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Wizards take on Grizzlies Saturday in Memphis
After three days rest, the Wizards (7-16) are back in action Saturday night, taking on the Memphis Grizzlies (8-17) at 8:00 P.M. at FedExForum. The Wizards are looking to snap a three-game losing streak while Memphis is playing on the second end of a back-to-back after losing to the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.
FedExForum | 8:00 P.M. | NBCSW PLUS | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Ish Smith, G – Bradley Beal, F – Isaac Bonga, F – Rui Hachimura, C – Ian Mahinmi
Grizzlies: G – Ja Morant, G – Dillon Brooks, F – Jae Crowder, F – Jaren Jackson Jr., C – Jonas Valanciunas
Wizards: Thomas Bryant (right foot stress reaction – out), Jordan McRae (right ring finger surgery – out), C.J. Miles (left wrist surgery – out), Isaiah Thomas (left calf strain – questionable), John Wall (left Achilles rehab – out)
Mahinmi making an impact in limited action
After missing the first 19 games of the season while rehabbing an Achilles injury, Ian Mahinmi has played in three of the last four games. Mahinmi is averaging just 17 minutes per game, but has made a sizeable, efficient impact on both ends of the floor. In the last three games, Mahinmi leads qualified players on the team with a 126.0 offensive rating, 84.2 defensive rating and 41.8 net rating. His 11.1 rebounding percentage trails only Moritz Wagner and his 77.8 effective field goal percentage is first on the team by over 10 percentage points. In just 17:30 of action against the Clippers on Sunday, Mahinmi scored nine points on 4-4 shooting, grabbed six rebounds and blocked three shots.
Wizards look to snap scoring slump
The Wizards have lost three consecutive game amidst a bit of a scoring slump – at least compared to the feverish scoring rate they recorded to start the season. In the first 20 games of the season, Washington scored 118.9 points per game, which trailed only the Bucks and Rockets. In the last three games, matchups against the Heat, Clippers and Hornets, Washington has averaged just 109.7 points per game. The caliber of the Wizards’ opponents has played at least some role in the brief offensive decline as the Heat and Clippers each rank among the league’s ten best defenses.
The Wizards will have a chance to right the ship this weekend against the Grizzles and Pistons as both teams rank in the bottom half of the league in defensive rating.
Morant leads young Grizzlies group
The Grizzlies are led by Ja Morant, the second overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft and one of the league’s brightest young stars. Morant’s 18.7 points and 6.4 assists per game are both first among rookies this season. No other rookie is averaging more than 3.4 assists per game. Morant’s playmaking drives a Memphis offense that ranks seventh in the league in assist percentage (63.5) and 12th in assist-to-turnover ratio.
“He’s as dynamic and explosive as any young player to come (into the league) in a long time,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said of Morant. “You see a lot of (Russell) Westbrook in him. He attacks and he’s fearless. He plays hard and he puts so much pressure on the defense. He’s a good shooter…he’s tough. You can tell his teammates really enjoy the toughness and energy that he plays with.”