Just as was the case when the Miami Heat had the Big Three with LeBron James would come to Verizon Center, tonight's game with the Golden State Warriors will have a similar atmosphere. The Wizards likely will feel like the road team on their own floor (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 7 p.m. ET).
"It’s kind of like when I was at Kentucky. We were everybody’s Super Bowl," Wizards point guard John Wall said of playing Golden State, last season's NBA champion that will enter 44-4 with the electrifying Stephen Curry. "Everybody want to go out there and try to defeat them. They’re a team that comes with a lot of focus. They understand the task at hand."
The Wizards (21-25) have lost eight of the last nine meetings. The gold standard of pace-and-space, the Warriors only have lost on the road -- at the Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets and Detroit Pistons.
The key, it appears, is to prevent the second-chance opportunities that killed the Wizards in Monday's 114-98 loss at the Oklahoma City Thunder. There, they were pounded 53-27 on the boards. Eighteen of the Thunder's points came from second chances.
Golden State is a combined minus-30 rebounding in their four losses, being dominated by double-digit margins in three of those games.
"When they miss shots, we got to go and get the rebounds," Wall said. "When you play a team like Golden State every time they get an offensive rebound they’re looking to kick it out to the shooters.
"They’re a beatable team. Every team is beatable in this league. Teams have gone to Golden State and played well against them. We’ve just got to take things away from them which is easier said than done when you get on the court. If we get them to take tough shots and they have an off night we got to be able to clean up those boards."
The Warriors have shooters everywhere. They switch everything on pick-and-rolls, a luxury of having Draymond Green who can defend post players and the likes of Wall. Showing them the same looks defensively won't work. The Wizards will have to mix up coverages to keep them off balance.
"You’re not going to keep nobody from getting open looks the whole 48 minutes. I don’t care who you are. The main point is defensively. We have to defend with pride," Wall said. "We know they want to take a lot of threes but also they finish in the paint. They’re not just guys that always spot up and shoot. They can make plays off the dribble and that’s what makes them tough to defend. You just got to try to make other guys make plays."