The Washington Wizards will defend homecourt tonight as they host Deron Williams and the New Jersey Nets. Nets starting center Brook Lopez will miss at least a month or two due to a broken right foot, which may give Andray Blatche and the Wizards an advantage inside the paint. Can the Wizards kick-off their 2011-12 season with a win at home?
Blatche set three career-highs against the New Jersey Nets in 2009-10. He scored a career-high 30 points off the bench in a home opener victory, topped his career-best with 36 on the road, then set the table with a career-high 13 assists as the Wizards defeated the Nets in their fourth and final meeting of the season (for a perfect 4-0 season series sweep).
While ‘Dray continued to contribute over the course of 2010-11, his efforts were muffled. He suffered a broken foot over the summer and had trouble dealing with double-team traps once the season began, which led to other injuries. Washington beat New Jersey 2-1 in their season series, but Blatche played in only one of the three games, in which forward Rashard Lewis carried the weight. The other win belonged to the will of John Wall, who led the Wizards back from a 17-point deficit at home.
While Wall will have a tough, physically demanding challenge against Williams tonight–an important battle at that–Blatche should be able to return to his 2009 form. The Wizards need a healthy ‘Dray to even think about a postseason, and after an efficient preseason he should be ready to go.
The Williamses are Coming
Washington will face New Jersey three times this season. After tonight’s game the Wizards will visit the Nets in March and April. By then, Lopez might be back to health. For now, Washington will need to focus on stopping Williams–at least one or two of them.
The New Jersey roster currently boasts four different players with the last name “Williams”: Deron, Maryland rookie Jordan, Shawne, and Sheldon. Expect plenty of Sha/She dictation on Twitter tonight, should all of the Williamses play.
New Faces in New Jersey
Former Wizard and NBA Champion (Dallas Mavericks) DeShawn Stevenson and former Utah Jazz fixture and one-time Williams (Deron) teammate Mehmet Okur may trouble the Wizards tonight with their outside range. Okur can also change plans inside the paint with his stature and size, but Washington’s fast-footed frontcourt should be able to get around him with ease.
For more on the Nets visit New Jersey Nets Examiner Gregory Hrinya.
Time: 7:00 p.m ET
TV: Comcast SportsNet/NBALP
NBA League Pass will have a free, Internet-only preview through January 8th, 2012. All you have to do is create an account and have access to a high speed Internet access.
Wizards: Jan Vesely, Hip (Questionable)
Nets: Brook Lopez, Foot (Out); Jordan Williams, Dehydration (Out)
Keep in mind Vesely missed Washington’s preseason game at Philadelphia last Tuesday due to a sore hip, and according to Wizards Insider, Vesely does not look like he will play tonight. Will have more via Twitter prior to tip-off.
Hope everyone had a great Christmas!
– Wizards help out on Christmas (Gallery)
– D.C. Bog’s look at Christmas
– Christmas Day Game Results