Jan 25, 2014; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat (4) and Washington Wizards small forward Trevor Ariza (1) try and block out Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter (0) during the fourth quarter at EnergySolutions Arena. Utah Jazz won the game 104-101. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Wizards: The Week Ahead

Last week did not end how the Washington Wizards would have liked.  With their seventh chance of the season to get over the .500 mark, they laid an egg.  The Wizards lost to the Utah Jazz in Salt lake City 104-101.  The Wizards had multiple opportunities down the stretch to win the game, but they just did not execute against the worst team in the Western Conference.  If they thought, the Jazz game was a battle, their upcoming week is going to be a war.

The Wizards will end their mini four-game West Coast trip this week against the Golden State Warriors Tuesday night and the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday.  After facing two contenders out West the Wizards will then face off against the scorching hot Oklahoma City Thunder in D.C. Saturday.

The Wizards cannot look ahead to trying to stop Kevin Durant as they must first face the high-powered Warriors.  In this matchup, defense must be the priority. The Warriors are loaded all over the court with talented players.  It starts at the top for them with Stephen Curry.  Their do-it-all point guard is the most lethal shooter in the league and can get 30 points on any given night.  John Wall will be matched up against Curry and it is a big opportunity for Wall to make a statement to the rest of the league.

Wall was slighted twice in the last week.  He was not chosen for the 28-man roster for USA Basketball while players who seemed less deserving were selected.  In addition to not being selected to the pool for Team USA, Wall was not selected as the starting point guard for the Eastern Conference All-Star squad.  It seems to be a consensus that Wall should be the point guard over Kyrie Irving, but the fans did not seem to agree.  He will still make the All-Star Game as a reserve (if not, then I don’t know what you have to do to make it).  This should put a chip on Wall’s shoulder and if he wants to prove to the league he is one of the top point guards in the league, tonight is chance to shine against Curry, who is arguably the best point guard currently playing.  The Wizards need Wall to come out with a ton of energy and get after Curry defensively to set the tone for this game.  It will be fun to see these players duel.

Mar 5, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots a layup against Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) during the second half at the Verizon Center. The Warriors defeated the Wizards 120 – 100. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Wizards travel to the Staples Center Wednesday night where they will face one of the hottest teams in the league.  The Clippers are 8-2 in their last 10 games.  They have done this without star point guard Chris Paul, who is out with a shoulder injury.  But make no mistake, they are still an explosive team without their leader.  It starts on the block for the Clippers.  Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan form one of the league’s best 4-5 combos.  The super athletic duo dominates the game above the rim.  Wizards big men Marcin Gortat and Nene are not known for their athleticism so they must use their strength and thoughness to beat the Clipper big men to spots on the court.  The Wizards must contain those bigs as well as the Clippers transition attack if they want to come away with a win.

Dec 14, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin (32) dribbles the ball as Washington Wizards power forward Trevor Booker (35) defends in the third quarter at Verizon Center. The Clippers won 113-97. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

To end the week, the Slim Reaper comes to town along with the rest of his team, who have rallied off eight straight wins at this point.  Kevin Durant has been absolutely filthy as of late.  He has scored 30+ points in his last 11 games and has shown no sign of cooling off anytime soon.  So, Wizards, lets face it, you are not stopping Durant on Saturday.  It’s just not happening, especially because the Wizards do not have anyone who can even slow down Durant (Does anyone, though?).  The key to this game will be stopping his supporting cast.  The Wizards cannot let guys like Reggie Jackson, Serge Ibaka, and Jeremy lamb have big games.  I really think the Wizards best chance will be letting Durant get his, but slowing down everyone else.  All those players are capable of getting 20-plus points if given the chance and if that happens coupled with Durant’s 30-plus points, you have no chance.  It will be exciting as Durant comes back to his hometown in front of what should be a electric Verizon Center crowd and see if the Wizards can slow down his current tear.

Mar 27, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) handles the ball against Washington Wizards center Emeka Okafor (50) during the second half at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

It is going to be a tough week.  These are three teams who will have a shot at an NBA title as the year continues.  Realistically, winning one of these games would be ideal.  But playing well and not getting run out of the gym will be most important for the Wizards confidence moving forward.

 

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