For Carter-Williams, focus remains on staying consistent
Coming off an impressive opening-night victory over the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat, the Sixers look to make it two in a row on Friday night in Washington.
The game against the Wizards is also the first of a back-to-back as the Sixers will face the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Here are a few storylines to keep an eye on for Friday night’s game:
1. MCW vs. John Wall
The Sixers’ rookie point guard is coming off a debut for the ages. In his first NBA game, Carter-Williams poured in 22 points to go with 12 assists, nine steals, seven rebounds and just one turnover.
A 22-12-9-7 line has been produced in the NBA just twice since steals became an official stat in 1973.
As impressive as Carter-Williams performed in his debut, he didn’t have to go against perennial All-Star Dwyane Wade. He won’t be so lucky this weekend when the rookie goes up against lightning-quick point guard John Wall, who had a season debut nearly as impressive.
Wall scored 20 points and handed out 11 assists with three steals in a 113-102 loss to Detroit on Wednesday night.
Carter-Williams and Wall will square up again next Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center. In between, the rookie will have to face 2010-11 MVP Derrick Rose, in his third game back after missing all of last season, and high-scoring Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.
2. How to stop Beal?
Second-year guard Bradley Beal teams up with Wall to form a high-powered backcourt. Averaging nearly 14 points per game as a 19-year old rookie, Beal was brought along slowly at the start of last season and then poured it on during the second half.
Of his 13 20-plus point games last year, 10 came after January. The 6-foot-3 guard also had three double-doubles last season.
Beal goes into Friday’s game following a poor shooting outing in the opener against the Pistons. The guard went just 6 for 18 from the field for 17 points and likely will come out gunning in the Wizards’ home opener.
3. Hit the boards
The Sixers’ most glaring weakness during the exhibition season was their rebounding and interior defense against bigger teams. And though the Wizards aren’t as big as the Brooklyn Nets, they have more than enough size up front.
Nene Hilario returns to anchor the frontcourt with newcomers Al Harrington and Marcin Gortat while slashing forward Trevor Ariza is coming off a 28-point, 10-rebound performance on opening night.
The Wizards will attack the glass as evidenced by the 13 offensive boards they pulled down against the big Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. The Sixers were able to offset their lack of size by packing it in the paint in their half-court defense against the Heat, and it paid off with a 49-38 rebounding advantage. Look for the same strategy against the Wizards.
4. Opening-night jitters
The Sixers took advantage of a raucous crowd at the Wells Fargo Center in their home debut to help carry them down the stretch. Now it’s the Wizards’ turn to show their hometown fans what they have.
The talk around Washington is that the Wizards are poised to break their five-year playoff absence. Wall is healthy, Beal is young and hungry and Nene provides veteran leadership. With Harrington, Gortat and Ariza, the Wizards are looking for their first winning season since 2007-08.
The Wizards feel like they have something to prove this season and after a loss in Detroit, they should play with a little extra bounce against the Sixers.
5. This and that
· The Sixers took two of three from the Wizards last season, with a split at Washington’s Verizon Center.
· The Sixers had streaks of 11 straight shots made and missed during the first half of Wednesday’s game against the Heat.
· The Wizards’ Wall and Beal combined to shoot 14 for 39 in the loss to Detroit. The rest of the Wizards shot 20 for 39 in the loss.
· The Sixers scored 26 fast-break points on 15 chances in the victory over the Heat. They also scored 50 points in the paint on 39 shots. The Wizards got just nine fast-break points and were 14 for 27 in the paint in their opener. Meanwhile, the Wizards allowed Detroit to score 56 points in the paint.
· The Sixers scored 114 points in the opener. They scored 110-plus points just once in 2012-13. Headed into the game, the Sixers had dropped 16 straight games when they allowed the opposition to score 110 points.
· Spencer Hawes has scored 20-plus points in seven of his last 55 regular-season games. This comes after failing to score 20 points in his first 146 games with the Sixers.