After hurting his left calf during Wednesday’s loss to Detroit and missing the past two practices, Nene will be a game time decision for Friday’s home opener against the Philadelphia 76ers. Coach Randy Wittman said he anticipates having Nene but newly-acquired center Marcin Gortat will start in his stead.
Before the season began, the Wizards (0-1) were probably expecting to have an easy pushover coming to town for the home opener but the rebuilding 76ers (0-1) stunned the NBA with an upset of the two-time defending Miami Heat. Philadelphia rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams had an incredible debut with 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals and seven rebounds in the victory, but John Wall said he wasn’t overly concerned about his one-on-one matchup.
“I don’t really know. I mean, he had one good game,” Wall said of Carter-Williams. “It’s opening night, you’re excited, a lot of adrenaline is going through your blood. You got all the legends in there. Charles Barkley. Julius Erving. Allen Iverson. All those guys in the building, and you’re playing the defending champs. So it’s an exciting game. He went out and played and he played hard. They team went out and competed, so any team can be beat in this league and we understand. We know that.”
Carter-Williams’ performance forced Wall to look on his first home game as a rookie, when did “The Dougie” and ambushed the 76ers with 29 points, 13 assists and nine steals in a 116-115 overtime win. No other NBA player had recorded at least nine steals in a game until Carter-Williams.
“Yeah, I remember that, because I was one step away from having 10,” Wall said. “Another steal I could’ve got but I was too tired to go get it. It’s exciting for him to have a good game like that. But it’s ups and downs in this league. You never know what could happen. So I’m excited to go out and play. Give them another challenge.”
The 76ers have game-planned to shut down Wall but he expects nothing less than their undivided attention.
“The main thing I know that I’m the head of the snake on this team. But it’s not just me that gets it going. You can stop me from scoring. But as long as I’m getting my teammates involved and we are winning games, I’m cool,” Wall said. “I can go 8-for-29 and have eight points and we get a win and I got 10 assists, I’m happy. So the main thing is me just not always looking for myself to score, but also looking for my teammates. That’s a key that I’m blessed with, and being able to have vision to find my teammates.”
Wall took a team-high 21 shots in the loss to the Pistons and was disappointed afterward with the way he ran the offense. He is ready to get back on track, at home, where the Wizards went 22-19 last season. They were 19-6 at Verizon Center when Wall returned from a stress injury in his left knee.
“I’m very excited to see how the fans are going to be,” Wall said. “I think that’s what Detroit got their adrenaline off of. And you can’t knock them for playing hard. But when you play your first home opener and see how the crowd’s going to be, the fans. Everybody comes out, because they want to see how your team changed and what things can be different, so we’re very excited to go out there and try to get a win.”
(TV: Comcast SportsNet. Radio: WJFK-106.7, WFED-1500). Here’s some pregame/in-game reading.
Pistons have Wizards’ number