To talk about tonight's game I got in contact with our good friends over at Bullets Forever and Thomas Pruitt was more than happy to answer some questions for us.
Tonight is arguably the biggest game of the season for these two teams. Who other than John Wall needs to step up for the Wizards tonight? Who on the Bobcats do you think needs to be shut down?
Bradley Beal needs to have a big game tonight. He's had his ups and downs against the Bobcats, with Henderson's length tending to throw off his jump shot (random Bradley Beal fact: He might be the best shooter in the NBA when he's open but he's really bad when his shot is contested). If Beal can slip free for a few threes and get his jumper falling when he comes off screens, Washington will have someone who can score other than Wall and Gortat. If not, well, get ready to watch John Wall jack up 20 jump shots on the way to a big night while Washington goes down in defeat.
The injury to Nene Hilario was a massive blow to the Wizards when they were playing some of their best ball. Even so, the Wizards have managed to maintain their composure and win basketball games. What are they doing to play so well without Nene?
They actually usually suck with Nene out. What's been different this time is that Al Harrington came back from injury to play competent minutes, Drew Gooden can't miss a jump shot and Andre Miller is running the show as well as any backup point guard in the NBA. All of these guys were acquired for basically nothing and started playing right when Nene went down. If they hadn't been able to step up like they have, Washington might not even be in the playoffs. Nene's still their best post defender and, believe it or not, after Wall their best playmaker. If the team's offense tends to stall and Jefferson goes off for 25 tonight, Nene's absence will be why.
How has Bradley Beal been in his second season? Is he the impact player the Wizards were hoping he would be? What's his role with the team?
Beal's a bit like MKG in that he's struggled a bit in his second year but is so young that there's a very good chance he turns it around. He's a great three point shooter and gets better as a playmaker almost every game. The problem is that he's too small to be a great defender and take waaaaaay too many midrange jumpers. Granted, some of that is by design, as Randy Wittman draws up a lot of plays that end with Beal taking a jumper - personally, I believe this is simply to keep him involved in the offense since he can't create much off the dribble - but Beal should be better than he has been. Keep an eye on him going forward, though. He's a lights out shooter and more athletic than people give him credit for, and players like that tend to figure it out eventually.
Lets say both teams decide they would rather play the Pacers than the Raptors in the first round. For the sake of fun, imagine both teams are actively trying to tank the game but not make it obvious they're tanking. Can you think of how that would look? I'm thinking Al Jefferson is shooting threes and John Wall decides to shoot 40 times for the hell of it.
I would pay money to see Big Al start jacking threes. No, what we need to see is point center Bismack Biyombo as the ball handler throwing lobs out of the pick and roll to Kemba. Where's Nellie when you need him?
Thank you to Thomas for answering our questions! You can find him on twitter @TheRealTPruitt and be sure to check out Bullets Forever for all of your Wizards news and needs!