The Wizards (24-26) are finally back in Washington, D.C. prepping for their first home game since January 21. Friday night, they'll go for their seventh-straight win as they face the Portland Trail Blazers (25-26) at Capital One Arena. Here's everything you need to know.
WHERE: Capital One Arena (Washington, D.C.)
WHEN: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Washington
RADIO: The Team 980 & The Wizards App
Anthony Gill (health and safety protocols -- out)
Ibou Badji (left knee soreness -- out)
Jerami Grant (concussion evaluation -- questionable)
Jusuf Nurkic (left calf strain -- out)
Justise Winslow (left ankle sprain -- out)
RIDING THE MOMENTUM
The Wizards are in the midst of a six-game winning streak, their longest of the season, and have been dominant in nearly every aspect of the game. Over the last six games, the Wizards are seventh in three-point percentage (40%), third in rebounds (47.5), fifth in assists (27.8), second in blocks (6.7), fifth in offensive rating (122.3), ninth in defensive rating (110.9), first in net rating (11.4), and fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.29). They're getting healthy, growing familiar with how to play as a unit, and each player is getting comfortable in their respective roles.
Friday night is all about keeping that momentum rolling. The Wizards have been doing a fantastic job of keeping the ball moving and playing with energy. If they keep that up, they'll put themselves in a good position to extend their winning streak.
DEFENDING DAMIAN LILLARD
Damian Lillard is one of the all-time great players in the NBA, but right now, he's doing things that are special even for his standards. He's in the middle of an otherworldly heater, averaging 39.1 points, 7.9 assists, and 4.3 rebounds over his last 11 games. Scoring 39 points in any one game is a huge accomplishment, but averaging that number for 11 straight games is bordering on absurdity.
Lillard is posting these numbers in uber-efficient fashion, too, shooting 53% from the field, 40.5% from deep (on 11.9 attempts per game), and 94.9% from the charity stripe. The 32-year-old point guard is looking as good as he's ever looked, and he's doing all he can to carry Portland to victories.
The Wizards' perimeter defenders will have their hands full on Friday night trying to contain Lillard. Whether it's Monte Morris, Delon Wright, Deni Avdija, or anyone else that gets tasked with guarding Lillard, they'll have to stay disciplined and do their best to force him into tough shots. But, that's easier said than done.
DON'T FORGET ABOUT ANFERNEE SIMONS
When defending a guy of Lillard's magnitude, it's easy to forget about the guy right next to him, Anfernee Simons, who can fill it up offensively in his own right. Simons is having the best year of his young career, averaging nearly 22 points per game on 45% shooting from the field. He does most of his damage from downtown, launching 9.4 per game and connecting on almost 38% of his attempts.
As previously mentioned, it's imperative that the Wizards key in on Lillard, but it's also crucial that they don't overcommit to Lillard and lose sight of Simons. He's perfectly capable of making defenses pay, and if the Wizards lose track of him, he'll do just that.