Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
The Bobcats head to Washington to face a stingy Wizards team that doesn't like giving up points. The point guard matchup could be fun but the Wizards look to have a significant advantage inside.
The Washington Wizards come calling on Saturday and the Charlotte Bobcats will answer, because that is what the NBA schedule dictates. You see the Bobcats, and every team in the NBA, have to play the games laid out before them...you know what...you get it, you know NBA. Bobcats. Wizards. Basketball!
Perhaps the most interesting thing to watch in Washington is the emergence of rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal. Beal, prognosticated by some draft/college experts as the best choice in last year's draft, is starting to play as if he was just that. Since John Wall's return on January 7, Beal has steadily improved across the board.
January scoring averages of 15.1 points per game hit 17.5 in February and 21.5 thus far in March. Beal's field goal percentage, rebounds, and assists have all maxed out as his minutes have been increasing as well. Beal is playing like one of the best shooting guards in the East since the first of the year.
And make no mistake; having John Wall back in the lineup has made a lot of difference. The Wiz won all of four games before January then reeled off 15 since then. They're not exactly the San Antonio Spurs but they have made significant improvements since getting Wall back in the lineup.
One thing that has been steady for the Washington squad through most of the year has been its defense. The Wizards rank sixth in the league in opponents' points per game and defensive rating. They're a good defensive team with a pretty stout front line held down by former Charlotte Bobcat Emeka Okafor and veteran Nene.
Those two guys up front will most likely cause problems for Charlotte and its...ahem...patchwork post game.
The good news for Bobcats fans is that the Wizards don't score that well. As a matter of fact, the Washington NBA club ranks dead last in points per game (91.8) and offensive rating. And I think the Bobcats would all give a hearty "THANK YOU" for occupying that last spot. Unfortunately, the Bobcats only average one more point per game than the Wizards.
It should actually be fun to watch Kemba Walker go head-to-head with John Wall, although it sure looks like Kemba is exhausted. Or at least head coach Mike Dunlap thinks he's tired, or he just doesn't want to play him in blowouts like last night's loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
As a Bobcat fan, you really have to hope that you're not watching a lineup of Reggie Williams (to be fair, playing point because of Ramon Sessions' injury), Ben Gordon, Jeff Adrien, Jeff Taylor, and Bismack Biyombo/Josh McRoberts. (Would anyone argue with playing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist as much as possible at this point?)
The Bobcats played what amounted to an exhibition game (effort) last night against the Thunder and after a week on the west coast let's just hope to see something competitive.
This game is on the road, which doesn't feel like a great scenario. The Bobcats have pretty much split wins home and away (7/6), but the Wizards have much more success at home, winning 14 of their 19 in D.C. including wins against the Clippers, Knicks, Nets, Nuggets, Rockets. You watch that Washington crowd and it can get lively in there. (And if Steve Martin and Dell Curry want to study up on Wale beforehand I think it can only help.)
The Bobcats will have to play with more energy and efficiency than they have this week to get a win against the Wizards tonight. All of that sentence is as sad as it sounds.