Wizards

Seattle's big CBs face challenge in Atlanta's WRs

201301091856681828740-p2.jpeg

Seattle's big CBs face challenge in Atlanta's WRs

RENTON, Wash. (AP) Taken individually, Roddy White and Julio Jones rank among the NFL's elite at wide receiver.

As a tandem, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman doesn't know if there is a better duo.

``As a tandem, they're probably the top tandem out there,'' Sherman said. ``It's going to be a tough matchup for us, but it's fun to play against good players.''

Sunday's NFC divisional playoff game between Seattle and Atlanta will feature a fascinating matchup between Sherman and fellow Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner and the Falcons' receiving duo of White and Jones.

It's the big, physical cornerbacks of the Seahawks, who because of their skills allow Seattle's defense to be unique, against the big, physical and fast receivers who make the Falcons' offense go.

``I expect our guys to try to play like they always play. They don't need to change anything because we're not doing anything different, we're going to try and hang with them, and we'll find out what happens,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ``This is probably the best pair and pair that you could match up, and because of the size, and because of their physical nature in the way that they play, it's going to be really exciting to see.''

While neither was the Falcons' leading receiver - that honor went to tight end Tony Gonzalez - White and Jones are coming off excellent regular seasons. White had more catches with 92 versus Jones' 79. Jones caught more touchdowns with 10, compared to White's seven. They combined for more than 2,500 yards receiving.

But Browner and Sherman were stars on the defensive side. They combined for 11 interceptions - despite Browner missing four games due to suspension - and 30 passes defensed, with 24 of those by Sherman.

Whoever wins those matchups likely won't be the most important element in Sunday's game. But it could be the most entertaining.

``Everybody is talking about it,'' Atlanta center Todd McClure said. ``They've got good corners. We've got good receivers. I think when you look back on this game Sunday afternoon, whoever wins that matchup will probably be successful on the field. There's a lot more to it, but I think that will be one deciding factor.''

The size of Seattle's cornerbacks - Sherman is 6-foot-3 and Browner is 6-4 - makes for a rare occasion where White and Jones don't possess a major advantage. White goes 6-foot, while Jones is 6-foot-3. The length the two cornerbacks present makes it tougher to find throwing windows and requires more trust between quarterback and receiver.

``Roddy is more crafty of a route runner. He uses different tricks and things. You can see he's a veteran when he's route running,'' Sherman said. ``Julio runs hard routes and plays the game more physical, I think. He's stronger in his routes, he uses his body more.''

Seeing strong, physical wide receivers won't be new for Browner and Sherman. They played against Larry Fitzgerald twice this season and also faced Chicago's Brandon Marshall, Detroit's Calvin Johnson and Dallas' Dez Bryant. Marshall had the biggest day with 10 catches for 165 yards, but Johnson (three catches, 45 yards), Bryant (three, 17 yards) and Fitzgerald (five, 65 yards in two games) were all held in check.

They also have a little bit of experience against Jones and White. The Falcons played at Seattle in Week 4 of 2011. At that time, Sherman was a backup used only when Seattle went to six defensive backs. Jones was clearly the favorite target of quarterback Matt Ryan that day, making 11 receptions and 127 yards.

There are plenty of other concerns for the Seahawks defense, starting with Gonzalez and the versatility of Jacquizz Rodgers out of the backfield. But the skill-position showdown on the outside will be worth keeping an eye on.

``You just have to be accurate with the football and trust in the guys that we have,'' Ryan said. ``We have big, physical wide receivers, as well. You have to trust that they're going to win on their routes.''

---

AP Sports Writer Charles Odum in Flowery Branch, Ga., contributed to this report.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Wizards at Heat Game: TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

Wizards at Heat Game: TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

Thursday’s 119-113 victory over the 76ers was by far the best victory the Wizards have had this season.

Davis Bertans was hot shooting 7-for-10 from three. He even set a career high of 25 points in 27 minutes.  

Miami, on the hand struggled Wednesday night and fell short to Boston 112-93. 

Who will get the victory Friday ngiht? Tune in to find out. 

WIZARDS at HEAT HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards at Heat, Game 21

Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL

When: Friday, December 6, at 8:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards at Heat will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards at Heat on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS at HEAT TV SCHEDULE

7:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)

7:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)

8:00 PM: Wizards at Heat (LIVE)

10:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)

11:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live (LIVE)

11:30 PM: Wizards Talk (LIVE)

WIZARDS at HEAT INJURY REPORT:

Wizards: John Wall (OUT, Left Achilles rehab), Ian Mahinmi (OUT, Right Achilles strain), C.J. Miles (OUT, Wrist), Thomas Bryant (OUT, foot), Isaiah Thomas (OUT, Calf)

Heat: Justise Winslow (OUT, Back), Goran Dragic (OUT, Groin), KZ Okpala (OUT, Achilles), Udonis Haslem (OUT, Illness)

WIZARDS at HEAT PLAYERS TO WATCH

Davis Bertans, PF, (13.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.7 app, ): Bertans went off in the first half against the 76ers shooting 6-for-6 from deep to get 22 points going into halftime. Bertans finished Thursday nights game with a season high of 25 points, one rebound, one steal and seven 3 pointers within 37 minutes.

