By: Jeremy Hyman
The Wizards start off the new year with a home game against the Dallas Mavericks tonight at Verizon Center (6:00 pm | TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). The Mavericks beat the Wizards, 107-101, in November in Dallas.
In their last home game, the Wizards took down the Orlando Magic, 105-97, on Friday night. Jordan Crawford led the team with 27 points in the effort. Crawford missed Saturday's game in Chicago with a sore left ankle, but did return to practice on Monday and should be ready for action tonight.
In the Wizards and Mavericks last meeting, the Wizards made a valiant fourth quarter comeback and nearly took down the Mavs on their home floor, but ran out of gas late. The Mavs were then playing without their star, Dirk Nowitzki, but he has since returned to the lineup and is now playing limited minutes off the bench.
Both of these teams are hungry for wins, as they both enter tonight's game winning just one of their last ten contests. The Mavs have shown an ability to score, but have struggled on the defensive end, giving up more than 101 points per game. The Wizards will need to take advantage of this deficiency and attack the Mavericks, like they did against Orlando.
While the Wizards won't get any of their injured players back tonight, they are all making progress towards a return. Trevor Ariza may be the first to return as he is eying the end of the week as a potential return. John Wall and A.J. Price could be back after that which will give the Wizards backcourt a big lift.
Bradley Beal has now scored in double figures in five of his last six games and led the Wizards in scoring with 14 points on Saturday night. While he battles through a three-point shooting slump, he is finding other ways to score and showing some of the versatility he possesses.
Beal could put up big numbers tonight against a team that allows over 101 points per game, but in order to do he will have to start shooting the ball from beyond the arc at a higher clip. Beal's last three pointer came in the Wizards loss in Miami on December 15th. Beal went through a shooting slump last season at Florida as well and was able to bounce back and heat up down the stretch. The Wizards hope Beal can do the same this season and get his percentages to climb as the season moves along.
Opposite Beal tonight will be the Mavericks leading scorer, O.J. Mayo. It was Mayo who went off for 25 points in the teams first meeting in Dallas and he will be the main focus of the Wizards defense tonight. Mayo has taken on a much larger role now playing as the number one option in Dallas, averaging over 18 points per game. He can score from both inside and outside and the biggest difference this season is his three point percentage, which currently sits at a career-high 45%.
In the below clip, Bradley Beal addressed the media after Saturday's game in Chicago.
In this clip, Beal finds Nene for the dunk.