Game On: Washington Wizards at New Orleans Pelicans

Published: January 8, 2014

The Pelicans return home after playing about one half of basketball in Miami last night to take on the Wizards. The two teams enter tonight’s contest with similar records, as New Orleans (15-18) trails Washington (15-17) by just one game in the loss column. That being said, the Wizards have posted a 2-8 record vs. Western Conference teams this season, whereas the Pelicans are 8-4 against the Eastern Conference. Washington enters tonight’s game as winners of 6 out of their last 10 and a mostly healthy lineup, while New Orleans returns home after a 1-3 road trip and without key floor spacer Ryan Anderson as a result of his herniated disc.


What do the Wizards do well?

Washington is pretty good at hounding opposing ball-handlers, forcing opponents into turnovers on 16.6% of possessions (7th best in the NBA). They convert these turnovers into 17.9 points per game, also in the top third of the league. Additionally, not only do the Wizards score the 5th most fast break points in the league (16.1), but they also allow the 5th fewest fast break points per game to opponents (11.6). They are also tied with the Pelicans for 5th best 3 point percentage in the NBA (38.1%), and they attempt 4.5 more per game than New Orleans. Washington achieves this high percentage largely from their success in the corners, as they are in the top third of the league in both corner 3-point attempts and percentage.


What do the Wizards do poorly?

Washington doesn’t get to the line very often, drawing the fewest fouls in the league per game (18.4) and averaging .242 free throw attempts per field goal attempt (4th lowest in the NBA). Only the Knicks and Spurs make fewer free throws on average than the Wizards’ 15.3 per game. This can be partially explained by the fact that they average the 5th fewest second chance points per game (11.4) despite being right around the middle of the pack in offensive rebound rate. Unsurprisingly given all of this prior data, Washington has attempted the 4th fewest shots at the rim in the NBA this season (though they pick their spots wisely, shooting 63.7% for the season from that distance, 5th best in the league). Most importantly, though, Washington has attempted the 6th most mid-range jumpers in the league this year and make them at the 5th lowest rate.


How can the Pelicans take advantage?

  1. Protect the basketball and don’t allow the Wizards to get out in transition
  2. Bait the Wizards into attempting the mid-range shots that they love and are bad at shooting
  3. Chase the Wizards’ shooters out of the corners
  4. Avoid putting the Wizards into the bonus early


Let’s see if New Orleans can get back on track tonight with a very winnable home match-up. Enjoy the game, and go Pelicans!


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