Regular Season Game 78
Wizards (42-35) at Rockets (62-15)
April 3, 2018 at 8:00 PM Toyota Center | Houston, TX
Radio: 1500 AM
The Washington Wizards are hoping to put the loss on Easter Sunday against the tanking Chicago Bulls behind them. Now, they must come to Texas and attempt to be competitive against the best team in the association, the Houston Rockets. The task may sound impossible, but this same inconsistent Wizards team thrashed Houston at the end of December. Granted, the Rockets were on skid at the time, but Washington plays up to the competition and John Wall is expected to play which could fair well for the Wizards.
(Photo: Geoff Burke via USA Today Sports)
What to Watch:
John Wall’s Continued Integration
In Wall’s return last Saturday against the Charlotte Hornets, he finished with a double-double, 15 points and 14 rebounds. He did not play in Chicago, but all signs point that he will play in Houston. Wall continuing to get acclimated with his teammates after being out for over two months is a great thing for Washington. His shear presence alone changes the dynamic of the game. Expect him to set the tone for his team and try to get off to a fast start against the Rockets. Houston’s ability to knock down the three-point shot will mean Washington must bring their best defense, especially considering they allowed the Bulls to knock down 18 deep balls on Sunday.
James Harden vs. Team Defense
In his last ten games, Harden is averaging 27.9 points shooting 40.9 percent shooting from the field. The key for Washington to have a chance to defeat Houston is containing Harden like the Spurs did on Sunday night. Though he managed to get 25 points against San Antonio, the Spurs forced Harden to shoot 1-for-6 from behind the arc. Washington cannot allow the Rockets to shoot well from the field or give up a lot of points in any quarter, similarly to what the Spurs accomplished. As a team, Houston shot 33.8 percent from the field and a horrid 7-for-31 from downtown in San Antonio. Everyone on the Wizards must play defense at the highest level to possibly leave the Lone Star state with a victory.
Kelly Oubre’s Bounce Back
It is well documented
that Oubre has been struggling through the month of March. Nevertheless, it is imperative for him to impact the game with his defense even if his shots are not falling. Scott Brooks mentioned that in Chicago. If Oubre can manage to get rebounds, block shots, and provide energy for the second-unit, then he can still make an impact. Oubre said that he would return to his second hometown to work on his game and try to produce at a high-level in Houston. If he does those things and get his shots to fall, then he will be the complete player he has always been.
Although he is native of New Orleans, Oubre spent much of his childhood in Houston because of Hurricane Katrina. Reserve point guard Tim Frazier was born in Houston where he lived until leaving for college. At Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, 12 miles away from Toyota Center, Frazier was a district Defensive Player of the Year and led his squad to a 37-1 record. Both will likely be able to reunite with old friends and family.
Trying to predict the likeliness of the Wizards winning against a team like Houston is as difficult as trying to catch the Metro after midnight. It is next to impossible. Nevertheless, Washington will win in Houston and give the Rockets their first loss at home since January 4, against the Warriors. The Wizards have too much to play for to lose this game. The last thing Washington wants to do in lose two games in a row before going into Cleveland on Thursday. The Wizards will shoot the ball well and play defense and will show that they can compete with the best and in the same week lose to one of the worst.