Three Things to Watch: Wizards at Raptors 11/7

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Nene vs Toronto’s bigs

Feb 18, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards power forward Nene Hilario (42) shoots the ball over Toronto Raptors power forward Patrick Patterson (54) in the first quarter at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The big Brazilian’s night got a little easier with the announcement that usual starter Amir Johnson is a game-time decision for tonight’s game and is likely out with an ankle injury, according to ESPN.

Patrick Patterson will start in Johnson’s place for the Raptors. Patterson, who lost the starting role to Johnson last season, is averaging just eight points and 4.6 rebounds per game this season.

He’s two inches shorter than Nene and weighs 15 pounds less, according to ESPN. Nene should be able to easily position himself against Patterson on the block, control the boards and establish his presence down low, possibly causing a double-team at times. If this happens, Gortat would either be free or up against a smaller defender, yet another advantage for Washington.

But where Patterson can hurt the Wizards is with his outside game. The D.C. native is shooting 40 percent from three this season. This threat will draw Nene away from post, possibly creating an extra lane for Lowry or others.

However, the Raptors won’t be able to keep Patterson on the wing for the majority of their offensive possessions when he’s on the floor if they want to win. If they choose to sub in backup Tyler Hansbrough to go against Nene at times, the pesky forward won’t back down from roughing it up with Nene.

Still, the experienced Nene should have his way.

If Wittman gets Nene involved often, the Wizards should find themselves in good position in a hostile environment.