Matchup: Washington Wizards (21-25) at Golden State (44-4)
When: Monday, 7:30 p.m. (TV: CSN, CSNMidatlantic.com via NBC Sports Live Extra)
Season series: First meeting
Streaks: The Wizards have lost four of five including Monday's 114-98 beatdown at Oklahoma City Thunder. ...The defending NBA champions last played Sunday when they racked up their seventh straight win, 116-95 at the Knicks.
Radical or reasonable
Rest for the weary against the Warriors?: CSN Wizards analyst Ron Thompson made the following comment about point guard John Wall during the Sports Talk Live to Rob Carlin and Doc Walker after Monday's loss.
"I really think John has hit a wall. I think he's tired. I think he's fatigued," Thompson said. "I think he's had to carry so much of the load for so long that coming down [to] the All-Star break, he needs some time off just to recharge his battery because he cannot play at full tilt the entire game. He just can't do it. I think he's at the point, guys, where he needs some time off. He needs to revamp his battery and get recharged up because he has to do so much, guys, for this team to have a fighting chance."
So, let's talk about getting Wall some rest. How about Wednesday?
For starters, Golden State is, hello, 44-4. With the way Washington's defense is playing lately, the Warriors, who have been resting since Sunday, might score 150 points, as Jared Dudley suggested. Also the Wizards won't have coach Randy Wittman on the sideline.
Now let's note that Wall has played beat up for weeks, but hasn't missed a game. Let's also note he's shooting 33.3 percent from the field over his last five games while the players he's primarily defending are shooting much better.
Now realize the Wizards have back-to-back games starting Friday against Philadelphia before visiting Charlotte. Before you make any jokes about the 76ers, note they're 3-4 since Jan. 16 while the Wizards are 2-8. Charlotte, a direct competitor for the eighth and final playoff spot, is 5-4 in that stretch and 16-8 at home this season. Next week the Wizards play two more road games (Knicks, Bucks) before the All-Star break.
Beat Golden State, winners of seven straight and 44 of 48 this season, and Washington receives a boost far greater than mere rest. Here are the Warriors' margin of victories in their last seven wins: 34, 31, 12, 30, 20, 3, 21. The closest game was against the lowly Philadelphia 76ers, which is why the "on any given night" faction will loudly reject the idea of sitting starters. The Wizards have won several games this season when everybody counted them out. Get a hot shooting night from Bradley Beal, have Nene and Marcin Gortat dominate the boards, key contributions elsewhere and Wall playing like an All-Star, hey, why not.
Rest Wall and Ramon Sessions, arguably the most consistent player on the team of late, would start at point guard. Offensively, he'll attack Steph Curry off the dribble. Based on the way Sessions repeatedly gets to the free throw line, maybe Curry picks up a foul or three. Defensively, he'll get scored on like every other human on planet earth. Garrett Temple can handle running the offense. Based on last year's playoffs, Bradley Beal showed he's up for the task at times. With 13 players available, Washington could give others a blow if needed.
Despite these current skid, Washington remains in the playoff hunt. They might not if they go 2-3 in these next five games. They might not get two wins if they don't take care of Philadelphia and Charlotte. No doubt Wall and others would reject the idea of sitting out especially against the NBA champs, but if they can get recharged with a little rest, it might be the way to go.
Small ball: Here's another radical idea. At some point Golden State will use its checkmate lineup with Draymond Green at center surrounded by four perimeter players. Assuming all play for Washington, Wall faces Stephen Curry, Otto Porter defends Harrison Barnes and Bradley Beal (or Garrett Temple) guard Klay Thompson. Now, the Wizards could use 6-foot-7 Jared Dudley on Green. Athletically, this isn't a far fight. Dudley on say Andre Iguodala works.
That leaves someone else for Green. Gortat? The Warriors just move Green outside and Gortat is way outside his comfort zone. Nene? This is probably the best bet especially if the big Brazilian is feeling angry, but he's not a stretch-5. Now, let's get radical. How about Kelly Oubre? He gives up bulk to Green, but he's a good one-on-one defender, has a crazy wingspan and maybe most of all, doesn't seem like the rookie will get intimidated. Even if he does or even if flops, throwing him into the deep isn't a bad idea. I you're looking for a chance at actually slowing down this specific lineup, a lineup nobody in the league has solved, going conventional won't work.