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Wizards open homestand vs. Bulls
The Wizards return home on Friday night to begin a three-game homestand over the New Year. After road losses in Indianapolis and Detroit, the Wizards are back at Capital One Arena to take on the Bulls, where they’ve won six of their last seven games. Friday’s game will be the first of a home back-to-back against Chicago and Charlotte. The Wizards have not lost a season series to the Bulls since the 2011-12 season.
Capital One Arena | 7:00 P.M. | NBC Sports Washington | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Tomas Satoransky, G – Bradley Beal, F – Trevor Ariza, F – Jeff Green, C – Thomas Bryant
Bulls: G – Ryan Arcidiacono, G – Zach LaVine, G – Justin Holiday, F – Lauri Markkanen, C – Wendell Carter Jr.
Wizards: Dwight Howard (aggravated gluteal soreness – out), Otto Porter Jr. (right knee strain/contusion – out), John Wall (sore left heel - out), Markieff Morris (upper neck/back stiffness - doubtful)
Bulls: Bobby Portis (right ankle sprain – out), Denzel Valentine (left ankle surgery – out),
Wizards at home
Despite the Wizards’ struggles on the road, the team has been dominant at home as of late. Winners of nine of their last 12 games at Capital One Arena, the Wizards have been a different team at home. During those 12 games, the Wizards are scoring 113.1 points per 100 possessions and holding opponents to only 107.5 points per 100 possessions. On the season, Washington is scoring 112.0 points per 100 possessions at home and only 104.6 per 100 on the road. For the Wizards to keep their home success going, they'll need another big game from Bradley Beal with John Wall, Otto Porter Jr., and possibly Keef Morris all not playing.
The Bulls come into Friday’s game losers of 13 of their last 17 games. They are only scoring 100.2 points per 100 possessions this season, last in the NBA by a large margin. Chicago ranks in the bottom 10 in assist-to-turnover ratio, rebounding percentage, and true shooting, three of the most important statistical indicators of success. Washington ranks second in the NBA in turnovers forced per game (17.3) and should be able to force miscues by the young Bulls.
Zach LaVine has been a bright spot for the Bulls, averaging a career-high 23.9 points per game on 45.5% shooting. Lauri Markkanen (39.0% 3-point) can stretch the floor and be a tough matchup, while Wendell Carter Jr. has been one of the league’s most impressive rookies. The Bulls made 18 3-pointers in a game in their only win over the Wizards last season, and Washington needs to guard the perimeter against this team.
Time to get rolling
The Wizards have fallen to 13-22, four games out of a playoff spot. With an extremely difficult schedule coming up in January, Washington needs to take advantage of these three home matchups against the Bulls, Hornets, and Hawks, who are all sub-.500 teams at the moment. In January, the Wizards will face the Heat, Thunder, Bucks, Raptors, Warriors, Pacers, Sixers on a home-and-home back-to-back, and go to London to play the Knicks in the middle of the month. The postseason is in reach, but the Wizards need to take care of business. Based on the way the team has played at home, they certainly have a great opportunity to do that.