The Washington Wizards have looked like a new team since the return of point guard John Wall, but a game at Staples Center against the Los Angeles Clippers should provide an entirely new challenge for the resurgent young squad. Wall and company visit L.A. on Saturday night for their only match-up of the season.
While the Wizards began 2013 on a sour note, they've rebounded since a Bradley Beal buzzer-beater upset the Oklahoma City Thunder at Verizon Center on Jan. 7. Wall returned to the lineup five days later against Atlanta, and the Wizards have finally started to look like a team capable of winning some games.
After winning only four of their first 32 games, all without Wall, the Wizards have won four of their past five, just missing out on the fifth victory when a second Beal buzzer-beater attempt fell short against the Sacramento Kings. Three of the recent wins have came against above-.500 teams, with the fourth being a 29-point blowout of the Orlando Magic at home.
Then again, all of these recent accomplishments by the Wizards pale in comparison to what L.A. has done this season. With a 31-9 record, the Clippers are among the cream of the NBA crop, and they've been particularly good at home, losing just three of their first 21 games at Staples Center.
It may not matter against these new Wizards, though. Coming into Friday's game, the Nuggets were 15-2 at the Pepsi Center this season, but the Wizards looked right at home in their 112-108 win.
Paul vs. Wall
While there are a host of other good reasons to watch this game, from Beal's recent emergence to the Clippers' general greatness, the most obvious reason to watch is the point guard match-up between Wall and Chris Paul.
Even at less than 100 percent, Wall has shown that he can be an effective playmaker and scorer, posting double-doubles in each of his past two games. Still, he was often facing the likes of Andre Miller and Isaiah Thomas in those games, not the best point guard in the league today.
Paul doesn't have Wall's size or jumping ability, but there may not be a player in the game that plays the point guard position with as much efficiency. Seeing how he plays against the larger, more athletic Wall should be a nice example of what makes Paul so special.
Tip off is set for 10:30 p.m. ET.