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Wizards begin tough stretch this week
Washington will play three teams with winning records that missed the playoffs last season
This week, the Wizards head to Minnesota and Philadelphia on a back-to-back Tuesday and Wednesday before coming home for the Pistons on Friday. Washington has lost four of five, but the team remains 10-9 on the season and well within the playoff hunt. It's still early in the season and the Wizards have battled injuries to key players through their first 19 games. Here's what we're watching with a pivotal week ahead.
Tues. at Timberwolves (8pm, NBCSW/1500 AM)
Wed. at Sixers (7:00pm, NBCSW, NBATV/1500 AM)
Fri. vs. Pistons (7:00pm, NBCSW/1500 AM)
Playing without Wall
The Wizards announced on Friday that John Wall will miss approximately two weeks after receiving PRP (platelet-rich plasma) and viscosupplementation injections to reduce the inflammation in his left kneeOn Saturday against Portland, the team played its first game without Wall. Tim Frazier got the start and scored a season-high 11 points in 28 minutes of action. Tomas Satoransky also stepped in at point guard with the second unit and had four points and four assists. The Wizards were plus-16 with him on the floor in his 14 minutes.
With Wall sidelined for at least this week, the Wizards will need Frazier and Satoransky to step up. Washington will also look to Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., and Markieff Morris to continue their offensive production against some tough teams. Beal and Porter combined for 50 points on Saturday and the Wizards will need that kind of scoring from those two without Wall to win.
Putting together complete games, starting with defense
In the Wizards' last nine games, the team has allowed 97.6 points per game to their opponents in regulation, the fourth-fewest in the league over team's last nine games. The defense has limited opponents to .430 shooting from the field, the fourth-best in the league over the last eight games. The Wizards have revamped their defensive edge, dropping their opponent's season average points per game from 109.6 PPG to 104.5 as it currently stands.
Still, Washington only has a 5-4 record in those games and has lost eight in a row when giving up 100 points. The Wizards have suffered consecutive late-game losses due to opposing team fourth quarter comebacks. To win without Wall, the Wizards will need to put together 48-minute games and compete throughout.
Road warriors needed for tough competition ahead
The Wizards play a back-to-back against the Timberwolves and 76ers on the road in the next two games, their longest travel between back to-backs this season by over 200 miles (MIN to PHI, 984 miles. Next longest, MEM to WAS, 763 miles). All three opponents this week – Minnesota, Philadelphia, and Detroit – have winning records after not making the playoffs last season. These teams have talented, younger cores that compete every single night.
The Wizards will also played seven of their next eight games overall are on the road, including the team’s final road trip out West. Washington holds a 5-4 record on the road entering Tuesday, one of the better marks in the East. Last season, the Wizards went out West twice in March, so it’s important for the team to get both longer out of the way early in the season.