Fast Forward: Wary of Wizards' trap, W's staying focused

Fast Forward: Wary of Wizards' trap, W's staying focused
January 28, 2014, 12:30 pm
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Stephen Curry scored 14 points and added 10 assists when the Warriors beat the Wizards 112-96 on the road Jan. 5. (USATSI)

Programming note: Wizards-Warriors coverage tips off Tuesday at 7 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (territorial restrictions apply)

OAKLAND -- Two days after the Warriors displayed tremendous focus in defeating a contending team, the schedule grants them an almost opportunity to see if they can sustain the intensity.

Their opponent on Tuesday, the Wizards, not only are struggling but also have been pretty close to an automatic win for the Warriors, especially at Oracle Arena.

With another matchup with the rival Clippers looming on Thursday, Washington is the kind of game where concentration easily could dip. The Warriors (27-18) have experienced that several times this season, paying for it with defensive lapses that resulted in losing to inferior opponents.

At some point, the Warriors would like to prove they are over that.

"I don't see anybody on our team wavering from the task at hand," David Lee said after practice Monday. "So we're excited about getting back on the court again and hopefully building off what we did against Portland."

[RELATED: A close look at David Lee's All-Star candidacy]

The Warriors on Sunday relied on defense to kill a three-game losing streak and bury the Trail Blazers, who despite a demanding recent schedule own the third best record in the Western Conference. The Wizards are relatively fresh, though their 21-22 record would seem to present much less of a threat.

Which could make them dangerous.

[RELATED: NBA standings]

"We had a group with some dead legs," Andre Iguodala said Tuesday morning, referring to the Blazers. "So we've got to realize tonight we've got a team with fresh legs, so from the start we've got to put that defensive pressure on them."

Washington follows the lead of guards John Wall and Bradley Beal, their two top scorers and the core of a team that would like to believe it has a bright future. Either is capable of heating up and posing a problem for a Warriors team that believes it has righted itself and embraces the culture of defense.

"We've changed this thing," coach Mark Jackson said. "It's been with the players buying in. And that's the only way we can accomplish it."

Though Jackson acknowledged several players are "banged up," including Lee (shoulder) and Andrew Bogut (unspecified), all rotation players are expected to be fully available.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Curry vs. Wall. Curry was selected for the Team USA roster, and Wall was not -- and says the snub is motivation. Curry received more All-Star votes than any other guard in the league, while Wall finished a distant third in the East. Curry wants to prove he deserves it. Wall wants to show he belongs.

Klay Thompson vs. Bradley Beal. These two shooting guards have some similarities, from smooth 3-point shooting strokes to a willingness to get physical to playing alongside a marquee point guard. Thompson outscored Beal 26-9 last month at Washington, so Beal will look to even things.

LAST 10: Warriors 5-5, Wizards 5-5.

SERIES HISTORY: The Warriors won the first matchup 112-96 on Jan. 5 at Verizon Center, and have taken the last six meetings and nine of the last 12. Washington has not won in Oakland since Dec. 18, 2009.

INJURY UPDATE: For the Warriors, C Jermaine O'Neal (right wrist surgery) is practicing but remains out. C Festus Ezeli (right knee surgery) and G Nemanja Nedovic (left hamstring strain) are out indefinitely.

For the Wizards, F Al Harrington (right knee surgery) is out.

 

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