How to view/listen :
Saturday, December 9 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Staples Center in Los Angeles, California
TV: NBC Sports Washington / Radio: 1500 AM
Wizards: John Wall (Out, Knee), Sheldon Mac (Out, Achilles)
Clippers: Blake Griffin (Out, Knee), Milos Teodosic (Out, Foot), Patrick Beverley(Out, Knee)
Keep an eye on:
Brad Beals scoring excellence. Since the Wizards ugly loss to the Jazz, Beal has been on a rampage not seen from a Washington player since the Gilbert Arenas days. Beal is averaging 42.5 points on 34-59 shooting from the field (57%) and 6-17 from deep (35%) over the last two games, both wins. Obviously with Wall out, Beal must carry more of the scoring load which he's doing and must continue to do. With Clippers defensive standout guard Patrick Beverley out, expect Beal to continue his hot streak although a battle with an old Nike EYBL nemesis in Austin Rivers could impact that a bit.
Strong bench play continuing. Bench is averaging 36.5 points during the Wizards current win streak which is great production while on the road. Oubre continues to shine averaging 13 points and 4.5 rebounds with Mike Scott adding 9 points a game as well during the winning streak. They've become two of the more reliable players off the bench, impacting the game offensively and being more than adequate defenders as well. Last seasons weakness has become a strength for Washington.
Consistent play from Starters not named Beal. Against the Blazers, Washington's front court shot a combined 5-24 from the field. Against the Suns, Markieff broke out with 21 points on 8-12 shooting but Otto Porter Jr and Marcin Gortat shot 4 for 15, combined. That has to change, and LA may be the perfect remedy to help Porter and Gortat get back in rhythm. Clippers are giving up 114.8 points a game since losing Blake Griffin to injury so the opportunities will be there, especially forcing DeAndre Jordan out on the perimeter in pick and roll situations. Danillo Galinari has never been an ideal defender, Montrezl Harrell and Wesley Johnson are both athletic forwards that look to disrupt opponents through hustle plays but have trouble switching defensive assignments, so Washington's starting front court has a clear edge and should produce offensively. Stay tuned.
DEFENSE: What's held Washington back is overall defense. Wizards are 11-2 on the season when they hold opponents under 100 points. 3-9 when they allow more. Simple right? Only if it were. Opponents are shooting 45 percent from the field and averaging 103.6 points per game. When the Wizards defend, they're among the best teams in the league. When they don't, they're mediocre which their current record reflects. Clippers average 105 a game, so the Wizards should be able to lock in tonight and control what LA does. It's attention to detail night in and night out that the Wizards must have if they are to legitimately challenge the Celtics, Cavs, Warriors, Rockets and Spurs for league supremacy. Time will tell if they're ready.