Game On: Wizards-Pacers preview

Game On: Wizards-Pacers preview
January 9, 2014, 7:30 pm
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Gary Williams weighs in on Wizards and Otto Porter

Washington Wizards point guard John Wall (2) defends against Indiana Pacers point guard George Hill (3) during the second quarter of the game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

(Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports)

The good news is that the Wizards can get back to .500 for the third time this season with a win Friday. The bad news is they'll have to accomplish the feat against the best team in the East.

TV: Wizards Central pregame show on CSN at 6:30 p.m. ET; followed by tip-off from Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Wizards Postgame Live immediately afterward. Radio: 1500 AM. 

Last game: Wizards (16-17) won at the New Orleans Pelicans 102-96 on Wednesday; Pacers (28-7) lost at the Atlanta Hawks 97-87 on Wednesday.

Last meeting: At home, Pacers won 93-73 on Nov. 29, holding the Wizards to no fast-break points after being first in the NBA with 18.6 at that point. 

Projected starting lineups: Wizards –- PG John Wall, SG Bradley Beal, SF Trevor Ariza, PF Trevor Booker, C Marcin Gortat. Pacers –- PG George Hill, SG Paul George, SF Danny Granger, PF David West, C Roy Hibbert.

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Entry passes: 1). Gortat's defense on Hibbert, who had just two points in Atlanta, was excellent as he held him without a field goal in the first half. 2). Nene didn't play the first time because of a foot injury. 3). Granger didn't play, either. 4). Jan Vesely and Garrett Temple have to offset the energy Lance Stephenson brings off the bench for Indiana. 5). Ariza's outside shot hasn't been consistent though he made a key three-pointer to put away New Orleans. 

X-factors:  Beal and Nene still are playing with time restrictions. ... Booker has to be a force in the paint, getting second-chance points, to be effective. ... Foul shooting has to be better. Took 26 attempts in New Orleans but only made 16, or 61.5%. 

He said it: “Our energy. We're a lot more focused. We come out a lot more aggressive on both ends of the floor." -- Beal on why they've won six of seven road games

Around the bend: The Wizards will return to D.C. immediately after the game and play the Houston Rockets at Verizon Center on Saturday (CSN, 7 p.m. ET).