Preview: Wizards look for second win over league-leading Jazz Monday night
The Wizards are in Utah on Monday night, taking on the Jazz at 9:00 P.M. ET at Vivint Arena in the fifth outing of a six-game road trip. Washington looks to bounce back from a loss to the Suns on Saturday that snapped a two-game win streak while the Jazz, winners of 11 of their last 13, are coming off a win over the Kings.
Vivint Arena | 9:00 P.M. | NBCSW | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Russell Westbrook, G – Raul Neto, F – Deni Avdija, F – Rui Hachimura, C – Alex Len
Jazz: G – Donovan Mitchell, G – Joe Ingles, F – Bojan Bogdanovic, F – Royce O’Neale, C – Rudy Gobert
Wizards: Bradley Beal (back; thoracic tightness – probable), Thomas Bryant (left ACL injury – out)
Jazz: Udoka Azubuike (severe right ankle sprain – out), Jordan Clarkson (right ankle sprain – doubtful), Mike Conley (right hamstring injury management – out)
Neto looks to carry momentum into matchup with former team
Coming off a career-high 24 points on Saturday against the Suns, Raul Neto will get a chance to keep it rolling against the team with which he began his NBA career. Drafted in the second round by the Atlanta Hawks, Neto was traded that night to the Jazz, where he played the first four years of his six-year NBA career. He played in 199 games, including 54 starts, in Utah, then spent a year in Philadelphia before finding a home in Washington.
Neto’s scoring outburst against the Suns came as he made his eighth start of the season, this time in place of the league’s leading scorer, Bradley Beal, who missed the game with mid back tightness. Neto started fast, scoring a team-high nine points in the first quarter and was efficient all night. He shot 9-17 (.529) from the field, 3-5 (.600) from three and was 3-3 (1.000) from the line in 29 minutes.
The Brazilian guard has been a steady source of production for Washington this season, even when battling through a rib contusion over the last month. Wizards head coach Scott Brooks praised Neto’s toughness at the time and said he understood that his dip in production correlated with the injury. If his performance against Phoenix is any indication, he’s feeling like himself again. In addition to the scoring output, Neto has been a steady presence on the defensive end as well, recording the best defensive rating on the team over the last five games (104.8).
Washington, Utah follow up thrilling first matchup
Monday’s game will mark the second matchup of the season between the Wizards and Jazz. The teams faced off less than a month ago in D.C. in what was one of the most exciting wins of Washington’s season. The Wizards led by as many as 24 points in the second quarter, but couldn’t keep the Jazz at bay for long. Donovan Mitchell, who finished the night with 42 points, pulled Utah back into the game, highlighted by a stretch where he and Bradley Beal combined to score 20 points in a span of just over two minutes. Beal finished the game with 43 points while Russell Westbrook totaled 35 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists. While Beal’s status for Monday night is not yet official, the battle between Westbrook and Mitchell could look very similar to the way it did in their first meeting. Westbrook has recorded triple-doubles in eight of his last nine games while Mitchell enters Monday’s game having scored 40-plus points in two of his last three games – and 37 in the other.
Wizards aim to snap Jazz’s 24-game home winning streak
The Wizards’ next stop on their extended road trip comes against a Jazz team that has been on a tear when playing in their home arena. In addition to winning 11 of its last 13 overall, Utah has now won 24 consecutive games when playing at Vivint Arena. Their last home loss came on New Year’s Eve against the Suns. As the home winning streak hit 24 games on Saturday night, the Jazz became the first team in the league to reach 40 wins this season and now have a 2.5-game lead over the Suns team that defeated the Wizards on Saturday.