The Washington Wizards (7-14) go up against the Los Angeles Clippers (16-7) for the second time this season. The 150-125 loss was the most points the Wizards have given up all season. This says a lot, considering how porous they’ve been defensively this year.
The Clippers are 8-2 in their last ten games, which has been good enough to move them up to 4th place in the brutally competitive Western Conference playoff race. The Wizards are 4-6 in their last ten, which leaves 12th in the Eastern Conference. Although, they are only one game removed from 9th place.
Defense should be the main priority for the Wizards going into this game. They’re going to have to come out aggressive and try not to give up so many points. The Wizards will need to communicate more on defense and prevent the Clippers from having so many open looks again.
The Clippers shot 55% from the field in the last game and 43% from the three-point line. The Wizards are going to have to be more aggressive in trying to prevent that from happening again.
Although it’s easier said than done, the Wizards need to better contain Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The duo combined for 65 points in the previous match-up between these teams.
Isaac Bonga has recently been reinserted into the starting lineup in the hope that his length will help defensively. I can think of no greater test for a young wing player than having to try to stop Leonard and George. Bonga has been a bit foul prone early in his career so I would expect to see Troy Brown Jr. getting plenty of chances to guard these two as well.
The largest lead the Wizards had in their previous game against the Clippers was 0. Considering how potent they have been this season, it says a lot about the defensive abilities of the Clippers.
Although they did what they could on the offensive end, they’ll have to ramp up their efforts to out-duel the Clippers this time around. More players are going to have to help out and contribute.
In the previous match-up, only Hachimura (30), Beal (23), Bertans (20), and Thomas (16) scored in double figures. Thomas will miss this game with a calf strain, making it equally important for others to step up.
What to expect
Given the devastating offensive and defensive potential of the Clippers, it seems like an extremely uphill battle for the Wizards. To come away with a victory, they will have to play with their recently upgraded defensive intensity and shoot an extremely high percentage.
Bradley Beal’s performance will likely decide the outcome of this game. He was not his usual dominant self against the Heat, and the Wizards can’t afford another lackluster game from him if they hope to have a chance in this one.
The Clippers will be looking to redeem themselves coming off of a bad loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. However, they will still lack depth due to injuries. Rodney McGruder and Landry Shamet will not be available. JaMychal Green is questionable with a tailbone injury.
The Wizards will go into this game missing a few players again due to injuries. Thomas Bryant, Jordan McRae, C.J. Miles, Isaiah Thomas, and John Wall will be sitting out.