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Wizards wrap up homestand Tuesday night against Bulls
On Tuesday night, the Wizards (18-33) will host the Bulls (19-35) at 7:00 P.M. with two games to go before the All-Star break. Washington, playing in the first game of a back-to-back, is coming off a loss to Memphis while Chicago looks to snap a five-game losing streak.
Capital One Arena | 7:00 P.M. | NBCSW | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Ish Smith, G – Bradley Beal, F – Isaac Bonga, F – Rui Hachimura, C – Ian Mahinmi
Bulls: G – Tomas Satoransky, G – Zach LaVine, F – Chandler Hutchison, F – Thaddeus Young, C – Luke Kornet
Wizards: Thomas Bryant (right foot soreness – out), John Wall (left Achilles rehab – out)
Bulls: Ryan Arcidiacono (right elbow discomfort – probable), Wendell Carter Jr. (right ankle sprain – out), Kris Dunn (right knee sprain – out), Daniel Gafford (right ankle sprain – out), Zach LaVine (neck spasms, right knee contusion – probable), Lauri Markkanen (right pelvis stress reaction – out), Otto Porter Jr. (left foot fracture – out), Tomas Satoransky (right ankle soreness – probable), Max Strus (left knee ACL rehabilitation – out), Denzel Valentine (left hamstring soreness – doubtful)
Wizards look to close strong with All-Star break looming
Tuesday night’s matchup with the Bulls marks the first outing of a home-road back-to-back to close out the unofficial first half of the season. After Wednesday’s matchup with the Knicks, the Wizards won’t play again until next Friday, February 21. Rui Hachimura, Mortiz Wagner and Davis Bertans will all make their way to Chicago for All-Star Weekend, but the remainder of the roster will have eight days rest. With such a break on the horizon, Scott Brooks has stressed the importance of not overlooking these final two games.
“It’s always tricky at this time,” Brooks said before Sunday’s game against the Grizzlies. “You don’t just make your plans Thursday morning…you have to make your plans prior, but you have to be mentally focused on finishing it out. That’s why you always see some weird scores this time of the year…We’ve got to be focused and keep playing the way we’re playing. Hopefully that doesn’t affect us, but you never know. Our young guys seem to be locked in and our veteran guys are doing the same.”
Beal stresses importance of keeping Bertans involved in the offense
Since returning from a quad injury on January 10, Davis Bertans has played in 14 games and shown no signs of rust or regression from his red-hot early season shooting rate. Bertans is averaging 14.5 points per game on 42.3% from 3-point range and, in those 14 games, hit three-plus 3-pointers 11 times. Against the Mavericks on Friday night, Bertans registered his 12th 20-point game of the season, hitting 5-9 (.556) from beyond the arc. Bertans is days away from participating in All-Star Saturday’s 3-point Shootout, which will give unfamiliar fans around the league a look at his shooting prowess. His teammates, however, are already well aware of what he can do from distance. After the loss to the Grizzlies on Monday night, Bradley Beal stressed the importance of keeping Bertans involved in the offense.
“We’ve got to get DB [Davis Bertans] the ball more,” Beal said. We’ve got to find him more and just play off of him and make sure we don’t lose sight of that because sometimes, and I was cognizant of it tonight, sometimes we go away from him. We need him involved in every aspect of the game.”
Statistically, Bertans elevates the Wizards offense unlike anyone else. When he’s on the court, the team’s offensive rating is 115.1, which would rank second in the league for overall offensive ratings. When he’s on the bench, Washington’s offensive rating falls to 105.5. Bertans has played well against the Bulls this season, including a 26-point game fueled by seven 3-pointers on December 18. Look for the Wizards to go Bertans’s way early and often Tuesday night.
Injury-riddled Bulls enter Tuesday’s matchup on five-game slide
Chicago arrives in D.C. on a five-game losing streak, though most of those games have come against formidable opponents. The Bulls have lost to the Sixers, Pelicans, Raptors, Nets and Pacers. Of that group, only the Pelicans currently sit outside the playoff standings and only two of those five games were decided by double digits. Much like the Wizards of mid-December, the Bulls are missing a massive portion of their game-by-game production due to injury. Wendell Carter Jr., Kris Dunn, Lauri Markkanen, Otto Porter Jr. and Max Strus are all listed as out, Denzel Valentine is listed as doubtful and four players are listed as probable.
Zach LaVine has led the way for the Bulls in the meantime, averaging 22.8 points and 7.0 assists in the last five games. Against Philadelphia on Sunday night, LaVine scored 32 points on 11-21 (.524) from the field and 5-10 (.500) from 3-point range – and led the team with eight assists.