Golden State Warriors (56-13) vs. Washington Wizards (40-29)
7:30 p.m. PST
Oracle Arena - Oakland, CA
TV: CSNBA/HD (local); NBA TV (national) | Radio: KNBR 680
Buddy blog: Bullets Forever
When the Golden State Warriors last faced the Washington Wizards in D.C., the latter was a team in turmoil that was wondering if the coach would be fired in the event of a loss.
Since then, the Wizards have showed signs of turning things around.
Seemingly lost in all of the panic over their mid-season swoon was a significant fact that Bobby Steele of Bullets Forever pointed out yesterday: the Wizards are currently on pace to win 47 games, which would be the most since their appearance in the 1979 NBA Finals. So while it might not quite be a milestone of the magnitude of what Warriors fans are experiencing -- nor as enjoyable, apparently -- there's a lot of reason for optimism there.
History aside, the Wizards enter tonight's game having won six of their last nine games after being "walloped" by the Sacramento Kings yesterday. Steele highlighted two things that have been working in the Wizards' favor recently that we didn't see in the Warriors' last meeting with them.
Ramon Sessions has found a place in their rotation
One of the more interesting observations in Steele's piece was that the Wizards have been using mid-season acquisition Ramon Sessions next to point guard John Wall.
The biggest change that Ramon has brought about in the Wizards is how Randy Wittman uses him in games. His main role is obviously to run the point with the bench unit, which he has done well. But what is most interesting is that Wittman has begun using him alongside John Wall, which is something he didn't really do with Andre Miller around. This option gives the Wizards added versatility in small-ball situations or when Bradley Beal needs a rest, which is the advantage of having a combo guard such as Sessions. Having them both in the game at the same time can lead to magical moments
Although that's not quite the same as what some of us hoped for from a Shaun Livingston-Steph Curry combo (because Curry might be just a tad bit better at shooting threes than Wall) it's an interesting wrinkle for that squad, especially as they face a Warriors team that does like to go small.
Bradley Beal is healthy
The second nugget that can't be overlooked is that Beal is back in the lineup, which is significant because it gives the Wizards a threat from long distance that they otherwise lack. As one small example, the Wizards shot 53.2% from the field in the first meeting but just 5-for-18 from beyond the arc. Beal might not be having a great season overall but his 42% 3-point shooting entering yesterday's game is a much-needed asset.
Nevertheless, the loss in Sactown was their second in a row in the midst of a difficult four-games-in-six-days Western Conference road trip that will come to an end at Oracle Arena. They're a team that looks ready to head home and facing the Warriors, even without Klay Thompson, probably won't exactly be a pleasant experience.