Coming into this NBA season. Pelicans at Wizards would've been appointment television. Washington was on that secondary tier of Eastern Conference teams trying to ascend and dethrone Cleveland; New Orleans, of course, was expected to be on the rise after clinching the 8th seed in last season's playoffs.
But sports tends to reflect life's unpredictability and neither team has lived up to lofty preseason expectations. Instead of jockeying for playoff seeding in their respective conferences, New Orleans and Washington are are currently competing against each other for more ping pong balls.
The Washington Wizards team that New Orleans will be facing Tuesday could look very different than had the two met a week ago. Markieff Morris, who was long thought could be headed toward New Orleans, was acquired from Phoenix in exchange for Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair and a top-9 protected pick. Also swingman Alan Anderson is hoping to make his season debut for the Wizards after missing every game of this season with an ankle injury.
For Washington, every thing starts and stops with franchise player John Wall. Wall, like Anthony Davis, hasn't let his teams' disappointing record prevent him from achieving personal merit. A newly minted three-time All-Star, Wall earned his trip to Toronto thanks to his 19.9 points, a current career high, and 9.8 assists. Wall's also stayed healthy this season, starting all 54 of Washington's games.
The Wizards, as Pelican fans can empathize with all too well, have a perennial All-Star posting his typical stellar numbers, but injuries to key secondary players have negated some of Wall's excellence. Wall's backcourt running mate Bradley Beal has been held to 33 games this season and power forward Nene has only played in 30.
Expect beaucoup points in the Verizon Center. New Orleans and Washington are both averaging 102 points a game and the Wizards' 104.9 points allowed per game is a mere four-tenths better than New Orleans. If New Orleans wants to earn their second road win against an Eastern Conference opponent, exploiting Washington's deficiency in rebounding will be critical. Despite having Marcin Gortat and Nene, the Wizards are inexplicably dead last in rebounding. The matchup is ripe for Anthony Davis to have another 20 rebound game like he did Sunday against Detroit.