Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
First road test of the season
After a 2-0 start, the Wizards head west for a four-game road trip, beginning in Denver tonight.
Pepsi Center | 9:00 p.m. | NBCSW | 1500 AM
Wizards (2-0): G - Wall, G - Beal, F - Porter Jr., F - Oubre Jr., C - Gortat
Nuggets (1-1): G - Murray, G - Harris, F - Chandler, F - Millsap, C - Jokic
Wizards: Markieff Morris (Sports Hernia - Out), Sheldon Mac (Achilles - Out), Jason Smith (Shoulder - Questionable)
The Wizards opened the season with two straight home wins, but they'll now have to take the show on the road with a four-game trip out west. It's rare for an East Coast team to travel and play Western Conference teams this early in the season, and this will be the earliest the Wizards have ever traveled to play teams in the Pacific/Northwest divisions in team history. But, with a week out west, they can use this time for some good team bonding and they can play these games while the team is still fresh, rather than 60 games into the season when there may be some tired legs. Whenever the trip may come, road games out west can always make for a daunting task, but the Wizards will look to start on the right foot with a win in Denver tonight.
Last season, the Wizards went 19-22 on the road, but they did beat the Nuggets 123-113 last March.
With Jason Smith sidelined last game with a shoulder injury, the Wizards used Kelly Oubre Jr. in the starting lineup and shifted Otto Porter Jr. to the PF spot. Smith, who is from Colorado, is questionable again tonight, and if he can't go it will be interesting to see how the Wizards choose to play Denver, with All-Star Paul Millsap at PF. The Wiz could use their same "small" lineup from Friday, or they could move Mike Scott into the starting unit, who provides a little more size and can play down on the post. Scott Brooks will have options, and there is a chance Jason Smith could return, so this will be something to monitor heading into Monday night's game.
Nuggets on the Rise
The Nuggets may not have gotten the same headlines as some of the "super teams" this summer, but they have quietly assembled a very nice team in the Western Conference and could be in the mix for a playoff spot this season, a destination they haven't reached since the 2012-13 season. They have built their backcourt through the last few NBA drafts, adding talented young guards in Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, and Emmanuel Mudiay. Their biggest splash in the offseason was adding All-Star forward Paul Millsap, who the Wizards are very familiar with from his time spent in Atlanta. They also have one of the brightest young big men in the game in center Nikola Jokic, who is a triple-double threat every time he steps on the floor. Through their first two games, their leading scorer has been Will Barton, who is averaging 19.0 points per game off the bench.
This will be a tough test for the Wizards in their first road game of the season, but after a couple of days off and a cross-country flight, they'll be ready for the challenge and look to start the year 3-0 for the first time since the 2005-06 season.
The Wizards will next head to L.A. to take on the Lakers on Wednesday night.