Ish Smith, G, Wizards (8 ppg, 3 rpg, 3.9 apg): With IT out Ish Smith stepped up to the plate dishing out a season high of eight assists with 19 points and one rebound in 34 minutes in Thursday nights win over the 76ers. Smith is averaging

Jimmy Butler, G, Wizards (20.1 ppg, 6 rpg, 6.5 apg): Jimmy Butler was on fire in Miami’s 112-93 loss to Celtics on Wednesday. Butler made 12-of-18 from the field and set a season high of 37 points.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

Davis Bertans reinforces status as Wizards' best offseason addition in win over 76ers

Davis Bertans reinforces status as Wizards' best offseason addition in win over 76ers

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards beat the Philadelphia 76ers 119-113 on Thursday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. The Wizards entered this season with the understanding they probably wouldn't make the playoffs. They wanted to play hard and be a team capable of pulling off upsets on nights their effort and scrappy play caught opponents off guard.

They wanted to have games like they had on Thursday night. For the first time this season, the Wizards jumped all over a very good team and held on for a victory.

The Wizards took out the Sixers 119-113 for what is so far their signature win of the season. Philly is one of the best teams in the East at 15-7 and it was mostly healthy, unlike the Wizards.

Washington snapped a three-game skid as it now flies to Miami for battle with the Heat, who may be the surprise team of the NBA so far this season with a 15-6 record.

2. Though it's not showing in the standings, the Wizards did a nice job in the offseason in flipping their roster and creating long-term financial flexibility. Their most impressive move may have been trading for Davis Bertans.

Bertans was essentially stolen from the San Antonio Spurs for Aaron White, who was likely to never play for the Wizards. And all Bertans has done is thrive in an expanded role with the green light to shoot as often as he wants.

Bertans was lights-out on Thursday with 25 points on 9-for-16 shooting. He set a career high with seven threes, going 7-for-13 from the perimeter. Bertans had 20 points and was 6-for-6 from three in the first half, tying his previous career high for makes.

As I've mentioned before, Bertans is going to be a commodity come the trade deadline and that is going to force a tough decision for the Wizards, whether to trade him or keep him and try to work out an extension in the offseason. If they are offered a first-round pick, it will be hard to pass up.

But there is an argument either way to hold on to him because he is such a good shooter. Just imagine how well he would fit with John Wall.

3. Rookie Rui Hachimura also had a huge game in what was his first career meeting with the Sixers. He popped off for 15 points in the second quarter and ended up with 27 points and six boards.

Hachimura did all of this while dealing with Al Horford and Joel Embiid down low and guarding those guys on the other end. He also spent some time checking Tobias Harris, so there was a lot on his plate.

Hachimura got many of his points with his bread-and-butter midrange game. He made one three and found trouble getting around Embiid at the rim. 

Hachimura took what the defense gave him and it worked. There were several occasions where defenders just let him take long twos and he made them.

Head coach Scott Brooks was just talking pregame about why the Wizards are okay with him living in the midrange, if that's what he is most comfortable with at this point. Good timing with those comments.

Hachimura, by the way, is averaging 22 points over his last four games while shooting 54.4 percent from the field (37-for-68).

4. The Wizards shared some good news on the injury front before the game as both of their backup centers returned. Moe Wagner, who was nursing a left ankle injury, came back after missing two games. And Ian Mahinmi made his season debut after missing two-plus months with an Achilles strain.

Wagner was put in the starting lineup due to Thomas Bryant's absence and, though he did not have his usual scoring numbers, he did what he could to bother Embiid and give the Wizards energy. Wagner finished with five points and 11 rebounds.

Mahinmi played surprisingly well, all things considered. He had some bad moments, some due to rust. Be he did a solid job guarding Embiid, which is no easy task. The Wizards also helped him out with double teams.

The best part of Mahinmi's night, though, was right when he checked in. He has developed a reputation for getting in foul trouble and, sure enough, he got one on his very first play.

5. Though the Wizards got two players back from injury on Thursday, they also lost two. Jordan McRae will be out a few weeks after having a second surgery on his right ring finger. And, in a bigger surprise, starting point guard Isaiah Thomas was a late scratch with a left calf strain.

The Thomas one is a newly disclosed injury and at this point it's unclear if he will miss any more time. But it was enough for him to sit after he had played in 17 straight.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: