith, who's more athletic. Nene can hit jumpers and Houston has had trouble with jump-shooting power forwards all season. The Grizzlies didn't have anyone that could punish Houston and neither did the Spurs for the most part. Tonight Smith will give us a peak at how he'll be able (or unable) to guard the elite power forwards that the Rockets are likely to see come playoff time.
Center: Dwight Howard vs. Marcin Gortat
Former teammates in Orlando, Gortat and Howard go at it again.
Howard had the better of the matchups last year, averaging 23.5p/11.5r while Gortat averaged 5.5p/5.5r and 5 fouls per game.
Rockets: Propeller Plane, Donatas Motiejunas, Corey Brewer, Joey Dorsey
Wizards: Kris Humphries, Otto Porter Jr., Rasual Butler, Kevin Seraphin, Andre Miller
Wizards vs Rockets coverage