The Wizards (23-26) have won five-straight games, tying their season-best winning streak. On Monday night, they head into the AT&T Center in San Antonio to take on a young Spurs team (14-36). Can the Wizards keep their winning streak alive? Here's everything you need to know.
WHERE: AT&T Center (San Antonio, TX)
WHEN: 8:00 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Washington
RADIO: The Team 980 & The Wizards App
Anthony Gill (health and safety protocols -- out)
Romeo Langford (left adductor tightness -- questionable)
Josh Richardson (left knee soreness -- probable)
Devin Vassell (left knee procedure -- out)
KRISTAPS PORZINGIS' RETURN
Kristaps Porzingis has missed the Wizards' last three games with a left ankle sprain, but has been removed from the injury report and is available for Monday night's game in San Antonio. Porzingis' addition to the lineup adds a huge boost both offensively and defensively.
Porzingis has had a sensational season for the Wizards. As of right now, he's leading the team in scoring at 22.1 points per game (holding a slight edge over Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma who are both at 22.0) and has been arguably their most consistent two-way player. His ability to protect the rim on defense and score from all three levels of the floor on offense make him a matchup nightmare.
It's likely that with Porzingis back in the lineup, Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. will deploy his relatively new starting lineup: Monte Morris, Beal, Kuzma, Porzingis, and Daniel Gafford. That lineup has been a wrecking crew when it's been on the floor, boasting a 134.6 offensive rating and a 104.7 defensive rating (good for a 29.9 net rating). Unfortunately, due to some bad injury luck, those numbers are coming off an extremely small sample size. That group of five has only played 49 total minutes together.
Monday night's game in San Antonio should be an opportunity for Unseld Jr. and his coaching staff to get another look at the Morris-Beal-Kuzma-Porzingis-Gafford starting lineup. Having a larger sample size will help the team and the fans decide how they feel about that group of five.
CONTROLLING THE PAINT
The Spurs have been one of the most dominant teams in the league at scoring the ball in the paint this season. They're fourth in points in the paint per game at 55.5. Conversely, they aren't a team that lights it up from behind the arc. They're 27th in made threes per game at 10.7.
The Spurs are a team that likes to get to the rim. That means protecting the cup will be as important as ever for the Wizards, and it starts with the perimeter defenders. Solid point-of-attack defense makes it tough for teams to generate good looks in the paint. But, it's impossible to play perfect defense on the perimeter every possession, so in the event of a lapse, that's when the rim protection of Porzingis and Gafford comes in handy.
Since the Spurs are one of the lowest-volume three-point shooting teams in the league, the Wizards can feel safe putting the majority of their focus on defending the rim.
DENI AVDIJA'S GROWTH
Third-year wing Deni Avdija is starting to come into his own. He arrived in the NBA as a solid defender and has gotten better with seemingly every month that passes. Now, his offensive game is starting to round into shape. Over the Wizards' last three games, Avdija is averaging over 13 points on 46.2% shooting from the field and 2.3 assists.
A big part of Avdija's recent success has been his aggression going downhill. He's doing a fantastic job of grabbing defensive rebounds and pushing in transition, and he's also crushing it in the halfcourt. His creativity finishing around the rim has improved dramatically, but he's also seeking and embracing contact. Over the last three games, he's gotten to the charity stripe 6.3 times per game in under 30 minutes of action.
Avdija's growth has turned him into an incredibly valuable weapon on both offense and defense. Keep an eye out for him in this matchup.