Wizards begin back-to-back Tuesday against Kings
The Wizards (22-37) will continue their four-game road trip against the Kings (26-34) Tuesday at 10:00 P.M. ET. Washington is coming off a Sunday night win over the Warriors bolstered by a franchise-record 20 threes. The game is the first outing of a back-to-back, concluding Wednesday night in Portland. On the other side, the Kings are coming off a 106-100 win over the Pistons on Sunday night.
Golden 1 Center | 10:00 P.M. | NBCSW | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Shabazz Napier, G – Bradley Beal, F – Isaac Bonga, F – Rui Hachimura, C – Thomas Bryant
Kings: G – De’Aaron Fox, G – Bogdan Bogdanovic, F – Harrison Barnes, F – Nemanja Bjelica, C – Harry Giles III
Wizards: John Wall (left Achilles rehab – out)
Kings: Marvin Bagley III (left foot soreness – out), De’Aaron Fox (right lower abdominal tightness – probable), Richaun Holmes (right shoulder soreness – out), Cory Joseph (right heel contusion – questionable)
Beal maintains career-best assist numbers as scoring streak continues
Bradley Beal’s remarkable season seems to reach new heights with each passing game. After back-to-back 50-point performances to start the week, Beal recorded his 10th game this season with at least 30 points, five rebounds and five assists in a win over the Nets. Two nights later, he totaled 42 points, 10 assists and five rebounds in a closely fought road loss to Utah. Finally, on Sunday night in 14-point win over the Warriors, Beal scored 34 points, his 18th consecutive game with at least 25 points – the longest streak in franchise history. Over that five-game stretch, Beal averaged 42.8 points per game on 51.1% shooting and 52.6% from 3-point range.
“In this league, you can have a game here and a game there but in order to be special you have to play with consistent play and (Bradley Beal) does,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said. “He comes in and brings it as you see tonight. There were some defensive strategies out there tonight and we see that they were double teaming him and then running a box and one and then it seemed like a box and one with a double team. He found a way to get buckets, he finds a way to get teammates open, but the level of consistency that he plays with to me is what keeps him at that level of special.”
Throughout the scoring streak, Beal’s career-best playmaking rate has persisted. In the last five games, Beal is averaging 6.0 assists per game, on par with his average for the season. A huge share of Beal’s assists last week, all of which can be seen below, have come as a result of the scoring threat he poses to defenses. Opponents have swarmed with multiple help defenders at a time – leaving free cutters and shooters open, betting that their pressure will overcome Beal’s ability to find the help. So far, they’ve been proven wrong.
Wizards experimenting with center minutes
In their last two games, the Wizards have faced opponents with vastly different frontcourt personnel. The Jazz, anchored by two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, rank top-10 in the league in paint points allowed while the Warriors, lacking a Gobert-like post presence, rank in the bottom half of the league. The Wizards, however, adopted a similar frontcourt strategy against both teams, scaling back on minutes played by their true centers.
Against the Jazz, Ian Mahinmi started, but played just 14 minutes. Thomas Bryant, who has been operating under a minutes restriction since his return from foot soreness on February 21, played 18 minutes. Mortiz Wagner played just under seven minutes. Meanwhile, Washington’s frontcourt focus skewed smaller – Rui Hachimura played 32 minutes while Davis Bertans played 28. Against Golden State, the Wizards turned the approach up a notch. Bryant got the start and played 15 minutes. Wagner played 11 minutes. Mahinmi did not play. Anzejs Pasecniks saw his first extended action since January 28, but played just 11 minutes. Hachimura and Bertans again saw big minutes – and produced.
Washington’s center rotation has fluctuated all season with a trio of equally capable players – Mahinmi, Bryant and Wagner – that have battled injury and, when healthy, don’t fit side-by-side. Bryant has played limited minutes at the four spot next to Mahinmi, but only in short stints. With everyone in rotation healthy, Scott Brooks’ deployment of his big men – and how the moves are reflected in the Wizards’ production – provide something to watch down the stretch of the season.
Fox leads resurgent Kings’ offense
Sacramento is 5-1 in its last six games, including a win over the Clippers and a pair of wins over Memphis. Their one loss, a four-point defeat at the hands of Oklahoma City, came without starting point guard De’Aaron Fox, who is playing his best basketball of the season as of late. In his last five games played, Fox is 5-0 and has averaged 23.0 points, shooting 50.0% from the field, and 5.8 assists per game. His 20.1 points per game average is the best of his career and leads a handful of young, score-first weapons at Sacramento’s disposal. In addition to his scoring, Fox’s ability to find shooters Nemanja Bjelica, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic has been key driving a Kings’ offense that ranks 10th in both 3-pointers made and attempted per game.
Fox missed Sacramento’s prior matchup with Washington on November 24 with an ankle injury.